Thursday, July 27, 2006

Just Let Go of the Candy

Momentarily, I forgot my ‘don’t know mind’ yesterday. I checked and allowed my feelings to surface. My feelings aroused my ‘I-my-me’ and naturally problems appeared, mind suffering ensued.

I held on to something so I made something yesterday. I put my hand into a jar to grab the candy and couldn’t pull my hand out. The harder I tried, the more frustrated I got. But the moment I let go of the candy, my hand was free, my frustrations were all gone, my suffering ended. All I did was simply put my desire and thinking down. Just like that.

“Keeping is not necessary, and pushing away is not necessary. Just put it all down.” - Zen Master Seung Sahn


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I envy the trees

I went jogging in the evening hoping that my jogging meditation will help remove some thoughts from my mind.

As I jogged, all my thoughts started appearing…one after another. And each time, I reminded myself to put the thought down and focus on my breathing. When one thought left, another would surface and take its place very quickly, throughout the 4.2km I jogged.

Midway through my jog, I looked up at the trees and suddenly, I realised I was envying them! At that moment, I actually wished I was a tree, standing there, swaying, enjoying the nice evening breeze.

Trees don’t have a thinking mind right? If I’m a tree, then I won’t have all those thoughts that cause mental suffering right?

Do trees worry? Do they get upset? Do they have anger?

Do they complain when it’s too hot? Do they feel cold when it rains continuously?


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Living a Life that Matters

I read this book today at the library. Below is a segment that I would like to share with everyone. Do let me know if you agree with this author or have a different view.

Living a Life That Matters - Resolving the conflict between conscience and success, by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

We can all remember words we spoke or things we did when we were angry that we felt justified in doing at the time and now wish we could take back, or we at least wish we could convince people that those words and deeds don't accurately reflect the kind of people we are.

Are people basically good except when desperation, fear, or anger drive them to override the voice of conscience and do things they don't believe in? Or are people basically mean and selfish, waiting only for the opportunity to get away with wickedness or for someone to give them permission to cast off the restraints of decency?

Sometimes people hurt and cheat each other to feel powerful, to cure their fear of insignificance. People who may be insecure about their importance in the grand scheme of things, give in to the urge to demonstrate their ability to make a difference.

What kind of person do we want to be?

Are we naturally good and pure until external circumstances compromise our goodness? Or are we naturally weak and deceitful, needing conscience or outside authority to keep us in line? The author thinks we are both. He sees every human being as having good and bad tendencies, impulses to charity and impulses to selfishness, the desire to be truthful and the desire to lie. These tendencies are in constant tension within us and would explain why good people can be corrupted by the prospect of financial gain or led astray by anger, and why criminals can display affection and loyalty.

Good people will do good things, lots of them, because they are good people. They will do bad things because they are human. Sometimes the angel wins and sometimes the angel loses. With luck, we will not be overwhelmed by guilt when the egoistical impulse defeats the angel, and we will understand that the victory is temporary, not permanent, when the angel wins.

The author quoted a native American tribal leader describing his own inner struggles. He said, "There are two dogs inside me. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." Someone asked him which dog usually wins, and he answered, "The one I feed most."

My afterthoughts:

I don’t think I’m an evil person. I truly try to live my life now with only compassion. But I have a weakness that I know of and it is causing me a lot of mental suffering. That weakness is my ego…my ‘I’, ‘my’, ‘me’. It is this ‘devil’ in me that makes me say things I don’t mean and causes my anger to surface over and over again. How do I get rid of this ego? I want to shake it off but it clings to me like a leech. I know I am just a human and fallible like everyone else. I should be more patient with myself, I know that. But today, I just feel very frustrated with this nagging thought in my mind, my inner struggle……sigh!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Anger yet again!

Yes, it just happened again…I experienced anger again.

And I had to receive this particular teaching today to help me reflect on why I just felt anger. How can I not believe in the existence of G-plan?

