Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Wishes for 2008

During the year may you have
Enough happiness to keep you sweet.
Enough trials to keep you strong.
Enough hope to keep you happy.
Enough failure to keep you humble.
Enough success to keep you eager.
Enough friends to give you comfort.
Enough wealth to meet your needs.
Enough enthusiasm to make you positive.
Enough determination to make each day better.


PS. These new year wishes are not written by me. For my pals or those who are wondering why wish trials and failure to another, my view is that even when we are face with bad things or unfortunate events, there are good things that can come out of it. There will always be ups and downs in life. Just because we are down, it does not mean we cannot learn from it, and be a stronger, wiser and nicer person thereon. Wishing everyone here the strength to face adversity and the wisdom to grow from it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


OK, after that gloomy reflection earlier, another thing is on my mind this month: Disney Enchanted.

I don't considered myself to be a romantic guy and I enjoyed piercing sarcasm and black humor more (think In Living Color) but somehow this movie caught something in me (well, Madagascar too, but that was coz of the 4 mafiaso Penguins). Enjoy the catchy soundtrack of this movie:

Like it? It's hard not to. This tune has been ringing in my mind for past few weeks. Know why? Personally I feel it's coz when you are always happy and positive, you shine on others like the bright sun on a cool windy beach. That's why Amy Adams jovial, bubbly, caring and thoughtful character is soooooooo addictive. She simply draws people to her like a magnet. That's how we should live our lives: to bring joy and happiness to people around us, and they in turn will bring joy and happiness back to us. Merry Christmas and happy holidays folks! :)

Soldiering on

Been busy busy last 2 months: new distributorship, new products, new models, PC Fair, 1U Fair, Courts Mutiara opening etc. Without realising it, all these took a heavy toll on my values and principles. I tried not to blame myself for my choice of profession and business but I guess this is what The Buddha meant when he asked us to pursue the Right Livelihood and Right Effort. Choosing the right profession and prioritizing our lives are so important to our happiness and well-being.

When workload piled up and things got screwed up, your patience will be running thin, and frustrations will set in. Then next thing you know, KABOOM! I lose my temper more often, was rude to people, yelled at people, even more subtle but recently noticeable: starting to lose my generosity and thoughtfulness. Though I realised it sometime back, I shove it aside once I started to work incessantly and today, I don't like who I saw in the mirror: a cold and temperamental workaholic. To make things worse, I took home my office demo rig, the one with an AMD Athlon64 X2 6000+ and Albatron 8800GT 512MB VGA. Put an ex-Gamer with a high powered Gaming PC and what you get: an addicted Gamer all over again! :P

Fortunately I'm still mindful of the suffering due to "wanting" - chasing goals so hard that one ignore all the goodness that one can offer to others. I intend to slow things down by going to the temple more often, spending time with my family, catching up with friends, and if need be, sacrifice some of my business objectives. Most of all, I hope to regain my "changed" self again.

Note to self: Guard my thoughts, watch my deeds. Soldier on...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guan Yin and Wise Sayings of The Buddha

Took my family to the temple today, to pay homage to Guan Yin Pusa, also known as Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit or Chenrezig according to Tibetan Buddhism. To me, Guan Yin is the embodiment of compassion and loving kindness.

As I kneeled down to pay homage to Guan Yin, I wanted to recite "Om Mani Padme Hung" 108 times but failed on my first attempt. There were simply too many distractions. So I got up, took the vegetarian lunch, and after a short break, went down on my knees again. This time, I reminded myself to be mindful of the present, not to let my mind stray, and just focus on chanting. After chanting about 20 times, my mind started to wonder and even tried to convince me to stop at 30 times. I then bring my thoughts to the parami (perfection) of "Adhitthana" or determination. Each time I recalled Adhitthana, I persevered on and on till I chanted 108 times. Now this might not seem like an arduous task to many but it is to me, since I have a restless mind centered on worldly affairs. But this episode made me realized the value of mindfulness and determination.

Came home and watched YouTube to relax. Ran a few searches on Guan Yin and found 2 very inspiring videos:

1. A mesmerizing dance representing Guan Yin with the following words of wisdom:

As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid
As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others

2. A video of a demure girl quoting the wise teachings of Siddhāttha Gotama; The Buddha. I've read some before but it's truly inspiring when I viewed and listened to them in this video. I guess the presenter in this video has a natural flair for delivering the wise sayings of The Buddha.

PS. Thank you Sarah Swofford for the absolutely beautiful recitations.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Free Burma, support the Saffron Revolution!

