Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Please see http://www.moonpointer.com/stonepeace for the new version of this blog - where all old posts are stored too.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

We have moved to www.moonpointer.com! But still eternally grateful to Blogger!

Monday, August 04, 2003

Save Each Other

Q: If we are here to save all living beings, what are all living beings here for?
A: I think of it this way- We are here to encourage each other to save each other.
Greater Happiness

If by renouncing a lesser happiness
one may realize a greater happiness,
let the wise one renounce the lesser,
having regard for the greater.

-Dhammapada 290

We do not rise above our present "happiness" because we do not clearly see what is the greater happiness, and are thus unwilling to put in effort to attain it.

It's only temporary la...
then again, everything is temporary...
thus the truth of impermanence is universal.
Becoming Stone

The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really,
if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself.

-Bertrand Russell

When I see a stone
and still my mind like it is still,
I do not see a stone-
I become the still stone.
I experience stonepeace;
I become stonepeace.

This is It

Now. This is it.
The whole purpose and meaning for the existence of everything.

-Timothy Freke

This is it.
It can't be anything else...
till it changes into it,
which it will

Cause, Condition & Effect

You are the cause and effect of yourself,
conditioned by everything,
including yourself,
conditioning everything,
including yourself.
Mountain Zen

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
-Robert Pirsig

Sometimes you need to find your Zen at the top of mountains.
Anonymous Blogging

Y: If my identity can be protected, I am free to circulate my online diary.
Z: You can always set up a site which no one knows belong to you- Eg. something like "watcanisay.blogspot.com" or something- and publicise it like a great discovery! But make sure the stuff are smewhat beneficial of course- Dharma-ish is good.

A drop of poison in a glass of pure water renders it all poisonous.
Keep the Buddhadharma pure-
re-present if necessary,
but don't include additives.
Last Words

zL: You there?
Z: I got to go soon. Any last words till we meet later?
zL: Do good, avoid evil... and purify the mind. hahaha
Double Eyelids

A few months ago, a friend suddenly discovered I have double eyelids. Asking my Mum, she confirmed I used to have single eyelids. How bizarre. "Shit" doesn't just happen in life- "Strange" happens. Just when you might think mine was a freak case, this friend also had double eyelids sudddenly, a few years back. Strange karma. Karma can work strangely. I winder what causes did we create to experience these effects.
Why Use Dharma Labels?

The Dharma is whatever is true (in line with reality) or in line with the Buddha's teachings. So in this sense, the famous people you quote are indeed speaking the Dharma in line with BuddhaDharma, even if they do not know it. But when we share the Dharma, is it better to share it with or without Dharma terms and labels (subtle or not so), with or without quoting the Buddha or famous Buddhists?

If the objective is just to share the Dharma in the short run, it might be okay to share it without Dharma labels or quoting the Buddha and famous Buddhists. If the objective is to share the Dharma in the long run, it might be a better idea to share it with Dharma labels or quoting the Buddha and famous Buddhists- because it lets the reader know that the wisdom shared is Buddhist, that he can discover more wisdom in Buddhism.

Otherwise, the reader is learning Dharma in bits and pieces from quotes from different people and religions... He might feel lost, thinking they are all the same, not knowing that Buddhism teaches the ultimate Truth, missing the point that we are trying to point him to Buddhism.
It’s Not Only Words

Words have the power to heal or destroy.
What do yours do?
Every word matters.
Every lack of a right word matters.
Even a pause matters.

Thus the Buddha taught us to reflect in the fourth precept-
Are our words true, harmonious, gentle and constructive?
Or are they false, divisive, harsh, and useless?

[1] What one knows to be
unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others,
one should not say.
[2] What one knows to be
factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others,
one does not say.
[3] What one knows to be
factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others,
one has a sense of the proper time for saying.
[4] What one knows to be
unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others,
one does not say.
[5] What one knows to be
factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others,
one does not say.
[6] What one knows to be
factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others,
one has a sense of the proper time for saying.

- With paraphrased excerpts from Abhaya Sutta (The Buddha’s Discourse on Right Speech)
Win-Win Wins!

Do you see winning as a personal achievement?
Or do you see helping others to win a greater achievement?
Must there be a losing for there to be winning?
Why can’t we all win together?

If you lose,
can you win mentally by accepting defeat?

If you win,
can you win by not letting pride go to your head?

If someone loses to you,
can you win him as a friend with your compassion?

If someone wins you,
can you win by rejoicing in his happiness?

“Greater than one who wins a hundred battles,
is one who conquers oneself.”
Thus the Buddha won the toughest battle,
by realising the truth of Anatta (non-self/selflessness/egolessness).
He teaches that True Happiness
is bringing happiness to one and all selflessly-
for sharing your happiness doubles your joy
while bringing joy to others!
Buddha Reminder

What would you do now that I remind you
that the Buddha said we are all hidden Buddhas,
that we unawakened ones are the same as Him in essence?
Be respectful then, to all.

Would you fall to your knees and worship all?
Afterall, you are a sleeping Buddha yourself.
Be respectful then, and awaken Him.
Don't cry tears of joy?
Afterall, tears will not awaken the Buddha within;
Calming the passions will.

Would you kiss the ground the Buddha walked upon?
Afterall, there is no place He never walked on
in His countless previous lives, to perfect Himself.
Treasure where you stand upon-
it is already holy ground.

The person waiting for an apology,
even if he is right,
is perhaps as egoistic as the one who cannot apologise,
even if he is in the wrong.

The wronged but magnaminous reconnects like nothing happened.
The spiritual challenge is not waiting out for the other person to reconnect;
the winner is the first to reconnect.

It is good for oneself to forgive from another even if no apology was given.
It is good for oneself to seek forgiveness from another if one is wrong.
It is good for oneself to seek forgiveness from another even if he seems unaffected.
Repentance cleanses your heart.
Repentance brings joy to the wronged and the "wrong-er".
The Emperor's New Art

As long as even just one person, even if it is just the artist, sees something as a piece of "art", it is art in the instant- even if it does not follow popular taste. Perhaps then, art is the result of attachment. Even if the emperor is seen as an ignorant fool parading naked in his new "clothes", the "clothes" were beautiful to him- before he woke to his senses. Art then, is just something we hold in our mind as special, "better" than the non-art.
Emptiness of Art

Anything can be art as it is but just not appreciated yet-
so there are no essential definitions of art.
Art is then emptiness- void of fixed self-nature.
Common Denominators

It's personally apalling to me how many Buddhists do not see the 3 Universal Characteristics as the common denominators in defining reality. If a Buddhist does not bear these chaacteristics often in mind, I think there is something very wrong. For such fellow Buddhists, let's go back to the basics of the Dharma. We need to realise how the trio affect our lives, and see them clearly.
Being Happy & Useful

Let us be all well and happy and help many people;
instead of being unhappy, not useful to ourselves or anyone else.
No Point Writing About Happiness

There is no much point writing about happiness if it stays.
There is no much point writing about happiness that does not stay.
The problem we have is sadness...

So I write about it-
about seeing sadness (First Noble Truth),
about seeing what causes it. (Second Noble Truth),
about knowing lasting happiness (Third Noble Truth),
about walking the way to lasting happiness. (Fourth Noble Truth),
Dharma Movie Review: City of God

In the ironically named godless city of God, we see trigger happy young men and boys who mess up their interconnectedness in blood brotherhood, friendship and enmity. Even the righteous Knockout Ned got his lights put out when he was shot by a boy whose father he had to shoot in self-defence. His father was just doing his job as a security guard and Ned his "job" as a reluctant gangster. Ned was trying to save the kid, who didn't see the senselessnes of revenge and shot Ned ungratefully in the back. Makes so much sense when the Buddha said hatred does not cease hatred, that only love does. It only takes one party to forgive or seek forgiveness to resolve hatred. We see L'il Ze messing up his friendship with best friend and partner in crime Benny by stepping overboard with no holds barred hatred and jealousy against an imaginary enemy who respects him as long as he respected him. For loyalty anfd honour amongst thieves to exist, even in among the lawless, there just has to be some rules- or all hell breaks loose. And this hell will karmically spill over to the unleashers of the hell- in this case, L'il Ze himself, as he dies shot multiple times by the street urchins called the Runts. Not capping your overflow of hatred makes no one have any reason to not hate you too.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Lousy Poses

Most of the time, we have lousy poses in whatever we do. But we choose the nice ones and snap them, to "immortalise" the moments we want, thinking the rest is not really us- when all we are in each moment is equally true and untrue- they are us but not really us- because we change from moment to moment.
Come and Go

U: My Gramps just passed away.
Z: My Sis just gave birth. How we come and go, come and go.
Lapses of Time

I see the counter lady at the foodstall staring into empty air with an empty look. I see another lady in front of the stall doing the same- staring into another space. The first is waiting for the kitchen to get the latter's food ready. The latter is waiting for the first to pass her the food.

