Friday, December 17, 2010

Beautiful Things in Life: Sky & Cloud


I was walking along the street.
Then, I realized the beauty of Sky and Cloud.
I was so touched and awed by its beauty that tears began to fill my eyes.
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Really grateful to be alive.
Sometimes we forgot that we are alive.
Sometimes we forgot that being alive itself is a form of miracle.

Beautiful Things in Life: My Niece reciting Chinese Poems.

Such a joy to watch her growing up.
=)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The fate of almost all male chicks

I felt really sick after watching this video....
I am challenging myself not to take egg or egg-related products for at least one month. It would be challenging and diffcult, as I will be traveling for the next few weeks. Would you do the same?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Alex the Talking Parrot


Well, it just shows us that animals are intelligent beings, hence, they experience love, fear, anger and other emotions just like us. If everybody see animals in this light, would they still eat them? Would a pet owner eat his/her pet? Animals are more than just food on the table, they are living beings with emotions. 
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Think about this when you want to eat them.

May All Beings be free from sufferings!


One New Experience Each Week - Photo with Ajahn Brahm

Yes!! Finally, I managed to get a Photo with Ajahn Brahm, who is one of the Best Dharma Teachers I ever met. The first time I attended his talk was in early 2009, and since then, I try to attend all his talks. I always leave his talk in peace, happiness and laughters. Yes, he jokes quite a lot.

He is indeed a very wise, compassionate, kind and humorous monk. I felt grateful towards Ajahn Brahm for sharing so many wisdom and great stories, and also inspire us to be kind and compassionate.


The purpose of this photo is to remind me to be grateful for his wisdom, sharings and teachings. 
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Last week's talk was on "Creation vs Evolution" - he did present his view on this topic based on his scientific background and Buddhist training, however, he also emphasized that such a topic is creating so much division and tension in the present world. Every religion is trying to argue and establish its own claim.
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Is it really that important to argue this topic?
Isn't it more important to have harmony in this world?
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Below is a classic story of a poison arrow shared by Buddha:

The Buddha always told his disciples not to waste their time and energy in metaphysical speculation. Whenever he was asked a metaphysical question, he remained silent. Instead, he directed his disciples toward practical efforts. Questioned one day about the problem of the infinity of the world, the Buddha said, "Whether the world is finite or infinite, limited or unlimited, the problem of your liberation remains the same." Another time he said, "Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth.- Thich Nhat Hanh, in Zen Keys

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Buddhist Perspective on Terrorism

In recent years, unfortunately, terrorism related news are always on the headline. It seems that the world political leaders do not know the best way to handle this complex situation. 
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I found compassion and wisdom in Ven Thubten Chodron views on Terrorism, and I totally agree with her. She is an American and below is her view on 9-11 & Terrorism. This is a rare gem!



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Taken from "Dealing with Life's Issues - A Buddhist Perspective" by Ven Thubten Chodron
If you like this article, you can download the e-book from this link.
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Question: The Buddha preached non-violence. How do we reconcile this with the concept of justice that the American government and many people internationally are demanding after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.? Is revenge a solution? How can innocent victims be compensated for their loss and suffering?

Reply: I haven’t heard the word “justice” used in Buddhism. I haven’t read that word in the scriptures or heard it in a teaching. But some other major world religions speak of “justice” a lot, and it’s a major concept or principle in those faiths.

What does “justice” mean? In listening to people use this word nowadays, it seems to mean different things to different people. For some, justice means punishment. In my experience, punishment doesn’t work. I work with prisoners in the States, and it is clear that punishment does not reform people who have nothing to lose to start with. In fact, punishment and disrespect only increase their defiance. Punishment doesn’t work with individuals, and I don’t think it works on an international level either. The Buddha never advocated punishment as in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Instead, he encouraged compassion for both the victims and the perpetrators of harm. With compassion, we try to prevent people who could potentially do criminal and terrorist activities from harming others in the future.

