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
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]

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 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

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, 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.

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