There are lapses in life with "nothing" to do. When one really does nothing but stay awake, it is a form of meditation already- silencing. But when the mind is filled with waiting, with random thoughts, it is the opposite.
You Might Be a Formite

SARS can be transmitted by formites. Formites refer to anything that carries the virus. The formite itself need not be infected by the virus- it merely carries it. This is interesting, though scary. It means you might be a formite without knowing- an invisible Mara enemy to the world. Thus is mindfulness important in upkeeping one's personal hygiene. SARS made everyone a formite suspect- yet we have no choice but to trust each other not to be an invisible Mara without beings one for others.
Scriptural Authenticity

You may be able to verify the authenticity of the sutras, whether they are spoken by the Buddha or not. But you have to authenticate the Truth in the Buddha's words by yourself. In this sense, it all boils down to you to develop wisdom to discern what is true, to continually increase your wisdom to realise the total Truth. In this sense, there is no need to argue on scriptural authority- since the ultimate authority is you. Improve this authority ultimately instead. The Buddha's onus was in sharing His Enlightenment. Discovering the Truth in it is your onus. Discovering its reality is your bonus.
Is Life Fair?

zL: He complained about life being unfair. I said life is fair.
Z: Tell him he can either think life is unfair and suffer or think it is fair and make the best hay he can while the sun shine. He doesn't even have to believe in the law of karma.
No Commercials

I hear this commercial on the radio (98.7FM)-
"30 minutes of pure music without commercials. All hits all day!"
Selling the selling point sometimes unsells it.
When one oversells anything, including the Dharma, it overkills.
Ultimate Creativity

The Enlightened are the ultimately creative.
Those who deconstruct and look in the details are the ones who truly KNOW.
I Am God?

"Be still and know that 'I' am God." -God in Psalm 46

If we wanna be religiously ecumenical (embrace other religions with our thinking), then this is interesting- as when one is truly still, there is no sense of any internal or external "I", which is when "I" can then be known as "God" in the sense of the all powerful, the highest truth- of non-self (Anatta).

Dun take this seriously. But this the above intepretation of a selective scriptural verse is an example of how ecumenical cults fool around with scriptural texts from different religions (including Buddhism) to combine all religions, coming up with the supposedly "most superior" religion.

"Be still and know you are your God-
your own creator, creator of your own world, yours almighty." -stonepeace

Stone... solid, immovable, unchanging
Peace... of mind to behold

Monday, July 21, 2003


Photography is an instant action.
Drawing is meditation.

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

The process of drawing is more important than the drawn,
for if the result of a drawing is a life-like portrait of the real thing,
one might as well snap a photograph of it.


Q: How to have unwavering faith or confidence in the Triple Gem?
A: By tasting the truth of the Dharma properly- by realisation of its essence, at least in part, of the 3 Universal Characteristics. This can be done systematically in meditation. The confidence gained is permanently unshakeable- it breaks the fetter of doubt in the Dharma, which is the core of the Triple Gem.
Get Real Feedback about You

Getting feedback is not accurate unless you get it from the wise and constructively critical who knows the values to use to judge. Thus are spiritual friends important.

I am never free.
Avoid Evil

Z: So, still not going to the gathering with the presence of the obnoxious? Maybe you can transform her?
A: I'm not ready yet- my mind will be more disturbed than skillful enough.
Z: Good reply- "Avoid Evil, Do Good..."- Avoiding evil comes before doing good haha.
Was the Buddha a Buddhist?

Q: He said the Buddha is not Buddhist!
W: It's ok- she used "Budddhist" with quotation marks. But come on haha... the Buddha called himself a Buddha. So the Buddha must be a Buddha-ist at least!
The Value of Labels

Without labels, there will be no words on no guideposts leading us to nowhere. In the long (long long long) run, all roads lead to Buddhahood- but using Buddhist labels for Buddhism skillfully can shine a clear path forth among the countless crossroads. Without labels and sutras, Buddhism could not have survived till today- it would be a lost teaching. What's worse than being lost is not knowing what is the name (label) of that which is lost.

Help-Chanting (Zhu1 Nian1) helps ourself before it helps others- when we chant singlemindedly as we can with sincerity and urgency for others, we are chanting with our remainign life as if we are the ones dying too.
Why Born of Lotuses in Pureland?

The 9 grades of birth in lotuses should be more rationally explained or it will seem like a fairy tale. There has to be some form of birth into the Purelands and as there is no parental birth, it is through lotuses which symbolise purity. And the varying periods of time in the lotuses is Pureland's way of ensuring the beings have ill karma ironed out before birth. Only thus can the beings in Pureland be of more equal standing.

What can't be explained must be experienced.
What can't be experienced must be irrelevant to our experience.
Why was Amitabha Sutra Taught?

2 reasons why the Amitabha Sutra teachings were taught by the Buddha without invitation by anyone-

a) No one knows it to ask about it.
b) It is so important and beneficial that the Buddha had to teach it in spite of a).
Why Market Amitabha Buddha's Pureland?

The Buddhas promise to universally "market" Amitabha Buddha's Pureland to the beings of their worlds not simply because he wants them to- but because it is so excellent that the Buddhas readily agree to do it. Please do not misunderstand that that Amitabha Buddha was demanding or egoistic to the other Buddhas- as a Buddha as no ego or craving.

Forget foresight and hindsight-
the first is too early and the latter too late.
Instead, discover insight in the moment.
Catch-22 @ Work

Friend's supervisor does only minimal work because he is lowly paid. But maybe if he does a better job and goes the extra mile, he will be better paid? Catch-22 situation. He is looking for a better paid job. But if his attitude does not change, he might soon realise that he is working more than he is paid, and face the same problem. Sometimes, the cycles of Samsara are not just of birth and death, but of "trivial" matters like these- which render us stuck in self-limiting, external blame-pointing situations.
Ego Competition

I don't like competitions because I don't like losing.
Perhaps I should take part compete with myself, not with others-
to let go the ego.
Someone Stole the Toilet

Read an article about a person who goes to a part of Greece which uses squat toilets. The first time he sees the absence of a toilet bowl, he assumed someone stole "the toilet"! It's funny how our perception gets accustomed to things and attaches criteria for what is "politically correct." On the other hand, the people in that part of Greece must be attached to squat toilets being proper and "politically correct." It is interesting to note that a toilet bowl is not the toilet itself. A toilet is a function for toiletting- not a particular thing. Is the bowl really necessary? What other things do you deem essential in your life, which are not?
Proof of the Pudding

The proof of the pudding is in your eating,
not someone else's eating and description of its taste.
Knowing the life of the Buddha inside out will not make you a Buddha.
To know release, be released- others' experiences is only inspiration.
Confucious's Blogs

Reading Confucius' Analects, I realised they are blog-like teachings! They ARE blogs!
Art of Enlightenment

When art becomes
it becomes a definite science.

If so, the path to Enlightement is definitely an art!
Become Truth

You do not see Truth- you become it.
Help By Not Helping

A good Bodhisattva Mother will let a toddler fall if necessary, on the path of learning to walk- lest the child does not know the meaning of failure and continual perseverance against continual failure. Sometimes not helping someone is offering the best help possible.
Big Circle

Sometimes you need to
go round in a big circle
to realise there was no need to
go round in a big circle.
The big circle is part of the way out.