If compensation for loss means revenge, then as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Revenge doesn’t work. It does not undo the past. It only provokes more anger, hatred and violence, which causes both sides to suffer more. If victims of a tragedy think that somebody else experiencing suffering will alleviate their grief, they haven’t understood their grief. When we want others to suffer and we rejoice in their pain, how do we feel about ourselves? Do we respect ourselves for wishing others to suffer? I don’t think so. It seems to me that in the long run, holding grudges and cultivating vengeance only make us feel worse about ourselves. It neither relieves our grief nor pacifies dangerous situations.

If justice means preventing others from doing more harm, that makes a lot of sense. From a Buddhist perspective, those who have perpetrated great harm are suffering and have little control over their minds and emotions. They might harm others in the future. We have to prevent them from doing that for their own sake as well as for the sake of the potential victims. These people create tremendous negative karma when they harm others and will suffer greatly in future lives. Cultivating compassion for people on both sides — for the perpetrators and for the victims of terrorism — is extremely important. Motivated by compassion, we try to capture the people who perpetrated the terror and imprison them. We do this not because we want to punish them or make them suffer, but because we want to protect them from their own harmful attitudes and actions that damage themselves and others.

I am not saying that Buddhists advocate remaining passive when confronted with danger or harm. We can’t just sit back and hope that it doesn’t happen again. That does not make sense. We have to be pro-active in preventing future harm. We must find the people who support terrorism and stop their activities. But we do so motivated by compassion, not by hatred, anger or revenge. In addition, we must be honest about what we contributed to the situation and remedy that.

One New Experience Each Week - Vegetarian Buffet


Had my first vegetarian buffet @ Lingzhi. The food was delicious & expensive (a treat by K), but most importantly, it was the thought of accommodating my dietary needs that touched me, esp when none of them are vegetarians. 

Vegetarian Steamboat!
Vegetarian Dim Sum
(I thought I would never eat Dim Sum anymore... it tasted like the real thing. I missed the taste, but I do not miss eating pig or chicken.)
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My Dear Spice Gang
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K is settling down. Another K is taking 1 year sabbatical leave to think about life. Life is always in a constant flux of change, and no matter what happens, I am always grateful and thankful to know this group of wonderful friends. 
=)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A New Phase of Life...

Quite alot of things happened in this 2 weeks. This will definitely be one of the turning points of my life - not sure if it is for better or for worse. Experienced lotsa different emotions - Apprehension, Anger, Disappointment, Fear and Excitement. 
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Always learning more about other people and myself. Learning not to be too emotional at times, as it is pointless. Learning to refocus and reflect on the important things and people in my life. Learning to embrace uncertainties. 
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There are lotsa uncertainties and challenges in the road ahead, but I am excited about it.
(Photo taken in Tibet - 2005)
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Two days ago, I was reading an article about a fund manager whose entire life's reputation is at risk, as he uproots himself from London and focus entirely on China. His remarks resonated with me:

You don't want to get to the end of your life and say "Why did I not have a go at that?" 
- Anthony Bolton, fund manager. 

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A Wise Quote from a Japanese Buddhist Monk -  Nichiren (1222-1268), who started Nichiren Buddhism (e.g. Soka Gakkai)

"suffer what there is to suffer,
enjoy what there is to enjoy"

and drawing inspiration from my fellow Buddhist - Steve Job's speech at 2005 Stanford Commencement:

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Groomsman in a Church Wedding

A Protestant Church
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Groomsman
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Have attended a lot of church weddings, and this is my first time being a groomsman in a Church Wedding. Fortunately, there is nothing much for me to do, but to usher the guests, to accompany the groom, try to look smart. Haha...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Art of Being Happy


A wise quote that I like very much.

There will always be problems... not matter how hard I try or how well I do. There are too many things in the world that is beyond my control - at least, I can control my reaction, if I am wise enough. And what is life without problems and challenges? It is an opportunity to grow and to be wiser. If you do not learn from the problem/challenge, it will always be back until you learn how to handle it.

And if you are mentally prepared to handle the worst case scenario, you can handle almost anything fearlessly.

Today, a colleague asked me "Why are you still able to smile?"
My reply was "That's the best thing to do now."

