Reflection on Death

A close friend once told me this. She shared that when she received the news of an acquaintance’s death, she thought of me.

She thought of how she would not be able to talk to me anymore. Not be able to see me again. How she can try all numbers and there would be no number that she can dial to reach me ever again.

Whether it is the death of ourselves or others, it is inevitable. Death separates us.

This is the way it is.

But rather than becoming morbid, it should galvanise us to really really start living. Living in the present. Being really present with our love ones mindfully. Speaking and treating each other with care and love.

All while knowing that it is not eternal or everlasting. The very nature of change allows for all kinds of possibilities.

While death is inevitable, the Buddha do not advocate suicide. Even for Arahants who has completed what needs to be cultivated and can enter parinibbana without blame, was advised by the Buddha to stay on, out of compassion for sentient beings.

Because death is certain and our passing moment is not, all the more, we want to make good use of each moment, to bring the most welfare and benefit to each other.

Then life is not just about materialistic living for our own present gratification nor morbid worrying about the future impending doom of death.

Rather, it becomes a very active form of living.  Really living.

Relationships are like a garden

Had a counselling session this morning.  Shared a bit about relations.

Sometimes relationships are described to be like a pot of plant.  How well the pot of plant grow and bloom depends on the active participation of all or both parties.  If only one party is actively contributing, the other party will feel neglected or unwanted.  In the long run, it feels like a one-person ride.

I think relationships can be further described to be a garden, with multiple pots of plants contributed by the parties involved.  In the picture above, person A has an ordinary pot of plant (ok looks bare!) and person B has a pot of cactus.  Each person visits the garden to enjoy the plants and eventual flower in it and participate in water the plants.

The type of plants can represent the personality type or the needs-type at that point in time.  So for an ordinary pot of plant, daily watering and tending may be needed while the pot of cactus from person B may only require weekly watering.

Can you spot the problems that may arise?

If person A start watering both pots with equal regularity, pot A will thrive while the cactus may well rot.

Whereas if person B were to water pot A only weekly like the way the cactus only require limited watering on a weekly or monthly basis, then pot A will wither over time.

Similarly, if there is a disparity between the needs of individuals in a relationship, it can lead to miscommunications, anxiety, uncertainty and fear.  Unfortunately, without communications and understanding, then person A may start watering even more and person B even lesser or even resort to draining both pots of water.

This may lead to a vicious cycle that is unnecessary and can well be avoided.

Where the disparity is mild, most couples can deal with it.  If the needs disparity has widen and both party must swiftly communicate and very importantly take simple but active steps to work towards mutual trust and understanding.

Granted, if the pots in the garden have already withered or rotted, then a choice has to be made.  To replace the potted plants with new ones and start afresh together or to find a new garden.

In this day and age, sadly, fewer and fewer people are into repairing things when they are broken.  Most people prefer to just throw them away and get new ones.

So will you simply throw away your pots and find a new garden or work together with your partner to bring in new pots and start afresh?

Inner Peace: How to find peace in this frantic world

An article I wrote for NTU Buddhist Society’s Prajna magazine.


This Frantic World

Another academic year has come and gone, let us reflect on how the year has gone and how we can find peace in our life amidst this fast paced frantic world.

As I write this, I recall the recent bombing in Istanbul airport and shopping district in Baghdad.  2015 and 2016 has been pockmarked with so much attacks in public places, one has to wonder if humanity is on its way to write itself out of existence.

And when bombings are not in the news, natural disasters such as earthquakes, droughts, floods and typhoons seem to be the new norm in weather and news reports.

As though man-made and natural disasters are not enough, we see news about the economy and it’s not a pretty sight whether back home or globally.

Even if one can ignore the news, there is the seemingly never-ending cycle of exams.  Is there ever an end to all these?

What can we do about all these?

There are three main areas that we would be looking at.  1) Areas of changes externally 2) Areas of changes internally 3) Areas of acceptance

Read More …

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!!