Sunday, May 27, 2012

Article: Turning 60: The Twelve Most Important Lessons I've Learned So Far

Tomorrow is my birthday — always an opportunity for reflection, but especially this time. For several weeks now, I've been thinking about what I've learned during the past six decades that really matters. Here's a first pass:
1. The more we know about ourselves, the more power we have to behave better. Humility is underrated. We each have an infinite capacity for self-deception — countless unconscious ways we protect ourselves from pain, uncertainty, and responsibility — often at the expense of others and of ourselves. Endless introspection can turn into self-indulgence, but deepening self-awareness is essential to freeing ourselves from our reactive, habitual behaviors.
2. Notice the good. We each carry an evolutionary predisposition to dwell on what's wrong in our lives. The antidote is to deliberately take time out each day to notice what's going right, and to feel grateful for what you've got. It's probably a lot.
3. Let go of certainty. The opposite isn't uncertainty. It's openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.
4. Never seek your value at the expense of someone else's. When we're feeling devalued, our reactive instinct is to do anything to restore what we've lost. Devaluing the person who made you feel bad will only prompt more of the same in return.
5. Do the most important thing first in the morning and you'll never have an unproductive day. Most of us have the highest energy early in the day, and the fewest distractions. By focusing for a designated period of time, without interruption, on the highest value task for no more than 90 minutes, it's possible to get an extraordinary amount of work accomplished in a short time.
6. It's possible to be excellent at anything, but nothing valuable comes easy and discomfort is part of growth. Getting better at something depends far less on inborn talent than it does the willingness to practice the activity over and over, and to seek out regular feedback, the more precise the better.
7. The more behaviors you intentionally make automatic in your life, the more you'll get done. If you have to think about doing something each time you do it, you probably won't do it for very long. The trick is to get more things done using less energy and conscious self-control. How often do you forget to brush your teeth?
8. Slow down. Speed is the enemy of nearly everything in life that really matters. It's addictive and it undermines quality, compassion, depth, creativity, appreciation and real relationship.
9. The feeling of having enough is magical. It rarely depends on how much you've got. More is rarely better. Too much of anything eventually becomes toxic.
10. Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and don't expect anything in return.Your values are one of the only possessions you have that no one can take away from you. Doing the right thing may not always get you what you think you want in the moment, but it will almost always leave you feeling better about yourself in the long run. When in doubt, default to calm and kind.
11. Add more value in the world than you're using up. We spend down the earth's resources every day. Life's primary challenge is to put more back into the world than we take out.
12. Savor every moment — even the difficult ones. It all goes so fast.

This article strikes a chord with me. 
There are so many points that I totally agree and have been trying to practice in my daily life.

The underlying philosophy and values are:
Impermanence of Life
Slow down
Being Good
Giving Back


Midnight Sun in Iceland

The World is Awesome!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tao Te Ching

Sage Lao Tzu (6th B.C.)

"The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao."

My friends and I would always quote this line and laugh about it, as we did not understand it. This book was a reading material for a leadership module when I was an undergraduate. After many years, pick up the book again and I start to appreciate it better. I still could not comprehend it fully and there are snippets of wisdom which make a lot of sense.

"Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return."

"A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is."

"He (the Master) understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn't try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn't need others' approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him."

"Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.

If you realize that you have enough,
you are truly rich.
If you stay in the center
and embrace death with your world heart,
you will endure forever."

"The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done."

"Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment, 
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, 
the world world belongs to you."

"All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power."

"I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patience with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world."

"If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can't achieve."