How do I dissolve anger? How do I stop clinging to my beliefs, my opinions. No, there wasn't hatred, just ‘my’ belief. I wasn’t thoughtful? I lack compassion? Where was my righteousness? Time to contemplate, seriously contemplate…

Thanks clio, yanny, tacobee…I appreciate you friends for what you’ve done tonight. Life is definitely beautiful with you people around. ^_^

Cessation of anger – J Krishnamurti

We have all, I am sure, tried to subdue anger but somehow that does not seem to dissolve it. Is there a different approach to dissipate anger?...Anger may spring from physical or psychological causes. One is angry, perhaps, because one is thwarted, one's defensive reactions are being broken down, or one's security which has been carefully built up is being threatened, and so on. We are all familiar with anger. How is one to understand and dissolve anger? If you consider that your beliefs, concepts, opinions, are of the greatest importance, then you are bound to react violently when questioned. Instead of clinging to beliefs, opinions, if you begin to question whether they are essential to one's comprehension of life, then through the understanding of its causes there is the cessation of anger. Thus one begins to dissolve one's own resistances which cause conflict and pain. This again requires earnestness. We are used to controlling ourselves for sociological or religious reasons or for convenience, but to uproot anger requires deep awareness....

You say you are angry when you hear of injustice. Is it because you love humanity, because you are compassionate? Do compassion and anger dwell together? Can there be justice when there is anger, hatred? You are perhaps angry at the thought of general injustice, cruelty, but your anger does not alter injustice or cruelty; it can only do harm. To bring about order, you yourself have to be thoughtful, compassionate. Action born of hatred can only create further hatred. There can be no righteousness where there is anger. Righteousness and anger cannot dwell together.

Book of Life - July 19th

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Words of J Krishnamurti

I subscribe to daily quotes of my guru, J Krishnamurti. Most of his words are so profound, so deep in meaning, it is not easy to understand. But today, I share two teachings which are much easier to understand. I hope everyone can also learn from his wisdom and grow with me.

Self-image Leads to Pain

Why divide problems as major and minor? Is not everything a problem? Why make them little or big problems, essential or unessential problems? If we could understand one problem, go into it very deeply however small or big it is, then we would uncover all problems. This is not a rhetorical answer. Take any problem: anger, jealousy, envy, hatred - we know them all very well. If you go into anger very deeply, not just brush it aside, then what is involved? Why is one angry? Because one is hurt, someone has said an unkind thing; and when someone says a flattering thing you are pleased. Why are you hurt? Self-importance, is it not? And why is there self-importance?

Because one has an idea, a symbol of oneself, an image of oneself, what one should be, what one is or what one should not be. Why does one create an image about oneself? Because one has never studied what one is, actually. We think we should be this or that, the ideal, the hero, the example. What awakens anger is that our ideal, the idea we have of ourselves, is attacked. And our idea about ourselves is our escape from the fact of what we are. But when you are observing the actual fact of what you are, no one can hurt you. Then, if one is a liar and is told that one is a liar it does not mean that one is hurt; it is a fact. But when you are pretending you are not a liar and are told that you are, then you get angry, violent. So we are always living in an ideational world, a world of myth and never in the world of actuality. To observe what is, to see it, actually be familiar with it, there must be no judgment, no evaluation, no opinion, no fear.

Book of Life - July 16th

Perverted Pleasure

There is such a thing as sadism. Do you know what that word means? An author called the Marquis de Sade once wrote a book about a man who enjoyed hurting people and seeing them suffer. From that comes the word sadism, which means deriving pleasure from the suffering of others. For certain people there is a peculiar satisfaction in seeing others suffer. Watch yourself and see if you have this feeling. It may not be obvious, but if it is there you will find that it expresses itself in the impulse to laugh when somebody falls. You want those who are high to be pulled down; you criticize, gossip thoughtlessly about others, all of which is an expression of insensitivity, a form of wanting to hurt people. One may injure another deliberately, with vengeance, or one may do it unconsciously with a word, with a gesture with a look; but in either case the urge is to hurt somebody, and there are very few who radically set aside this perverted form of pleasure.

