Wednesday, 14 September 2016

有你的祝福, 没有过不去的苦

Over the weekend, I spent a meaningful morning visiting the residents of a community hospital with a group of volunteers and choir Mudita from Amitabha Buddhist Centre. The purpose was to celebrate and spread some Mid-Autumn Festival cheer to them. We chit chatted with the residents while the singers went around every section of each ward singing songs and mantras continuously to the residents for 3 hours.

When I passed by one of the isolation rooms, I recognised a man inside. Two years ago, my father had a fall and was admitted to this community hospital and he stayed 2-3 weeks for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. During that time, this man who is a long term resident staying in the isolation room was still mobile. Whenever I visited my father, I remember the man was walking around the ward making a fuss here and there. Today he could not move anymore. He was just lying there with tubes connected to him. 

At the chronic unit ward, I was trying to talk to an old lady whom the nurse called Mama Bear. She could not move and her hands are twisted. They told us as most of the patients in this ward are not able to move and some could not see, so they are unable to respond or interact with us. However they can still hear us. So it is good to try to talk to them. I saw her chart and realised she is a Hokkien, so I spoke to her in Hokkien. Her eyes were closed but tears were flowing down. I did not know what else to say except to let her listen to music and mantras playing from my mobile phone. 

May all who are suffering physically and mentally be at peace, no matter what circumstances they face. My deepest respect and appreciation to all the admirable health care professionals and care providers.

It was a wonderful, thought-provoking and humbling experience for me. I recorded videos of the songs which the singers sang to the residents (so that I could replay the songs to whoever needs it in future). Whenever I replay the songs now or see the photos we took, I cannot help but to control my tears. I seriously believe that music can sooth and comfort one's soul/heart.  How wonderful it would be that during one's weakest moments, to have someone to comfort them, to stand up for them, or even just having someone's presence, is enough

Here is one song 让爱传出去 which I recorded. Love the meaningful lyrics. 


Sunday, 11 September 2016


Today is the first anniversary since Choden Rinpoche's parinirvana on 9/11 last year. 

Choden Rinpoche said, "Throughout your life, take heartfelt refuge in the Three Jewels. Always remember one's mind is the guru..... is the Buddha... in your heart. Whenever you have great fear or happiness, always think of all the objects of refuge in your heart. This will greatly help you to overcome the fears. Whatever experience you are going through, if you think all these within your heart, you can overcome all obstacles and leave the grudges of samsara behind." 

May my teacher return very soon. 🙏

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Cherry blossoms

A Japanese friend took and sent me this beautiful pic of cherry blossoms a few months ago. He stays in Tokyo. Something to brighten my day. 

 ありがとうございます Arigatou gozaimasu !

That little thing

This young monk is Charok Lama whose past life was a high practitioner and an old friend of my guru Lama Zopa Rinpoche's past life. He is around 20 years old.  Here is something from him which I found useful. (Sorry it may be a little blur as I could not find the text elsewhere).

 He likes to write little poems too and always with some special message behind it. 

A small light came to me,
And I just ignored it,
Thinking it's of no use
Cos the sun was always there,
But it kept following me,
And I kept ignoring it
Till I came across total darkness
And the sun was
nowhere to be seen,
That's when I saw
the little thing glow
And wow,
that little thing could glow.

Listen to your heart

We are often so preoccupied with our daily stuff that we hardly stop to listen to what our heart is trying to tell us. We rather spend time in many frivolous activities instead of just spending time to check how our inner world is. We often let the external surroundings dictate and engulf us and fail to recognise and check what is really important to us inside. How long do we intend to carry on searching for something which is beyond us?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A colourful one pot meal

Buying ingredients to cook. Guess what I'm cooking? 
Preparing, cutting and marinating....

Colourful..... Boiling and let dry...

Stir frying all the ingredients..... chicken chunks, broccoli, mushrooms, and wolfberries.

