Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Are you defined by a coffee cup?

So I heard many are upset over the non-chrismassy Starbucks cup this season. Backlash, criticism aplenty online. Even Donald Trump is urging people to boycott Starbucks. 

Starbucks, however, maintains that their holiday cups were meant to be a blank canvas for customers to create their own stories, inspired by the doodles and designs that customers have drawn on white cups for years.

And we get offended and all “Starbucks hates Jesus” because their holiday cup artwork doesn’t include Merry Christmas? C'mon.

Lighten up, people!


That's right. Take for example, if I have been decorating the house to celebrate/usher in Christmas every year, and yet this year I don't feel like doing it, because....
- too busy
- no budget
- going vacation 
- celebrating elsewhere 
- ran out of ideas
- not in the mood to celebrate
- someone/my pet died....

.....does that mean I don't appreciate Christmas and its significance anymore? Does it mean I'm not God-fearing anymore? