Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goodbye Kah Leong. RIP.

My second friend who passed away in the last 2 weeks.

Kah Leong passed away suddenly on Wednesday 3am, after a supper with his wife who is 6 months pregnant (2nd Child). He was an award winning real estate agent and was still working hard on tuesday, when he posted a rental listing on his facebook.

We were in the same class for 4 years during secondary school, but I did not keep in touch with him. I only "reconnected" with him recently via facebook. During school days, he wasn't the nicest guy around, and  could be quite crude with his choice of words. He was very athletic and was part of the school basketball team. In fact, he was quite proud (and vocal) of his physical ability.

Well, the irony is that he died of heart attack. I read on the newspaper that he had heart problem for 5 years already and went through 2 heart surgeries. Most of our friends are shocked, as he was always very fit and healthy (at least, that was the impression).

I felt that it was pointless to be proud and competitive. It is good to work hard and strive to be our best, but it is really pointless and meaningless to put others down (as though the only joy in life is to win other people). In the race of life, sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind, but at end, you realized that you are alone in the race.

I felt sad that he left so early. He was very driven and motivated, and he had a young family to support.
Early this year, he tattooed "Carpe Diem" and shared it on facebook, and his remarks was 

"Seize the day!!! My boyhood dreams finally fulfilled!!!"

Indeed, we should follow this mantra "Carpe Diem".
Life is too uncertain. 
There is no time to waste.

Goodbye Kah Leong.
Hope you had a good journey.
Rest in peace.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Article: Pain is not wrong

"Whenever we react to pain with fear and view it as “wrong,” we set in motion a waterfall of reactivity. Fear, itself made up of unpleasant sensations, only compounds the pain—now we not only want to get away from the original pain, but also from the pain of fear. In fact, the fear of pain is often the most unpleasant part of a painful experience. When we assess physical sensations as something to be feared, pain is not just pain. It is something wrong and bad that we must get away from.

Often, this fear of pain proliferates into a web of stories. Yet, when we are habitually immersed in our stories about pain, we prevent ourselves from experiencing it as the changing stream of sensations that it is. Instead, as our muscles contract around it and our stories identify it as the enemy, the pain solidifies into a self-perpetuating, immovable mass. Our resistance can end up creating new layers of symptoms and suffering, since when we abandon our body for our fear-driven stories about pain, we actually trap the pain in our body.
When, instead of Radical Acceptance, our initial response to physical pain is fear and resistance, the ensuing chain of reactivity can be consuming. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat our pain. This same process unfolds when our pain is emotional—we resist the unpleasant sensations of loneliness, sorrow, anger. Whether physical or emotional, when we react to pain with fear, we pull away from an embodied presence and go into the suffering of trance.
Yet, we need to realize that being alive includes feeling pain, sometimes intense pain. And, as the Buddha taught, we suffer only when we cling to or resist experience; when we want life different than it is. As the saying goes: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
When painful sensations arise and we can simply meet them with clarity and presence, we can see that pain is just pain. We can listen to pain’s message and respond appropriately—taking good care. If we are mindful of pain rather than reactive, we do not contract into the experience of a victimized, suffering self. We can meet whatever presents itself with Radical Acceptance, allowing the changing stream of sensations to simply flow through us without making any of it wrong.

Bye Benjamin C and RIP.

Benjamin C passed away suddenly last week. It was shocking for everybody, as he just got married a month ago and celebrated his birthday with his wife in Gold Coast recently. When I saw his motionless body lying in the casket, it was unreal. It is a weird feeling to see a friend who was normally smiling in that casket. Somehow, it is hard to accept that Ben is dead, and it has affected for me the past week.

I am not exactly close to Ben, but our lives overlapped a few times. I knew Ben during my freshman year in university, and we joined a  faculty student club where he was the marketing director and I was reporting to him. We also took a same module in our freshman year, then we were in the same university program where we spent one year in Silicon Valley.  

