To Feel or Not to Feel?

Go with the flow, they say.  Connect with our feelings, they say.

“I don’t feel like eating” “I feel so happy” ” I feel so sad” “I feel depressed” “I don’t feel like doing anything”

Sounds familiar?  It is becoming increasingly common to hear such statements.  Or more correctly, we are increasingly more more accepting of such statements.

It’s good isn’t it?  We are learning to be more empathetic and understanding towards others’ feelings.  On one hand, it is good that we are becoming more caring and loving by recognising what others are going through.  We start to connect with one another at a deeper level.  On the other hand, this emphasis on our feelings is starting to show its flip side:  Just as one can feel good, one can feel bad as well.

A long time ago, it is common to hear woman’s heart (decisions) described as the traffic lights, flipping this and that way every now and then.  Also, people’s feelings (emotions) like the weather, unpredictable and ever changing. Dear reader, are you affected already?  Has these few lines of words affected your feelings yet?

Like the clouds in
the sky

Don’t fret.  I think man’s heart and emotions are rather similar, also subject to change and sometimes unpredictable.  We all just lie on varying degrees in a spectrum.

So …. feel better?  That’s how easy our feelings, as in emotions, changes.

Like the clouds in the sky, our feelings come and go.  Or like when someone fart, if you let it dissipate, then the smell goes away.  If you hold on to it, trap it with a plastic bag, then the smell stays with you.

These days, we are becoming increasingly absorbed in our feelings.  There is nothing wrong about being aware of how we feel.  Our feelings are important, and I’m not here to trivialise what others are going through or are feeling.  But if we start giving it so much importance, over-importance and over-emphasis of our feelings, then we are headed for trouble.

Giving our feelings too much emphasis reinforces them and allows them to persist.  They stay as long as we allow them to.  It’s nice to want positive feelings to stay and persist.  It feels really good to solidify them.  Unfortunately, the same psychological process that give rise to positive feelings can give rise to negative feelings too.  And as long as we get used to letting positive feelings stay, persist and solidify, this mental habitual tendency is the same mechanism that can allow our negative emotions to stay, persist and solidify.

When we feel good, then it is over the top elation.  When we feel bad, then it is down in the rut, depression!

On the other end, some may ignore or deny their feelings.  Doing so, they may lose touch with themselves and allow negativity to pile up, only to blow up in their face, and often in others as well!  Chances are, one may also find it hard to be aware of others’ feelings if one is not even aware of one’s own feelings.

Instead of denying and ignoring our feelings, or becoming overly dependent or over-emphasising our feelings, perhaps there is a middle ground, a middle way.

Be aware when there are positive emotions arising, just as when there are negative ones.  But instead of holding on to them, like one may try to hold on to clouds (or fart!?), we should see that these feelings come and go, arises when there are conditions and goes away like the clouds in the sky.  Remember that feelings are impermanent.

We should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally

Where you are, try sitting with your upper torso slanted to the side at around 30 degrees.  Hold it there.  Hold.  Wait.  Ok, wait a bit longer.  Hold until you feel some strain and ache.  In fact, hold for one minute before continuing.

Did you do that?  Or did you shift your body when it feels uncomfortable?  If you shifted, congratulations!  Our heart and mind is much like that too.  If certain way of thinking or feeling is uncomfortable, we should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally, instead of allowing ourselves to hold onto such painful feelings.

We can and should learn emotional “aerobics”!  Like aerobics or yoga is on our body, it is initially not so easy on our mind and heart, for we are used to our mental habits of holding on!!  But like those physical exercises, if we learn to be malleable mentally and emotionally, then we can liberate ourselves from negative emotions that shackles us down.

The Buddha described our physical and mental faculties as like foams, bubbles, mirages, core-less, like a magician’s trick, unreal, empty, void and without substance.

Go ahead and observe.  See for yourself.  Ehipassiko.


  • Diamond Sutra – Chapter 32



Of Firefighters and Detectives

Imagine this.  YOUR house is on fire.

You call the fire department and the firefighters arrive, setting up the hoses and readies to put out the fire.

Just then, the detectives who arrives at the scene, stops the firefighters from putting out the fire.

Let us put out the fire before it spreads“, the firefighters pleaded.

Hold your horses, no one is putting out any fire till we investigate and find out who set the fire!“, rebutted the detectives.

But the hold house is going to burn down and the neighbouring houses are starting to smother“, you quipped.

Well, burn down if it has to, we are going to get to the bottom of this all.  The Who, What, When, Where, Why, How of this case!“, stated the detectives in a matter-of-factly manner.

It would be a disaster if this happens in real life.  In real life, the police control the crowd to prevent looting or owners and bystanders from risking their lives while the firefighters do their job in putting out the fire.  If  not, it would be a disaster.