I followed the anti-government protests and cries for help in Burma (now Myanmar) with concern since mid September. I remembered reading an article that said since the monks have joined the protest, the oppressive military government (junta) in Burma are now caught between a rock and a hard place, mainly because it's unimaginable that the junta will use force on the peaceful monks in Burma.

That article struck two thoughts in me:

1. Why would Buddhist monks, who have renounced the secular world to lead a homeless life, take such an active part in politics?

2. What if the unthinkable happen: the military junta decides to use force on these monks?

Guess what? The unthinkable happened. The military junta in Burma finally used violent means to suppress the protest in yet AGAIN another brutal crackdown. Scores of people including monks were arrested, beaten, shot, brutalized and killed. The soldiers and policemen, acting on orders from the junta, stormed many temples and monasteries to detain monks and from the accounts of what I've read and viewed: tortured and killed many monks in horrifying ways.

For decades, the military junta have ruled Burma with an iron fist with total disregard for the welfare of the people. Poverty and famine is at an all time high and there are virtually no proper education or job opportunities with many brutal crackdowns on the intellectuals and students in Burma.

Burma, already one of the world's poorest nations, recently saw a ninefold increase in the price of oil and a 40% increase in the price of rice, which made the incompetent and power-hungry junta fearful of any popular uprising, hence even monks were not spared from the brutality as they struggle to cling on to power. Such clinging and lust for power are invariably destructive and the cause of untold sufferings.

Under such extreme conditions, it’s impossible for the people of Burma to practice the Dhamma, let alone maintain a calm and serene mind. Therefore, the monks out of deep compassion for all those suffering in Burma, decided to take part in a peaceful protest with the hope that the military junta would do something to alleviate the suffering and improve the welfare of all Burmese citizens. By doing so, the holy Sangha, as the protector of the noble Dhamma, now lies completely brutalized and shattered by the oppressive and inhuman regime in Burma.

If you happened to read this, please try to:

1. Say a prayer or send your good thoughts to people and monks in Burma who are suffering now.

2. See what you can do HERE.

I leave you to ponder over these two quotes:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke.
(This happens to be my Karate grandmaster Vince Morris sensei's favorite quote)

There are times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest - Elie Wiesel.
(Let's take protest in this context to include active compassionate action: saying a prayer or good thoughts, sharing the news regarding Burma, donating to the people of Burma, appealing to the UN and your government to help the people of Burma and etc.)

Free Burma! Free Myanmar! Support the Saffron Revolution!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Organs donation

Been mulling over this since 2001. It was Susan who first shared with me the idea of donating organs upon death, having pledge her organs sometime ago. Discovering Buddhism led me to deeper thoughts of this matter.

The Star report on the successful second transplant for heart patient Tee Hui Yi is both touching and eye-opening. Touching because the parents of a young mechanic who died in an accident put aside their grief for what must be a shocking loss to consent to donating their son organs.

Eye-opening when I read more than 100,000 Malaysians have pledged their organs but in reality only 25 have donated their organs to save lives, mainly because many families or next of kin do not agree to the organ donation. Tee Hui Yi can be considered extremely lucky to have found 2 suitable donors within a span of just 24 hours after the body rejected the first transplant. I see it as her good kamma from her past merits ripening at the right time.

It took a team of more than 14 specialists and senior nurses from IJN (Institut Jantung Negara) two grueling days performing the two transplants on Hui Yi. So much effort just to save one person. This truly illustrates the dedication and commitment of doctors to save lives, and shows just how precious human life is. It's so easy to take away a life, but so difficult to save one. May we all learn to live peacefully without enmity and violence.

I'll try to spend more time to deeply consider donating my own organs. Read here for more info on organs donation. Susan, if you are reading this, thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Things you can never undo

Here's an enjoyable and meaningful story sent to me by my ex-colleague and good friend, Santhana Mary.

May we all be blessed with wisdom in our thoughts, words and deeds, to act with skillful means in our lives.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Which one do you feed?

I once heard that inside all of us, there are two wolves constantly fighting: LOVE and HATE.

Do you know which one will win eventually? It's the one you feed the most.

So be mindful of your thoughts always. Wishing you peace and harmony.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Loving kindness - an everlasting beauty

When I look at thee
What beauty do I see
When I remember your deeds
What inspiration you truly give

When I'm drowned in grief
Your memories always give me a lift
When I'm lost in greed
It's your advice that I heed

You will always be my lead
Providing that which I need
Though it might not be what I seek
It's definitely a righteous seed

Your loving kindness is inspiring indeed
For your legacy will never ever cease...

