Eight Precepts Retreat @ Metta Welfare 八关斋戒共修会＠慈光福利协会
30th December 2012 8:00am to 6:30pm
I told you so, didn’t I? See, the Mayans got it wrong, or at least the Dooms-day sayers read it wrong. You see, just as 31st December in our calendar denotes the end of a calendar cycle, and not the end of the world, the end of the Mayan calendar, merely indicated an end of their calendar cycle.
The Chinese has a 5 x 12 = 60 years calendar cycle. The Chinese are still around. (Disclaimer: I’m a Singaporean Chinese)
Anyway, you might also notice that while some apocalypse believer may quote the Mayan calendar as their basis for their stand, they seldom bring in the rest of the Mayan culture. It is like quoting the Chinese calendar without appreciation its agricultural background and the close link between the two.
But wait, it is 21st December in Singapore now, but what about the rest of the world? At the time of writing 7:29am GMT+8, London, Western Africa, Greenland, North and South Americas are all still living in the past! They are by timezoning convention, still in 20th December 2012!
So which 21st Dec is the world going to end? Or is it at the very last second, when the last spot of the world say goodbye to this ‘special’ day?
Human society is very concerned with two things: The start (origin) and end (destruction) of the world.
We are concerned with them for very good reasons.
We are concerned with the “end”, because we like to be alive. It’s good to be alive isn’t it? To breathe, to drink water, to walk in the beach, to enjoy the breeze and the sun shine? Most people don’t want their world to end, especially when they are having it good.
We are also concerned about the “start” because we want to know how this good existence came to be. One can imagine the early human ancestors of ours enjoying the wild fruits and plants (and dare I say, occasional hunt?), only to see them appear again after some time. Where did these fruits come from? How did they come about? What is their origin? This is the kind of things that probably keep anthropologists awake at night.
The same questions probably plagued our ancestors about the sun and the moon, the two main light sources for human beings for several hundreds of thousands of years. Is it any wonder that early religions (animism & most of the main religions) had references to such natural phenomena. One can imagine how the life-giving sun must have played a part in their life. Again, where did the sun come from?
End of Something Else
A while back, I spoke at an inter-faith youth camp in Singapore. There were three speakers, a Jewish Rabbi, an elderly Sikh lay speaker, and myself representing Buddhism. A youth asked the rabbi about how discoveries in evolution is affecting the world views on creation for Jews. It was a definite “God created the world” answer from the rabbi. The Sikh priests added with his sharing on the Sikh teachings. And it came to me.
The Buddha’s teaching is not concerned about the origin or start of the world (nor its end). It is not concerned with that. It is more concerned with the
origin of Suffering, and its End.
The whole of Buddhism centers around understanding the nature of human suffering, the cause of it, and the application of the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) to put an end to it.
No one wants to grow old, fall sick or sick, but it happens.
No one wants to be separated from our loved ones and be in contact with unpleasant ones, but it happens.
We don’t always get what we want. We enjoy moments of fleeting joy and pleasure when we do, but we suffer when we don’t. This emotional roller-coaster ride where our happiness depends on the outside world is the nature of our common human experience.
We would rather be born into perpetual happiness but we don’t get that.
In short, when we don’t get what we desire and crave for, or lose what we are attached to, we suffer.
Our very human existence coupled with desire, craving and attachment gives rise to Suffering.
When I shared this with many non-Buddhist groups, they all readily agreed to these statements, accepting that these are facts of life, are truths. And they are right. These are Truths. And that is why the Buddha’s teaching was declared and known as the Truths, the Four Noble Truths!
The above is the First Noble Truth of Suffering [A], with the Second Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering [B], elaborating in full (with 12 links of dependent origination) on how desire, craving and attachment give rise to Suffering.
Since B give rise to A, if B cease, then A ceases. When B & A has ceased completely, we refer to this as the Nirvana (Pali: Nibbana), the Third Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.
And wait, before you return to liking other facebook posts, there is a bonus item! The Buddha even shared with us, the way to do it!! You didn’t think he was just gonna stop there did you? Buddhism is perhaps one of the only religion where the founder, like a good teacher who is kind and unwithholding, actually shows the methodologies to put an end to suffering. This is known as the Noble Truth of the Path (method) leading to the End of Suffering.
Together, this is the Four Noble Truths and is core, is central to Buddhism. Take that out, and there is little left that can be said to be Buddhism, or Buddha-Dharma.
So come my friend, come learn the good teachings, to put an end, not to this world, but the Suffering that arises due to craving and attachment!
PS: Less than 12 hours left to be sure that the world do not come to an end ‘today’!! haha
Is one superior to others because of the colour of your skin or the eyes?
“Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes an brahman.” 
~ The Buddha, Vasala Sutta: Discourse on Outcasts (Khuddaka Nikaya : Sutta Nipata 1.7)
In the Assalayana Sutta: With Assalayana (Majjhima Nikaya 93), a brahman learns from the Buddha, how one’s actions and not one’s birth determines the purity of a person. 
“… … No, Master Gotama. Even a noble warrior… Even a brahman… Even a merchant… Even a worker… (Members of) all four castes — if they take life, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, tell lies, speak divisively, speak harshly, engage in idle chatter, are greedy, bear thoughts of ill will, & hold wrong views — on the break-up of the body, after death, reappear in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. … … “
“… … No, Master Gotama. Even a noble warrior… Even a brahman… Even a merchant… Even a worker… (Members of) all four castes — if they refrain from taking life, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from telling lies, from speaking divisive speech, from harsh speech, & from idle chatter, are not greedy, bear no thoughts of ill-will, & hold to right view — on the break-up of the body, after death, reappear in the good destination, the heavenly world. … … “
Not by one’s birth or race, the colour of one’s skin or eyes, nor gender or language, is one superior or not, but by the way you live and act.
Not by your nationality but by how you treat other nations is one superior or not.
Not by how big one’s house is but by how big one’s heart is; not by what we put in our house, but by what we put in our heart.
Not by the cars you drive, but by how you drive them.
your title nor by your beliefs are you superior, but how you live and act with love, compassion and wisdom, is one superior or not.
Watch the document on how Jane Elliot, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination. A Class Divided  a documentary by FRONTLINE , now available on PBS .
May all sentient beings, locals and foreigners alike, be Well and Happy!
Easy to make one in an instant, hard to live with them for the rest of your lives.
My dear friends, before we act or speak, reflect carefully.
This is a test post to see if the web hosting service is stable or not.
A blog entry I posted today got 'eaten'! … The linked twitter-facebook post appears in my facebook and twitter page … so, if it is not the wordpress engine on my blog that is buggy, then it could be the web hosting service!
Here goes …