So it is not a waste of time,
this cycle of birth and death-
for all detours are part of the path to release.
Samsara is part of the way to Nirvana-
not its antithesis always.
What Falling in Love Means

Falling in love with anyone or anything to me means
the acknowledgement of my attachment and its price,
to let it grow and ungrow in good time,
to not fret, to not regret at any time,
to be able to look back when it's time to let go,
to say it was worth it, that it made us better people-
having better learnt the meaning of true love,
to share equanimously with more people.
Looking for Trouble in Mind

Half completed "The Philosophy Gym: 24 Adventures in Philosophy" by Stephen Law. As I ws reading the book, I wondered if I was looking for trouble or release. What do I mean? Am I looking for philosophical conundrums to bug myself? Or am I looking for release for some of my delusions? Do I want an intellectual exercise or do I seek Enlightenment? We have to be mindful not to waste time with useless stuff. All the speculation in the world will not lead to experience of the Truth. Use philosophical thinking skillfully, or you might end up like Achilles in Zeno's Paradox of motion- always seemingly getting closer to the finish line but not getting there or anywhere.
Admonition for Lack of Diligence

If the next best Dharma teacher to the Buddha that you can find is around, and you are reluctant to go forth to learn, especially meditation, from him, rest be assured that if the Buddha was still around, you will be likewise. If you do not deserve to encounter the Buddha now, make the best of the Dharma teachers around now.
Doing Good Together

"If both husband and wife desire to behold to each other in both this life and the next life, and both are matched in faith, matched in virtue, matched in generosity and matched in wisdom, then they will behold each other in both this life and the next life also."

-The Buddha, Anguttara Nikaya II:59

Creating similar collective karma binds people together positively.
It's much easier to create good karma together to be together,
than to create evil karma together and hope to be together-
because a result of doing evil is not getting what you want.

Truth of Constant Change

Subhuti asked: "How should an ordinary person be taught the truth?"

The Buddha answered: "By asking the person this: 'How can that which existed in the past become non-existent now?' This inquiry will lead to the realization that there is nothing that ever existed that is a permanent entity or an eternal self. Then the questioner will see that there is both existence and nonexistence."


Because all entities change in every moment,
they exist and do not exist at the same time.
Being able to live with balanced persepectives of existence and nonexistence is the Middle Path.

Treasure everything because everything is fleeting,
but be attached to nothing, also because everything is fleeting.


"Where there is heat, there must be cold.
In the same way, where there are the three fires (greed, hatred and delusion),
there must also be Nibbana (extinguishment of the fires).

Where there is evil, there must also be good.
In the same way, where there is birth, non-birth can be inferred."

-Jataka Nidanakatha 22-23 (The Buddha)

We tend to think of the opposite of birth as death-
when the opposites of birth and death can be the birthless and deathless- Nirvana.

Blog On!

Let's be realistic-
you might not have enough of your life to write a novel on,
but let's be realistic,
you should have enough interesting enlightening episodes to blog on-
so start bogging- get an account at blogger.com
and let me know when you have something up and running!
Long Wait for Bus

There's this bus I have to wait for almost every night. An average wait used to be about 5 minutes. Nowadays, it can take up to 15 minutes. But checking the bus schedule, it has not changed. Turned out that I used to be waiting for the bus just 5 minutes before arrival, and now I happen to wait for it about 15 minutes prior. It struck me that this means no one should generalise about a particular bus always taking a long time to wait for. If the bus is timely, then it is us who are untimely. Likewise, we point out the mistakes of others too often too easily. Perhaps there is something on our part that could have accomodated.

If you look carefully at the behaviour of the Buddha, the way He thinks, speaks and acts, or even dresses, you will realise that they are always done in a manner as universal yet minimal as possible, as cultureless as possible. Void of cultural trappings, that is how the Buddha's teachings can easily be assimilated by any culture.
Instant Karma

No, I'm not going to talk about how ,"instant karma's gonna get you." Instead, I'm going to be talking on how we create karma in the instant, which yes, sometimes makes instant karma get you.

I see a woman taking her wallet out of her bag while walking, a piece of used tissue gets brushed out accidentally. She stops for a while, two steps beyond the tissue on the floor, looks back at it, hesitates for an instant, and carries on walking. In an instant, her good and bad selves battled, and her goodself lost, creating bad karma. I snapped my fingers at her to let her know someone else saw the dropped tissue, and am not sure whether she heard it or not, as she walks on by. I feel a sense of rage at her apathy. In that instant, I had created bad karma by letting anger take over me. Instant karma got me.

Sunday, July 20, 2003


Beauty is in the eyes-
the way they look, (the way you see things)
the way you look. (the way your eyes are)
Tousled Hair

I find it amusing when I see guys in public restrooms carefully shaping their hair to give it the tousled look. This is a modern day example of "order within chaos", reminds me that nothing happens by chance.
Ringing Phones

I find it hard to understand when 2 differerent phones can ring shortly one after another in a place where it is impolite to have ringing phones. It is as if the owner of the second phone has not heard the first phone ringing, as if he does not see that as a reminder that his phone too had better be turned off. A wise person takes heed immediately when he realises something is wrong, he self-reflects instantly and does not make the mistakes others do.
Easiest Way

The easiest way to carry food is to eat it.
The easiest way to carry clothes is to wear them.
The easiest way to transport a car is to drive it.
The easiest way to know the Buddha is to become a Buddha.

The Buddha's function is not for mere veneration,
it's to inspire you, to let you know that your greatest function, ability,
is to become a Buddha.
True Beauty

Behaving like you are so obviously so beautiful
makes you obviously ugly-
even if you are somewhat beautiful.

It is unassumingness that makes the beautiful beautiful.
So true beauty is never merely physical,
it's an attitude too.

And a beautiful attitude can make physical ugliness totally unobvious.

Self-reflection will save everyone.

The Sixth Patriarch of Zen taught that
"The trangressions of the world are mine,
and my trangressions are mine alone."

We should self-reflect
on why we are unable to help others to self-reflect too.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Why Realisation of Dukkha is Nirvana

While it might be astonishing that Dukkha is Nirvana, it is nevertheless true. So how can Dukkha, which seems so obviously to be the antithesis of Nirvana, arise simultaneously? When we speak of Dukkha (as one of the 3 Universal Characteristics and as the first of the 4 Noble Truths) in the ultimate sense, it is not simply about theoretical agreement with the fact that there is gross physical suffering in life, but that in its most fundamental form, Dukkha can be experienced here and now in the most subtle mental form. In the process of insight meditation, one comes to a point when one watches one's thoughts rise and fall and realises, to his dismay and exasperation (yes- this is Dukkha indeed), that no thought or physical sensation can be grasped on to. At this point, suffering goes beyond merely speculating or visualising that in the "distant" future, we will suffer from ageing, sickness and death. At this point, one faces the most basic of all existential dissatisfactions squarely in the face- the inability to hold on to anything within and without ourselves when we want to. Exactly when one sees this crystal clearly, along with the other two Universal Characteristics of Anicca and Anatta (which are facets of each other), one lets go (the Fourth Noble Truth of relinquishing attachments) of all grasping (the Second Noble Truth- craving that arises from ignorance of the 3 Universal Characteristics) and attains Nirvana (the Third Noble Truth). Thus, the exact moment one realises Dukkha fully is the moment one attains Nirvana!

This is probably why, in Mahayana Buddhism, Nirvana is used to substitute Dukkha as part of the 3 Universal Characteristics- because the realisation of Dukkha IS the realisation of Nirvana. This is also probably why there is the Mahayana saying that "Afflictions (our various forms of suffering) are Bodhi (Enlightenment)"(Fan1 Nao1 Ji1 Pu1 Ti1), and vice versa. Not only does Dukkha or our afflications lead or motivate us to Nirvana (Bodhi), but we have to realise that Dukkha and Nirvana can be ultimately synonymous! This is the ultimate non-duality of Samsara and Nirvana. Any attachment for Nirvana and aversion to Samsara is thus a delusion. Experience Dukkha, I mean Nirvana, now!
Buddhist Fundamentalism?

The Solid Foundation of No Solid Foundation

Fundamentalism: A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism. (Religious skepticism or indifference- the view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.) [From dictionary.com]

Hey wait! Buddhism isn't by nature fundamentalist. How can there be, as the title suggests, "Buddhist Fundamentalism"? Well, first of all, even though a religion does not advocate fundamentalism, there will be fundamentalists- even in Buddhism- extremists who do not tread the Middle Path of moderation.

But if Buddhism does not advocate fundamentalism or even hint of it, does it mean Buddhism has no fundamental or core essential teachings? Yes there are- or Buddhism would have no standing ground; it would be vague and undefined. There wouldn't even be the need to call Buddhism "Buddhism"! So what are the fundamentals of Buddhism? The foundations of Buddhism are no foundations! What do I mean by that? Didn't I just say that Buddhism has fundamentals? Yes. Here is where it gets tricky...

