Volunteers’ Appreciation Dinner 2014 – Some reflections for the evening

Got back from the retreat at noon, had a parents’ class, followed by children’s classes.  The day ended with the KMSPKS Volunteers’ Appreciation Dinner 2014! (Address by my shifu and my reflections down below)

The whole dinning hall on the 2nd floor of Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall is filled to the rim with volunteers tonight!

 

The night started with shifu’s address, emphasising on gratitude towards the volunteers’ contribution to the Buddhist community and the monastery.  He also highlighted how while lay buddhists come and volunteer, it is a form of giving (dana, 布施), and we should contribute happily.  And by happily, it means we must learn the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) so that we can overcome our defilements (烦恼), which is the aim of Buddhism.

He then urge all to continue to serve the community and at the same time learn more of the Buddha Dharma, by attending the Dharma classes and talks, and concluded once again with much thanks and gratitude for the support and effort by the volunteers.

 

Performance by our monastery choir starting off the evening’s programme.  Feeling a crooning humming?  Come sign up with us http://youth.kmspks.org

Second performance by the lovely children from the Saturday Sunday School in KMSPKS ^.^

Our volunteer teacher instructor for their dance performance … wow!

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More performances by our youths!!  woo hoo!! ^_^

 

And here comes the finale performances.

TIL* that instagram video capture requires you to press … AND HOLD!!  *face palm* myself. -.-“””

So the only video clip I took of the ACC performance during the KMSPKS Volunteers’ Appreciation Dinner was three short spurts … … o_O

TIL – Today I Learn

But what a night!  One thing that the students from ACC said about their choice of the song “龙的传人” touched me.  They heard that many Singaporean Chinese do not speak Mandarin, so they wanted to come here and share with us the Chinese song, to encourage us, that if they being Africans can sing the song “龙的传人” those “gan-dang” among us can also learn and appreciate Chinese language and culture.

Shifu used to be “gan-dang” too.  But after ordaining as a monk, I had to learn Chinese from scratch.  Sutras are in classical Chinese and all lessons were in Mandarin, taught by my late compassionate ordination teacher, Master Miu Jing.  Over the years, lugging around thick dictionaries (for Mandarin and Buddhist technical terms), and much much support and guidance from senior venerables, I’ve managed to shed my “gan-dang”ness to become more bi-lingual. ^_^ (y)

So, take up the challenge today!  Come learn Chinese, and unlock the marvel and wisdom within the Chinese culture and the Buddhist sutras (scriptures) translated by our lineage Masters!

 

Q&A: Internet addiction, chanting Buddha’s name and pungent roots

Question and Answers

Below is a repost of some questions and answers that I thought would be helpful for all.

Reformatted for clarity.

Hi venerable!

Thanks for answering my questions, I really appreciate it! I have a couple of questions to ask the venerable:

1)Regarding my question on internet addiction, let’s say that the person surfs the internet for a total of 6 hours( 3 hours in the afternoon, another 3 hours at night) and has started to neglect his studies, what can he do to reduce his addiction and concentrate on his
studies?

2) Also, can chanting a buddha’s name really enhance a person’s wisdom? Can I chant the buddha’s name( or Bodhisattva’s name. Say, Manjusri Boddhisattva’s name) so that I can memorise and understand a lot of Mathematics equations well?

3) Why is it that Mahayana Buddhist are encouraged not to eat the 5 pungent plant?

Thanks for answering my questions!

Hi Pandaboy,

Apologies for the delay in replies. Hope this is still helpful!

1. Internet Addiction

What makes you Tick?
The first thing one should perhaps do is ask oneself why the addiction should be dropped. It has to be one’s personal reasons. And by personal, I mean, reasons that matter to you and not from some guidebook.

Only when you have good enough reasons to do so, will the suggestions below work.

Peer Support/Pressure
A way to reduce the addiction, is to Change the cycle. And by that, I don’t mean stop using internet. I mean, using it in a different manner.

Tell someone you trust about your situation and see if they can help you out. Access the internet with him/her and limit it to that period. It should not be someone who also uses the internet for 6 hours or more a day!

Telling someone about it and making the above arrangement creates peer support so that you get someone you trust to help you out. Because you’ve made your plan open, you also get a little positive peer pressure to do it right!

Cold Turkey
Another way is to Break the cycle.
Get involved in other activities that does not require the internet. Let your friends know in advance that you will be off-line for a few weeks. This may be tricky if your school requires you to correspond on subject matters using the internet. If possible, get a trusted friend to assist in this area.

