Monday, March 30, 2009

Casualty of Financial Crisis: What's the price of being rich?


Taken from:,8599,1870007,00.html?iid=tsmodule

German billionaire Adolf Merckle has killed himself. "The desperate situation of his companies, caused by the financial crisis, the uncertainties of the last few weeks and his powerlessness to act, broke the passionate family entrepreneur and he took his own life," a family statement said.
An unassuming lawyer, he was Germany's fifth richest individual and 94th on Forbes' list of the world's richest people, with a net worth estimated at nearly €7 billion ($9.2 billion).

This is a sad story.
One moment he was one of the richest man in the world.
Next moment, laden with debt, he chose the easy way out.
He left a note behind read "I'm sorry."
He lived a life that I could never imagine.
He had so much wealth that I could never imagine.
He had so much problems that I could never imagine too.
Anyway, it is a sad sad ending.
Will Wealth really bring happiness?
Is he really happy with his wealth or worried about losing his wealth?
What is the price of being rich?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reflecting on my University Life and Work Life

During my university days, I spent alot of time studying really hard and getting pretty decent grades. Now, looking back at those time, the things that really matters to me are those wonderful moments of traveling and trying new things. I can only remember the fond memories of meeting with friends etc...
I don't remember much about the excitement of getting good grades. In fact, after sometime, nobody really cares much about the class of honors or the number of As.
The grades are important in the practical sense - getting your university degree/getting the first job/good for resume etc...
It is a balancing act of being practical and living a life.
I am glad that I did more than just studying.
Could the same thing apply for working life as well?
Work is definitely important and can be enjoyable.
But when I am on my deathbed,
Would all the career achievements and money really matters?
Saw so many people working really hard for money.
Sometime, we might even forgotten why are we working hard for.
In my view,
Money is an enabler, never the reason.
Money enables me to have a decent living condition.
Money enables me to buy nice things for my loved ones.
Money enables me to travel the world.
Money enables me to try and learn new things.
Money enables me to help the less fortunate.
When the pursue of money compromises "the reason".
May it is time to reflect whether it is worth it.
It is not surprising that people quit their job at their peak like my ex-boss who wants to spend more time with her kids.
Money is an enabler, never the reason.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description... If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.”

- Albert Einstein

I like this picture. =)


She came into my room like a terror.
Took my books from my bookshelf and threw it onto the floor.
Opened my cupboards and grabbed anything that she wanted.
Torn my book voucher.
Finally, Walked away like nothing had happened.
A behaviour of a Terror.
That's my little niece.
I am not angry with her at all.
In fact, I would be upset with myself if she gotten hurt in my room.
How can anybody be angry with someone who is innocent and ignorant?

My little niece. =)
Sometime we might be upset by remarks made by others.
They might be ignorant too - not understanding what they meant.
So how can we be upset with their ignorance?
Similarly, sometimes we are also ignorant without realising it.
Let's face it. Humans are ignorant.
We also need forgiveness from others.
Be mindful that we are imperfect.
This reminded of a story around 15 years ago.
Studying in a missionary school, most of my friends are either Catholic or Christian.
I followed my friends to their church youth group.
Upon realising that I am buddhist (technically, I wasn't), they started to "attack".
One guy said "Buddha is a selfish person, because he abandoned his wife and child to seek enlightenment."
I was very upset by his remarks, yet, I could not defend Buddha, as I was a so-called Buddhist (like alot Singaporean Chinese) who do not understand the beauty & profoundness of Dharma -
I have forgiven his ignorance.
Buddha would not need to forgive him, as Buddha would never be upset by it. Buddha would wish that this person would be free from suffering and ignorance, and hope he find happiness in his life.
In fact, I should thank him for "attacking" me.
It exposed my ignorance and my lack of understanding of Buddhism.
I started to question my identity as a Buddhist.
That experience raised a lot of questions on various religions etc...
I read more about other religions and attended more services.
And found the teaching that resonated with me.
I am glad to say that I am less ignorant than 15 years ago.
However, I am still ignorant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Singapore Sprint Series Race 2 - Sprint Duathlon

This is the 2nd of the 3 Sprint Series Races.
Sprint Duathlon (3km Run, 15km Bike, 3km Run)
Prior to the race,
my dad asked me "You just bought your bike 1 week ago, and you are going for a race?"
My reply was a simple "Yup!"
In fact, my concern during the race was falling down from the bike, as my cycling skill is not good. I learnt cycling when I was 12 years old, and this is my first time owning a bike. So cycling is not really my kinda sport, but I am enjoying it.