Then add in the cooked pasta

Tadah! Gorgeous colors, a one pot meal. Delicious too! Goes well with sambal belachan too. Haha Chinese style aglio olio!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Health is Wealth

For the past few years, I have frequent shoulder pain or back ache.  Doctors or masseurs would always  attribute it to having a desk bound job and working on the computer the whole day. 

Some time back, I went for this therapy massage. That night I had uninterrupted sleep from 1am to 6am. Usually I'll wake up in between before falling asleep again, not sure was it due to my back problem. 

While most people there were screaming away, I was quite alright, not as painful as I thought I had be. Not much pain means a clean bill of health according to my massuer.  He advised me to drink slowly, eat less potatoes, and exercise more! He said for my body type if I were to slim down my muscles would  be taut and not the bouncy soft type. 😅💪 Taut muscles here I come!

Generally the massuer also advised we should cut down on eating too much raw veggies ie. salad and fruits as most are too 'cooling' in nature and anything cooling will cause our system to go haywire which in turn results in ailments and problems. Always keep internal and external body warm and drink more ginger water. 

Luckily I am usually too lazy to eat fruits and salad is only once in a blue moon. I love veggies but I prefer them cooked /roasted.

I had a huge impact fall inside a fast moving bus in Myanmar a few months ago. It crushed my left shoulder /arm and right hip. When it happened, there was a sudden huge force which made me fall flat on my back and left me stunned and shocked for a few hours. That night I immediately went for a massage, but the pain was still raw, and it was agonising. I was in great pain for a couple of weeks after that. Fortunately I didn't break my bones. However until today, my left arm has obviously weakened, not much strength when wearing clothes or lifting heavier stuff.

The episode made me realise I'm not young anymore and the body will get more fragile and unhealthy if I maintain the current lifestyle. I need my body to be in tip top condition in order to continue my practice. 

Recently after a month of diet regime, I've gone down one size although my appearance is still not drastically changed. 😅 I feel lighter and slightly more healthy. 

So now I try to maintain by watching my diet; cutting down on carbohydrates like rice, bread, noodles and biscuits. Also cutting down on drinks with high sugar levels. I don't crave for coffee or coke anymore. 

I also exercise by cycling and going for long walks. Catching pokemons helped too. At level 25, I've walked more than 120km. Haha. 

Is your mind same as your heart?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

How to heal our illnesses

Garchen Rinpoche was in Singapore recently. I would visit and pay my respect to him whenever he is here and he is a teacher who never fails to make me cry with his overwhelming compassion and kindness.

Garchen Rinpoche describes how the self-grasping mind is like an ice block of our mind, and it is by cultivating love or bodhichitta that we melt this ice block. Once this ice block melts, it becomes one with the ocean of Buddha mind. So by cultivating love and developing bodhicitta, we can actualize our own enlightened mind. We are left not with a mere intellectual understanding of love and compassion, but with a profound inner experience of what love and compassion can actually feel like.

May Garchen Rinpoche live long.

I would also like to share this teaching given by him when he was healing, blessing and praying for the sick. I find this teaching precious and meaningful for us to know, as some Dharma friends have been asking me to blog whenever they see me.  I have been missing from blogging these couple of years and I thought my blog is dead with no visitors, but as i checked this morning, the statistics still show I have at least 8,000 visits per month. So thank you very much, my readers. 

The below teaching is kindly transcribed and shared by a dharma sister Ling Lee (thank you!). It is a little lengthy but it is worth a read and I hope it is useful to you.

Receiving blessings from Garchen Rinpoche
It is said that if you wish to know what you did in previous lives, then look at your body in this life. So in previous lives if we have engaged in actions even with the slightest negative emotion, and now the result of that in this life we experience illness and pain. Or as a result of having spoken negative words, now we experience illnesses of the mind and so on. So, in brief it is because we have engaged in negative actions in past lives now as a result we experience sickness and various types of sufferings. 

