Thursday, December 8, 2011

Unfaithful = Never Satisfied

I was having a drink with a friend when I told him about my shock at reading that Malaysians are ranked third in the world for being the most unfaithful partner. Source here.

Me: "How can that be? Do you believe so many of us are unfaithful?"

Friend: "It's not about being unfaithful, it about never feeling satisfied. We just keep on looking for more."

This chat reminds me about The Buddha words on desire, lust and sex. I Googled around and found this enlightening article with the summary: "The activity of sex will never ultimately satisfy the desire for sex."

Let me end with these words from the Dhammapada Chapter 16: Verse 214:

From lustfulness arises grief,
from lustfulness springs fear,
one wholly free of lustfulness
has no grief - how fear?

Explanation: From passion arises sorrow. From passion fear arises. To one free of passion there is no sorrow, In such a person how can there be fear?

May this be a strong reminder to me and anyone lure by desire and lust. With Metta _/\_

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Inspirational Quotes for Buddhists

According to Mahayana tradition, today is Guan Yin's birthday. I took my family to my Aunt's temple to pay homage to Guan Yin. After the vegetarian lunch, I kneel down, took refuge in the Triple Gem then recited Om Mani Padme Hum 108 times. Although I follow the Theravada tradition now, this mantra has a special meaning in my heart because it is one of the first few Buddhist chants I learned when I became a Buddhist after my wife passed away in 2005. As I recited, my mind again strayed away and I took this chance to practice Adhitthana (determination in Pali) till I managed to recite 108 times.

I came home, login to my Facebook and immediately saw few inspiring & enlightening quotes. I post them here with the hope it will touch you as much as it has inspired and taught me.

"The ordinary mind — no matter whose — when it does not yet have any standards and meets up with things that drag it here and there in the wrong directions, will tend to go rolling after those preoccupations without let-up, to the point where it cannot find any foundation for sustaining its peace and calm. In terms of the Dhamma, these preoccupations are called defilements." -
Luangta Maha Boowa (Straight from the Heart)

"When the mind is involved with the world, it's bound to meet with collisions; and once it collides, it will be shaken and roll back and forth, just as round stones in a large pile roll back and forth. So no matter how good or bad other people may be, we don't store it up in our mind to give rise to feelings of like or dislike. Dismiss it completely as being their business and none of ours." - Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nick Vujicic - inspiring us to be thankful always

Just wanna share this beautiful inspiring video of Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms & legs. His positive attitude serve as a great example of the celebration of life over limitations.

Nick is thankful for what he HAS.
He's not bitter for what he does NOT have.

I have never met a bitter person who was thankful.
I have never met a thankful person who was bitter.

In life you have a choice: Bitter or Better?

Contentment is the greatest wealth - The Buddha, Dhammapada Verse 204.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sharing the Dhamma with my dying mum

My mum time is very near. She is no longer conscious for the past 3 days, and her breathing is irregular with rattling sound, similar to symptoms I observed when my grandma passed away 2 years ago.

But something wonderful (under the circumstances) happened few days ago before my mum became totally unconscious. My aunt friend Elaine from their Pureland temple came to visit my mum. She wore a bright pink dress and to my surprise, my mum said aloud she looked very beautiful, and my mum even managed to muster a smile in her weak and frail condition. That was the first time I heard my mum talked so clearly in weeks. Elaine sat around for awhile asking my mum not to worry and think of The Buddha.

After Elaine left, I noticed my mum is still awake and I took this opportunity to share the Dhamma with her. My mum is a very gentle and good nature person but I'm afraid she has limited exposure to the Dhamma aside from chanting Amitabha. I wished I have strive harder to share the Dhamma with her when she was in better health. It was very negligent of me to only give priority to my work & take her time with us for granted. It's my sincere hope for those reading this to cherish time with your loved ones and please plan some time for spiritual development, because life can be cruel and unpredictable.

Thoughts were running through my mind how best to share the Dhamma with her. I started with telling her in Cantonese (her main language) my simple translation of the First Noble Truth: The Buddha taught that life is suffering, as long as we are in the wheel of existence, we suffer. Birth, old age, sickness and death is suffering. And that is the first time I talk about death to her. She looked at me and I continued saying we must find a way out of this wheel. Then I told her let's take refuge in the Triple Gem together, explaining the meaning of taking the refuge in Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha. I was glad she was awake the whole period till I finished chanting. Then I continue chanting Amitabha into her ear because she has affinity to this mantra. She then closed her eyes and slept peacefully.

