Eat and Drink in Moderation 於食知量

Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey

 

Documentary film ‘In the Beginning, There Was Light’ gave her the idea

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.

It is saddening to see such a news.  Sad on two counts.  1. That this woman lost her live because she adopted an inappropriate practice that would seem to be unsuitable for human beings.  2. While many hundreds and thousands around the world go hungry or starve, they don’t go on the news.

Eat and drink in moderation 於食知量

The Buddha taught the way to True Happiness by the Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path.  With respect to food and drinks, he advocated moderation as well.

In the Aparihani Sutta (AN4.37 [1]), the Buddha advised thus:

“And how does a monk know moderation in eating? There is the case where a monk, considering it appropriately, takes his food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, ‘I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.’ This is how a monk knows moderation in eating.”

 

To eat enough to sustain the body, and not to overeat.  Eating mindfully, one may allay hunger and not give rise to greed, hatred and delusion.

In the Buddhist commentary, Yogacarabhumi sastra  瑜伽二十一卷七頁云[2]:
云何於食知量?謂彼如是守諸根已;以正思擇,食於所食,不為倡蕩,不為憍逸,不為飾好,不為端嚴,食於所食,然食所食,為身安住,為暫支持,為除飢渴,為攝梵行,為斷故受,為令新受當不更生,為當存養力樂無罪安隱而住。如是名為於食知量。
What is Moderation in Food?  Where one has guarded one’s sense doors, reflecting rightly, consuming food not in excess, not for pride or wantonly, not for adornment or beautification, but for calming one’s body, for sustaining it temporarily, for removing hunger and thirst, for enabling one’s cultivation, for removing old feelings and not give rise to new feelings, for sustaining the effort and joy in blameless calm abiding.  This is named “Moderation in Food”.
Dear friends, are you hungry yet?

 

Reference

The Little Moth and the Candle

There was once two friends, a Little Moth and a Candle.  They were not exactly the most likely pair, but somehow they were drawn towards each other.

Little Moth would fly long distances to see the brilliance of the Candle.  Together, they would dance on and on.  Seconds turn to minutes.  Minutes turn to hours.  Hours turn to days.  Days turn to years.  Time ceased.

It was Magical.  But it was not to last.

Over time, Candle found that Little Moth was becoming weaker and unwell.  Little Moth was burning itself up in the Candle’s flame slowly.    Candle decided that something must be done.  He called a good friend, Water, for help.

“Your flame and brilliance will be gone Candle!” Water said.

“I know.  Please my friend.  Please help me.  This is the only way. ”  Candle pleaded.

 

The next morning, Little Moth danced happily to find Candle to play.  When Little Moth arrived, all there was … was a cold extinguished candle.  No brilliance nor sparkle nor warmth.  Little Moth settled over the candle mound and cried.  Cried for days and nights.  But the candle was no more.

“He told me to tell you something” Water said.

“What is it?  What happened?  What did Candle have to say?”  Little Moth shot back.

“Tell her that ‘I love her with all my heart but will not be able to offer brilliance, sparkle nor warmth no more.’ ”  Water replied.

 

Little Moth’s health recovered over time.  It fluttered in the spring air, and from a distance, can be mistaken for a lighthearted dance.

Island-wide Dharma Activities!

 

Hey everyone, this year at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, as part of the annual Vesak celebration, there will be a special video showcasing the various activities in KMSPKS and … wait for it … the activities of various Buddhist temples, monasteries and centres from across the island!

You see, when hundreds and thousands of Buddhists come to KMSPKS to participate in the annual Vesak celebration such as the Buddha-Bathing practice, Three-Step-One-Bow practice, Dharma talks etc, many come from all over the island.

While many may stay near to KMSPKS, many others may stay relatively far from the monastery.  Instead of just sharing the Dharma activities found in KMSPKS, we thought, why not share with everyone the exciting lineup of Dharma activities found throughout the island?

This way, my friend, we hope to link you up with the Dharma activities nearest to your home, so that everyone may be able to learn and practise the Dharma wherever we are!

Send me a message today for more information on this special project and more!

Coming Soon

Addendum to Tonight’s Heart Sutra Workshop Class

Much appreciation to Tenzin‘s queries into the story of Queen Mallika’s rebirth that I share in class, it got me piqued and first thing when I got to the library, I checked up on the section from the text “Great Disciples of the Buddha“, page 262 – 263.

I made a mistake in missing out the part that Queen Mallika’s rebirth in hell was due to a “twofold transgression”, “1) her sexual contact with the dog and 2) her mendacious attempt to free herself from blame”, and not merely due to bestiality.

My sincere apologies for the forgetful omission.  See picture below for reference.

May this clarify and lead to right understanding. Sabbe satta sukhita hontu!

