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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http://thebuddhistunion.org/eight-awakening-of-the-great-b…/

“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.

http://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=273a47b4-f414-4583-b61d-7226179bd47d

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 …

40 Things In Our Life

Hello my friend.  How’s your day so far?  It’s the 6th day of the Chinese New Year, and the 44th day of 2016.

How has 2016 treated you so far?  How have you treated 2016 so far?

One day late last year, I was on my way to the toilet when I was thinking through the various items on my plate.  (Readers, do not try this at home.  haha)  I thought about how each of these projects would take a certain duration of time to reach fruition.

In particular, there’s this mini project that I’m writing (Leave and OT claims system that is slowly becoming a mini-HRM!) and I was thinking about how given that each program requires a certain amount of time to write, that there is a certain limit to the number of programs or apps that I can write in a year.  This is what I fondly call my little ECA (Extra-Curricular-Activity … what Singapore schools called the activities that students took part in, outside of classroom time).

That got me thinking.  By inference, there is only that many programs I can possibly write in my life!  And in turn, if we apply this to the other aspects of our life, after all, not everyone write code, then there is a finite amount of things that we can do.

No rocket science here really.

But I wondered, how many things in my life?  In our life?  Given that the average person is most effective between 25 – 65, assuming that our early years are spent learning things and honing our skills, and our post 65 years, we may find ourselves dwindling in health, energy and mental faculties, so we have the magic number 40.

This has a close proximity to 42, which as we all know, is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.  However, it is a mere coincidence.  Either that or, there’s a miscalculation in Deep Thought.  But I digress.

If we consider any non-trivial major event or thing we set out to accomplish, it would probably take up anywhere between 3 – 6 months, some even taking up to a year, or years.  So, if on average, each item take up a year, then we would have about 40 things that we can do in our life.  Things that matter that is.

Things like bathing, eating, sleeping, etc, is what I call utility activities.  Things that we need to do to get by.  Essential but not quite our life goal.  Now, for those of you whose childhood dream is to do that when you grow up, I’m not judging you.

Another major utility activity we engage in is work.  It is something that we do to pay the bills.  Great if you also like it, especially if your colleagues are nice and your boss is amicable.  But if you don’t get any of these, remember, the contract T&C is about you producing work / results, and the company compensating you for your time.  Ever wondered why the salary is also called compensation?  haha

Don’t get me wrong.  By all means, find a job that you have passion for.  But don’t fret if your job is not something that you have a lot of passion or interest in.  There’s a term for that.  It’s called a hobby.

When people come to me for work / career counselling / life coaching, and they tell me that either the pay is lousy, or the work is tough, or the boss is demanding, etc, I ask them this.  If the pay is good, the work is easy and the boss is easy going, why hire someone to do it?  The boss can do it himself!

Anyway, like it or not, we spend approximately 2/3 of our wakeful hours at work.  9-11 hours out of 16 hours (assuming 8 hours of sleep).  And guess what, we mostly work from 25 – 65!  The effective and productive years of our life!

There’s no crime and shame in earning our keep.  But it means that we are spending almost 2/3 x 40 = 26 units of the 40 things we can do on work.  We are left with around 14 things to do.

So on one hand, we should try to find something we have passion and interest in, on the other hand, if we can learn to take interest in what we are doing, and find ways to make a difference, then the 26 units of work don’t go to waste.

We can limit ourselves to just doing X things in the 9 – 11 hours per day at work.  Or we can ask ourselves, how can we learn something new everyday at work?  If we can do more, why not?  It is our precious human life, our 26 units that is spent, whether we while our time away at work or we learn something new, or we help someone through our work.

And beyond work, what are we doing with our remaining 14 units?  If all we do is work, then it is like buying a car just to wash it and pump it with petrol, driving it just to burn the gas so that we can pump more petrol into it.  If one were to buy a car, drive somewhere.  The car is a tool to get us to our destination.  Work is likewise, our tool to bring us somewhere.  Don’t get caught up with the tool.

But what about life itself?  What is the destination of our life?  Is it simply to use up all the gas in the tank?

My dear friend.  I used up a bit of my gas writing this blog.  I hope it will help you to think about the 14 or 40 things in your life.

Oops, I have about 22 things left to do.  What 40 things are you gonna do with your life?