Smile!
It is free!
=)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Sky Park

The problem with alot of people, including myself, is that we assume we have all the time in the world to visit the places of interest in our home country. Hence, we always procrastinate to visit the places of interest. For instance, I have not visited the Singapore Night Safari (The World's first nocturnal zoo) since it opened in 1994.
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Part of my "one new experience each week" is to visit all these places in Singapore.
This week is the new Icon of Singapore - Marina Bay Sands

View of Singapore Skyline from the Sky Park


Infinity Pool with a Great View


While the view is wonderful, the best part of the visit is spending some quality time with family. And seeing my little niece getting excited and fascinated by the sights is one of the best experiences. 

Mama, Keena & Papa
=)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inspiration: Aung San Suu Kyi - Release

Aung San Suu Kyi is recently released from her house arrest. I am extremely happy to hear that. She is such an inspiration - giving up so much in life for democracy and peace in Myanmar. She could easily lived a comfortable life outside of Myanmar, yet she chose to return to her homeland. Her strength and resilience is amazing.
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Visited Myanmar back in 2008, and it is the best country to visit in South-East Asia. The Burmese are great people and they deserve to have peace and good life.
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History has shown us that violence and brutality will never win the hearts of people. Tyrants (like the Burmese Junta) will never last. There are inherent flaws in using force and violence, and systems built on fear will eventually collapse. Ultimately, the good values would triumph - equality, democracy, fairness, freedom etc...
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Aung San Suu Kyi is the beacon of hope for Myanmar.
=)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Buddhist Tattoo

Yes, I finally inked "Om Mani Padme Hum" on my body
The Tibetan Mantra of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.
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While I was choosing a tattoo studio, I walked past a studio with the statue of Goddess of Mercy (The Chinese manifestation of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva), and I immediately felt that it is the right place to be inked. Not surprisingly, one of the tattoo artists also has the same tattoo. 
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This is my 2nd tattoo and it has equally deep meaning for me as my first tattoo.  And I am very happy to have this tattoo accompanying me till the end of my journey.
=)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Quotes

Some very wise quotes taken from a friend's FB:

Clementine:
What do we do?
Joel:
Enjoy it. Say good-bye.


+++



Letting go. You never really possess things, you merely hold them for a while. If you are unable to give them away, you are held by them.



Real Charity

Selected Excerpt from Real Charity 
By Ven KSri Dhammananda Maha Thera
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"You perform real charity if you can give freely without expecting anything in return. The act of true charity is wholesome, has no strings attached, and leaves both the giver and recipient free.
Among people who practise charity, there are some who give as a means of attracting others into their religion or creed. Such an act of giving which is performed with the ulterior motive of conversion cannot really be said to be true charity.
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There are many things which a person can give. He can give material things: food for the hungry, and money and clothes to the poor. He can also give his knowledge, skill, time, energy or effort to projects that can benefit others. He can provide a sympathetic ear and good counsel to a friend in trouble. He can restrain himself from killing other beings, and by so doing perform a gift of life to the HELPLESS BEINGS which would have otherwise been killed. He can also give a part of his body for the sake of others, such as donating his blood, eyes, kidnsy etc..."
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I just realised that choosing to be a vegetarian is also an act of charity. The word "Helpless Beings" strike a chord with me. Farm animals are helpless beings. I believe everybody should understand their actions (ie. eating animals) and think about the deeper effects of their actions.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Halloween @ Universal Studio Singapore

It was quite spooky and fun.
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But this still can't beat the spontaneous fun of dressing up & partying along Castro Street in San Francisco City during Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Priorities

Recently, a good friend asked if I am going to sign up for full Ironman next year, I told him probably not, as my health is a concern, and more importantly, my priorities have shifted.
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Then he asked what are my priorities, and after some thinking, I listed the followings:
1. Spending more quality time with family and friends
2. Sharpening my investment skill
3. Doing more volunteering work
4. Enriching myself with the wisdom of the world
5. More time for meditation
6. Learning to be happy and grateful every moment
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(Taken in Rajasthan Desert)
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In the quest for happiness...
& Enjoying my short journey...