Path of Least Resistance
We humans typically choose the path of least resistance. Make it harder to access internet. Say, cut off your internet access at home? This may only prove to be useful if you are under direct supervision of your parents or guardian(s). If not, it is likely that you will circumvent the very obstacles you setup and then go on an internet-binge thereafter.

Whoever you are trying to help break the addiction, it may be helpful to bring the person to seek help in person.

2. Chanting of a Buddha’s name

Reciting the Buddha’s name has been endowed with numerous “powers”. My personal take is that while such claims had been experienced by individuals, it may be helpful to see how it can be practically put to practice.

For one, reciting the Buddha’s name is a form of simple meditation that can lead to inner calm and tranquility. This clears up our mind and make it easier to focus and learn. In that way, recital of the Buddha’s name can be helpful for your wisdom and studies. But you still need to do the studying!

It is like the sharpening of an axe; you still need to do the chopping!

3. The Five Pungent Plants

The avoidance of the five pungent plants fall under the Bodhisattva vows. The five pungent plants are said to be strong stimulants that can agitate the mind. The aim of avoiding them is to reduce the impact of stimulants on our mind. This is especially true for those striving to be a Bodhisattva.

For most people who are not training on the path, the impact of the pungent plants may seem negligible. This is because our mind is already agitated by our constant pursuit of our wants, desires and cravings. It does not however mean that there is no impact; it just mean that we are unaware of the impact because our mind is too desensitized already.

Consider how we can hear clearly something drop in a (quiet!) library while we are oblivious to many things when we are in shopping mall. In the former, there are little distractions, while in the latter, we are too busy with all the attractions
out there to see or hear anything else.

Hope this clear things up for you.

With metta,

:)

Letting go 放下

Someone asked me on facebook about the Buddha’s teachings on “Letting go”, below is my reply. (English right below)
有人在面簿上问我有关佛陀宣说的『放下』。以下是我的回答。

 

 

First off, don’t let go.  Start by observing the people, matters and things that we cannot let go and find out what all this is about.  Apply the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, dependent arising, emptiness (of inherent nature) or no-self to reflect and observe.

When we slowly see clearly the inter-dependent-arising relationship between all of us, we would not be so attached to our self and esteem, and our unreal projection on others will cease.

However, this gradual “letting go” in reality does not exist.  Without attachment, there is no need to “let go”.  Further, “letting go” is not “giving up”.  “Let go” of our deluded thinking and attachment, not give up on people, matters and things.

Amituofo. :)

 

Everything in Control?

IN CONTROL?

 

Probably of the TV Channels only. 

We want to be in control of our life, computer settings, handphone settings, work, home…etc. How about our emotions and feelings? Are we in good control of them?

Learn to be in control of your emotions at the Sunday Group Cultivation.

This Group Cultivation happens every Sunday, where you will meet a group of like-minded people to share and discuss with the Venerable.


Date: Every Sunday

Time: 2pm – 3:30pm

Venue: Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall, Level 1, Classroom 5.

Free Admission for ALL AGES (no registration required ;))

Programme

• Puja – Short Pali puja + Heart Sutra (in mandarin, it’s easy!)
• Meditation – Short meditation
• Dharma sharing and discussion – Weekly themes with special topics on occasions
• Dedication

Please share with those whom you think will benefit from the session.

What is Emptiness and How Can We Apply it in Our Life Today? Heart Sutra Workshop 17 Aug – 19 Oct 2014

 

HEART SUTRA WORKSHOP

Date: 17 Aug – 19 Oct 2014 (Sun)

Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm

Venue: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall, Level 1, Room 9

Registration: Now till 11 Aug or when registration is full.
Limited to 150 participants!

For more information, please visit KMSPKS
website
or read below for more details.

What is Heart Sutra? 《心经》

The Heart Sutra is one of the most common sutra recited in temples and monasteries worldwide.

While being the shortest, at 260 Chinese characters, it expounds deep and profound teachings of Emptiness as taught by the Buddha.

色不异空、空不异色。

色即是空、空即是色。

What is Emptiness and how can we apply it in our life today? How do we recite this sutra and how can we change ourselves so that we can become happier?

Come join us for the Heart Sutra workshop and learn more!

Heart Sutra Workshop
Workshop Programme (conducted in English)
- Puja
– Recitation of Heart Sutra (Learn to recite!)
– Teachings
– Discussion
– Meditation
– Dedication of Merits
Date: 17 Aug – 19 Oct 2014 (Sun)
Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm
Venue: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery,
Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall, Level 1, Room 9
Course Offering: $40
Closing Date: Now till 11 Aug or when registration is full.
Limited to 150 participants!
Registration Venue: Reception office | 9.00 am – 4.30 pm
Enquiries: Tel: 6849 5300 | Email: s...@kmspks.org
Registration Form: Heart Sutra Reg Form (Excel)
Heart Sutra Workshop conducted by Venerable Chuan Guan
Heart Sutra Workshop conducted by Venerable Chuan Guan

Just when will Singapore Go Solar?