Thursday, September 6, 2007


While my aunt was cooking supper for me, all of sudden she screamed. I ran to the kitchen and asked her what happened. She pointed to the stove and I saw a long tail under cooking stove, it's a rat!

Despite my best attempt to catch it using a plier, the rat escape. Don't ever underestimate the strength and speed of this animal. Later my aunt setup a trap using a rat cage with a bait inside. A short while later, it caught the rat!

While I recalled my grandma used to dispose any rats she caught by putting it under the hot sun, I assumed my aunt would do the same tomorrow morning. But I was wrong, she calmly told me to follow her outside the house to release the rat somewhere into the bushes. This is a pleasant and meaningful surprise for me, she's actually practicing the First Precept (refrain from killing) right in front of me. This episode taught me to respect all living beings no matter big or small, beautiful or ugly. The way my aunt handled it, the rat won't be pest in my house and yet no harm comes to it. Thanks aunt for this lesson in wisdom and compassion.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Massacre at Virginia Tech

Horrors beneath tranquility: who would believe this serene place can be the site for the most gruesome mass slayings in the history of USA?

What a shocking loss of human lives, the senseless massacre in Virginia Tech University serves another lesson on how fragile human lives can be, and although death is a certainty for all of us, we can never know when it'll happen.

But IMHO, the deepest tragedy in this very dark episode is how we continue to ignore or neglect those who are suffering from mental problems. To make matters worse: we laugh, tease or bully those whom we perceived to be "different" from us, adding to their misery and anguish. Have we become so perverse that we take pleasure from teasing or bullying people till they break down and become festered with delusions, anger and hatred. Who is more responsible here: a society that doesn't care or a loner who's delusional and cannot tell right from wrong? Could active pre-emptive action like compelling or coercing him into therapy radically change the outcome of this tragic episode? I think we owe this much to ourselves and those killed to at least think and reflect on this matter, for the betterment of our future generation and to preserve the sanity and sanctity of our existence as human beings in this world.

We can certainly do with more understanding, compassion and loving kindness in our world today, esp. to those suffering from mental problems and anguish. Perhaps this is best sum up in a letter to the killer, Cho Seung-hui on his memorial stone in Virginia Tech campus: "Seung Hui, I hope that if I ever meet someone like you, I will have the courage and strength to reach out." - signed David.

PS. To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Divine. May we find peace through forgiveness.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

First Aid and CPR course

Just attended a certified First Aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) course in Hospital Pantai Indah. I would like to thank my fellow gym buddies (Vince & Albert) for encouraging me to sign up for this useful course.

Initially I was hesistant to sign up for this 2 full days course coz I imagined it to be a dry & boring course. Well, was I wrong! The first 10 mins already pique my interest when Fideal answered wrongly on what to do when you have a deep cut on your wrist or forearm - do you know torniquet (a tightly tied band applied around a body part, eg. an arm or a leg) has been banned as First Aid procedure sometime back? It's a dangerous technique so only hospitals used them in the surgeries nowadays. After hearing the many case studies presented, I can only conclude one thing: ignorance can kill! It's better not to do anything if you do not know First Aid. That's the strange thing about delusion and ignorance, people still think it's bliss!

All in all, we learned about First Aid treatments for wounds, bleeding, amputations, fractures, burns, shock and finally CPR. Definitely a useful course. I think many of us take our lives for granted (me included) and think that help can arrive on time whenever there are emergencies. Actually the first few mins in cases like choking, heart attack, severe bleeding, drowning are crucial in determining a victim's survival rate. My instructor said, "...bring to us 70% alive, then we can do something." Even ensuring that the victim's breathing airway is clear can make the difference between life and death - head tilt, chin lift.

Again it proved that I should never let my feelings ruled over my good instincts or common sense. I should always endevour to do good no matter how bored or tired I feel. Learning life saving skills such as First Aid and CPR might prove to be invaluable one day, echoing the common saying we used for learning martial arts: "better to know and not need it than need it but do not know."

Friday, February 9, 2007

Blood Diamond - watch what you buy

Watched another great movie that highlights the how greed and ignorance cause untold suffering to so many people. Blood Diamond, a movie by Edward Zwick, shows us how the people in Africa (eg. minerals-rich nations like Sierra Leone) are enslaved, tortured, maimed and killed in order to harvest diamonds primarily to cater to the demand of the "developed" countries. It's a vicious cycle: the government want to harvest diamonds to stay in power, while those against the government harvest diamonds to overthrow them. Both need money, both need arms: diamond=money=arms=power. Ignorance perpetuate greed perpetuate hate and this never ends. It sank so low that sometimes people even forgot why or what they are fighting for? For the common citizens, killing is simply a way of life there: T.I.A (this is Africa - shit happens).