And then there are two types of people who are sick : there are those who can be helped through medical treatments and so on..... and then there are others who no matter what one does they cannot be cured. So it is very good to understand the difference between them.

It is said that the causes are negative karma, misdeeds and obscurities ..... what are those karmas and how have we accumulated them ? The Buddha has said do not commit any wrong and with that he meant "Do not commit any of the ten non virtuous actions of the body, speech and mind. Three of the body which is killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. And there is fourth of the speech which is telling lies, slander, idle talk and harsh words. And then there is three of the mind, which is covetousness, harmful thoughts and wrong views. And those three of the minds they basically refer to the emotions of attachment, of hatred and ignorance. 

So as a result of a predominance of any one of them, one takes birth as a child of a certain parent in a certain body. And so in this body they experience different types of illnesses. The three classifications are the imbalance of the wind, of the bile and also phlegm related illnesses. And those three also relates to the three afflictive emotions. And so the wind imbalances relates to attachment .. imbalances related to bile relates to hatred and anger .. and imbalances of the phlegm relates to ignorance. Milarepa was once asked whose emanation are you? And he responded, I am the emanation of the three poisons or the 3 afflictive emotions.

Although we have obtained a human body we still experience various kinds of suffering, because we have created the various causes of suffering in our past lives. However that is something we learn during our refuge vows that we can become protected. And so that does not mean that we can become protected from suffering right now. So if you already experience illness right now, often we cannot immediately become cured from that. And because we have already created the causes so that is why the Buddha said do not commit any wrong and that is do not cause any harm to others. 

So as a result of having caused harm to others, you will experience difficulties in this life. For example as a result of having stolen or taken the wealth of others, we experience the suffering of hunger and thirst and poverty and so on.And as a result of sexual misconduct, you will take birth as an inferior form, even not a human being. Or as a human being then with frequent illnesses and so on. And as a result of having killed, you experience a short life span and so on. So all of these different kinds of suffering come from a certain cause. 

So as a result of having beaten and abused and hurt others, as a result now we experience sickness. If we have stolen or robbed or taken from others then as a result of that we now experience poverty. So during the refuge vows, what we learn is that if we prevent the causes then we will also prevent the suffering. There are some people who in their entire lives do not experience any illness at all and also they are happy in their lives . And that is because if the cause is absent then the result will also not ripen. But if the cause has been created then we cannot prevent the cause from ripening and now in this life we are bound to experience suffering. However there are some who however they do suffer from illness somehow they can be protected. And that is because in the past life they have taken the refuge vow but they have also done negative things and actions. But having done that they regret and felt this was wrong and have confessed in their past lives. And so not all their karma has been purified, a great deal of it has been purified. And so there are some karma left and as a result of that you are now sick but because you have confessed, if something happens, it will protect you or a medical treatment that will cure you. Or if you are poor, some benefactors will come and help you. And that is because you have confessed in your past lives. 

So even if you experience suffering now, if there is a way out then, it is a sign that you have confessed negative actions in a past life. And that is really due to the kindness of having received the refuge vows. So there are some illnesses that no matter what we do, it cannot be cured. That is because in our past lives, we have created a cause for this and have not confessed. For example there are leaders of countries who are protected by bodyguards but still they are assassinated. And then there are the generals of the Second and Third World Wars that have survived the wars and are still alive. And that is also due to karma. So if it is your karma to be killed then even with the countries' security protection and bodyguards can't protect you and you will still be killed. That is the karma created from past lives. 

In terms of illnesses that cannot be cured or treated, in the dharma it also actually says that you should try to cure the illness through medical treatments once or twice. But after a number of treatments, one still cannot be cured and one makes up one’s mind that it is one’s karma to leave this life. 

The Buddha has taught two skillful means to be protected and beneficial in that time. First of all we have to try to undergo treatments and cures for our illnesses but then if we are unable to do so, then first of all we should regard the illness as an encouragement to practice virtue. 