The Wisdom from 2600 years ago is still so relevant and insightful.
Hope you learn something out of it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Always be grateful towards our parents

"Mother is a boundless source of love, and inexhaustible treasure. But unfortunately, we sometimes forget. A mother is the most beautiful gift life offers us. Those of you who still have your mother near, please don’t wait for her death to say, “My god, I have lived beside my mother all these years without ever looking closely at her. Just brief glances, a few words exchanged — asking for a little pocket money or one thing or another.” You cuddle up to her to get warm, you sulk, you get angry with her. You only complicate her life, causing her to worry, undermining her health, making here go to sleep late and get up early. Many mothers die young because of their children. Throughout her life we expect her to cook, wash and clean up after us, while we think only about our grades and our careers. Our mothers no longer have time to look deeply at us, and we are too busy to look closely at her. Only when she is no longer there do we realize that we have never been conscious of having a mother." --- Extracted from A Rose for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh 

"If you were to carry your parents around with you for their whole lives - your father on one shoulder and your mother on the other - even to the point where they were losing their faculties and their excrement was running down your back, this would not repay your debt of gratitude to them. But you could repay the debt if your parents were not virtuous and you established them in virtue; if they were not wise and you established them in wisdom; if they were stingy and you established them in generosity; if they had no faith in the spiritual path and you led them to it." --- Lord Buddha

In other words, the best way to honor your parents is to be a person of good moral values and assist each other along the path.

My Mother's Hand.
Her pair of hands had went through so much hardship to bring us up.
I shall forever be grateful.

Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Want to know what is paradise?

Want to know what is paradise? 

Try asking these wise people 

- Street Kids in India, 
Physically deformed kids in Nepal, 
Terminally ill people in hospital, 
Beggars in China, 
Prostitutes in Bangkok, 
Shoe-polishing kids in Bolivia... 

Kids begging for money in Beijing, China
While they might be part of a syndicate, 
would anybody who has a good future want to join them?

A young Souvenir Seller (supporting his family), Bagan, Myanmar
His dream is to learn how to use computer.
He was beaming with joy when he told me that he didn't need to sell souvenir tomorrow (Saturday),
as he was going to school.

Kids killed in the Cambodian Genocide.

Slum in Hoi An, Vietnam
While we were having dinner together, the mother scolded the kids who wanted to eat the fried eggs (that was prepared for me). Having eggs was a luxury for the kids.

An orphanage with physically disabled kids abandoned by their parents.
The caretaker (seen in the photo) has some physical disability too.
Kathmandu, Nepal.

A street kid scavenging for food in rubbish dump.
Calcutta, India

12 years old kid polishing shoes to support his education.
La Paz, Bolivia

These strong people never stop fighting to improve their lives.
I thank them for the invaluable lessons.


What is a paradise?

May be you and I are already living in a paradise.

May be we are just unaware of it.

You might have the best of everything, 
without contentment and a sense of gratitude, 
you are just a miserable pauper.

Think about it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Where there is life, there must be death.

I was happy to learn the teachings of Master Sheng Yen, but I was also sad to know about him after his death and that I do not have the good fortune of learning from him. A good Dharma teacher is a rare gem. Even with great following from Businessmen to Politicians to Celebrities, he still remains a simple humble monk. That's a mark of a great Master.

"If the mountain won't move, build a road around it.
If the road won't turn, change your path.
If you are unable to change your path, just transform your mind."

"A passing boat leaves no traces upon the waters;
A bird's flight leaves no trace in the sky;
When fleeting success, failure, gain, or loss leaves no trace upon the heart,
the great wisdom of liberation has been achieved."

"Where there is life, there must be death. If one cannot face this reality it will become one’s greatest barrier in life, if one can regard death merely as a fraction within the eternal time and space then death is not an end to life but the beginning of the next."

"Busy with nothing, growing old.
Within emptiness, weeping, laughing.
Intrinsically, there is no "I".
Life and death, thus cast aside."

"The meaning of life lies in serving,
the value of life in giving."

"Our value depends not on how long we live,
but on how much we contribute."

"The deeper our compassion,
the greater our wisdom and the fewer our vexations."

"What I am unable to accomplish in this lifetime,
I vow to push forward through countless future lives.
What I am unable to accomplish personally, 
I pray for everyone to join forces to promote."

"The universe may one day perish, 
yet my vows are eternal"

- The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen (1931-2009)

For more, you can refer to this website.