I completed the race in okay timing.
Total Time: 1hr 02mins 50secs
3km run - 13mins 59secs
Transition Time - 2min 25secs
15km bike - 31mins 04secs
Transition Time - 1min 24secs
3km run - 13mins 55secs
Category Ranking: 37 out of 95
Gender Ranking: 179 out of 451
Overall Ranking: 204 out of 628
There was this lady who rode a unicycle to complete the 15km undulating slopes of mandai road.
Looking forward to the 3rd event in april.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Root of All Evil??

Challenging your belief & faith is a scary thing for most people.

After viewing this clip, it raised alot of new questions and some old questions (that I am aware, but refused to tackle or too tired to think about it). I still don't have answers. There are some points which I disagree with him, but that's fine. At least, I am aware of other views and open-minded enough to try to understand it.

**Warning: This is a very controversial documentary. View it if only you are open-minded enough. It might be highly offensive to some.

Taken from :

In this two-part documentary, Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins examines how religious faith is gaining ground in the face of rational, scientific truth. The program takes you to some of the world's religious hot-spots, both in America and the Middle East. Dawkins meets with religious leaders and their followers, as well as scientists and sceptics to examine the power of religion. Interviews with former Pastor Ted Haggard, the novelist Ian McEwan, the former Bishop of Oxford, and others offer valuable insights into the global impact and consequences of faith in the 21st century.



Somehow, I think Professor Richard Dawkins' life is at great risk, beacause there are too many fundamentalists around. If you don't agree, just let it be.

Lastly, something that i absolutely agree with him:

"We are privileged to be alive and we should make the most of our time on this world"- Professor Richard Dawkins

Friday, March 20, 2009

Innate Compassion - A lesson from my baby niece

Just want to share a lesson that I learnt.


A few month ago, on particular evening, my mum was helping my dad to remove "dirt" from his ears. And as usual, my dad would cringe in pain. My little niece (around 11 months old) was looking at my dad with distress, and her reaction/expression was shouting at my mum asking her to stop (that's my guess, as she still can't talk properly).

My little niece must be wondering why was my mum "hurting" my dad.

Nobody taught my little niece about compassion.

Somehow, she could feel the pain of my dad.

And she just expressed her compassion naturally.


Compassion is a innate quality that we (human beings) possess.

May be it is evolution, May be it is God given, May be it is our purest form...


It is heartwarming to know that everybody is capable of being compassionate at birth.

That's the little beauty of life! =)

If everybody practice abit of compassion, there will be more peace and harmony in the world.

(Taken at 6-Flags in California)
There is a child in everyone of us.
And there are so much things to learn from a child.
Yes, we are growing older, but
are we becoming wiser or more confused?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Movie: Okuribito “Departures” & Topic on Death

I was flipping through the news paper this afternoon, and I read an article about death. The journalist recently watched “Departures” and described his friends’ adverse reactions when it comes to the topic of death. I went to watch the movie immediately and it is a great movie.
I always like to touch on the topic of death, but a lot of my friends (many who are brilliant and clever) never gave a second thought about their deaths.

For example: One of my usual questions would be -
Do you prefer to have a slow and anticipated death (like contracting terminal illness) or a quick and un-anticipated death (like road accident or plane crash)? The usual reaction would be – I did not think about it, and let’s talk about something else. As for myself, I would definitely love to die peacefully at old age (hopefully). I want to die in an anticipated way so that I could say a proper & final goodbye to everybody.


On the day we are born, we are going to die.


I have a good friend (“A”) in the funeral business. I always enjoy talking to “A” about the funeral business, how to view our mortality and how to live life. Recently, “A” took up an embalming course, where they have to do real-life practices. To me, it was very courageous and brave. I told “A” that I would get very depressed if I am in the business.
I have NEVER despised anybody in the funeral business. It is work just like everybody else. Somehow, a lot of people view it as taboo and something that is “not clean”. I guess their view was clouded by their ignorance, their fear of death and their fear of unknown. In fact, it is a very dignified work to help to close a chapter in another person’s life.

