Who am I – The Buddha’s Teachings on No-Self

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There is no independent, permanent, unchanging “I” or “You” or “Ven. Chuan Guan”, but our existence in the various roles that we play.  That exist.

No One Role Defines Us

Given conditions, “you” exist, and as a son or daughter wrt to your parents, as a niece or newphew to your uncle and aunts, as a friend to your peers, as a colleague at work, etc. These roles collectively is who you are, yet none of it totally define you.

Sometimes we forget and overemphasis one over the other, or totally neglect this or that role. Other times, we forget to stop playing certain roles even when that role is no longer needed or relevant.  It is almost like the music that continues to play in our mind even when we stop listening to it. We continue to play some roles even when the conditions and situations have changed. Read More …

About a $100 a day

A while back, a devotee who is a cab driver was driving me back after a lunch offering and was having a counselling-on-wheels session with me.

He was rather troubled by some past injustice and just can’t help but want to do something about it.  He wants justice.

At some point, I realised that he was bent on spending a lot of his time and resources (more money) to fight and get some justice.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for justice.  Where possible, there should be justice.  But sometimes, for some twisted reasons unbeknownst to this world, justice may be very remote or may come at a price greater than the cause itself.  Then I wonder if it is worthwhile pursuing this justice. Read More …

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. 🙂

 

Respecting People’s Choices

Respecting people’s choices.  Should all choices be respected?  Or are all choices worthy of respect?  People’s right to making choices should be respected, but there are good choices and there are bad choices.  Good choices bring about welfare and happiness to oneself and others while bad ones bring uncertainty, fear and stress.

Respecting all choices without distinction would mean respecting bad choices as well.  When bad choices are respected, we encourage bad choices to be made again in future.

Respect people’s right to choices, including bad ones.  But don’t respect all choices indiscriminately, especially the bad ones.
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