So it inspires us to begin to practice virtue. And then the special quality of the Buddha Dharma is actually to view suffering in a different light that is we actually accept and tolerate our suffering. We see it as a beneficial thing. For example some people think that the hell realm is so negative and terrible. But actually in the hell realm, we are purifying our negative karma and obscurations. So in that sense, the experience in hell realm becomes just like a surgery or a medical treatment... which in the end is also a good thing. So in the same way our illness ultimately also is a good thing because it purifies what is necessary to be purified; that is our obscurations. And the Buddha also said that a single headache purifies the negative karma of thousands of eons in the lower realms. 

And also Milarepa said that if you have an hour of illness in our precious human body, then that purifies our obscurations in the hell realms for thousands of eons. And that actually is a good thing .. and therefore rejoice . In our purification, it also often happens to people who are sick, they enter the dharma and they hear dharma teachings and take refuge vows and so on. And so even though they might not be cured right away this lifetime, they are creating the causes for freedom of illnesses for all future lifetimes. So in this sense actually you begin to change your way of viewing the illnesses and you rather view it as a beneficial and necessary thing. And then also actually various practices are held at centers like this one to help the sick such as mantra recitations .. and especially it is because of love that we really help others who are suffering . And because love really is the antidote to all suffering . And so for example it helps those who have passed away and also those who are alive. The lamas will recite mantras for example and they blow onto an object or the sick person and bless them and they give out various blessed objects and substances and so on to help those who are alive and also practices for those who have passed away. When people cannot be cured or pass away, their mind will never die but the mind follows the karma accumulated. So therefore even though they have died, because their mind have not died, we can actually benefit them and cultivate love and various practices for them. So for example, various skillful means for instance for eating, we give blessing pills, and verbally we recite mantras like the mani mantra and so on. And also there are different objects to wear like liberation bracelets and so on also protects one when one is alive and also protect one from more illnesses arising in the future. So these are all various means that we can employ to heal our illnesses. 

So as a means to cure our illnesses we rely on various medical treatments and there are also various substances that can help someone even if there's nothing to be done like blessed mani pills or other blessing pills. Often people have been cured from incurable illnesses after taking mani pills or blessing pills for an extended period of time. So that is if you really understand this can really benefit. And the power comes actually from the meditation of the deity yoga and mantra recitations that these pills are blessed with. 

So for this reason it is not the amount but even if you just take a small amount of the blessing pill for example the size of a mustard seed... placing it under your tongue and do that every day for an extended amount of time.. then only even such a small amount actually if you really have faith in it , it is sufficient to cure your illness. That is because they have been blessed by the visualization of the deity and the mantra recitation. And so for this reason, methods like visualising a deity for instance can help one become cured of an illness. So therefore, for example if you visualize the deity or an image of a thangka or statue, for example if a sick person looks at a thangka or an image of a deity, and then that diety appears in their mind, that can really help cure their illness. Because when their mind goes to the thangka or goes out to that image their mind actually goes out and converges into space and leaves the sick body. And so you are not focused on the illness in your body ; you will in a way forget about the illness. That is actually my own experience I actually had a lot of bad illness before and that really helped myself . The lamas in the past have said when your mind goes outside, then you won't feel the pain of the illness. And only when the mind comes back then you begin to think again I have so much pain and it will just get worse. 

So therefore it is really beneficial to meditate on the form of the deity and the mind actually goes there to the form of the deity. And then the second thing is mantra recitations that is also very beneficial to cure the illness. And even with regard to that, science will also agree to a great extent. For example it is said that if you recite mantras through the movement of your mouth as you recite the mantra , that actually also cures illnesses related to the stomach and phlegm related illnesses. But when you recite the mantras you should not slur it and you should actually move your tongue and say it out very clearly, well pronounced and in the right speed. So you should not just focus on the numbers of recitations but also the quality of your recitation. 

