Precepts 101: Is it wrong to eavesdrop?

So a student shared with me a question on whether eavesdropping is against the precept on stealing.

This is a common situation where people start applying Buddhism in their daily life.  They start literally applying it everywhere, including where it is probably not needed.

You see, take eavesdropping for example.  It is just plain bad manners and rude to eavesdrop.  We don’t need to bring in the precepts or religion to tell us that we should not eavesdrop.

But if we are in a bus and some other passengers decides to chat so loud that it becomes difficult not to overhear their conversation, it is still not us “stealing” their conversation.  Although it would be good to not focus on it just as well.

When we are in a busy food court having lunch with our friend, surely bits and pieces of fellow lunchers’ conversation would spill over, hopefully without their lunch!  We have the ability to tune into and focus on our friend, filtering out the chatter from the others.

So likewise, we can do that when we are alone, we can tune out, so that we do not listen in on others’ conversation.

Lastly, even if we do not formally observe the precepts through the ceremony, if we take things without asking or outrightly steal, we are not absolved of the consequences of stealing.

Respecting others’ right to their property, we undertake the precept to abstain from stealing.

Keep Calm, Breathe, Be Happy. ^_^

If I have a Special Power


A friend asked me what I would like to have if I can choose any special power.  Anything at all.  Here’s what I would like to have:

I would like to be able to just snap my finger and have all sentient beings be completely, perfectly free from suffering, to be perfectly awaken, to be perfect, to be Buddha!

But alas!  No one can make others enlightened.  We must work on our own liberation, we must do the cultivation ourselves.  Enlightenment is not granted or or conferred.  It is not given.  It is through our own humanly possible effort that we work on shortcomings, flaws, faults, defilements and agitations in the mind.  To work on the habitual tendencies that compels us to repeat our mistakes.

Until one day, we cut the fetters that bind us.

That may seem bleak to some, that no one is there to save us, that we have to do it ourselves.  The good news is that we are not alone in doing this.  We have the teachings of the Buddha as our guide and instruction manual if you will.  What it means is that we are responsible for our happiness and no one else.  It also means that we are in charge and do not have to submit to someone else’s whims and fancy, to placate or please, to cajole or beg for liberation.

Two weeks from now, we celebrate Vesak in Singapore.  We celebrate this conquering of suffering through humanly possible effort.  We celebrate this potential, this Buddha nature, that is in all of us, in every sentient being, regardless of our race, language or religion.  Or for that matter, species.

May all beings be free from fear, free from harm,
May all be well and happy!

PS: So my friend, what super power would you like to have? 😉


Dhammapada XX: Maggavagga 275 – 276

275. Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust, I make known the path.

276. You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way. Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.

A Vietnamese nun lives out her dream to help the destitute in India

Sadhu!  Sadhu!  Sadhu!  ^_^

An amazing Buddhist nun, Venerable Tri Thuan, who left Vietnam for the US in 1971, and in 1985 left the United States and went to France to study Buddhism under her Vietnamese master, the late Most Venerable Thich Huyen VI.

In 1989, under the advice of her late master, headed for India and has been there ever since and made India the base of her humanitarian work.

To Repair or To Get a New One – Of Monitors, Things and Relationships

Yesterday, I went on a mini-quest with my long time friend Yong Hee​ to fix a flickering LCD monitor. 😉


A quick trip to SIM LIM Tower got us the components.

Total component costs: S$6.50 (inclusive of spares)

If we do not repair it, it may just be sent to the dump. This will put an end to all the resources, manpower and energy put in to manufacturing the monitor. By replacing the 6 capacitors, the monitor’s useful lifespan has been extended by say another 2 – 4 years. With the spare caps, we estimate that it will continue to be useful until the CFL die out. ^_^ (y)

To Repair or To Get a New One
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Who am I – The Buddha’s Teachings on No-Self


There is no independent, permanent, unchanging “I” or “You” or “Ven. Chuan Guan”, but our existence in the various roles that we play.  That exist.

No One Role Defines Us

Given conditions, “you” exist, and as a son or daughter wrt to your parents, as a niece or newphew to your uncle and aunts, as a friend to your peers, as a colleague at work, etc. These roles collectively is who you are, yet none of it totally define you.

Sometimes we forget and overemphasis one over the other, or totally neglect this or that role. Other times, we forget to stop playing certain roles even when that role is no longer needed or relevant.  It is almost like the music that continues to play in our mind even when we stop listening to it. We continue to play some roles even when the conditions and situations have changed. Read More …

What to do in a sinking ship?

Some people tell me about how the company they are in is going south, or worse yet, not going anywhere.  The seeming obvious decision is just to leave.

Others who are volunteering in societies or organisations sometimes feel that way too.  And all too often, they leave feeling lost, burnt out, or even betrayed.

So they leave, or jump ship.

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