Book of Life - July 17th


Monday, July 17, 2006

Angel or Devil?

Real strange…two days in a row I’ve been called an angel by friends. And both times, I insisted I’m no angel but just an ordinary human being like everyone else. I do make mistakes like any human being would and can be devilish when I lose my cool.

Anyway, yesterday, out of curiosity, I googled the word ‘angel’ and found to my surprise that I may indeed be an angel! Read on to find out why.

The term ‘angel’ was thought to have come from the Greek word angeloi which means ‘messenger’. Angels have been identified by some as spiritual beings composed of ethereal matter that are more powerful than human beings and can take on any physical form which best suits their needs. They are immortals, meaning they don't die or age.

Angels can bring hope, safety and peace to human beings and can also bring about all manner of destruction including plagues and famines. They are known to be fallible and prone to sin, particularly pride. When they make mistakes, they become fallen angels. The most famous fallen angel has to be Satan, whom all of us know as the devil.

I’m not an immortal, neither am I endowed with supernatural powers. I don't have wings on my back or a halo above my head and I definitely don’t dress in a white robe. However, I can choose to be a guardian angel, a human guide or protector to my friends and family, bringing them lots of cheer and comfort. But should I become disillusioned or attached to my personal needs and wants in life, I may lose my sense of direction and become a fallen angel…a devil.

I believe we are all born ‘angels’ and have a spiritual nature that’s waiting to be discovered. Only those whom are ignorant will be misled and become ‘devils’. So friends, use your wisdom.

Here is an interesting quiz that you may like to try out and see which angel or demon are you: link

Want to know what I got?……hehe! I thought it was quite accurate…hmm……go try it!

I died a mineral and became a plant.
I died a plant and rose an animal.
I died an animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less than dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man, to soar with the blessed angels;
But even from angelhood I pass on.
All except God perishes.
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become that which no mind ever conceived
O, let me not exist! for Non-existence proclaims
‘ To Him we shall return’

"Love Is Like the Sun" — by Yogi Amrit Desai

ps: Yogi Amrit Desai was regarded by many as an angel because of his great teachings but he too became a fallen angel due to some sex scandals…We are but human beings and we all make mistakes. Learn to forgive…not just others but ourselves as well.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Intro to A Soul’s Journey

I’m currently reading a book ‘A Soul’s Journey’ by Peter Richelieu. I would like to thank Thuy Le, a good friend of mine for going through so much trouble to get me this book and sending it all the way to my part of the world. My friend, I know this book cost you a bomb because it is already out of print. I really appreciate your effort and this is indeed an amazing book. The small favour I did yesterday was nothing compared to this.

I’m not even half-way through this book but just by reading the first four chapters, I am really convinced that G-plans do exist. From attending Dr K K Tan’s meditation class to my accidental learning of zen, watching SF, meeting online friends and now reading this book…all are predestined. This is the path I’m being directed to take…it seems so much like a calling to me now.

Here’s a segment from the book that really arrested my attention:

“For the spiritually minded man, the man who has meditated deeply on higher things, there waits an infinity of bliss. During his lifetime he has had to rely on faith and his own reasoning powers, now he can prove the truth of many of the theories which he has studied in the world, and one can but faintly imagine the joy and peace that this knowledge will bring to such a man; he has been struggling in darkness and now, to a certain extent, he has found the light.

The philanthropist who during his lifetime has had one thought, one object in view – the helping of his fellow men — has perhaps the greatest opportunity of all, for now he is free to devote the whole of his time to helping and comforting those who require his service…”

I will need to read the book at least twice to completely grasp the writer’s message. And I will share with you when I’ve achieved it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Would you prefer to be the pig?