For example if you clearly pronounce each of the syllables of Om Mani Padme Hung, and when you actually do that, you are tightening your body and tightening your muscles and that repeated moment actually helps stomach related illness and various other illnesses. So this is how the visualization of the deity and the mantra recitation also helps your illness. And most importantly, your consciousness goes out away from the illness. It goes out to a different object which is the deity or the mantra recitation. Otherwise often it is the case that even though we might not have an illness, for example your doctor might tell you that you have an illness even though you don't have it and you think you have it and because you keep thinking you have an illness, then 100% sure you are creating an illness with that kind of thinking. Because ultimately the illness is created by the mind and that is because first of all where the mind goes , that is where the wind energy goes. And where the wind goes that is where the blood goes and that is where it forms an illness. 

So in this way, even though we are healthy in the beginning but with our thinking and grasping, we are creating illnesses that haven't been there before or we are making our illnesses even worse. For example if you don't cling to the illness and don't even think about it, it goes away naturally by not grasping on it. It is just like your hair or finger nails growing out or clouds vanishing. But if you keep thinking about it, the thinking process is what makes you hold on to and clinging on to the illness. So the illness gets worse and worse. So that is why it is very beneficial if you as a sick person visualize the deity and recite the mantra.... and really direct your mind towards that. So in that way you actually forget about the illness and then another method is also to cultivate an altruistic mind, the practice or tonglen (giving and taking). So when you think that I have this terrible illness and I am in so much pain , then you are creating and reinforcing your self grasping mind more and more. And in that way you are increasing your illness and it will only get worse. But if you forget about yourself and rather think about others , then at least half of your mind is already won and half of your illness will slowly disappear. 

For example you think "May I represent all sentient beings .. may I experience this sickness instead of all other sentient beings." So in this way altruism defeats self grasping and that surely will be of great benefit. And the illness will get lighter and lighter. So if you apply these methods definitely they will be of great benefit. And these methods can be applied even though we are told often that the medical treatment actually cannot cure us. 

Garchen Rinpoche, 5 July 2016, Singapore.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Waking up

So when I reached home from work yesterday, I concussed for an hour after my dinner. Then later in the night had a good solid 6 hours of sleep. 

I love the wake up feeling in the morning, always refreshed and calm. If time allows, it is the only time of the day I can just be myself and contemplate on life. That's the only 'me time' before I get busy for the rest of the day. Those moments I reconcile whatever emotions I may be feeling the day before. 

It is weird that many experiences I encounter feel like deja vu to me. It seems like I've gone through them before and they happened again. So was the present encounter more real than the previous encounter? At times we just refuse to accept the reality of things as it is, even though it is obviously in our face.  

Then sometimes I feel like I'm flying, a certain force pushing me up and seeing everything underneath, thinking how transient it is. Then at that moment, whatever joy or disappointment there is, it eventually ceases. 

Actually a new chapter of my life has quietly crept in, without me realising it.....

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The abyss of temptation

Had a terrible exhausting day at work due to only a couple of hours of sleep the night before. And it was all because I was visibly upset last evening. I tossed and turned, tossed and turned. It didn't helped that I had to be up extra early this morning. Slept at almost 3am and woke up at 5am. The rest of the day was a goner.

I was upset because of a small matter last evening. And I got more upset that I was upset over that small matter. That small matter was nothing to do with me. It was over the action of someone and that made me fumed. 

Often only the person whom we are concerned with is the only one who is able to make us that upset. We often justify our own actions with noble reasons, but we just do not wish to acknowledge the hidden agenda or feelings we feel, tightly concealed under that noble facade. And we don't realise the impact it has on those who really care about us. 

No matter how noble our intentions are, we should not cause harm to others, for example, breaking up someone else's family, breaking up someone else's marriage, breaking up the lives of the kids of that marriage and so on. We go about looking for our own needs, fulfilment and happiness at the expense of others. We go about justifying our actions further. We mindlessly sought what is missing in our life by making up more unnecessary reasons to pursue that relationship, as innocent as it looks. 

