May All Beings Be Well and Happy … and That Includes the Foreign Workers Coming to Take Your Job!

When we make the beautiful dedication “May all beings be well and happy” (loosely translated from ‘Sabbe satta sukhita hontu’), do we really mean it?

Is it “May all beings be well and happy … … except those foreigners who are here in Singapore!” or is it “May all beings be well and happy … except those who were not nice to me, … but I will forgive you Tan Ah Kow for criticising my work that day … but but …” …

Almost all religion profess a message of love and peace encompassing all on earth, but there seem to always be a “but” creeping in somehow.  Are we Buddhists any better?  While the Four Immeasurable (Metta, Karuna, Mudita & Upekkha) is pride to be so all encompassing, they are immeasurable, are we saying our dedication with that level of commitment?  Do we really mean “sabbe satta” (all beings) when we say it?

In the Buddha’s teachings, all beings is super, duper encompassing.  It includes all living beings, but not living things like trees and plants (note: the Jains in Buddha’s time included plants in their list.  I think they still do!).  Meaning, all human beings, all heavenly beings (devas, god(s), God(s), everything in between if you will), animals, ghosts and even hell beings!

So when we say “May all beings be well and happy”, we should mean it.  But realistically speaking, most of us still have not made it there yet.  We should not as a result, excuse ourselves from this noble aspiration or mindset.  Perhaps, it would be truer to ourselves to realise that we are not there yet, but still set consciously set our aspiration and mindset in that direction.  And work towards it.

Perhaps, it is precisely because we are not quite there yet, that we tend to wish for wellness and happiness for only our friends and those who are nice to us, that we have to set ourselves towards a greater goal or path.

When I visited China last year, I happen to have the chance to observe the Beijingers.  Many of them are from provinces out of Beijing, while others are native Beijingers.  Watching them, my mind start to filter out the cultural nuances.  Their slang and accent start to be appreciated
as a unique part of who they are and not an alien aspect as some might find.  And occasionally, I overhear (trust me, you just cannot help it but hear them!) their conversation and for all that matters, it seems like they are very much like Singaporeans, with our dreams and hopes, our little petty quibbles at work and our simple pursuit of happiness.

I came away from that trip having a much deeper sense of connection with Chinese people than before.  Maybe it helps that I have met more Chinese nationals over the past few years than I have in my whole life.  The result is that a part of me feels more empathy for them.  Maybe a bit more loving kindness and compassion if you will.

They are definitely not just from China anymore.  They are fellow human beings in Singapore, fellow sentient beings in samsara.


It is easier to demonise faceless strangers; it is harder to demonise your friends.

Sabbe satta sukhita hontu!  May all beings be well and happy! ^_^

Democracy Requires Mature People or Members to Succeed

Democracy, the banner of modernity, seem like the solution for everything in our life.  In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights0, it is stated as one of the intended goal of human rights.

Article 29.

  • (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

  • (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

While it has been the better choice compared to other forms of governance1 such as Monarchy { Government by a single ruler (king/queen, emperor) }, Aristocracy { Government by noblemen (hereditary) }, Oligarchy { Government by few persons}, Theocracy { “Government by God” (in reality this means government by religious leaders) } or Dictatorship { Government by people, that have seized power by force (often: military dictatorship) }, it may not always be suitable or at least not produce what most people may consider ‘good’ results.  Take note that I am considering democracy at various levels of organisations and not just on a national or political level.  You will see in the next few paragraphs, how democracy at its core, requires the people or members of an organisation or relationship to be matured.

Take a country for example.  If the people are immature, they would choose whoever throws them a freebie or says pleasing things, only to bring harm to the country and its people in the long term.  If
the people are mature, they would choose whoever can make tough choices, even unpleasant ones, if that is what it takes to protect the long term interest of the nation and its people.  Granted, there are leaders who make unpleasant decisions that also harm in the long term, the people in its maturity, should hopefully have corresponding wisdom to tell the difference.

In an organisation, if immaturity is the predominant trait, leaders and potential leaders would be tempted to play to the sentiments of its members, and sway them in order to win a short term victory.  This is sometimes the hard decisions that even good leaders have to make.  The difference between them and the bad ones, is that the former would try to grow the members in maturity while the latter would like to keep them in perpetual naiveté.  Why you ask?  Wrong question.

Moving along, we look at relationships, say parent-child relationships.  In the past 10 years, I’ve observed how families are becoming democratic as well!  I see some parents discussing everything from the type of food their child would like to eat, to the time to go to bed.  Topics open for voting includes but are not limited to whether the child wants to do their homework or not, to whether they should greet their grandparents, parents or anyone else.  The discussion was not between the parents, but between the parents *AND* the child.

Maybe it is wiser to let the child decide what they want to eat.  After all, we all know that children below the age of 19 know their nutritional needs very well and would not easily give in to the allure of junk food and candies even when tempted with democratic choice.  Surely, children all over the world are wiser than us to sleep early and wake up early.  They would not do harm to their fragile body by burning mid-night oil like we adults do!  Being discerning children, they would definitely choose wisely to allocate adequate hours of study and play in a balanced clockwork such that they will grow up to be all rounded, healthy physically, intelligent mentally and richly balanced emotionally.  Hurray to democracy!  And less you think I forgot about manners, you should not for one moment question the infinitely well mannered kids and youths of today, for it must be the misguided thoughts of a drunk to have thought the following:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”2 – Socrates3

Who is this Socrates to think so little of youths?  Surely it is the teachers and the school system that should change to fit the students!  In fact, let us get the students to decide the syllabus and curriculum.  How you ask?  By their grades of course, and their parents’ plea, naturally.  If a child cannot catch up, let us dumb down the syllabus so that he will not be left behind.  If a teacher reprimands a student, let the parents not weep in shame over the misconduct (of the child!) but stage a protest in the papers, the champion of human rights, free speech and democracy!   For how can such monstrosity be allowed in the hallowed grounds of education?

Perhaps, whilst we drink democracy and dine on human rights wantonly, we will have the last laugh over Socrates’ whimsical chatter as we congratulate each other in free speech.

Call me when the party is over.  Meanwhile, I’ll be meditating.



0 –

1 –

2 –

3 –

4 –


“Talks on Peace Very Often Are Just Talk, with No Action”

Just came back from a Religions For Peace conference @ Furama City Centre (@Furama Hotel).  One of the message that struck a chord in me was about how talks on peace very often are just talk, with no action.  After all these years of talks on peace, and yet, we still have strife and conflict.  It seem the ones who attend conferences on peace are already advocates of peace, while those who really need a dose of it are not attending it.

While it feels that way, I think if even just one of the religious leaders were to internalise the message and bring back it back to his or her community, it would be worth it.  We got to keep it up!

Interestingly, one of the theme in today’s session was about how the individual must be at peace before the group or the nation can be at peace.  This resounded strongly with the Buddha’s words, that the mind is the forerunner of all, and only when we defeat our defilements can there be peace.

So, my dear friend, how was your day?  Is it peaceful?  Or did you get upset over the same thing again?

May you be well … … may you be happy … … ^_^

Before Trying to Attain Enlightenment, Try to Have Some Basic Manners

Would you turn up half an hour* late for a job interview and expect to get the job?  How about an examination or a date with a potential special other?

Should you expect the interviewer, examiner or date to bear with you because you had something more important?
How about if you do it repeated several times over a few years?  What does that say about either your attitude towards the other party’s time, or your own decency and basic manners?

Before trying to attain Enlightenment, try to have some basic manners.
Suki hontu! ^_^

* At times, it can extend to more than one or two hours actually, but let’s not get picky here. 😉