The Buddha clearly taught us that the 3 Seals of the Dharma mark His teachings. They are seals in the sense that they authenticate the Truth, and differentiates the Dharma from non-Dharma. The trio is also called the 3 Universal Characteristics- as they mark the nature of everything (mind and matter- all mental and physical entities) in the universe. The Buddha discovered that the easiest yet most accurate way to completely describe the universe lies in these 3 characteristics- nothing more or less is needed. Since Truth is the way things are in reality, these characteristics themselves are aspects of the Truth- the fundamentals of Buddhism. But yet we can say these foundations of the Buddha's teaching are not really there in the sense that they are not something solidly "solid". This is due to the nature of the 3 characteristics-

1) Anicca (everything material and mental is constantly changing)
2) Dukkha (everything we grasp to brings disssatisfaction as they, and our attachments change)
3) Anatta (everything is without any fixed self because they change)

If you look carefully, the truths circle around Anatta- the truth of unsubstantiality. Sometimes this is called "soullessness", "egolessness" or "self-lessness". The truths can also be said to circle around Anicca- the truth of constant change. Dukkha is the sentient or human aspect of the two otherwise seemingly cold and unrelatable truths- the complete realisation of which is synonymous with Nirvana (the end of suffering- See next article "Why Realisation of Dukkha is Nirvana") Dukkha has to be stated as a truth in the sense that it is a true problem for us as long as we are unenlightened. If it is not a problem, the Dharma or Enlightenment would not be necessary in the first place. Seeing its "reality" and doing something about it is having Compassion for yourself and others.

Before I digress again, the 3 Universal Charateristics are indeed fundamental foundations of Buddhism, but as they are about unsubstantiality, they are in this way, the foundations of no foundations. This is a supreme "form" of foundation because it is only with this "form" of foundation that religious or doctrinal fundamentalism will not arise in Buddhism. At this point, you might think Buddhism is the nihilist's dream come true. Not exactly, because with the emphasis of Dukkha being a universal characteristic (problem for all sentient life), there is no compromise of the importance of morality. The truth of Dukkha can convert rational nihilists to realise that since they are subject to Dukkha, and that since subjecting others (to bring personal "happiness") to more suffering only compounds personal Dukkha, it is wise to be moral.

What is unsubstantial cannot be clung on to. Fundamentalism is clinging on to what is believed to be substantial. If a Buddhist clings to the truth of insubstantiality substantially, does it make him a fundamentalist Buddhist? So does Buddhist fundamentalism really exists? I would think the best answer I can give you is a Zen question reversed as an answer- The face of Buddhist fundamentalism is your original face before your parents were born!

Everything's got a moral if only you can find it.

-Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Jabberwocky* is what you make of it.
Everything is Jabberwockish is you look carefully-
apparently something, not exactly anything, actually nothing.


*See jabberwocky.com to know what this is.

Emptiness of Definitions

Things lose their definitions when they lose the reference points by which they are defined. Thus, any one thing by itself intrinsically has no meaning or worth. No thing is substantial by itself. In fact, every one thing being unsubstantial in itself does not substantiates anything else at all. It is an illusion. Everything brings meaning into everything else in a web of interdependence. This meaning is actually arbitrary- according to the observer's perception. Here is an example of what I'd been trying to say above-

Where does forehead end? At the hairline?
What happens when the hairline is shaved off?

Where does face start? At the hairline?
What happens when the hairline is shaved off?

Where does scalp end? At the hairline?
What happens when the hairline is shaved off?
The Pointless Deja Vu of Rebirth

Was telling a friend something
but she claims I told it to her before,
but that I'd forgotten- scary!

Maybe how many times must we repeat something
before we realise we have been repeating it?
What is the point of repetition for repetition's sake?

Reborn here and there,
been everywhere, done "everything"-
other than attain Enlightenment- Darn!

The point of rebirth
is to drive home into our thick deluded heads
that rebirth is pointless.

You are not here to save all beings, are you?
Then what the hell are you doing here?
Save yourself first for goodness' sake!
Follow Not the Followers

It makes no sense to follow the followers of a teaching and not the founder itself. Do not mistaken intepretations of a teaching to be the teaching itself. Do you take refuge in the Buddha or the fellow "average" Buddhist? Followers try to follow the founder, but it is inevitable that more often than not, you will come across followers who are less than perfect than in following the founder's perfect example. To fellow Buddhists who sometimes lament that they fail to find exemplary model Buddhists who genuinely practice what they preach, or rather, what the Buddha preached... well, let us remember that the Buddha Himself IS the genuine "Buddhist" already. The Buddha should be our first inspiration. This is not to discount the importance of less than perfect teachers, but let us remember it is the founder we aspire to emulate. He is the one we should take reference from primarily. If a teacher can teach you the path, if not part of it, to perfection, even if he is apparently not perfect, the onus is on you, not him, to attain perfection. No fellow teacher or Buddhist's glaring or even subtle imperfection should ever discourage you. Remember that the fact that you do not have inspiring model fellow Buddhists in your life is a karmic effect of your own creation. What you do not deserve you do not get. This should encourage you instead, to put in greater effort in cultivation- to be your own model Buddhist- a Buddha!
Graping Precepts & Practices

The third fetter to Enlightenment (as an Arahant) is sometimes translated to be "grasping to precepts and practices." We should realise that the precepts are moral guidelines, not hard and fast rules to stick by fundamentally. Here's an example- the Buddha as a Bodhisattva once killed a man on a boat, who was going to kill over 100 people onboard. Did he break the first precept of abstaining from killing? No. The spirit of the precept is not simply not to kill any being, but to protect life. He killed one person to save 100- the effects of goodness heavily outweigh the evil. In fact, not killing the potential murderer in this case leads to the murder of 100. If one grasps at the letter of the precept blindly, one might just freeze and let the massacre happen without any action. Is this not truly breaking the first precept 100 times over?

Another example of how one can wrongly grasp the precepts is the case of Angulimala, probably history's most infamous single-handed serial-killer, who killed 999 people before repenting his ways. He doubted his potential for Enlightenment or even spiritual progress, having broken the first precept through and through so many times before. But the Buddha assured him of his genuine spiritual transformation. Later, he attained Arahantship. In both cases of the Bodhisattva and Angulimala, they still experienced the "inescapable" karmic consequences of their voluntary actions. The Bodhisattva was reborn into hell for an instant only though, before ascending to a heaven, since his act of killing was of altruistic intention. Angulimala was stoned to death by villagers who did not realise his true repentance. In both cases, the "suffering" was inconsequential in the sense that it did not disturb their minds. As Sylvia Boorstein puts it, "Pain is inevitable, but suffering optional."

What is grasping to practices? This is also sometimes translated as "attachment to rites and rituals." For one to break the third fetter, one would have realised the basic insight knowledges and know that all Buddhist rites and rituals, or even practices such as observation of precepts, meditation and chanting, are to lead to realising the 3 Universal Characteristics. All practices are not yet the "real" thing, not the substance of Truth (the Dharma) yet- they are merely skillful means to the ends of attaining insight realisation. In this sense, they can be arbitrary in nature though essential. Grasping to them thus becomes a fetter.
Every Gesture of Love

When you kiss and or hug, or show any gesture of love, do it properly and fully each time. Such that if it turns out to be the last time, you won't regret not having put your heart into it. Even if it was not the last time, at the end of your life, you would be able to look back and be glad that you were always wholehearted throughout your life. Are there any gestures of love you have been "owing" someone? This might be the last time you have a chance to express your love.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Wake-up Call

I was reading in the subway train. There was a guy standing nearby. He holds a plastic bag- that he keeps banging it onto my knee accidentally. For about 3 times, I shuffled my foot to bang it back a little- just to let him know it's in the way. Each time, he held the bag away in "repentance" but repeated the mistake again shortly after. The fourth time it happened, I grabbed the bag with a hand and gave it a brief but sustained tug- before returning to reading- as if nothing happpened- no signs of anger. Throughout, I did not look up. But from the corner of my eye, I saw him give a hand gesture of apology. I thought it was funny. Sometimes, a lesson of mindfulness can be taught in a sudden Zen way- to stun, to wake someone up.
Crossed Paths

A stranger heading straight at you in a crowd is about to cross your path.

You both freeze.
He shifts to his left
and you shift to your right,
which is his left.
No through way.

You both freeze again.
he shifts to his right
and you shift to your left,
which is his right.
No through way.

You get frustrated.
This can happen up to 2 to 3 times more,
before you both fail to synchronise
and stay clear of each other's proposed path.

My question-
Why did you get frustrated?
he was not out to sabotage you.
He was trying his best just as you were.
Be thankful instead- for his efforts.