Monday, October 25, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Malacca

The last time I visited Malacca was 16 years ago, and Malacca had recently became an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I had a great makan trip, even though I did not eat much as I am still a vegetarian. At the end of the day, it is the company that really matters.

Eating Peranakan Food in one of the old shophouses.
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Old Door
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Modernity
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Blue Rice - Peranakan Dumpling
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Selling outside a traditional Clan house
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Old & Rustic
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My Favourite Quote
"Let Go and Be at Peace"
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Zen Buddhism

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Dharma Talk by a Caucasian Nun

Just attended a talk by Venerable Thubten Chodron on the "Impermanence: Coping with Change". Well, idea of  the Impermanence of Life seems simple at the surface, and yet it is extremely profound as it encompasses almost everything in Life. More importantly, it helps me tremendously to see and understand the Reality of  Life, and learn to be at peace with it.
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Below is a summary of a part of the Dharma Talk:
The Venerable shared the death of an inmate, who was executed about 15 hours ago. She had been communicating with Don for the past 4 years, and Don became a Buddhist while in a Oklahoma Prison. Don was sentenced to Death Row for a crime that he committed in 1996. Read the story.
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Don admitted to the Venerable that he was not a good man (dealing with drugs etc..), however, he was not the murderer. According to the Venerable, there are too many loopholes and doubts in the case, and she believes that he is innocent. Unfortunately, the Parole rejected his appeal. Read the story.
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Don faced extreme anger and self-pity issues. He kept asking "Why Me?", as he felt that he was innocent. The Venerable woke him up by asking him not to waste time in self-pitying, and to spend the rest of his limited him on Dharma practice. For many years, he could not reconcile with his sisters - his only family (his parents were dead), and his sisters never visited him. A few months ago, Don let go of his anger and called up his sisters to show his love for them. It was a turning point for his sisters and him. 
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One of his sisters, who are staunch Christians, thanked the Venerable for changing her brother. What is Don's fear? He was afraid that he would not hear the Dharma in his next life or his next reincarnation. And 2 minutes before the execution, Don talked about Compassion and was chanting "Om Mani Padme Hum" until his last breath. Read part of the Story.
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While the Venerable was sharing the story, I felt connected to Don. He is just like anyone of us - capable of making mistakes, making wrong judgement, ignorant, scared of death, wants to love and be loved, and most importantly, he just wants Happiness. I did not see him as an inmate, but a Human Being like me.
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The Venerable candidly said that everybody in the hall is on death row, just that we were not as fortunate as Don, as we were not given a date to prepare for our death. Despite his death, Don's story has taught us Dharma, which is a way of accumulating good Karma. 
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We ended the Dharma Talk in Mass Meditation and sending our Merits to Don.
Hoping that Don will have the good fortune of listening to Dharma again.
Thank You Don!
Om Mani Padme Hum.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Sheesha

First time smoking a Sheesha
It was better to be late than never.
Definitely more enjoyable than smoking Cigarette or Cigar, but definitely more harmful.

One New Experience Each Week - SOKA Wedding

Went to my first SOKA wedding last weekend.
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Despite being exposed to various Buddhist Traditions, I was quite surprised on how the wedding was being conducted. I have learnt not to make any judgement on things that I am not familiar with. Fortunately, I had some understandings about SOKA prior to the wedding, so I could appreciate it better.

Goodbye G, hope you had a good journey.

A close friend (K) of mine just informed me the death of G, whom I got to know through K while we were in University. G was smart and hardworking, and excelled well academically. Even though G was only an acquaintance, I was sadden by the news. I could still remember seeing G studying really hard in library in preparation for exams. My impression of G was a bright, hardworking and pleasant guy. He had a bright future ahead of him. Apparently, he was discussing about buying property a month ago. Unfortunately, his journey was ended abruptly by an accident in England during a business trip. It is such a waste.
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Life is indeed fragile.
Hope he had a good journey.
May he find peace.
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Life is indeed impermanent.
The next life or tomorrow - we can never be certain which will come first 
 - Tibetan Proverb
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It will be a total waste of life not to live it fully and meaningfully.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thank You Mdm Kwa Geok Choo


Thank You for your quiet contributions to Singapore.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Beautiful Things in Life: My Niece =D

2Yrs & 7mths, yet she looks like a young adult.
Watching her growing up is one of the best experiences.
=D

Singapore Vegetarian Wall of Inspiration

Taken from http://picasaweb.google.com/vsspics/WallOfInspiration

Desmond Koh (An ex-National Swimmer, three-time Olympian and Rhodes Scholar) on becoming a  Vegetarian.