Ben was a smart and driven person. He was always smiling and concealing his emotions behind the smile. I got to know him better during the 1 year in Silicon Valley. He was normally friendly, but very opinionated as well. And he definitely had a kind heart.

It was 14th Feb 2002, and we were attending the music module class. As it was valentine day, quite a number of girls in our class received roses and gifts, and Ben suggested that we should buy a rose for our group mate (Cindy) who was unattached. It was a very nice gesture and intention.

After we graduated, Ben worked as a financial planner for a while. He sat down with me and explained the importance of financial planning. He told me that I should start saving and cut down on unnecessary expenses like dining in restaurant and overseas travelings. And I should start planning for retirement as he had already planned his own retirement. That's the irony of life. He was left the world at the prime of his life.

When we were in Silicon Valley, I had series of misfortunes. On the day that I purchased my car, someone smashed my window and broke into it. The following day, I got into a minor car accident. I did not have money for the repair works, and I did not want to get help from my family (as my parents were not doing well financially). I was really feeling down & sad, so I decided to stay at home that weekend. Ben came over to my place and offered to drive me from South Bay to San Francisco City to cheer me up. That is very kind of him.

A Photo of Ben that day in San Francisco, with his signature smiling face.

Ben had been successful in his life. It was quite shocking and sad that he left this world so suddenly. My sadness was deepen when I knew that Ben was very very unhappy during the last few weeks of his life. I am really sad that he left this world with so much unhappiness.

Bye Ben.
I hope you are in a better place now.
May you be free from suffering.
Rest in peace.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Book: Old Path White Clouds

After my vipassana meditation, an old gentleman (Retired Civil Servant, Ex-Christian, Meditator) who converted to Buddhism in recent years recommended me to read this book “Old Path White Clouds” – by Thich Nhat Hanh

I thank him for recommending this book, which is one of the best books I ever read in my life. I am not exaggerating. If there is only one Buddhist related book that I should read, this would be the one. 

This book is about the Life of Buddha. The author made an effort to retell the story of Buddha in a very “human” way. There is no supernatural or magical feat mentioned in the book. Buddha faced many challenges along the path just like everyone of us, but he dealt with the challenges with wisdom and compassion. There are just too many wonderful things to learn from him. 

Buddha is a revolutionist in his time. He abandoned his life as a prince in search for Truth. He disregarded the Indian Caste system and societal pressure to ordain the “untouchables” and women to be part of his spiritual community. (Note that: Both untouchables and women had no status in India back then, even now at some parts of India.) He is guided by principles and values, not by tradition and dogma beliefs. In 2500 years ago, Buddha saw that everybody as equal. That itself is revolutionary. 

Buddha discouraged his disciples to idol worship, and told his disciples to accept his teachings only if it makes sense to them. There is no eternal condemnation. 

There are too many wonderful stories to share, below is one of my favorites: 

Context: Buddha had attained the supreme enlightenment and went back to his father kingdom to share his teachings. 


The King (Buddha’s father) said “I thought surely you would come to the palace to see your family first. Who could have guessed you would instead go begging in the city? Why didn’t you come to eat at the palace?” 

The Buddha smiled at his father. “Father, I am not alone. I have travelled with a large community, the community of bhikkhus (monks). I, too, am a bhikkhu, and like all other bhikkhus, beg for my food.” 

“But must you beg for food at such poor dwellings as there around here? No one in the history of Sakya clan has ever done such a thing.” 

Again the Buddha smiled. “Perhaps no Sakya has ever done so before, but all bhikkhus have. Father, begging is a spiritual practice which helps a bhikkhu develop humility and see that all persons are equal. When I receive a small potato from a poor family, it is no different than when I receive an elegant dish served by a king. A bhikkhu can transcend barriers that discriminate between rich and poor. On my path, all are considered equal. Everyone, no matter, how poor he is, can attain liberation and enlightenment. Begging does not demean my own dignity. It recognizes the inherent dignity of all persons.” 


May all beings be free from sufferings. _/\_