Update to Buddha Vacana on Facebook

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Work, Work, Work

Below is my sharing with a Buddhist on coping with work related difficulties.

Thank you for replying and again sharing with me your present work life.

It sounds like you are having a tough time at work. I hope things will turn for the better for you. But before the situation including your boss change, let’s look at what we can do on our side.

There are many areas that we can look at, but for a start, we can look at two primary aspects of it. External (worldly, superficial, processes) and internally (spiritual well being, motivation, satisfaction etc).

I tend to like to help people solve their problems with the simplest solution where possible. This is most helpful to achieve short-term improvements but stress and problems may recur if the internal aspect is not improved and developed.

The only job scope is the one given by our boss. Yes we signed on the dotted line, yes, there is the contract, terms and conditions etc, but on the ground, our immediate superior can and usually would assign us tasks and projects etc as needed. If our job scope remains the same from day 1 till we retired 30 years later, that would not speak well of us would we? Do we also complain when the boss give us a raise or promotion?

On the other hand, does that mean that we should slog and sell our whole life to the company? No, we should not. While our boss can assign to us tasks and projects he deem necessary, it is up to us to decide whether we still want the job if the scope has changed so drastically.

Between the boss’ demands and our ability to fulfill the tasks, we have to find a balance that we are can breathe in. Sometimes the right thing to do is let a project fail if it is stretching the team too thin. Yes, you heard me right. Sometimes a minor setback in a project is better than a breakdown in YOU. You are not defined by the project you do. That is not who you are. We should be responsible for our work but not be solely defined and bounded by it. It is ok to fail.

Failure will let your boss and management know that it really does not work. While we should not sabotage the project, there is no reason to break ourselves just so that the project goes smoothly.

If the boss still fail to see that there is a flaw in the work arrangement, you may want to rethink whether this job is suitable.

(Sidenote: What is your job title?)

On the spiritual (internal) end, it is important to be able to maintain the internal peace and calm while we work. As long as we decide to continue working in the company, we have to be at work for 9 ~ 11 hours a day. Whether we do it happily or not, we are still bounded by contract and duty to do it.

From a bodhisattva path point of view, going to work can be an opportunity to help solve sentient beings’ problems and difficulty. Work is precisely that. It is about transforming different problems into simpler or a different one and passing that problem to another person who in turn do the same until it is simple enough to be solved. Instead of dreading to do work, a bodhisattva ‘work’ with a mindset of helping others solve their problems, removing their stress and fear. They also do that with the intention of creating positive Dharma links in order to fulfill the long term resolve of leading oneself and others towards Nirvana!

From an arahant-aspirant point of view, going to work can be an opportunity to earn a livelihood that is blameless and if possible be of positive impact on others. In the process, if there is defilements arising in oneself, then it becomes an opportunity to practise mindfulness and watch how the
defilements arise and how they cease. And through that process, reduce and eradicate defilements gradually.

It is good to chant Amitabha and Guanyin pusa’s name everyday. For one who does that, one resolves to apply mindfulness in one’s life. A Guanyin pusa’s disciple will try to have loving thoughts and compassion towards all he see, hear or encounter.

The chanting can help us get centred even at work. When you hear the phone ring, let it remind you like the Buddhist bells, a reminder to be mindful, to be mindful of the Buddha and pusa’s qualities that we resolve to develop in ourselves. A reminder to be mindful of our body, speech and mind.

About your fears, it may be good to speak in person.
Whenever you are free, you and your family are welcome to come to the Buddhist Library to receive blessings and guidance. To avoid disappointment, do call in advance.

Hope this help you tide through your tough time.
May you be guided and protected by the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha!

Suki hontu! ^_^

基礎靜坐班 Basic Meditation Class (in Mandarin)


Metta Welfare Association基礎靜坐班 Basic Meditation class
(in Mandarin)




十堂課 10 classes

  • 基礎靜坐
  • 經行禪修

每逢星期日Every Sunday 7:30 pm ~ 9:30 pm

九月十九日開課 Starting 19 September 2010

指导法師: 釋傳觀

报名 Registration

慈光福利协会 Metta Welfare Association
Please call Ms Doris Koh at 6580 4631

Non-attachment vs Care-less

Cultivating non-attachment does not mean a careless detached attitude, instead it is a very active concerned
care and love for others. By non-attachment, we remove, or at least initially reduce, our strong emotional upheavals, moving our focus and attention from ourselves to others.

Attachment leads to much emotional baggages in us that does not help us or our loved ones; they mostly create the friction between us!

Watching the Mind Bounce

A bouncing ball captured with a stroboscopic flash at 25 images per second.

I received an email from someone asking for advice.  Agatha (not the real name!) ask why she is never content with what she has and keep looking for more.  She further asks what happiness is.  She feels weak and tired in the mind and heart.

I wrote her:

Congratulations ###! You have observed that you are discontent with what you have and keep looking for more! ^_^
Further, you rightly observe how this leads the mind and heart to be weak and tired. Well done!

As to why you do that? We all know the answer deep within. It is that we don’t know any better. As in, we don’t know any other way to be happy or to pursue happines (if happiness can be pursued externally at all!).

If your heart-mind is tired, let it rest for a while. When it leaps outward at the world, know that it is leaping, but try to just watch it but not go with it. Kinda like when you are in a movie and your phone goes buzzing silently and you know it is buzzing but don’t go check it.

Do this first and let me know what happens.

Suki hontu!

So dear friends, why don’t you try this today?  Try watching your mind* and see if you can observe but not follow the impulses that arises.  Try and see if you can do it like you know the phone buzz without necessarily checking the phone.  See if you can watch the mind bouncing without going along with it.


  • If you are not a Buddhist, the good news is you don’t** have to be a Buddhist to do so.
  • You just have to be alive (duh!)
  • Want to be happy
  • Ready to take charge and be responsible for your happiness
  • Committed to developing good mental habits

The Dharma is described as the Truth, not because we want to stake claim to be the Truth bearers or wish to disclaim others.  The Dharma is described as the Truth because its principles were observed directly by the Buddha and applies whether you believe it or not.  Just as the Law of Gravity applies whether you subscribe to it or even know it or not, you are accelerating at a rate of 9.8m/s2 (g ~ 9.80665 m/s).  

In a similar way, the Buddha’s teaching describes the Truth of our existence.  So, come and see for yourself.  Ehi passiko.

* For a more thorough discourse on observing and being mindful of the mind, see Digha-nikaya 22: Maha-satipatthana Sutta: The Great Frames of Reference.
** This is not a rationalisation for Buddhists to stop being Buddhists and pretending to practise.  :p  If you already subscribe to the teachings internally, why not commit to it externally as well?