Of Buddhism And Businesses

A few groups of students interviewed me recently to find out how, if any, does buddhism or buddhist values affect singaporean businesses? Below are some thoughts.

Subtly, Buddhist values such as love, compassion and simplicity has brought awareness to people over the last 25 over centuries. It is said that Steve Job’s iconic style of simplicity in design for Apple products draws inspiration from the Zen Buddhist tradition.

Within the business environment, it is important to know when a decision is legal and when it is
ethical. The two are not always inclusive. It is perfectly legal to retrench a whole division or wrap up a whole subsidiary that is making a loss, but it would be unethical to do so without considering the impact on the staffs whose livelihood depends on the company.

In our drive to increase our margins, we may forget that we are more than simply numbers in a balance sheet or GDP. Having sound material foundation is important, but if a nation, the society only focuses on growth rate and P/L, then it would be akin to buying a car to earn money just to maintain the car and not go anywhere with it.

Life is not just about making money. No, it is not about making money at all. We have much more potential than simply being a cog in this whole well-oiled Singapore Incorporated.

Increasing productivity only helps us consume earth’s resources faster. Making profit is now not enough, having growth in profit making is not enough, do we really need to having growth rate that is double digit? Is that what life is really about?

Whatever beliefs and values we have that is good, wholesome and beneficial to ourselves, our loved ones *and* others, we should seek to better ourselves and pursue them. We should strive to bring happiness and welfare to one and all, and seek to remove suffering from our fellow human beings.

Of Mediums, Paper Money, Houses, Mobiles … …

A video on facebook caught my eye.  Actually, Ven. You Wei tagged me and a small discussion started around this video of a ‘priest’ of unknown religion performing a rites.  In the video, he is seen reciting various words that is not recognisable by myself, Ven. You Wei or Rev. Kwang Tong (a taoist priest friend of mine).

Below are my thoughts about such practices.

Ven You Wei, the irony is that when someone do this, devotees will believe in ignorant bliss.

Rev. Chung Kwang Tong, there is no medium practice in Buddhist teachings.  Only the oracle medium exist within the Tibetan tradition, and it is not a part of their Buddhist tradition, but more perhaps a part of their lineage tradition.

If Matreya Bodhisattva, or for that matter, any Bodhisattvas, ever appear through a trance, he should be able to explain the teachings of the Buddha!  Further, since they have 辯才無礙 they would probably not be speaking in tongues, but be able to speak in a language that we understand! 😉  I would be very keen to invite them to conduct retreats and Dharma classes and not ask about how to have fortune for the new year etc!

Rev. Kwang Tong, while mediums seem more common in Taoist temples, are they part of Taoist practices or are they in fact, like a few practices found in Taoist temple that you have clarified before, not Taoist in nature as well?

If mediums, burning of incense paper, paper houses, cars, mobiles, etc are not Buddhist nor Taoist in nature, then we should help devotees know so that they can practise their faith with wisdom and understanding.

Intention and Expression of Intention

Chinese New Year lunch at KMSPKS!


With respect to burning of incense paper, paper houses etc, I like to focus on two things:  1) Intention and 2) Expression of Intention

The Intention behind these burning is a wish to provide for the departed deceased and it can come from their Filial Piety.  We should encourage that.  The Expression of such filial piety is a different matter.  I prefer to encourage people to be filial while one’s parents are still around.  Spend time with them.  Listen to them.  Don’t burn them mobile phones or consult mediums only when they are gone if we don’t even bother to talk to them and listen to them when they were alive.

Go for walks with them.  Be their ‘servant’ and serve them.  Don’t wait till they are gone and only then, burn them paper servants.

Stay with them.  Don’t send them off to the old age homes only to burn them a paper house when they are gone.

Go with them to the mall, provide for them what they need (except if they want $$$ to go to the casino!!). 
Don’t burn them paper money only when they are gone.