But what about us?  What happens when we are ‘burning’ with rage?  Seething with anger?  Torching green with jealousy?  We tend to not put out our ‘fire’ in our mind and heart.  Sometimes we even invite others to come and inspect the fire, burning them with a mark of communal anger.  Other times, when others try to calm us down or talk some sense into us, we find more evidence to be angry, we put more fuel into our inner flame.

I am right, he is wrong!  That’s why I am angry!!  Stop trying to defending him, can’t you see that he is the one at fault?

When we relook at the statement, it becomes really queer.  It is as though the person who is “right”, should be angry, should be upset.  But why should the person who is right have to suffer the consequences of anger?  We need to remind ourselves, “If we are right and
they are wrong, we should be happy”.  Or at least not angry.  If we can manage it, have compassion for those who are wrong.

If we find that we have anger or other negative emotions, we should learn to put out the fire first before trying to play detectives and find out “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How”.

Remember, “Put out the fire first!“.


In Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta “The shorter instructions to Malunkya”, when Ven. Malunkyaputta threatens to disrobe if he is not given an answer to a series of questions unconnected to the holy life, the Buddha gives a parable of a man, who while wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison, refuses treatment until the Who, What, When, Where, Why and Hows of the poison arrow is known.



Photo of Shophouses on fire
Disclaimer: I have no link or affiliation with  The above link is provided to give due credit for the photo.

Wild Elephants Gather to Mourn Death of Elephant Whisperer

In Buddhism, we see that all sentient beings are capable of thought and emotions.  In some faiths and religion, they believe that only human beings have a soul.  Buddhists do not share such a belief in a soul that is persisting, unchanging and has an independent existence, whether in human beings or in animals.

In Buddhism, we use the word “有情” for sentient beings, literally “with feelings / emotions”.  All sentient beings have feelings, fear pain and want happiness.  In this life, we may be born as a human being with greater intellect, in other lives, we may be born in other states or realms.  Amidst the facade, we all have Buddha Nature, the potential to become totally free, free of defilements, free of worries, stress, anxieties and suffering.  Free of limitations and boundaries to truly love, care and help others.

Recognising this potential in every sentient beings, it drives our outlook and mindset in life.  It shapes our attitude towards fellow sentient beings.

Time and again, animals have proven to have emotions and exhibited loyalty and devotion to each other, and in the following case, to a human being.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

While animals do not have the facial expression to express emotions the way we humans do, it does not mean that they do not have emotions or that they do not feel.  Read on in the link above to find out how these herds of wild elephants and a man has an exchange of ‘words’ from the heart.

I’m Doing This For Your Own Good … My Mom Used to Say …

I do not know about your mom, but my mom would always say that she is doing this and that for my own good.  Many times I would challenge her.  Not exactly the easiest son to bring up. ;p

Now, years later, I look back in hindsight, the advices she gave me, the caution she pointed out, not to mention the parties and outings she forbade me … and I wonder how my life would have turned out if I
ignored her advices.  Would it have turned out differently?  Will I be a better or worse person?  One can only guess or speculate.  No one knows.

For the most part, her advices were fairly sound.  Like she would tell me, “study first, play later” or “when you finish your studies, I won’t bother if you play your games (or write them!) … “.  She didn’t know that I would take her word for it.  When I finished my studies, I played games practically, for all intents and purposes, non-stop for two months.  I played until my best friends like got worried for me.  I played until my mom started asking when I’m gonna find a job.  To which I’m like “Didn’t you say that … ” … ;p … tough arguing with that!

I played until my counselling-mentor supervisor at Shanyou recommended me to a company.  No, they didn’t know I was playing games like there was no tomorrow! ;p … I played until my sister got me the Recruitments page from ST, circled a few positions with a highlighter and thrust it at me.  Okay okay … I get the message!  I’ll go get a job!

I was able to do that because I listened … more or less listened to my mom’s advice to study first and play later.  It was a privilege I earned.  But it was possible also because my parents did what good parents did, took care of the family, the kids and most importantly also took care of our home learning 家教.  Without any of that, it would not have been possible.

But there were moments when I didn’t listen to their advices.  I ate eggs, chicken and drank chicken soup on the very evening I was admitted to CDC for chickenpox.  I even bathed!  Fortunately there was the anti-biotics medicine to prevent complications from the water bubbles.  ;p No harm done I guess.