This poem is written for my self-reflection,
and for the strangers who crossed my path,
for their reflection-
in case
they were frustrated
like I was.
No Coincidence?

When there is a coincidence,
we might say it is just a coincidence.

When a string of coincidences happen,
is it a flocking of coincidences
or one big coincidence
with one big implication, meaning.
You decide.

There is a cause for everything.
But the meaning of an incident's cause and its effect is up to you to intepret.
No one has planned anything for you-
you decide what it means-
you plan the next step.

This is your existential freedom
that is also your existential crisis, your burden.
Form is Emptiness

Yes, conventionally speaking, we are the 5 Aggregates.
But, absolutely speaking, we are not simply the 5 Aggregates-
because they are also the 3 Universal Characteristics-
synonymous with Emptiness.

We are not something fixed-
we are something changing-
so we are essentially not anything.

"Zen is the unsymbolization of the world." -Ruth Blyth

Because Enlightenment cannot be symbolised by words,
Zen umsymbolizes it as much as possible
by cutting down the usage and thus clinging to words.
Visiting Haunted Houses

Exploring a truly haunted house for fun and not to help the restless spirits is like having curious kids entering a ward for the chronic sick. It is likely to frustrate the patient, incurring his wrath. You should enter with a good spiritual doctor instead- to heal.
Breaks My Heart

A: It's true- it breaks my heart to know you suffer so. Breaks my heart more that I cannot help.
B: It is silly- let it go. It is not wise to let a situation you can't help to trouble you. Perhaps you should get over it and see if it is possible to get someone else to help.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Sorting Out

Sometimes we live too much too fast.
Sometimes we ought to sit back
and reflect where we came from,
where we are
and where we are going.

So many blogs,
so many thoughts...
I need to find time to sort them out-
these are the precious gems I gathered from my life so far.
I hope you like them.
I hope they make me a better person.
I hope it makes the world a better place.
Stretching the Limits of Your Morality

This is a thought experiment to test how far you will go to observe the precepts. For it to be effective, imagine the situations as vividly as possible and such that you will not be "caught" by anyone (other than karma that is). There is no need to tell your answers to anyone, as long as you are honest with yourself. However, answers and comments are welcomed at precepts@TheDailyEnlightenment.com

1st Precept - Respect for Life : Not to Kill ; To Protect

You discovered the murderer who killed all your loved ones. He is unrepentant and you have at hand the plan for his perfect murder. You can report him to the police, but he might escape. What will you do?

2nd Precept - Respect for Personal Property : Not to Steal ; To be Generous

You discover a bag of 1 million dollars and no one knows it. What will you do with it?

3rd Precept - Respect for Personal Relationships : Not to Indulge the Senses ; To be Content

You discover the girl/guy of your desires (a stranger) trapped, blindfolded and abandoned in a deserted place. She/he had undergone torture and is "used" to it. You think of freeing her/him. But the thought arises that you can fulfill your wildest fantasy before doing so- since she/he and no one else will ever know. What will you do?

4th Precept - Respect for Truth : Not to Lie ; To Be Truthful

You discover that by telling one simple lie, you will be the heir to 1 million dollars. What will you do?

5th Precept - Respect for Mental and Physical Well-being : Not to Take Intoxicants ; To Be Mindful

You discover an abandoned cellar of assorted infamous drugs and liquor. What will you do?

Details on the 5 Precepts here.

Beauty is only skin deep.


Skin is not very deep.
Is beauty to you only as deep as the skin?


Imagine being happy, being with the most physically beautiful person in the world, someone you lust after. Now imagine the skin on his/her nose suddenly disappears. Will you still love him/her?

If yes, why? Probably because part of your fantasy, he/she is also the most wonderful person in the world- beyond looks- probably the kindest and wisest person you know.
If no, why? Probably because character was never part of your fantasy. You might be an incredibly superficial person?
Take Care

Do you take care of something
because it is yours?
Is this selfishness?

Do you take care of something
because it is NOT yours?
Is this selflessness?

Do you take care of everything
because it belongs to everyone?
Is this equanimity?

Honesty is the best policy
because the Truth you seek on the path to Enlightenment is brutally honest.
Facing the brutally truthful First Noble Truth,
realise that you must be honest that you are not truly happy
or you will never work your way through the other Noble Truths
towards True Happiness.

A friend wants an apology
which I refuse to give
because I was not wrong.

He blames me for not giving in,
he says I couldn't let go of my ego,
since I can't apologise.

I tell him there was nothing to let go,
as I was not wrong.
He was the one hankering,
the one blind.

But of course,
at this point in time,
he doesn't see that he doesn't see-
as he is blind.
And my refusal seems like me hankering on my ego.

I did not even want an apology from him
for wronging me.
I see the irony as clearly
as he does not-
Who is it really who can't apologise?
Who is it really who should?
He or me?

Sad state of things.

If you want new friends to praise your looks,
think about this-
Isn't it better to have friends who never say you look good,
who are your true friends,
because your friendship is not based on looks?
Any praise not based on looks is more pure.

If your close friends are not superficial,
chances are you are not too.
If you are superficial,
you might scare non-superficial friends away instead.

Only the tactless,
and true friends
will tell you you have a bad hair day.
Only they will tell you you look like shit when you really do-
at least, in their eyes.
True friends do not patronise.
True friends are true because they are truthful.

Essentially, we save ourselves from our "selves."
Truth Straight from the Horse's Mouth

I heard this from a coleague- A colleague asks another coleague about whether it is true that I made an ex-colleague get fired. This is very funny to me. Because if one wants to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, she should ask me instead. It is incredibly simple common sense. Does she expect the complete truth of the matter about what I did or not do from someone else? For a more dramatic picture of what I'm trying to say- Do Buddhists seek the path of Enlightenment from the non-Enlightened?
Why Did You Do It?

An example of the failure of languange in bringing out irony.
(The bracketed is Chinese)

Q: What does it mean? (Shen3 Me4 Yi4 Shi4)
A: It has no meaning. (Mei2 Shen3 Me4 Yi4 Shi1)
Q: Then why did you do it?
A: Just for... (Yi4 Shi4 Yi4 Shi4 lor)
Search for Meaning

Perhaps man's disease is not
NOT seaching for meaning in life,
but in seaching for it,
in not seeing things as they are.

Perhaps man needs to go this big round,
to realise he needs not go in circles.

In our seach for the meaning of life,
many of us end up finding what we personally think is meaningful enough,
and live with it-
when it might not be THE meaning of life.

But then again?
Is there THE meaning of life?
It doesn't matter what I say.
What matters is that you convince yourself that
YOUR meaning of of life
THE meaning of life.

What do you live for?
About Schmidt

About Schimidt- is about a man who has what I would call a late existential crisis or late life crisis. But like all existential crisises taken positively, they are better late than never. Jack Nicholson plays with great effect a man who loses his life direction after his retirement and the death of his wife. The opening scene sees him avidly watching the second hand of his office's wall clock, as it inches towards 5pm. It was the last day of his work. He takes a prolonged glance at his emptied office before he closes the door. We wonder what is it he would have missed, and it seems not much. He was counting down to oblivion- in the sense that he had absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of his life.

We see him bumbling about, trying to make up for lost time between his daughter and himself- sadly, with not much avail- as his daughter finds him a sudden nuisance more than helpful, as he offers help for her wedding planning. We see him questioning himself as to who his wife truly was, what he truly loved about her, as he suddenly lives in the moment and realises he had gotten so mindlessly used to her that upon careful observation, he never really understood her. Much of the movie was about his failure to connect to any fellow human being. For instance, we see him losing his best friend over love letters sent to his late wife. His friend sincerely apologises but he hankers on the past instead. And when he somewhat connected to a stranger, he got too intimate and was shooed away instead.

Just when things seem pretty much hopeless, the last scene shows him reading a letter wriiten to him by a destitute African child he had earlier adopted via monthly cheque donations of $26. Throughout the show, he had comically written his many poignant adult lamentations to him, for there was no one to listen to him, of which of course the child would not understand... He unfolds a simple crayon picture drawn by the child personally for him- showing a man holding hands with a happy child. He looks at it, stunned, and bursts into tears, weeping unrestrained, incredibly touched, glad. (This scene made me cry too.) He had found his salvation in connecting to one human being. There was nothing the child could give him in return. And there was no mention of his letters of desperation- but the picture was good enough. The seemingly anonymous and random act of kindness, of helping a child, was the only thing that brought meaning into his life. Yes, like I said about the resolving of existential crisises, better late than never. Compassion will save the world. Let's have the wisdom to connect to all beings, to bring meaning, no matter how little, into each other's lives.