A pig farmer went to see Ajahn Chah one day and complained about his business. “Oh man, this year it’s really too much! The price of feed is up. The price of pork is down. I’m losing my shirt!”

Ajahn Chah listened to his laments and said, “Don’t feel too sorry for yourself, sir. If you were a pig, then you’d have a good reason to feel sorry for yourself. When the price of pork is high, the pigs are slaughtered. When the price of pork is low, the pigs are still slaughtered. The pigs really have something to complain about. The people shouldn’t be complaining. Think about this seriously, please.”

The pig farmer was worried about the prices he was getting for his hogs. But it’s the pigs who have more to worry about because they were getting slaughtered, yet we don’t consider that. As long as we’re not being killed, we can think of a way out of any situation…right? Or would you prefer to be the pig? O_o

Story lifted from Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away - teachings of Ajahn Chah.

I remember a friend once told me a similar story. She said that we should all be happy that we can be human beings and not a tree. Whether the tree likes it or not, it has no choice but to stay outdoor in the sun and rain. It can’t decide on it’s own condition. We all have a choice as to where we want to be, what we want to be. So don’t complain too much. Appreciate your current situation, learn to think out of the box…ok?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Recognition for my volunteers

Last night was the biannual Volunteers’ Day dinner held specially by cdac for its volunteers. I’m glad most of my volunteers attended the event. Yeah…we definitely made our presence felt. We were one of the noisiest centres cheering on our volunteers when they received their long-service and commendation awards they duly deserved.

I’m always pleased when I see my fellow volunteers’ efforts being recognised by the organisation. Without their tireless efforts and commitment, my role as coordinator with the centre would not have been so smooth.

To put up the recommendations and justifying them wasn’t that difficult a task since I’ve been practising so much writing on my blog…hehe! Maybe I should extend my services to the editorial team next…haha!

I think JC received the most awards last night. He got the commendation award, the 10-year long-service award and was also part of the editorial team that received a group award. Kudos to JC for his total involvement with cdac! Do keep it up!

Ms O too got the commendation award. I really appreciate my pal for continuing to contribute to the self-help group despite her busy work schedule. How not to recommend this senior manager for the award? She is also currently helping me with the Wednesday classes…thank you so much my friend, really appreaciate it.

Mr Goh, Yingli and Jimmy got their five-year long service award. So fast huh? Five years already!

We had quite a fun evening last night. The dinner was pretty decent, I had the best of both worlds vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian…so lucky! Of course I didn’t eat the sharks’ fin soup lah!…no way!

The funniest part of the evening must have been the teasing of the young waitress. We had the sweetest looking girl serving our table…what luck! The poor girl was practically blushing and shaking whenever she had to serve us…hahaha! Those junior volunteers were really playful. Kenny probably asked the girl to top up his drink like 10 times! The girl was so nervous, she dropped the spoon, spilt the drink, poured orange into a glass of tea…lol! Tsk…tsk…tsk…so naughty, those boys! Too bad none of them managed to get her telephone number. The girl eventually freaked out and quickly hid at corner when Mr Soon tried to take a picture with her…lol! Mr Soon, please be more tactful next time…don’t frighten off all the young girls!

So fun…yeah…I had a great time! ^_^

「從心溝通」Communicating from the Heart

Even though I am busy with work, I still read almost everyday when I commute on the MRT. It helps take a lot of things off my mind, I would say it’s a way for me to de-stress. Newspapers can be ignored, movies can wait, even World Cup matches can be painfully foregone but knowledge and wisdom…cannot and shall not be neglected. I will continue to nourish my mind at every available opportunity.

One area which I personally have been trying consciously to improve on is my communication skills. So recently, I bought a Chinese book entitled「從心溝通」literally translated as communicating from the heart. I just finished reading it this week and was a little surprised. I already am conscious of most of what the writer advised…hmm…so looks like I’m on the right track. In theory, I do know what I should do but when faced with real situations in life, it is another thing altogether to apply the theory.