I've seen this happened so many times before. The lives of all parties ruined just because you get embroiled in an undesirable relationship. Both parties may be the nicest people on earth but if being in that relationship affects even more parties, and results in more harm than happiness, then I think the relationship should be nipped in the bud before it develops further. Hope we realise we are playing with fire. It sounds so simplistic but we often fall into the abyss of temptation; the temptation of appearance, the temptation of convenience, the temptation of excitement, the temptation of lust, the temptation of wanting to 'feel good'.

I've witnessed it so many times over and over again from real life cases, that I don't wish it upon someone I truly care about. 

And that was why I couldn't sleep last night. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

A little happiness

shouldn't be blogging at this time, when I'm supposed to fly in less than 24 hours' time. I'm due at Chiangmai for meetings for 5 days, but boy, the prep work had already started since I welcomed 2016. Or even earlier. I've been surviving on only 4 hours sleep every night. 

I finally almost wrapped up what I needed to do.  It had been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Among other stuff, I was struggling to complete writing a piece of work, which took me a long time. Not that I couldn't write, I just couldn't focus. In the end, I finished it in a day, while my mind was somewhere else the past 2 weeks. Reminds me of school and exams. I used to dilly dally kept myself busy with everything else except the one crucial thing I was supposed to get done. I'm a 'last minute' kind when it comes to work or studies. Or you can also call me genius. 

Anyway, apart from being busy, 2016 has been awesome so far, with plenty of good news. 

I love my job. I guess shifting to a new office had better feng shui because I am happier, more independent, and the company is doing well. We just closed a big deal a couple of days ago. And it will be another year of travelling for work. Yay for travels, even though it's not vacation.

My guru is already here in Singapore  and I supposedly had to miss his teachings because I would be in Chiangmai. But with last minute changes Rinpoche postponed the teachings until after I'm back. Lucky or what? I'm grateful for the blessings in disguise. 

I'm also thankful the arrival of the different groups of monks have been in quick succession without much hiccups. As long as monks can be there, they are able to benefit so many people with their prayers and rituals. 

This week, my niece turned 17 the day she received her O levels results and what a wonderful gift it was. She scored 4 points, which means she gets to go to any top JC of her choice! I'm so proud of her not just because of her good results, but for being such a kind, considerate and mature girl who never wanted you to spend too much money on her. Such a lovable character and she never has much temper. Time flies. I still remember she was our angelic looking curly hair little girl who loves  to draw. I've kept some of her drawings which she drew for me. When she was a baby, she could sleep like a log and no matter how much we jostled and tried to wake her, she continued to sleep. May she be happy always. 

I've started 2016 with a clean slate of health, after 3 weeks of detoxification and purification, from Chinese medicine and watching my diet. For a start,  I've cut off cold soft drinks (byes, Sarsi and Jolly Shandy) as well as oily food. I replaced it with hot honey ginger instead. I also started taking collagen drink to rejuvenate my dry skin and overall health and it aids sleep too. No more upset tummy and backache. 

I'm the most happy that the emotions I felt in 2015 are left behind. It was a mixed year of bliss yet filled with sadness at times and I tend to dwell on the disappointments. I don't like that helpless feeling. Incidents or people who made upset I tried to close both eyes. Easier said than done, I know.  I resolve to treat these people even better and it works. I got warm-heartedness in return. And those I love, I continue to do so with unshakeable faith and devotion. I always reminds myself of the bigger picture. Don't sweat the small stuff. 

My favourite Chinese song of 2015 should be 小幸运 by Hebe. Beautiful lyrics too. It kinda sums up this year. A little happiness. 

小幸运 A little happiness

認真 呼喚我姓名
離別了才覺得刻骨 銘心
一幕幕都是你 一塵不染的真心
與你相遇 好幸運

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