How do we define originality? There is no universal yardstick. So maybe it should not be defined- in the sense that it was never meant to be. There is strictly no such thing a wholly original idea as everything arises in interdependence. Everything arises from everything. Here is an example, With the avallability of the image search function in google.com, anyone can easily pluck an "original" picture off the web and use Photoshop to alter it- substantially beyond recognition of it being of the former picture. Is it now an original work? When does the work cross the line of being shamelessly copied to being skillfully enchanced? As the creator of the "original" picture, which got altered, would you feel that your work was beautifully improved or horribly marred? Would you feel flatterd or insulted that your picture was part of someone else's creative process? Me? If a piece of my work is used to help make the world a better place, why not?
Thoroughly Forgettable

When a song fails to inspire, when I forget about its words and tune mere minutes later, I call such a song thoroughly forgettable. And I wonder why it was ever written. But that's just me- it must be a thoroughly memorable experience for the composer writing it. What do you know? This blog might be thoroughly forgettable to you, and likewise to me too. Originality and creativity cannot be overstated- for impressions to last, to affect, to have substantial impact- in making the world a kinder and wiser place.
Compassion & Wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to end rebirth.

-Venerable Amatha Gavesi

Compassion is the ability to help others end rebirth.


It is amazing to me that there is the phenomenon of boarding passwngers on the subway, who block alighting ones. Because these blockers are also alighters- later- half of the time. It amazes me that the ones being peeved at being blocked might also be blockers when they are boarding. Is all tihis due to unmindfulness? Or plain selfishness such that we continually refuse to stand in others' shoes to experience their incovenience? It amazes me that day in and day out, the blockers do not learn not to block. And it amazes me that day in and day out, the ones being blocked do not learn to forgive.

Even when there are not many boading passesngers, I see boarders blocking, anxious to step in. No matter how fast you block the train, it will still leave at a fixed time. Being impatient will get you nowhere.
Traffic Light

Being impatient, I tend not to look at the traffic lights meant for the pedestrians when crossing roads. I look at the lights meant for the drivers instead. Their red light is my green light. While I do not encourage this, I find it interesting that other pedestrians gasp as they see me cross at a norma pace while there is oncoming traffic, while the pedeatrian light is not green. And the traffic magically seems to sow down for me. Haha.

What can we learn from this? Some seemingly inexplicable phenomena such as psychic powers we see around might be due to people who have realised they can look one step ahead in the cause and effect of things. This step ahead is somewhat invisible to the common man because he only sees the obvious.

Monday, June 30, 2003


Intuition or intrinsic delusion?
How do you tell?
I can't.
Which is why I take my intuition with a pinch of salt.
It ironically makes me happy sometimes when my intuition gets proved downright wrong.
It makes me stop guessing, assuming I know.
There is no perfect intuition till there is perfect Enlightenment.
Any otherwise, there is at least a pinch of delusion in the "best" of intuition.
True Strength

Your greatest "strength"
could be your greatest weakness.
That upon which you build your entire life
can destroy it entirely if it disappears.
A true strength can never weaken.
What is your true strength?
Brand X

the brand
of brandlessness?

Yes no maybe.
Don't know.

Zlyrica: Heard myself sigh very loudly while sleeping, and woke myself up. Haha.
Zeph: Sigh... It's useless to sigh... usually we sigh at helpless situations... but if it wakes you up, why not? Haha.
Seat Belt

Zlyrica: You won't believe what I saw! Amitabha Buddha (statue) in a funeral car with a seat belt on... haha. Can you imagine the Buddhas really sitting in cars like that? Even Buddhas need seat belts! Hehe.

Zeph: Haha but actually Buddhas won't need seat belts; they won't even need cars. Enough protective devas around and supernormal powers to teleport! But yes, they will set a good example for road safety!
Much Ado

IQ Question:

Rich man needs _______ .
Poor man has _______ .
If you eat _______ , you die.

Fill in the blanks with the same word.

Answer spelt backwords: gNiHtOn

Why do we tend to think "something" is the answer, that "something" is needed?
Sometimes, "nothing" is good enough.
Every Breath You Take

Good morning my dear friend.
The sun, the breeze is beautiful with you around.
Let all of us be well,
be happy with every breath we take.
Start breathing now.


Zeph: Hey! That design has too many distractions!
Zlyrica: Distraction is a form of attraction.
Zeph: Hmmm... are we attracted to distractions then, missing the REAL attraction- Truth.
Bodhisattvas Needed

"Oh there will be enough people trying to make the world a better place."
That is the common excuse for not putting in effort.
But bear in mind that that is a common excuse of commoners,
who make up most of the world.
This means there might not be enough Bodhisattvas without you.
Bodhisattvas- definitely the more the merrier!
Happy Cat

Sophie: Seeing a happy cat usually brightens my day* :>
Zeph: Knowing your day is brightened brightens my day*-
may you see no sad cats**,
may everything else brighten your day**,
may all be well and happy everyday**.

*A thought of Appreciative Joy
**A thought of Loving-Kindness
Relatively Easy

It is incredibly relatively easy to know the path towards Enlightenment,
as compared to the perseverence one is to muster to walk the path itself.
It's thus no big deal if you know tons about the Dharma-
for as long as it is not actualised in your life, it's not alive, unreal.
What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

Just when you are puzzling yourself over the "moral" of this Zen koan,
here's my alternative answer-
A tight smack for you on the face, shattering your thinking.
The resounding sound of one hand clapping upon you...
Just my pseudo-Zen.

A good leader leads by example.
A poor follower needs a good example.
Maybe that's what separates the leaders from the followers-
one inspires the other who needs inspiration.

Good followers of the Buddha!
Become good leaders too!
Be Enlightened.
Third Voice

I have a friend who speaks of herself in the third voice. I think it does us good if we always look at ourselves from an objective and different point of view. When you speak of yourself in the third voice, it can distant the ego- as the "self" becomes not so personalised, less a part of "you". This, I feel, is spiritually beneficial.
Paper Monsters

Using headphones to sample Dave Gahan's new solo album (titled above) for the very first time at HMV, it didn't sound very good. But being a fan of the lead singer of Depeche Mode, and with time to kill while waiting for a friend, I decided to sample it a second time. Suddenly, it seemed pretty good. I figure for the first round, I was listening for a Depeche Mode style, and disapproved everything that wasn't it. The second round, I heard his new style in itself, without comparison. Likewise, we often make ourselves suffer unnecessarily when we compare. Only living each moment with equanimity without prior likes and dislikes do we genuinely live each experience.

It is sad that many are intrigued about* the Dharma,
but not the Dharma** itself.

*Eg. Buddhist arts, culture, history, rituals...
**The teachings of the Buddha which lead to nothing less than Enlightenment.
Good Soup

A: Oh the soup isn't very good.
B: Well it's good to me.
A: Actually it is good enough in itself- I just have to remove my prior expectation before my first taste of it. Let me taste it again... I think likewise, everything is good enough in itself.
B: What about evil? How can it be good?
A: Actually, I was wrong to use the word "good". Everything in itself is just as it is- but they become "good" or "bad" when we differentiate.
B: So evil is itself, not "good" or "bad"?
A: Yes, it's empty of any inherent fixed characteristics. The existence of our inner evil urges us to seek Enlightenment. So in that sense it can be "good" though usually seen as "bad."
B: But evil is "bad" as without it, there will be no need to seek Enlightenment.
A: What's so "bad" about seeking Enlightenment- when it is part of going beyond "good" and "bad"?
Experiencing the Second Hand First Hand

Maybe we should remove the hour and minute hand of the clock.
Maybe we should leave only the second hand there.
Maybe we will learn to let go of the hours and the minutes.
Maybe we will forget that there is past time to miss, future time to behold.
Maybe we will learn to live by the second.
Maybe we will realise how even this second continually slips away in the second.
Maybe we will realise how easily and surely the sands of time slip through every grasping hand.
Maybe we will feel more compelled to free ourselves of time.

(Inspired by the Diamond Sutra's teaching that the past, present and future mind cannot be grasped.)