Solar energy promises green energy that is as unlimited as the sun goes.  Is the technology sound enough for use in equatorial Singapore?

Germany broke world solar power generation record in July
with 5.1 TWh, leaving U.S. in dust

http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/germany-breaks-world-solar-power-generation-record-july-2013-51-twh-leaves-us-dust.html
Germany’s not a very sunny place, yet yet it leads the world in solar power, showing that you don’t have to be in the middle of the Sahara desert to generate lots of clean power from the sun.

Treehugger reports that Germany has broken world records by producing 5.1 terawatt-hours in July 2013.

If Singapore start funding solar research or initiate solar deployments in new towns, how much of our energy consumption can go green in sunny Singapore?

Solar energy, anyone?

 

http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/germany-breaks-world-solar-power-generation-record-july-2013-51-twh-leaves-us-dust.html

Blessing of the Flower Mandala

Flower Mandala @ KMSPKS
Completion of Flower Mandala at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

Yesterday was Vesak Day, and at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, we celebrated it with 3-steps-1-bow on the eve, recitation of the Buddha’s teachings,
lantern displays highlighting the four gratitudes towards one’s parents, country, sentient beings and the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha).  A fifth highlighted this year was the very planet earth we all reside in.

Without our parents, we do not even exist.  Through them, we are born and with their love, care and upbringing, we learn values, get an education and come to be where we are now in life.  But it is also not just through them.  Without the nation, with its infrastructure, the peace and stability (where exist) that they are able to bring us up.  In some cases, the country offers much lesser than the land itself, and in such cases, it is to the land that we are grateful.

It does not end here.

Even then, the nation comprises of its people and our life, especially modern cities rely on the support and services of countless other beings from both within the nation and beyond.  As a matter of fact, our inter-dependence extends to even insects which forms the ecosystem through which our food comes from.  While we pay for products and services, we cannot use money directly nor eat them.  Money is useless without others to provide the service.  Each day when we turn on the lamp or the tap, countless of individuals contributed to the light and water.  Our convenient life depends on the inconveniences of countless others to make it possible.

The Buddha, through his example, showed the world how we too can put an end to suffering.  As we celebrate Vesak and commemorate his birth, enlightenment and final passing into Mahaparinirvana, we are really celebrating the Buddha nature in each and everyone of us!  This Buddha nature, to be awaken, this potential to be free from suffering is in all of us whatever our race, language or religion, in all sentient beings.

His teaching, the Buddha Dharma, shows the way to bring this potential to fruition, and it is up to us to apply it, as it is up to the patient to take the prescription given by a doctor.  Before us, there are those who followed this path and attained to awakening, enlightenment!  These awaken ones and those committed to the path as monastic sangha continue to guide us as we go on this path of joy, path of awakening.

To the Buddha, his teachings (Dharma),  and the sangha, we return and rely on, with gratitude and reverence.

The teachings on gratitude arises from the teachings of dependent-arising and emptiness nature of all phenomena!

For some, my final offering was considered a blessing or consecration of the flower mandala.  In fact, it is more like the reverse.

This year, a special flower mandala (circle) is formed through the offerings by numerous Buddhists.
Yesterday, I was privileged and honoured to be tasked by my teacher, Master Kwang Sheng to complete the flower mandala offering.

For some, my final offering was considered a blessing or consecration of the flower mandala.  In fact, it is more like the reverse.

The flower mandala can be representative of the whole universe, comprising of various flowers forming different forms and concepts.  All phenomena too arises dependent on conditions.  While various forms and concepts are formed through the flowers, these forms and concepts are not inherent or independently found in the flowers!  And as the flowers wither over time, so too will conditions change with time.  When the flowers are in time scattered, no real substantial circle, squares or triangles are destroyed.  So too for all phenomena.

Through conditions, do all phenomena come about.  With the changes of condition, do all phenomena cease.

The flower mandala in this way, manifest and serves as a link to the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, dependent origination, no-self, dependent-arising and emptiness of all phenomena!

If we can reflect on this teaching through the flower mandala and see that indeed all phenomena, be it good or bad that we are experiencing comes through multitude of
conditions and ceases to exist with the ceasing of conditions, then blessed with this wisdom, we can put an end to all suffering!

In this way, we receive the supreme blessing of the flower mandala, that is the teachings of the Buddha!

Happy Vesak!

Bite-sized Dharma on the go!