=)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


A book about a woman's search for happiness. Living a successful married life in New York, but everything just kinda fell apart for her. It was a great read, and woman can be a really complex creature. Eat in Italy, Pray in India, Love in Bali. 
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I found her story in India extremely interesting. I would definitely want to stay in one of those Ashrams in the future. Below is an excerpt from the book on her meditation experience:

"...most of us are always moving between three different levels of consciousness - waking, dreaming or deep dreamless sleep. But there is a fourth level too.... which is called turiya. Here's how you can tell if you've reached the turiya state - if you're in a state of constant bliss. One who is living from within turiya is not affected by the swinging moods of the mind, nor fearful of time or harmed by loss. 'Pure, clean, void, tranquil, breathless, selfless, endless, undecaying, steadfast, eternal, unborn, independent, he abides in this own greatness,' say the Upanishads, the ancient Yogic scriptures, describing anyone who has reached turiya state. The great saints, the great Gurus, the great prophets of history - they were all living in the turiya state, all the time. As for the rest of us, most of us have been there, too, if only for fleeting moments.... One instant, you're just a regular Joe, schlepping through your mundane life, and then suddenly nothing has changed, yet you feel stirred by grace, swollen with wonder, overflowing with bliss. Everything - for no reason whatsoever - is perfect..."

I got a feeling that most people who read this would think that the author was crazy. I totally believe her, as I have experienced such Wonderful Wonderful Bliss while I was meditating a few years ago. It was PERFECT BLISS & HAPPINESS. I want nothing else, but to stay in that state. However, I have not experienced it since then. =(
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Meditation is such a powerful tool.
I hope that I would experience that PERFECT BLISS again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Bangalore

Went to Bangalore for a short business trip.

Paid 950 Rps (S$30) instead of 650 Rps for Taxi Service from Airport to the City. Technically speaking, I was on a slow van and not an air-conditioned Taxi. I was abit upset, as I felt cheated paying more and sitting on a touter's vehicle. When we arrived at my hotel, the driver demanded 50% more for the surcharge after 10pm. I was mad, as I explicitly told him before boarding the Taxi that I would pay 950 Rps nett, which would include all the funny charges like toll fees, taxes etc... 
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He started to tell me story that he has 2 kids at home, he is a Christian and does not lie. He said that if I don't believe him, I could choose not to pay him. I told him straight into his face that I don't believe him, but I would still pay him 950 Rps as I honor my own word. And I had to fill up the receipt on his behalf.
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After giving him 950 Rps, he requested for an additional 50 Rps.
This is the India that I remember.
Welcome to India!
Something never change.
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Am I really upset?
Do I hate India?
Not really, as i acknowledge that this is just a way of life in India.
There are still lotsa wonderful souls in India.
=)
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Managed to find time for Darshana.
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Sri Radha Krishna Temple - the Holiest Temple in Bangalore.
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Public Laundry
Uniquely India
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I finally saw the Public Laundry! Previously, I saw it on the Amazing Race and other documentaries.
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Poster in a shopping mall.
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Bangalore is one of the best cities in India. The weather was great (dry and cooling), and generally more cosmopolitan. However, it is still very far from being a cosmopolitan city.
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Shiro Restaurant.
The ceiling was 4 storey-high and it has lotsa Buddhist Statues.
Expensive Good Vegetarian Lunch.
Love it. 
=)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Written by Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life.
Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly.
Choose happiness.