There are 3 key lessons from the movie

1. Do not do anything that you will regret. Do not show temper and say bad things to people around you, as it might be your last encounter or conversation with that person. Do not use hurtful words to your loved ones and friends (you will definitely regret it).
2. Try to live life fully and uprightly, so that you will have no regrets (back to point one). The sad thing about life is not the end of life, but a life that is not lived to its fullest potential.
3. Learn to forgive others and forgive ourselves. A lot of regrets in life are things that we did wrong, but we did not rectify it or it is too late to rectify it. Everybody makes mistake, that is what that makes us human. Be magnanimous and let bygones be bygones. In fact, by forgiving others, we are freeing ourselves. We must also learn to forgive ourselves. Then, there will be peace in life.


A trivial story to share:

On the children’s day in 1985, most kids brought sweets to share with others; however, I went to Kindergarten empty-handed as my mum did not prepare anything. I was unhappy and shouted at my mum, who was apologetic and went to buy “jelly-sweets” immediately. I knew she felt bad about it. On the hindsight, I felt very guilty and regretful for my action and my insensitivity. May be because I was young, I had forgotten that my family of five cramped in a one-room flat and my dad was a blue-collared sole-bread winner who didn’t earn much – in short, my family was not doing well. Until recent years, I brought this up and apologized to my mum. She was extremely nice, saying that she had forgotten about it totally. Even though she had long forgotten about it and forgiven me, whenever I think about it, I still feel bad. I still have not totally forgiven myself.

I learn not to do or say hurtful things to your loved ones and friends.
I do not want to part this world in regrets.



Since I am on the topic of death, let me pen this down. I always wanted to pen this down (as suggested by my friend - “A”), but I never did.

In the unfortunate situation that I die tomorrow, all my moneys will go to my mother. For the material things that could be of no use to my family, please donate it to charity. I would like to have simple Buddhist rites for my funeral. I want the cheapest items for my funeral (like coffin, venue etc...), I do not need a grand/glam wake. I just want a peaceful wake and I would rather save the money for my family. I want to be cremated and the ashes to be disposed to the seas. I do not want any personal items to be in my wake (if I have spirit after death, I want to move on and put a closure to this life). I came to this world with nothing, I would leave this world with nothing too.
If food is served in my wake, please make sure that it is vegetarian too. I do not want to cause additional sufferings to any animals. Haha...
Lastly, please have a big “Thank You” sign on my wake. I want to thank everybody who has shared my short journey.
P.S. I have planned my “exit strategy”, have you planned yours?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book - "Rich Brother Rich Sister" by Robert Kiyosaki & Emi Kiyosaki

During CNY Spring cleaning, I realised that I have around 8-10 unread new books. I used have the tendency to buy books and keep them, but then, I realised that books are meant to be read and not collecting dust on my shelf, so I donated 5-6 books to library. I think I will donate more books soon - those are good books. I told myself that I would read them again soon, but after so many years, I still didn’t read them again. It is hard, but maybe it is time to free them.
So at the beginning of this year, I challenge myself to finish my unread books before purchasing new books. Unfortunately, I still bought a new book. The first time I saw “Rich Brother Rich Sister” was in Kinokuniya bookstore, I read 1-2 paragraphs and forced myself to return the book to the shelf. About a week later, I was in another bookstore – Borders, and I read a few paragraphs again and return it to the shelf. Finally, a few weeks later, when I was in MPH bookstore, I can’t contain my curiosity and my urge anymore, and bought it.
I failed my challenge, but I am a happier person after reading it.

I have read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki 7-8 years ago. I think it was a good book, but I did not read his other books, as I felt that the content and concept would generally be the same.

Anyway, “Rich Brother Rich Sister” is a very different book. To me, it is more like an auto-biography of Robert Kiyosaki and his younger sister – Emi Kiyosaki (Venerable Tenzin Kacho – her Buddhist name). It talked about their common childhood, and how they went their separate ways in life. To a large extent, Robert embraced Capitalism ($$$) and Emi embraced Spirituality (Buddhism). It is very interesting for both of them to share their views on a range of topics like “War and Peace”, “Heaven on Earth”, “Vision for Future”, “Leaps of faith”, “Heaven, Hell and Happiness”, “Life and Death” etc...


I found honesty in the narration of their lives. At least, Robert was upfront saying that he wrote this book to make more money and share their experiences with everybody.
Robert was a US Marine in Vietnam War (he has an interesting view on war & peace), a Xerox Salesman, a failed businessman, then a successful & Rich entrepreneur/author/speaker etc... Emi was a struggling young mother (unplanned), was a short-term hippie in San Francisco, and a Tibetan Buddhism Nun in America (ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama).