So what did the writer teach? I can't share everything mentioned in the book so I will just highlight a few things which I find worth greater mention.

「不要讓重語便成惡語 」
Don’t let harsh words become vicious or harmful words.
Being an impatient, quick-tempered and frank person, I often say things I don't mean. Some strong or harsh words do escape my mouth without me realising it. Of course I do regret after uttering it but by then it's too late. Close friends of mine would know about this weakness of mine and they do highlight to me know when it happens. Thank you for your guidance and kind reminder, my friends. I do appreciate it so please keep reminding me. For friends whom I may have offended unknowingly, do forgive me if I’ve been unpleasant in my speech. I will try my best to change for the better.

One thing I've learnt recently is that I am more careful with my communication when I write. I am less impulsive, I compose my thoughts and feelings better and definitely choose my words more carefully. So I do find emailing and chatting on MSN a good way for me to practise better communication.

Don't just complain, handle or manage the complaint.
Human beings love to complain. But what is the point of complaining? Does it solve the problem? Obviously not. So we should focus on finding the solutions to the problem rather than lamenting or complaining about it.

To speak the truth is the best strategy.
This is one of my major principles now and one of the best decisions I have made in life. By constantly reminding myself to sincerely speak only the truth or keep silent, I am more at peace with myself. By telling the truth, there’s less for me to hide, and less for me to fear.

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Learn to forgive, empathise and accept everyone.
In my younger days, whenever someone made me angry, I would be so upset and would think of ways and means to get back at that person. One fine day, I contemplated on this and realised that by keeping anger and reminding myself of the angry thoughts, it only made me angrier. Then I started observing my anger, practised putting it down…let the thought go…Hey! I’m a much happier person now!

When we get angry with someone, we have the tendency to only see things from our perspective. If we can put ourselves in the shoes of the other person, to feel what the other person is going through, we’ll be able to dispel our anger better, faster. Clio will definitely agree with me on this…right?

Be tender, be strong.
Very often, we see soft and strong as being opposites but in reality, they can coexist. What appears to be the strongest may turn out to be the weakest while what appears to be the softest may actually be the strongest. That’s because the hardest object may be the most fragile while the softest may be better able to withstand greater impact and resistance. To attain greater achievements in life, we must thus possess soft, gentle strength.

Compassion has no enemy, wisdom causes no worries.
I like this teaching best from the book. I truly believe that as long as we treat everyone with compassion, it is quite unlikely for anyone to become our enemy. “Only love will end all violence.” Do you agree? And with wisdom, we will not be so easily troubled by worries. There will be less affliction or suffering. Do contemplate on this.

In conclusion:
Communication requires mutual effort. To solely rely on the effort of one party is not sufficient. Besides opening up the door of our heart to accept others, we need to have a compassionate mind to soften a strong, resistant mind. Only then will we be able to achieve effective communication.


Lastly, I would like to share this quote:
“Habit is habit, and not to be kicked out the door at any time, but coaxed down the stairs little by little.” - Mark Twain

Yes Mark, I hear you…I will practise coaxing my habits such as my quick temper and sharp tongue down the stairs little by little.
: )

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sorry…really busy at work

I can only say…it’s been a crazy week at work. To be ‘chuan’ (harassed) by several clients at the same time is definitely no fun…so stressed siah! There’s so much work, I even had to forgo my world cup semi-final matches…sigh. Fortunately or unfortunately, England is already out of the competition, otherwise I would be most upset and be sulking all week if I had to miss their game.

I got a feeling that all my clients know I’m trying to earn enough for my trip so they have been real nice and piling me with work recently. So friends, do excuse me for not posting much these few days. The truth is, I would rather blog than work but I’m really up to my neck with all these projects. Moreover, there’s nothing much happening in my life except work, work and…a little chatting at the most so nothing much to write. Hmm…do you think I should turn down some of these projects?…Ok, ok, no need to yell so loudly…I can hear you…I won’t do that! I’m not so mad as to turn down work all the time, not when they are from my nice, friendly clients…hehe!