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Final Authority

In the end, you are your final authority as to what is the Truth. You use your own wisdom to decide whether something is true. Even the Buddha cannot convince the adament fool who chooses not to see. Thus, it is important to continually increase wisdom, and close the gaps of delusion. Where there is no wisdom, the weeds of delusion find space to grow, just as they grow in cracks of a pavement. Not closing of the gaps, delusion seeps in more and more, and there comes a point when you are taught the ultimate Truth and yet you see nothing of it. While no attained fruit of wisdom is ever lost, weeds can still overrun, covering it up till you clear them.
Become Sangha

The real goal of Buddhists
is not to simply worship the Triple Gem;
it is to become the Triple Gem-
to become a Buddha,
by being one with the Dharma,
by becoming the Sangha (Noble Ones with at least the first fruit of sainthood, sotapannaship).

Q: How do you know if the Buddha is Enlightened?

Answer 1: I don't. All I know is that I am not Enlightened, that I have not yet finished learning from Him about Enlightenment. What matters is that I am not Enlightened. When I become Enlightened, I will be able to tell you the answer.

Answer 2: As long as you ask this, you are not Enlightened. Be more Enlightened.
Don't Look Too Much Ahead

Leaving office with a colleague, I was walking along a long road leading to the bus-stop. The bus speeds by, and she laments missing it. I remarked, "Don't look ahead too much. There is no point if you can't rush for it in time. It's like chasing an impossible future, a carrot on a stick. Enjoy the walk now instead. Why subject yourself to disappointment?"
So What?

So what if the Buddha is not fully enlightened?
As long as He is the most enlightened person I know.

So what if the Buddha does not exists?
As long as the is the "realest" person I can emulate.

But of course,
the Buddha is fully enlightened, real.

Ultimately, we take refuge in our intrinsic Buddha-Nature,
nothing extraneous.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Bad Dreams

Q: I have bad dreams a lot. Please advise.
A: I recommend you to learn and practise Loving-Kindness (Metta) meditation. One of the benefits of practising Metta meditation is that it eliminates bad dreams or dreams totally. If there will be any dreams, they will be pleasant. This is because you your mind is soothed by the Loving-kindness you give yourself.
B: Bad dreams according to Chinese medicine is due to bad blood circulation.
A: Metta I think can stop bad blood circulation.
B: After practising, I hardly got dreams... just occasionally some weird ones. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Friday, May 16, 2003

About Dharma

The stuff I write I try my best to cater to everybody-

1. Those who know nuts about Dharma
2. Those who know some about Dharma
3. Those who know tons about Dharma

I always believe in this- Dharma should be E&E- Entertaining and Enlightening! Fun but serious. Practical but profound. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Striking Lottery

4D- Name of a Singaporean lottery system whereby you win if you bought the right string of 4 Digits, ranging from 0000 to 9999.

When you don't strike 4D, you don't strike 4D. You either get a match or you don't. You don't "almost" strike it. Too often do I hear friends lamenting they "almost" struck 4D because they either missed by a digit or got the order of digits slightly wrong. Karma works in an exacting, not estimating way. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Original Nature

Some sages (not perfect) said our original nature is good, while some think it is evil. The real sage (the Buddha) teaches that our original nature is Buddha-nature- it is empty; it is emptiness itself. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
The Middle Path of Communication

Without most of us somewhat more or less observing the Middle Path, everything falls apart, in terms of civilisation, communication... Here is an example how. For the number of languages there are in the world, there are more different accents for them. Yet for each accent, it should only deviate so much from the standard pronunciation before it becomes unintelligible to the people of the same language. Deviating too far, it literally becomes another language in its own right! If each of us speak with over-deviated accents, whether of the same language or another, verbal communication between any two people would be impossible. Globally, we have an international language- English. Likewise, we can only have so much arbitrary deviation so much before the world would fail to understand its citizens from other countries.

Relating to sutra translation and mantra pronunciation, the Middle Path too has to be observed. We have to keep checking against the original, to avoid the overriding of cultural slangs or pop culture. how much deviation is allowable? Because none of us really know, as none of us unenlightened ones can really tell, no deviation is better than any deviation. And minimised deviation is better than much deviation. But how much is little or much deviation? Once again, as none of us really know, let us do our best not to deviate at all. Do you choose to deviate by yourself, to join those who embrace and perpetuate deviation or to uphold and share the true? Without the upholders of the Truth and those who genuinely practise realising it, the Truth will cease to be "readily" available in our world. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Intent of the Sutras

Inspired by Bro.Vajiro Chia

The sutras are not for scholarly debate over its words. They are records of enlightened experience and how to attain them, and should be attempted in the conversion back to experience for verification. The more the words are argued over, the more one drifts away from the original intent of the sutras. Perhaps this is the divide between the overly theoretical scholars who lack sprititual practice and the overly practical practitioners who lack scriptural verification in their practice, deluding themselves to have attained what they have not. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Know-ing No-ing

There is no love, only loving.
There is no love to hold on,
treasure only the loving.

There is no life or death, only living and dying.
There is no life or death to hold on.
Relish then, only this moment...
in which you are living, dying and loving all at once. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Quality or Quantity?

I often see many fellow Buddhists holding on to strings of prayer beads (mala). They chant either out loud or silently. Sometimes I see the obvious lack of substantial mindfulness as they hold on the beads while attempting to multi-task other stuff. It makes me wonder whether their objective is to

1. "clock" a high quantitiy of chants (without regard for quality), or to
2. "clock" high quality chants (without regard for quantity), or to
3. "clock" a high quantity of high quality chants

I write this not to criticise the inefficacy of chanting the way many do. I only sincerely hope we all work towards point 2 or 3. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

If you are calculative to the world,
the world will be calculative to you.
The world is a mirror.

The wise are generous and
not calculative about the good they do to others,
not calculative about the evil they receive from others,
only mindful and thankful of the slightest good others do for them,
only mindful and cautionary of the slightest evil they avoid doing to others.

But karma is calculative-
about everything you do,
even about your calculating-ness or lack of it. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
A Tit for a Tat

The common man is
stingy to the stingy, generous to the generous,
hateful to the hateful, lovng to the loving...
but the wise is generous to all, loving to all.
The common man gives a tit for a "tat",
but the wise gives the best to all "tat" crap-
to touch, to transform...
out of compassion and wisdom. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

In concentrating on the details,
do not forget the big picture.
Do not over-gloss on the matters throughout the day and
miss what is to be achieved at the end of the day.
Remember the details serve only to fulfil the big picture.

In concentrating on the big picture,
do not forget the details.
Do not over-gloss on what is to be achieved at the end of the day
and miss the matters throughout the day.
Remember the the big picture is fulfilled by the details. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Art of Art

The brilliance of the spiritual artist is in being able to see the special-ness in the common, to create the extraordinary from the normal, even if it means simply realising an enlightening truth about the mundane. You might think thus when you see art pieces, "Hey! I can do that!" Yes, maybe. But the difference is that you did not do it, much less conceive the idea of doing it, or even the mere possibility. And even if you did it, you might not have the unique vision or motice behind the work. Inspired works must be inspired to the artist- more so than inspiring to his audience. This is what differentiates the artist and the non-artist, the art-connoiseur and the non art-connoiseur. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Just for the Record

If it is not thoroughly forgettable, it could be totally memorable, and perhaps we should record it, if it is recordable. "Let's make a film out of it!" It is an insightful short story in itself! Alas! For it is impossible to film all the significant in our life? Not! For nothing is ever lost in the scheme of things, the journey of life. On your deathbed, your whole life flashes by- missing no detail. What will be the insight that sticks out as the key scene of your life? Tragicomedic? More tragic or more happy? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Tip of the Iceberg

What you see is just the tip of the iceberg-
there might be more of the same thing lying beneath.
What you see is just the tip of the iceberg-
there might be something else lying beneath. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

The truth about fiction is that it is only good for one thing- the illustration of non-fictional truths. For any purpose otherwise, it is used in vain. Mythology might seem to be downright mystical or even absurd, but it delivers timeless truths about the human psyche. The rise and fall of the ancient gods reflect that of man. Do you see the airy-fairiness in the fairy tale or the moral of the story? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Is that just a dent in the car
or the manifestation of a dented ego,
since you have to drive around in the car?

