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.
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. 
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. 
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.
Is it really that important to argue this topic?
Isn't it more important to have harmony in this world?
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. 
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!

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.

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.)
My Dear Spice Gang
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. 
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. 

There are lotsa uncertainties and challenges in the road ahead, but I am excited about it.
(Photo taken in Tibet - 2005)
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. 

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

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...