If we really want to be filial to our parents [1], share with them 1) Faith and Confidence in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, 2) Guide them if they stray from good morality and behaviours 3) Encourage them to be kind and giving with others and 4) Share with them the Wisdom of the Buddha Dharma.

In this way, we benefit our parents in this life and in future ones!

Be Easy to Serve

And for parents, be happy with whichever child you are staying with.  Don’t pin for that one son or daughter who is not around and ignore the ones with whom you are staying with.

Accept food, gifts, assistance and support graciously.  Chinese are always 客氣 (polite?  stand on ceremony?) and don’t like to 麻煩人 (give others trouble).  It’s ok to say no.  But say it when you really mean it.  Saying ‘no’ out of courtesy only to bear a grudge later for not receiving service from your children or juniors is a way to our own misery.

We as juniors can also be more understanding of the difference in culture.  When elders say no, many times, it is out of courtesy.  We must insist up to three times!  And even when the elder say ‘no’, we should just get them food or provide our service out of devotion and love to them.

While it may seem queer to some, think of how a young man may pursue a girl relentlessly for her heart despite her rejection.  He does so to prove to her his determination and sometimes (I heard!) a girl may coyly reject just to see how serious and sincere he is.

The same kind of devotion, perseverance and love should apply to our parents and elders!

Out of compassion, elders should also go easy on juniors.  Be easy to serve. Don’t pick on how they don’t necessarily know how to serve you the way you want to be served.  Focus on how they are trying.  It’s ok to tell them what you need and want. 🙂

If we all stayed with our parents, provided for them, served them, listened to them, and practised Buddha’s teachings with them, when they are gone, we are assured that our parents are bound for a good rebirth.  For as sure as a tree that has grown leaning towards the east should fall towards the east when cut off, likewise a person who has practised the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha inclines towards True Happiness even while alive, and continues in that direction in future rebirths! [2]


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]:
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?




The Buddha taught people to live their lives with compassion and wisdom.  In the eyes of the Buddha, he saw Buddhas-to-be, that is, future Buddhas!  He saw the Buddha-potential, the Buddha Nature in all sentient beings!

Treating each other with love and respect through our (bodily) actions, words and thoughts, we live and grow together, fulfilling our greatest potential, Buddhahood!

Dear friends, take a look at the video below and ask yourself, what does
your faith tell you about others and how we should treat each other?  If you are an free-thinker, atheist or humanist, what human values do you try to embody when relating to others?

How easy or difficult is it to do according to our values (whether found in our faith or otherwise)?

Can we treat others with love and respect without imposing our beliefs onto others?

Do you want to bring out your Buddha Nature and treat others with love and respect or do you want to bring out your Bully potential and make others miserable?

What’s it gonna be?

Whatever You Call Yourself, Whatever You Believe In


So yesterday a student came over and shared with me about this question “What is Right?”.  AFAIA concerned, asking this question is perfectly alright and healthy.  What I was uncomfy was how this question arose and the intention behind those who may have strengthened or stirred it up to the point of making a person question practically everything … except perhaps “Christians going out on the streets giving out pamphlets” because they feel that others need to be saved.

I’ll probably write some more later on this …

Some time after this student left, another student sms me ard 1020pm asking if he can come over to BL ‘cos he just had a bad quarrel with his wife.  He came over close to 11pm.  Took the liberty and let him bunk over at BL and informed Bhante the next day.

After giving him some breakfast this morning and having him share about what transpired, he left for home.  Hope everything turn out fine.

Around 1030am, went for a lunch dana for Bhante’s birthday and house blessings for a BL member’s place.  Rushed back for a 2pm appointment only to have it cancelled.


Whatever you call yourself, whatever you believe in, if you have expectations that are not met, you are very likely to be disappointed.  This is a fact.  This is True regardless of whether you believe in it or not.

That is why the Buddha’s Teachings, the Dharma is called the Truth!

Have a nice day … … unless you have other plans! -.-