All right, enough of my nonsensical babbling. This entire week went past so quickly without me realising. This morning, I woke up and it suddenly hit me that today’s already Friday! My goodness! I was planning to write about the dinner and dessert I had with my friends last Saturday but I procrastinated…and tomorrow is Saturday again! LOL! What was I doing the entire week?…WORK!!!

I’ll post something tomorrow, I promise. ^_^

Monday, July 03, 2006

What is Anger

Have you ever wondered what is anger? What are the causes of anger? How does anger arise? Do you feel your anger?

I have no doubt that all of us often have to deal with anger in our lives, whether at work, at home or outside with people we don’t even know. I too have a tough time all my life dealing with my quick temper. I would thus like to share with you what I’ve learnt about anger at a talk I once attended, conducted by Doris Ang, a dedicated family life educator whom I admire very much.

What is anger?
Anger is an emotion that leads to certain psychological and/or physical behaviour. What happens to us when we get angry? Our blood pressure shoots up, we feel a rush in our adrenaline causing our face to turn red. Our heart beat quickens, leading to an insufficient supply of oxygen to our brain, causing a chemical imbalance, ultimately resulting in us experiencing seizures. And when we are seized by anger, we lose control of ourselves.

Causes of anger
We get angry when we feel we’ve been threatened or are powerless. We feel anger when we are demeaned or our goals are being blocked, a sense of injustice, a feeling of unfairness. When someone has a different opinion from you, do you get upset and try to defend your position and often end up getting angry? When something is not done according to your wishes or your set of principles, do you too get angry? Quite often right?

We often focus on the problems that we face rather than the solutions. By over focusing on the problem, the problem becomes bigger and distorted. Eventually, we become overwhelmed by the anger causing us to be immobilised, to feel helpless. Anger makes us narrow-minded, emotional and irrational, and actions that we take during these moments will normally be regretted later. How true this is…it always happens to me.

But Doris did advise that we should not suppress our anger within us and should learn to manage it instead. Anger that has been suppressed for too long may implode one day, leading one to take extreme actions such as revenge, getting even, possibly even causing harm to oneself or someone else. When we see someone totally seized by anger, we should never challenge them because they have no sense of shame and cannot be bothered about their surrounding anymore.

I am reminded at this juncture about the idiotic Wayne Rooney red-card incident that happened a few days ago. That nincompoop was stupid enough to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to challenge him, to arouse the anger in him, causing him to shove the opponent right in front of the referee. It was most disgraceful to be red-carded and banished from the game for such behaviour and now he has to bear the guilt of being partially responsible for his country not getting a place in the semi-finals. I am sure he must be full of regret now but it is of course much too late for that. He now has to wait another four years in order to make amends for his mistake.

How to Diffuse Anger?
When we think wrong, we feel wrong and we do wrong. We must thus learn to watch our thoughts, get our thinking right and break away from this negative thoughts pattern, this vicious cycle in order to conquer anger. How then do we do that?

First of all, we have to change a wrong belief system. We must remember that all behaviours are need motivated and created by our belief systems. Disturbances lead to irrational behaviour and in order for us to change, to diffuse our anger, we must look at our belief system, to see if we have read the situation wrongly. When we learn to be more objective and not allow negative thoughts to cause unwanted behaviour in us, we’ll better manage anger.

When anger does arise, we must learn to relax our muscles progressively, such as through breathing exercises. We can also practise walking away from the situation to minimise the heat, the confrontation. Lastly, learn to identify ways to de-stress, to desensitise through recreation. Always look for ways to re-create a new you.

I’ve not been very successful in preventing my anger from arising after all these years of practice. However, I have learnt to let my anger subside very quickly and do find it easier to let go of my belief systems nowadays. I don’t argue as much as I used to. Is that an improvement? I would think so.

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