I also got my sis to pull out all my hair one day, ‘cos I was sick of being told that three white hairs would grow in place for each one you pulled.  I challenged that and put myself on the line.  In principle, the statement did not specify the duration for the growth to take effect.  So that’s a blank cheque and loop hole.  So we counted the number of white hairs she plucked and waited.  No, not on the spot silly!  I sorta gave it a month … nothing happened.  But of course nothing short of the usually hair growth happened.  But having disproved it, I rest safe to pull out white hairs if I wanted to.  I never repeated that experiment. hehe

Let’s see, what else did I do?  Oh yes, I also pointed at the moon with my fingers, thumbs and what have you got.  My ears are still intact.

But there were other times I got myself burnt, hurt and cried my hearts out.  Sometimes it is physical trauma, other times emotional ones.  Color me crazy, but I do not regret the emotional ones.  Physical traumas are ones that … given a choice, I would rather not go through it again.  But, having gone through them, I sorta know my threshold for physical pain.  So, maybe it was not so bad after all?

Emotional hurt is another thing altogether.  Meeting a person, getting to know each other and somehow clicking, is something that perhaps will never be synthesized by science.  Given a choice to live my life again, I would go through the relationships again.  Except that this time round, I would be more understanding, more giving, more caring, more patient, more loving, more thoughtful, more forgiving, less flustered, less jealous, less demanding (really?? ;p), less selfish, … … well, if I don’t succeed in ending samsara … many more chances … hahaha …

I learnt a lot from relationships.  From the care and love from the other person, I instinctively extended that to my parents, my sisters, friends and people around.  As I admired the qualities of the other person, I tried to emulate them, growing in the process.  Through loving the special other, I learn to love even more, my parents, my sisters, friends and people around.  As I speak gently to her, I learnt to speak gently to others (but not in the mushy way I hope!
hahaha).  As I cared about how her day was, I learnt to care about the day of others.  As I feel for how she felt towards how I acted, I learnt how I must have hurt my parents so many times.  I think I come out better.  Not by much I must say, but perhaps we have to learn a lot … a lot a lot … through experiences, before we become Perfect, become Enlightened, become an Arahant, a Buddha.

Sometimes relationships are strange as well.  When one or both parties start to act like mommies, things get really strange.  Then we get one person trying to act in the best interest of the other, supposing the best for the other.  Such a relationship can sometimes backfire.  It can backfire in a parent-child relationship, much more in that of an adult couple relationship.  Couples should have confidence and respect for each other, enough to trust that the other person can make his or her decisions and not need to mother over them.  Granted, there are exceptions, but sometimes we have to realise that relationships are not balance-sheets, you cannot account for everything.

Relationships are also not businesses.  It is not about being efficient or productive.  If you want that or be calculative, go start a business.  Countless people spend countless hours, days and nights, making small little things to express their admiration or appreciation of their special other.  We say that it is the thought that counts, but the effort behind also speak volumes.  After all, “mind is the forerunner of all” – Dhp 1, the mental effort behind those physical effort must be tremendous!  If one were to try to be ‘efficient’ then maybe one can and should just buy this or buy that … or …

But in some ways, relationships are also like businesses.  If one were to spend too much time worrying about the outcome, one may never start a business.  In Singapore, we have a joke about how most graduates are workers, albeit executives, while non-graduates are businessmen.  You see, after pondering, calculating, speculating, discussing, planning, anticipating, charting, mulling, and all other “ing”s, they get too frightened, drained or immobilised, they give up altogether.  I’ll leave you to figure out about why non-graduates are businessmen.

In this aspect, relationships are similar.  If one try to chart out a relationship from start to end, one would never start it.  Why?  Because you either suffer first or suffer later.  Having said that, I say that if you want to begin a relationship, go in, give it your best, give your whole totality in it.  Otherwise, don’t.  If you fear being hurt, and so you don’t love, you won’t have love.

To love or be in love.  Do you care more about the other person’s feelings and well-being (to love) or do you care more about your own (good feeling of being in love)?  Sometimes in relationships, there comes a time when you see that the other person is hurting just to see you.  While you know that they want to see you, and yet for whatever reasons, your presence causes them to feel pain, grief or agony, what would you do?

If seeing the other person means hurting them, then I would rather not.
If hearing my voice means causing them grief, then I would rather not.
If thinking of me means making them feel sad, then I would rather not.

Are you ready to love like there is no tomorrow and still be without fear of pain?

Or will you listen to your “mommie”?

Pondering kindly is ezi

Rational vs Emotional Types

There are rational people and there are emotional people.

Emotional people base their decisions and actions on feelings, emotions, gut feelings.

Rational people base their decisions and actions on reason and logic … or so they say.

Me thinks ….

Rational people base their decisions and actions on gut feelings, emotions and mood, but rationalises them through reason and logic.

Emotional people just cannot be bothered to rationalise their gut feelings, emotions and mood.

I am so going to get hate mail for this post!

Before you send me your comments and thoughts (read: hate mail!), observe your emotions and what you want to write.