The following day, as I came back from work at night, I cleaned her up and changed her dressings to cover the bed sores. As me & my Dad flipped her on the side to relieve pressure from sleeping on her back whole day, I noticed her eyes wide opened, and looking at me. Quickly! Said my inner voice, another window of opportunity to share the Dhamma with her. I said gently to my mum; "Mother, let me share with you what my Sifu (referring to the monks & books I've learned from) taught me. The Buddha said being human will sure have sufferings from birth, old age, sickness and dying. This is because we all have craving, therefore we exist in this cycle of rebirth. Death comes to everybody, me included." I then told her Kisagotami tale with the hope to reduce her fear of death. She looked at me intently and I continued; "Once The Buddha asked this woman if she wants to have 10 children in her village and she said yes that would make her very happy. The Buddha then said if the 10 children died, you would suffer 10 times." I sorta made up this because I cannot remember the exact story. She blinked her eyes in agreement. I then said the more we want, the more we suffer. That is why monks leave home to let go everything in order to practice and cultivate till enlightenment. She blinked her eyes and nodded her head slightly. This really comforted me because I sensed she understood at least some parts of my message. I reminded her that by offering robe to a monk in the past, she has actually assisted someone who is cultivating to reach enlightenment, and that is great merit. I've never seen my mum looked at me so intently the past few weeks therefore I think my message must have left a good impression on her.

I also told her The Buddha taught the "Law" of Kamma which states good people will reap good results and good people will go to good places, just like oil will always float when dropped on water, compare to rock which will sink to the bottom. So I told her not to worry because she has been a gentle, good nature, thoughtful & caring person, filial daughter & good mother her whole life. She has brought us up well & we are now filial and taking good care of her. She kept looking at me without blinking. I told her now is the time where she must let go everything and constantly think of The Buddha only. By focusing on The Buddha, we will not be disturbed by our fears or worries. Just keep chanting Amitabha with your mind. She nodded slightly in agreement. Then I asked her to take the Three Refuge in Pali with me followed by me chanting Amitabha to her 108 times, after which I left the room to let her rest.

I'm glad I managed to share what little I know about the Dhamma with her during those few critical moments when she is awake. By minimizing travelling and staying at home, I managed to catch these opportunities to plant the Dhamma seed in her. After the second chance to share the Dhamma with her, she has since became unconscious. Nevertheless, I continue to remind her of her good deeds and take the Three Refuge, chant Amitabha and few suttas near her as often as I can.

Yesterday, I told her I will buy cooking oil, rice, onions and potatoes for the monks in Maha Vihara on her behalf. One lady in the office of Maha Vihara told me they needed onions and potatoes. I whispered to my mum ear before I left and informed her when I returned that the deed is done. This is my final chance to do my best for my mum, so I need to treasure every moment.

Coincidence or A Sign?

Yesterday was my mother's birthday and also the birthdays of 2 significant ladies in my life: Quenna Leong & Thitiporn Li Li, therefore it was the birthdays of 3 very special persons in my life.

My mum needs no introduction; she is my prime motivator and pillar of strength all these years. I admire her gentle nature, thoughtfulness, filial piety & the way she takes care of everyone in the family. I'm going through a very tough time now because she is dying.

Quenna Leong is a close and old friend of over 20 years. She is the one who introduced and inspired me to Buddhism when my late wife passed away in 2005. She was instrumental in inspiring me to be a better person and to walk the Middle Way. I admire her calm personality & unwavering devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha which she so skillfully used to guide me when I was lost & confused.

Thitiporn Li Li is a close friend who despite our distance (she lives in Bangkok & Singapore), is always there to listen to my sorrows and cheer me up with her caring nature. Having faced many trials and tribulations herself, she is a courageous lady who always think of others first. Her firm determination & loving charm are poetry in motion.

3 persons very close to me sharing the same birthdays? Coincidence, possibly... A Sign, likely. Whatever it may be, I treat it as a message for me to cherish & remember people who have inspired me to goodness, and in turn, assist or help others whenever I can, while I still can. What more since "fate" has arranged a single date for me to remember 3 very remarkable individuals.

Wesak Day is only a day away. What a sequence, I'm grateful for the timing, and thankful for making it easy to remember. May all beings be free from suffering. May everyone be well & happy. Metta. /\

PS. Thanks to Facebook for helping me made this meaningful discovery. :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Dedication - ode to all mums

If there is a meaning to unconditional love
You would be it
Protective & nurturing when we were young
Ever under your wings
You shielded us from the thorns of the world

If there is a meaning to a good provider
You would be it
Ensuring all our needs are met
Comforting & caring for us with zeal
You are our umbrella when it rains

If there is a meaning to a good teacher
You would be it
Leading & guiding us by examples
Instilling wisdom in our growing years
You are our beacon in this confusing world

If there is a meaning to joy & laughter
You would be it
Whether outings or dining
Your company is simply delightful
You warm our hearts in this cold world

If there is a meaning to strong bond
You would be it
As our closest confidante and counselor
You listen to our troubles & woes
And soothe us from the pains of the world

If there is a shinning example of a wise elder
You would be it
Allowing us to mature & choose our paths
Inspiring us with your kindness & thoughtfulness
You are our ray of sunshine in this dark world
We will never be lost because of you.