++++

Death always brings Clarity to the mind.
=)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Learning to deal with things beyond my control

After 2 consultations with Cardiologist, ECG test, 24Hr Urine Test, 3 Blood Tests, the cardiologist still does not know why I have very high-blood pressure.
Normal Range: 80/120mmHg
Mine: 97/169mmHg
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My profile does not suit the typical people with high blood pressure.
I am young.
I am a triathlete.
I exercise 4-5 times per week.
I am a semi-vegetarian.
I do not smoke.
I do not drink.
I do not stress myself.
I have enough sleep.
My family does not have a history of high blood pressure.
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The Cardiologist informed me that I would do 3 more tests 2 months later, and if he still could not find out the reason for my very high blood pressure, I would have to be on medication. He could advise nothing else, as I am already living a very healthy lifestyle. That's the Irony of Life.
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I know what I can do further.
No more Eggs.
No more Chocolate.
No more Ice Cream.
No more Cheese.
No more Pizza.
No more Sponge Cake.
More Fruits.
More Celery.
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He advises me to wait for the result in Nov before I decide if I should participate in the Dec marathon.
What else can I do?
I have done my best.
If my lifespan is shorten, I will not regret.
I have tried my best, and will be at peace with the outcome.
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Wish me luck! 
=) 

Friday, September 10, 2010

One New Experience Each Week - Buddhist Retreat

Went for my first Buddhist Retreat held at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. It was a 5-days Mindfulness Retreat led by a very famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Nanh (Thay - Vietnamese Word for Teacher) (who was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King) and the monks & nuns from the Plum Village (in France).

Cute Statues around the compound.
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Monks & Nuns Choir
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The monastics are quite progressive and I was quite happy to listen to them singing Buddhist songs in english with some monks playing guitar, violin & cello at the background. It sounded more like soothing New Age music than the traditional Buddhist music. That's good!
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The monastics is quite international - One Third of them are Caucasians. The 700+ strong participants are quite diverse as well - quite a number of Caucasians and Indians. Among the crowd, I saw my JC teacher and my University Professor who was very well-respected. Thay also introduced 1 nun who was a  medical doctor in USA and 1 monk who was once a successful businessman and was also a Catholic Priest. The retreat was conducted in english. This is truly a globalized world. 
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One of the main rules is to observe the Noble Silence... Despite in dining hall with several hundred people, it was very quiet. No food was wasted and everybody ate mindfully. We were supposed to chew at least 25-30 times, and be mindful of the present moment as well as be grateful for the food.
These are the 5 contemplations that we observe while eating.
Very meaningful.
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I left the retreat on the 3rd day. I was struggling to make this decision - I was committed to learn and experience as much as possible (Took Off from work), however, I did not gain new insights from the practices. I have alot of unanswered questions during Thay's Dharma teachings. There was no Q&A session. Telling me that Form = Emptiness & Emptiness = Form, just confused me even more. I believe I was not ready and incapable to comprehend the profound Truth.
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I am still grateful towards Thay and the monastics from Plum Village. They really radiate genuine happiness, warmth and kindness. I am proud and happy to know so many wonderful Dharma brothers & sisters working hard towards the alleviation of sufferings in the World. I wish them all the Best and may they attain Enlightenment soon.
=)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

One New Experience Each Week

I am starting this entry of doing something new each week.
=)

Driving a convertible to work
Not mine, but it was still nice experience.
The weather was cooling enough to bring down the top.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Beautiful Things in Life: Portrait of Boon

Portrait of Boon
(Drawn by my 2.5 years-old Niece)
After Keena drew the picture, 
she pointed at it and said "舅"!
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Not the nicest depiction of me, but
I just LOVE it.
=)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limbs


Truely Inspirational!
If only those who are suffering from depression could see life from his perspective...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You don't need belief and you don't need faith

Read a good article about Buddhism in Australia

Adele Hulse relates her opening to Buddhism: "When I first met Lama Yeshe (her guru) my father had just died. Lama Yeshe said, What is born must die'. I said,I don't believe this stuff', and he said, `you don't have to believe. In Buddhism you don't need belief and you don't need faith. You need intelligence and understanding.'''