Do you just drive the car
or are you driven by it,
by your ego,
letting your car be an extension of it? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Toilet Discipline

If you have two rolls of toilet paper in your loo, you will never run out of the "only" roll. But it takes discipline to maintain two rolls in the first place. If you have the discipline to maintain two rolls, you don't need the two rolls. The best contingency plans (for incontingencies and otherwise!) are for accidents or lack of discipline. Ironical isn't it? At the same time, let us realise the importance of discipline. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Fool Yourself

Why try so hard
to look this way or that?
Who are you trying to fool?
The world or yourself? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Ridiculous is not seeing the ridiculousness of life and death. Unfortunately, those who do not see this think seeing this is ridiculous. The fools and the wise both think they are wise themselves and the other foolish. The compassion of the wise is the only bridge that closes the gap, that separate the duo. This is why compassion is important- it helps to reveal the Buddha nature within us, the foolish or not so foolish. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Prevention is better than cure- prevent being born into a next life this life; instead of trying to cure yourself of the problem of rebirth in your next life. Procrastination will get you closer to nothing other than your next life. Prevention in this case is the real cure. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Better Late than Never

Better late than never,
Better say sorry than never.
There is never closure,
repentance, that is too late.
Even dying without repentance is only too late...
for that lifetime, only. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

The three universal characteristics are the only true guideposts of the Buddha's teachings. But interestingly, they interweave to form the stand of no stand. They simply state that all things are empty in the sense that they are insubstantial (anatta) because they are changing all the time (anicca). This is the core teaching of emptiness. But there is a humane or rather, sentiently empathetic aspect to this seemingly bleak truths. It is the truth of dukkha, which states that it is because we do not realise anicca and anatta that we suffer. Realising dukkha in this way is the simultaneous realisation of Nirvana. In this sense, dukkha is nirvana- not that the first leads to the latter, but that they are the same ultimately. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Sudden Death

The SARS virus takes 10 days to incubate before symptoms break out. And you are not supposed to be able to know whether you got it till 10 days later. This virus is still going around. This is interesting because it means 10 days or less after today, you might find yourself struck with a deadly disease. This brings death so much closer. But is death really closer because of SARS? No. Because death is always closer than you imagine. On a cab home last night, we stopped on the highway to help a driver pinned in his smashed up car. No. We don't need SARS to bring death closer- accidents happen- accidentally, unpredictably, occasionally, suddenly. On the continued journey home, we passed by National University Hospital, which ws the nearest hospital. The driver remarked a horrible irony. He said that NUH being a SARS zone, the injured driver might catch it there- just as some patents have caught the virus at other hospitals. For a moment, death suddenly seemed closer, as we zoomed by the hospital. With or without SARS, sudden death can come, with or without the form of a virus. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Sweet Disappointment?

Box of sweets found on my train seat- do I leave it there in disgust because it is empty? No- I wouldn't want someone else, be it the next passenger or the cleaner, to suffer the same disappointment. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Outdo Yourself

You don't have to outdo everyone;
but you should at least continually outdo yourself-
or you'll continually lose yourself. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
A Thousand Words

They say a picture tells a thousand words...
But even so, words can only sketch reality,
Roughly, coarsely. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Blur Lines

Is a flat and thin french fry a potato chip?
When does a fry become a chip?

Is a fat and fleshy potato chip a french fry?
When does a chip become a fry? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Bathing the Buddha

Why must we bathe the image of baby Buddha during Vesak? The question was wrongly asked- it is not a must to do so. Significance of the ritual aside, it is us who "need" and want to bathe the Buddha; the Buddha does not need to be bathed. Bath clean your inner Buddha-nature- purify. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Movie Review- 8 Mile

In the closing climax of the show, "Rabbit (Eminem)" won the rap battle, which was largely a battle of mutual -insulting battle of rythmic wits, by being thoroughly self-effacing, describing how terrible his life was. Being so graciously open and accepting of his situation, his opponent could find no weakness to insult. Thus, Rabbit won by his opponent accepting silent defeat, without retaliation.

To me, the moral of the story is this- when you conquer your ego, you conquer all. Our weaknesses are in beleving the illusion of the ego, wanting to guard it, wanting it to swell. When you let it go, nothing binds you- for what's left to guard? all that is left will be honesty and truth. "Every moment is another chance." That was the tagline of "8 Mile." Yes, this moment is your chance now- for a (im)personal breakthrough, to break free of yourself, like Rabbit did... and more. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Good Service

Had bad customer service at a phone shop recently. The shop assistant was so coolly mechanic and efficient that the service felt metal cold. Just as I was suspecting he was a robot, he turned around and talked to a colleague in a thoroughly human and warm way. He even smiled generously. Who needs more warmth? A customer or a friend? Perhaps we should treat a friend like a customer and our customers as friends? What am I saying? Do we have to differentiate at all? Let's be as equanimous as we can to all. Can we treat everyone respectfully and warmly at the same time? Everyone is our friend and customer- especially to the Bodhisattva or Bodhisattva wannabe. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Tell the Right Person

Person A is unhappy with B, but he complains to C. Is A afraid to tell B? Or does A think it is useless to tell B? Does B get the message that he was wrong, and that he should change? Or do things only worsen if B discovers A was speaking behind his back? Too often do we tell the wrong things to the wrong persons. Even if B continually does not open to advice, the patient try and yet again, without complaint to anyone else. Telling anyone else should only for seeking advice to how to help person B be open to advice.JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Happy Faces

I never saw as many happy faces as I did today... in the obituary section of the papers. They were faces of gladness, humble joy. I realise that most of these pictures can't be recently taken. In this sense, I can't be sure they died happy. Yet if they lived happy days most of the time, chances are they passed away just as happily. Yet at the same time, complacency of our current happiness might have its price- too late. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Soap (Themes- Purification, Buddha-nature, Emptines)

Is there such thing as a dirty bar of soap?

1. The dirt stuck to the surface the bar is not the soap itself- it is just dirt on it.
2. The dirt embedded within the bar is not the soap itself- it is just dirt in it.

Thus, the soap cannot be dirty or dirtied. That which has cleansing or purifying abilities cannot be impure or putrefied. It is purity itself. This is an analogy for our Buddha-nature. When you break the soap, you cannot find anything within that is not soap itself. There is nothing in the soap that is not soap. It is itself, in itself. But when you further break down the soap to its molecular level, you will discover it to be composed of various elements, each of which by itself is not soap. In fact, these elements can be found in various places in nature. This means soap is empty of a fixed self-nature- there is no one thing that is soap by itself. Likewise, Buddha-nature is emptiness itself- it is not a dead unchanging thing- it is dynamic yet still- it is the truth of constant change itself- the truth that does not change. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Share with the World

The more you share with the world, the more the world shares with the world- because you are part of the world. Because of the illusory ego, we segregate ourselves from the world and see ourselves as separate entities. This is why when we mention the word "world", we tend to think of "the rest of the world"- something mutually-exclusive from us. Due to this illusion, we become selfish. The end of this illusion is the realization of selflessness. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

You see fragments of yourself in the world here and there, in facing the people and matters you encounter. Think of the world as a giant broken mirror. Every intepretation and reaction reflects your personality. Through every experience, you see a facet of yourself, as if catching a glimpse of yourself in a fragment of a full body mirror. The more you see the world, the more you see yourself. In this sense, you can run from yourself, but you can never hide. Everywhere you go, you bring your personalised set of karma with you- what you experience is karmic, and how you react will be the creation of fresh karma. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

If you believe the world to be confusing, you will confuse yourself and see it confusing. Seek instead the essence that lies unchanging within this confusion. The confusion is the swirling storm and the unchanging the calm eye of the storm. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Movie Review - 15

If you observe 24 hours or a complete day in the life of the seemingly most evil person in the world, you might see the sad side of his life, and suddenly realise that his misgivings are forgivable, and that he is the person most lacking love, most deserving love, in the world. It is because we see only bits and pieces of a person that we pass judgment unnecessarily, wrongly. As long as we are unenlightened, our judgment will always miss the mark, and no one is absolutely good or evil. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Connecting the Heart & Mind

A friend could not practise Loving-kindness for a whole... His heart felt numb. His meditation teacher discovered that his heart and mind were disconnected. He knew about Loving-kindness and wants to cultivate it, but his heart was too hurt to send love.

Connect your heart and head (mind), feel what you know and know what you feel. Only then are your reason (Wisdom) and emotion (Compassion) in sync. In the Chinese language, "heart" and "mind" are represented by the same character- "xin". Perhaps the ancient were wise enough to know that they are one, or meant to be one.

Interestingly, the term for happiness is "kai xin"- which can mean "open-hearted" or "open-minded". When either heart or mind is closed, it ceases to be connected to the world, to others' hearts and minds. This rings true as since we are all interdependent, how can we be truly happy if we do not connect to the very ones whom we are dependent upon? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

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