Dedicated to my mum, Chan Yoke Lan and all the mothers in this world who brought us up & care for us selflessly. Thank you mum for everything.

Happy Mother's Day! :)

PS. You might be interested to read this ENTRY too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dealing with our loved ones suffering

I've calmed down a bit this week. My mum's condition hasn't changed but at least I get to spend time talking to her whenever she is awake or conscious.

Watching this video on Ajahn Brahm talking about how to deal the suffering of loved ones helped me a lot. In short, he talked about reducing our emotional suffering by not attaching "ownership" to one's spouse, children, parents etc. Ajahn Brahm also taught that our loved ones in critical condition will not want us to suffer seeing them in such condition, and we should be strong for them. Furthermore, crying or lamenting cannot help anyone, so we need to compose ourselves and have a cup of tea (or anything you prefer).

One beautiful thing he taught is that our loved ones suffering offer us the opportunity to take care of them, serve them and generally do good. This is really an encouraging way of facing the situation I'm in now.

To Ajahn Brahm, you have my deep gratitude and respect for your kindness & enlightening teachings.

With Metta,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Keeping vigil for my mum

This month is probably my most painful and saddest month. My beloved mum condition deteriorated to a point where she is no longer able to move or eat on her own. I was unable to accept nor believe the possibility that she will leave us soon, because we can spot few signs of dying. This is one of the most painful moment in my life.

I realized tonight that I only read and contemplate the Dhamma at extremely solemn moment like this. It is my hope for those reading this please do not be like me, and end up with excruciating mental anguish of being unable to cope and accept a loved one leaving us. Practice the Dhamma and reflect on Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering) and Anatta (no self) constantly.

I'm reading Kisagotami tale now to keep calm and reflect on the Buddha's teachings, while keeping vigil over my mum every moment I get. May this post be of use to anyone who is grieving or in a similar situation like me.

I end with this reply on my Facebook by my old friend Rajendra Inani regarding taking care of my mum:
"Hey Charles, its a great duty taking care of parents when they are old. One may buy such services with money, but doing it on your own as your duty and gratitude towards parents is something considered as worshiping God."

With Metta,
Charles. /\

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lesson of Sacrifice from a 9 year old Japanese boy

Just an interesting story I hope will inspire you to greater good.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter, written by Vietnamese immigrant Ha Minh Thanh who works in Fukushima as a policeman to a friend in Vietnam, was posted on New America Media (NAM) on March 19. It is a testimonial to the strength of the Japanese spirit, and an interesting slice of life near the epicentre of Japan’s crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was translated by NAM editor Andrew Lam, author of “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres.” Shanghai Daily condensed it.


How are you and your family? These last few days, everything was in chaos. When I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. When I open my eyes, I also see dead bodies.

Each one of us must work 20 hours a day, yet I wish there were 48 hours in the day, so that we could continue helping and rescuing folks. We are without water and electricity, and food rations are near zero. We barely manage to move refugees before there are new orders to move them elsewhere.

I am currently in Fukushima, about 25 kilometres away from the nuclear power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could write it all down, it would surely turn into a novel about human relationships and behaviours during times of crisis.

People here remain calm – their sense of dignity and proper behaviour are very good – so things aren’t as bad as they could be. But given another week, I can’t guarantee that things won’t get to a point where we can no longer provide proper protection and order.

They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override dignity, well, they will do whatever they have to do. The government is trying to provide supplies by air, bringing in food and medicine, but it’s like dropping a little salt into the ocean.

Brother, there was a really moving incident. It involves a little Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being.

Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organisation distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a tee-shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn’t be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father’s car away.

I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably didn’t make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.

The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That’s when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him.

“When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here’s my portion. I already ate. Why don’t you eat it?”

The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn’t. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed.

I was shocked. I asked him why he didn’t eat it and instead added it to the food pile. He said, “Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.”

When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn’t see me cry.

A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people.

Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours of my shift have begun again.

Ha Minh Thanh

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy New Rabbit Year 2011 - Gratitude

Been superbusy so didn't have time to blog as much as I wanted to. I wanted to share a great story about family bonds but guess this video from Petronas will have to do for now.

I hope this video will touch you as much as it has reminded me not to take my parents for granted. For those interested, The Buddha's teachings on Gratitude & Integrity is found in the Kataññu Suttas.

Thank you Petronas for making this video and may it inspire you to spend more time with your folks and give them all the love they deserve. Our parents took care of us & love us unconditionally, likewise we should reciprocate the same.