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mahjong Mahjong

I spent 16 hours playing Mahjong with friends. We started at 2pm and ended the session at 6am (we had a break for a short dinner only). This is a new record for me.
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Another new record for me:
I was the second player and I could not believe my eyes when I saw my tiles - it was PERFECTLY arranged.  After I drew my first tile, I won immediately - Ping Hu - Men Qing - Zi Mo!!!
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None of us (with more than 40 years of collective mahjong experience) have seen anything like that before. You gotta be a mahjong player to appreciate the RARENESS of this win. 
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I might never see such a win again in my life.
That's how rare it is.
=)

Volunteering at Communicable Diease Centre

Last friday evening, It was my first timing visiting Communicable Diease Centre (CDC), where I was supposed to befriend & counsel some of the HIV/AIDS Patients warded there. I was a bit apprehensive, as I was not sure if my presence is of any value, and I had never met any HIV/AIDS people before.
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Even though HIV is not transmitted via bodily contacts, there are many precautionary measures for volunteers like me, for example, washing our hands every time we exit the ward, as well as wearing personal protective equipment like glove & mask. 
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It was the first time in my life that I massaged strangers. For a moment, my pride and ego surfaced and I asked myself :why did I want to massage them? What have they done to deserve my service? 
Then, I realized that all these questions arise from my ego and they are secondary. The more important question is: Did I bring comfort and love to someone who is terminally ill and in need of some kindness?
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At the end of the day, I was happy that I could bring comfort (even though it is insignificant) to AIDS patients who are badly stigmatized by the society. 
I think I would continue this service.
=)
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Quote:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  
~Dalai Lama

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives flowers.  
~Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Karma @ Work - Lesson from a Cracked Holder

A few weeks ago, I went to a Hypermarket and wanted buy a plastic holder, as I was still considering other alternative, I decided not to purchase it. (Day 1)
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The following day (Day 2), without any communication, my sister bought the plastic holder that I saw and used it in her room. I found the holder to be useful and it was exactly what I needed.
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The next day (Day 3), I went grocery shopping with my family and I bought the plastic holder. When I came home, I found that the plastic holder was cracked. Naturally, I was a bit angry and I asked my sister who was carrying the bag, if she accidentally dropped or knocked the bag.
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After seeing my cracked holder, my sis told me that she saw the cracked holder in the Hypermarket at Day 2, so she chose a good one and left the cracked holder back on the shelf. She asked why I took the cracked holder.
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Suddenly, everything makes Absolute sense.
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On Day 1 when I visited the Hypermarket, I dropped this plastic holder onto the floor WITHOUT realising that I caused the crack and placed it back to the shelf. On Day 3, I took the plastic holder from the shelf WITHOUT  realising that it was cracked.
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I caused the crack, and I got to keep the crack.
There was no reason to be angry.
It is a wonderful lesson.
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I am the cause, and I accept the effect.
The Law of Karma always work in a mysterious way.
=)

The Crack

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2 Years of Flexitarianism

It started with a nightmare in Aug 2008.

Do I still crave for meat? 
Yes, occasionally.
But sometimes, when I smell cooked meat, 
I felt a sense of repulsion and disgust.

Reiterate the quote:
'nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.'
- Albert Einstein



Book: The Adventure Capitalist - The Ultimate Road Trip

"Financier Rogers retired at 37 and motorcycled around the world, turning the trip into the book Investment Biker, a hybrid of business advice and travelogue. That journey, however, failed to squelch his wanderlust. Instead of enjoying his sedate life teaching finance, Rogers decided to take his fiancée and a souped-up Mercedes on a frighteningly intense road trip: three years, 116 countries and 152,000 miles."

He is living the Ideal Life and his predictions about the world economy are quite accurate.

My Key Takeaway:

"If the trip killed me, I would die happy, pursuing my passion. And that was better than dying on Wall Street someday with a few extra dollars in my pocket." 

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

Each person who chooses to pledge will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision to pledge. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.
The Pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations.

While the Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from efforts in the past and at present that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds. We are inspired by the example set by millions of Americans who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.
+++

Statement by Warren Buffett:
Some material things make my life more enjoyable; many, however, would not. I like having an expensive private plane, but owning a half-dozen homes would be a burden. Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.

My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I've worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate's distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.

The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.

+++

Truly Inspirational!