Being forced to work in diamond mines under inhuman conditions.

But there are people who refused to believe that there's nothing we can do about it. Characters in the movie like Maddy Bowen, who believed that every single step she takes, no matter how small, how insignificant, can somehow makes a different. Who refused to live in denial or cynicism or look the other way. There are people like that in the real world. And these people gives us hope for a more caring world, and alerts us that they are many out there who are suffering greatly. Same for the people who work tirelessly to bring relief effort to conflict zones and war refugees or victims like the workers and volunteers of UNHCR, ICRC, Doctors Without Borders and many more.

In a way, I'm glad that there are more and more movies coming out highlighting the plights and sufferings of those living in Africa: Sometimes in April, Tears of the Sun and Lord of War are recent films that do more than just entertain. As said by Barbara Vancheri of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The movie does not suggest consumers boycott diamonds, just that they be vigilant in asking about their origin."

In order to reduce mental defilements, I've tried to be selective about the kind of movies I watch nowadays. Though some of these movies are classified as "R" or "PG", and often depict violence, I think overall they still manage to send a good message: ignorance, greed and hatred cause much sufferings to many. We need to be wary of how materialism and consumerism is driving our lives and how it affects those around us and everyone all over the world. Hope we all become more mindful of what we buy in the future, and why we need to buy them. Always ask about the origins of the diamonds you want to buy to avoid buying conflict diamonds.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Goodness is infectious

I felt sad for the victims of the flood in Malaysia, esp. those in Johor. Imagined all these people losing so much in such a short time: their properties, vehicles, home appliances, fittings, furnitures, beds, crops, livestocks - all destroyed by the flood water. Do you know how hard a typical person would need to save to refit his home? Not only that, most families were displaced and have to live in crowded "relief" centers, usually school halls converted into makeshift camps. I wondered what relief these places can bring? Most tragic of all, humans and animals lives were lost in the floods. Some people took unneccessary risks by driving through flooded roads and others were simply swept away by the heavy current. So much losses in so short a time.

I write not to gripe but to highlight how we all take our daily lives for granted, and how tragedy can strike anytime anywhere. I tried to imagine if I too lost everything in a flood, and it was really depressing just to think about it. When I heard that the Red Crescent was seeking donations in any kind, I asked my whole family to gather as much clothings as we can give away. At that point, I felt it would not be much, so I wondered if I can seek the help of my friends at the gym.

I called Vince, my coach to ask if I can use his gym as a staging area to gather clothes from all the members. He said YES and he posted a message on the notice board in the gym. I proceeded to post on our forum and sms everyone. The response I got was amazing! First day, a few packs came in and by the fourth or fifth day, I must have collected about 20 packs of clothings, including some children clothing too, all nicely packed and labelled according to the gender.

It was very thoughtful of the Red Crescent to open their place 24 hours so that I can drop in anytime. I'm so touched that so many people chipped in whatever they can. When I reached the Red Crescent office, there are many foodstuffs in boxes around, but few packs of clothings. I hope that what little we gave would be helpful to those affected by the flood. I really salute all those volunteers who took time off to help the flood victims because without them, the losses (including human lives) would be much more tragic. Thank goodness the media highlighted the victims plight so that many can chip in and pour their resources to help. Goodness is indeed infectious if you start the ball rolling. Go ahead, spread some goodness around...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why Buddhism?

I discovered Buddhism after the untimely passing of Hua Li. To me, the Dhamma is truly beautiful and stood tall as the ultimate truth. I've found peace, harmony, joy and happiness from practicing Buddhism.

The more I learned, discovered and practiced, the more I'm convinced of The Buddha's teachings (the Dhamma) - truly in the spirit of "Ehi Passiko" - come see for yourselves. It's not pressurizing nor something that instill anxiety or fear (believe or go to hell). It's teachings will appeal to your common sense and reasonings - eg. we do not need God or anyone to tell us that murder is wrong. The more we practice it, the more we will gain confidence of efficacy of the Dhamma. It exhort us to look within: avoid evil, do good, purify the mind.

The teachings of impermanence, dukkha, no-self, conditioned existence, kamma and rebirth are very real indeed, supported by scientific backings & researched data. More importantly, you will experience them personally as you practice Buddhism.

Practicing Buddhism will lead us to happiness now, happiness hereafter and finally: complete and total liberation from suffering.

Wishing everyone success in following the path till fruition. HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS.

With Metta,
Charles /\