They led a very contrasting lifestyles, yet, I could find subtle similarities between them – the endless pursuit for happiness and truth, the courage to move out of comfort zone and make changes in their lives, non-conformist and being idealistic.

At the end of the day, they lived colourful lives, and more importantly, the kind of life that they wanted.

Below are some quotes from the book which I felt it is worth sharing:


“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still have the ability to function”- F. Scott Fitzgerald


Tibetan Saying “If you want to know where you come from, look at your life and experience now. If you want to know where you are going, look at your mind.”


“Often, we don’t fully appreciate something until we lose it, or nearly lose it. Being close to dying, and even killing, were great experiences because I gained a deep appreciation for the precious gift called life. Instead of living in fear of dying, I do my best to live a fearless life.... Rather than live in fear, I choose to live life with excitement, gratitude and giving back, in exchange for this gift known as life.” – Robert

“What is the life you were born to live? What special gifts do you bring to your world and how are you using them to serve? What is worth giving your life to, even worth dying for? - Robert

Sunday, March 08, 2009

My First RoadBike

My First RoadBike.
Previously, I thought it was crazy to pay anything more than $500 for a bike.
I mean I could easily buy a new mountain bike with $100 budget.
So when I wanted to get a roadbike, I set my budget at $500.
But when reality sets in... it was mission impossible.
Most of the roadbikes are 1K onwards... till $17,000!!!
I got a very good deal...
I spent around 1K for the bike, helmet ++ etc...
Test "ride" it today.
It was a great feeling!
I LOVE it.
Definitely much better than jogging.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Just watched “The curious case of Benjamin Button”...
To me, it is a story about growing old, facing death and being alive.
May be a lot of us would like to be like Benjamin, to be younger physically as the day passes...
However, it would be lonely journey...
I would choose to grow old like everybody else...
It is always nice to have people to share some parts of the journey with you...
One group of friends that I really treasure is my primary school friends...
The group of us (around 10) have been friends since 7 years old...
It is interesting to see how everybody changes and evolves over the years...

Seeing the “highs and lows” of everybody...

That’s life.

Seeing people getting married... having children etc...

That’s life too.

I am sure we will see death among us eventually...

It is not morbid; it is part of life too...

We should learn to be at peace with life...


On another note, I remember around 9 years ago back in 2000.
On a particular Wednesday, I was partying at Zouk’s Mambo Jambo with my JC friends.
The guys were serving our NS and the ladies were freshman in University.
There was a moment that I still remember vividly till today.
My friends and I were singing and dancing to Alphaville’s “Forever Young”.
And I really meant it.
I hoped time would freeze then...
I did not want to grow old...
9 years had passed since then...
I still hope that time would slow down...


Now, instead of hoping that time would slow down

Why don’t I make full use of it now?

Enjoy every moment and make the best out of it.

Pluck up the courage and take the plunge.

Experience new things in life.

Challenge life.

May be not long from now,
I would be reading this entry on my deathbed and reminiscing about my life.

Hopefully, I have interesting stories to share at my deathbed.

More importantly,
have the wisdom to be in peace with growing old and facing death.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Happy -> Success or Success -> Happy???

Success -> Happy
People working hard for money, and hopefully, they could enjoy the fruit of labour after accumulating enough wealth.
Happy -> Success
People would try to be happy by doing the things that they enjoy, and hopefully, this would lead them to some kinda success (monetarily)
I went to a talk by Ajahn Brahm today.
(As you can see, I am fan of him already)
He touched on the topic of Happy -> Success or Success -> Happy?
Coincidentally, I was scribbling some thoughts while i was on my way to work this morning.
Generally, people have been working so hard to reach a goal.
Needless to say, there would be a tremendous sense of joy and accomplishment when the goal is reached.
However, Is this joy SUSTAINABLE?
Do you need ANOTHER GOAL to be happy?
A few months ago, I was thinking if I wanted to do a GMAT or GRE. I listed out and weighted all the pros and cons of doing a MBA or MFE.
It was a tough decision until I asked myself this question:
Will I enjoy the journey?
Won’t it be nice to be able to enjoy the journey?
If I did not reach the destination, at least, I know that I enjoyed my journey.
That’s all that matters.

(Taken in Tibet while on the road)
I hope I could belong to the category of “Happy -> Success”.
I am still learning to savour every moment of my journey.
Still Searching and exploring....