Helping Others with Our Heart and Wisdom

So one day I was at lower pierce and saw some insects skimming along the surface of the water.  All was fine until I saw an insect struggling in the water.  Being kind and selfless, I reach out to save it.  Ok, it was probably not so heroic.  I just thought it was drowning and merely tried to fish it out … hehe

Photo I took of the mayfly scuttling around in the water.

I’ve dished out plenty of ants, houseflies, bees, tiny wasps from basins, toilet bowls, and yes mugs of water, so I was no stranger to insect rescue operations.  As I waited for the insect to recover, do some cleanup, I looked at it closely.

A picture from the internet of the insect that was resting on my finger.  Not taken by me … hahaha … This is more or less how it looked like, except that it’s wings was slum over my fingers and it didn’t look like it was in a rush to do cleanup.

Hmmm … … after a few seconds, something struck me.  It was like one of those Hollywood movies where the main character has a suddenly realisation of what actually happened!

I was not rescuing the fly.  It was quite happy cruising along, and as I discovered, it being a mayfly, it would breed in the water.  It was not drowning and didn’t require any rescue from me.  -.-”

That morning I learn something.  I learnt that we can sometimes make mistakes in our assessment of a situation and conclude wrongly that people need help.

Just as on the surface, the insect really looked like it was struggling, sometimes we may think that others have a problem and we have or are the solution.  The truth cannot be further from it.

When it struck me what was happening, I quickly put the mayfly back into the water and it didn’t drown.  I continued to buzz along, in the world of its own.

Sometimes when we go overseas to do humanitarian work, we hear of projects to build a modern toilet, to build this and that.  Is this an example of us looking at others as struggling in the water, when in fact they are doing just fine?

I’m not suggesting that we should stop our humanitarian works, but instead we should continue doing them, just to give more thought to them and not presume that we always have all the answer, or as a friend commented “What makes us think that transplanting our system to their country will help them when we ourselves are not necessarily happier?”.

Reminds me of the saying “A mud Bodhisattva crossing the stream cannot save oneself” … much less others.


A lesson in Perseverance and Team Spirit

Tell me you didn’t clap in the end!!  *clap* *clap* *clap*

It was too muffled to hear what they were saying, nor hear what the teacher told him.
But we can see that
1) No one jeered when he failed.  There was just silence.
2) No one made any false pretense of positive encouragements that the failed attempts were good.
3) Cheering came each time towards the point of execution
4) The peer encouragement seemed to be initiated by the students themselves.
The boy was crying, but no one appeared worried that he was getting hurt. There is no need to be so overly worried about self-esteem the way our society has become.
To become emotionally resilient, we need to learn to face failures, starting from small ones. To face setbacks. And when we do stupid things, to expect to be told off that we did stupid things.
Gambatte kudasai!!

That which has been put together

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Below is a beautiful explanation of Saṃskāra 行 by Venerable Thich Nu Tinh Quang that I chance upon!

Saṃskāra (Sanskrit; Pali saṅkhāra) is a term figuring prominently in Buddhism. The word means ‘that which has been put together’ and ‘that which puts together’.

In the first (passive) sense, saṃskāra refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental “dispositions”. These are called ‘volitional formations’ both because they are formed as a result of volition and because they are causes for the arising of future volitional actions. English translations for saṃskāra in the first sense of the word include ‘conditioned things,’ ‘determinations,’ ‘fabrications’ and ‘formations’ (or, particularly when referring to mental processes, ‘volitional formations’).

In the second (active) sense of the word, saṃskāra refers to that faculty of the mind/brain apparatus (saṃskāra-skandha) that puts together those formations.

For more on Samskara, formations, read on.

Eight Awakening of the Great Beings

:: Eight Awakening of the Great Beings ::

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“Buddhist Disciples! At all times, day and night, sincerely recite and bear in mind these eight truths that cause great people to awaken.” – The Buddha

There are the Eight Truths that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great people awaken to. Once awakened, they even more energetically continue to cultivate the Path. Steeping themselves in kindness and compassion, they grow in wisdom. They sail the Dharma ship across to Nirvana’s shore, and then return on the sea of birth and death to rescue living beings. They use these Eight Truths to show the proper course for living beings, causing them to recognise the anguish of birth and death. They inspire all to forsake the five desires, and to cultivate their minds in the manner of Sages.

If Buddhist disciples recite this Sutra on the Eight Awakenings, and constantly ponder its meaning, they will certainly eradicate boundless offenses, advance towards Bodhi, and will quickly realize Proper Enlightenment. They will always be free of birth and death, and will abide in eternal bliss.

Reserved Seating


Every now and then, there would be a STOMP posting of someone occupying a reserved seat and refusing to give up their seat for someone who needs it more.  Or it would be a post of some young person occupying the seat with empty seats nearby.

These posts quickly find their way on facebook and are typically flooded with outcries of disgust and contempt.  The mob calls for a witchhunt.  Hysteria ensues.

Lost in all these noise is the curious question of what “Reserved Seating” is and why it exist.

In December 2013, the “Land Transport Authority (LTA) installed new reserved seat designs in the new DTL1 trains … to encourage commuters to give up their seats whenever someone else needs it more than they do.

This is part of three ideas that came from a study conducted by LTA and the Singapore Kindness Movement between February and July 2013.

It is a wonderful idea and is aimed at promoting kindness.  With the seats in place for the past 2+ years, we do see people giving up their seats for others.  But does it mean that people were not giving up their seats before?  No.  There were people who give up their seats and those who simply won’t.  Not even with the reserved seats in place.

Short of passing a bill to fine those who do not offer their seats, commuters have started featuring those who fail the kindness bar.

No, passing a bill will not get people to be kind.  Kindness must come from within.  Passing a bill will only get people to pay the kindness “tax” of giving up their seat.  Like giving to charity, it must come willingly.  Once enforced as a rule, our intent gets warped somewhat, and it becomes a mechanical act of following a rule rather than doing it because we want to, or because it is the right thing to do.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.  Doing the right thing.

What is legal is not always ethical.  What is ethical is not always legal. Read More …