 

References

Celebrity For The Day

Below is an interesting clip of a social experiment that illustrates how easy a regular guy can become a “celebrity” with a few staged people. Enjoi! 🙂

From clip info:
Last Saturday we went to a popular mall in Virginia and conducted a bit of a social experiment. Using his real first and middle name, and with the help of just a few staged people, tons of people believed Thomas was a famous actor, including mall security. The mall assigned us a security detail who escorted us everywhere and helped close stores for the supposed celebrity. They also took us through private corridors to avoid the frenzy. Our cameras were quickly shut down, and most of our footage was captured with a single iphone. The following is just a taste of all the autographs, pictures, and people who wanted get close to all the commotion. Do something fun today.

Is Interfaith Harmony Feasible with Ingrained Conversion Efforts?

Someone ask me whether interfaith harmony is truly feasible, if some religion continue to hold the thinking that the conversion of others is right n holy.

I think it’s like saying the two persons can be good friends while the person is actively pursuing one’s beau or spouse!

Update – 10 April 2012

After reading some comments and having a discussion with a Dharma friend, here are some thoughts to share.

Consider a few scenarios below:

Scenario #1

Two person, A & B are married.
Third party C tries to pursue B.  Under C’s pursuit, C falls for B and decides to have a divorce.  They go into a relationship and later got married.

 

Scenario #2

Two person, A & B are married.
B over time decides that the marriage is not working out and seeks a divorce.
B meet other friends, dates and finally find C.  They fall in love and goes into a relationship and later got married.

 

 

Scenario #3

Two person, A & B are married.
Third party C tries to convince B that A is evil and bad, that another person D is a better choice.  B over time becomes convinced and seeks a divorce in order to be with D, under C’s recommendation.

B & D fall in love, goes into a relationship and later got married.

 

 

Scenario #4

Two person, A & B are married.
B over time decides that the marriage is not working out and seeks a divorce.
C recommends to B, another person D.

B & D fall in love, goes into a relationship and later got married.

 

In the above scenarios, person B ultimately filed for divorce and married another person.  The difference is the role that person C & D played.  In scenario #1 and #3, person C actively convince B to have a change of heart whereas in scenario #2 and #4, B voluntarily experience a change of heart and file for divorce, only meeting person C and D subsequently.

It is this difference that I see crucial in interfaith harmony.

The parallel in religion would be where a person decides that one
religion is not suitable and chooses another religion on his own accord (scenario #2 & #4) compared to where a third party would come on to actively persuade you to forsake your religion for theirs (scenario #1 & #3).

As in marriage, likewise in religion, choice is important.  Some culture believe in the sanctity of choice in marriage and religion, and may forbid people to change their choice.  But in this day and age, is that right?  In my opinion, changing one’s choice is not necessarily a wrong thing, but how it changed is important.

As illustrated above, active conversion attempts by third parties are distasteful.

In my discussion with different people, I realised that “conversion” has very broad connotations and can mean quite different things.  Somebody suggested that the Buddha “actively went against Brahmanism” and so was converting people as well.

Another person suggested that while Buddha and his disciples did not actively go out to seek the conversion of the other followers (Brahmins, Niganthas or otherwise), those followers from the other schools did “convert” to follow the Buddha’s teachings.  To the adherents of the other faiths, they may still look upon this as “conversion” nonetheless.

The irony is that the Buddha for the most part, was the target of conversion, where the other religious teachers or groups would send their best disciples to try to defeat him in debates.  In these debates, many became convinced by the Buddha’s sound teaching of the Truth and embraced the Buddha Dharma on their own accord.  Is that still termed conversion?

So again, perhaps it is important to highlight what conversion entail, and which type is inappropriate and not conducive for interfaith harmony.

In my analogy above, voluntary conversion driven by the affected party should not affect interfaith harmony.  If a person decides to change his faith and adopt another religion and its teachings, it is that person’s choice.  Whereas if any one religion actively seek out followers of other faiths to convert them to one’s own, it directly constitute an attempt to reduce, remove and ultimately replace the other religion.

If one religion is actively trying to convert, trying to reduce, remove and replace the other religion, can it still claim to respect the other religions or respect the choice of their followers?

As Buddhists, we welcome people from all walks of life to learn the Buddha’s teachings and benefit from it.  If believing in something makes one more incline to be kind, generous, loving and patience, we applaud that, regardless of the label of the religion or belief.

But if believing in something makes one more incline to greed, hatred and ignorance, more inclined towards violence and hatred towards those who have different religion, more inclined towards seeking the reduction, removal and replacement of other religion for no other reasons except that it is different, then one have to consider it wisely, is such a belief conducive for interfaith harmony?