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

Religious Freedom in Singapore

In some news forums and on facebook, I sometimes notice people highlighting the religion of this or that minister.  I wonder if that is wise or useful.  Unless that minister was acting in his capacity as a member of that religion or bringing his religion into Parliament, otherwise, it may be prudent to not single out his or her religion in posts.

In Singapore, the state, government and politics are secular in nature. Consequently, the state, gov and politicians carry out their duties and service to the nation regardless of the religion of the citizen. This allow citizens to exercise religious freedom within their personal space without fear of discrimination.

Likewise, politicians and civil servants should be allowed to serve the nation regardless of their religious choice as long as they exercise their religious freedom within their personal space and not let it influence their judgements while carrying out their official duties.  The onus is on them to be impartial and to rise above their personal religious choices while serving the people without discrimination.

Just imagine if you go to CPF, ICA or HDB and your application or enquiries are rejected because of your religion.  Just imagine.

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity
and progress for our nation.

Remember our pledge.  This is our pledge.  Our solemn pledge to the flag, the state, the nation, to every single citizens of Singapore, to work together regardless of race, language or religion.

It is a not a pipe-dream.  It is a reality that has allowed us to live together in harmony all these decades.  Life is tough enough without such discrimination.  We don’t need more discrimination.

Do it not to win some international award or to show other people.   Do it because it is our pledge to one another.  Do it because it is the way forward.

Do You Know About the Singapore Buddhist Federation?

Do you know about the Singapore Buddhist Federation?  Below is some excerpt from the SBF web site followed by what I think it means for you and mean.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation has as its objectives (from its website):

  • To unify all Buddhist institutions and Buddhists in Singapore.
  • To observe Buddhist precepts, to practise Buddhism and to propagate Dharma.
  • To promote culture, education and social welfare.

Singapore Buddhist Federation(SBF) was initiated and formed by the chinese community of Buddhist in 1948.It is the parent body of Singapore Buddhist organisations and followers.

As the umbrella body for Buddhist organisations throughout Singapore, it serves to unify and support its member organisations. Read More …

Nirvana in Singapore

About a week ago, an article appeared on StraitsTimes about Nirvana Memorial, a columbarium in Singapore that offers a final resting place in style — for those who can afford it.

The article featured two monks in its cover photo with the Buddha’s image shining forth multi-colored lightings.  If the paper was a multi-media device, you would also hear the full-featured melody and announcement made through the hi-tech audio system.  The two monks is non other than Bhante Dhammaratna, founder and Chief monk of the Buddhist Library in Singapore, and myself.  Elizabeth, the reporter who penned the article invited me for comments and since I had no idea about Nirvana memorial at all, she kindly offered a tour of the premise so we can have an idea of the place.

The tour brought us to the main hall where prayers would be offered, the various niche rooms where the ash remains and tablets will be placed, and one of the building houses different types of niches.  In all, the whole tour was rather pleasant, though one of the building reminded me more of a hotel interior than anything.  Perhaps that is their whole point and such a layout and interior design may appeal to some people,  but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Since the article appear in the papers, Buddhists have pointed out to me that they saw Bhante and me in the article while some even joke about how we have gone to Nirvana and back!  After the excitement, they would then comment about the exorbitant prices that the columbarium offered its services for storing ash niches.  It is indeed expensive to spend $30k for a niche, and it is really a personal choice whether you should use their services or somewhere more affordable.

People will complain about how this is too commercialised, but Nirvana Memorial is a commercial entity, so we should keep our expectations in check.  When Elizabeth asked me for comments, I
mentioned that while Nirvana Memorial is a profit-making business entity, and should be treated as such.  However, by offering columbarium services, they can be helpful in promoting gratitude and filial piety in the family of the departed.  If they can further help promote other Buddhist values and teachings such as Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha, it would be even more ideal!

Today, a student even emailed me, commenting

There is a price to be in Nirvana – exorbitant. And much more to be near the Buddha. Hmmm … another one of those commercial enterprises that makes use of Buddhism for profitable gain.

To which I replied:

There is indeed a price to pay! If you pay in worldly currency, you get to go to the worldly Nirvana. If you ‘pay’ in spiritual currency (cultivation), you attain the Supramundane Nirvana! 😉

Thing is, while people complain about expensive columbarium or funeral services, when I ask people to pay in spiritual currency (cultivation), they run away even faster than you can read this article!  Between the two forms of ‘payment’, most would take the easy way out and make worldly payment.

Most venerables I know of, provide funeral prayers as a service to the Buddhist community and not as a business transaction.  But in Singapore, monastics face the need to pay for electricity bills, food, medical etc etc.  I’ve been rather fortunate to receive guidance, care and support from my late master, Ven. Miu King, when I was in US and later from Venerable Kwang Sheng, Bhante Dhammaratna and many various other elder monks in Singapore.  As such, I’ve not had to be concerned about the four requisites and have the privilege of focusing on my own study and practices while serving the community through Dharma and meditation classes.  Other venerables that I know of, unfortunately, did not have such good conditions and either have to bear the responsibility of running a Buddhist centre by themselves or have to stay without support after returning back to Singapore.  They do not as a result get waiver for their bills just because they are earnestly learning and practising the Dharma.
Do you know that many religious centres, including Buddhist temples, are given 30 year leases on the land?   It means that the Buddhist temple or society has to be on a perpetual fund-raising mode just to keep the temple ground.  Think again when we complain about making offerings to the temple or monastery.  This is 21st century Singapore.  There is no Anathapindika who will simply offer a whole Jetavana to the MahaSangha for all future generations to use.
So remember, when you give, give as an offering, then it is dana.  When you give thinking of it as a transaction, it becomes a payment.  Let the giver purify their end of the giving.  Let the monastics purify their receiving.  Let them use the offering in a meaningful way to support their learning and practice of the Dharma and strive toward Nirvana!

SBF Press Statement on Pastor Rony Tan’s remarks

SBF Press Statement on Pastor Rony Tan’s remarks

9th February 2010 – Below is the official press statement issued by Singapore Buddhist Federation on the recent Pastor Rony Tan’s remarks.  Attached is the pdf file for reference.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation applauds the timely involvement and advice by the relevant authorities in stopping the potential damage being done to both Buddhist and Taoist communities by inappropriate and insensitive remarks made by Rev Pastor Rony Tan.

Lord Buddha taught us to be compassionate and forgiving, but repentance must be sincere and follow up with deeds lest this untoward event be forgotten and repeated.Genuine and continual inter-faith consultation is preferred instead of open instigation.

In this regard, the Singapore Buddhist Federation welcomes all initiatives from all quarters to facilitate maintenance of religious harmony in Singapore.

Issued by Singapore Buddhist Federation
9th February 2010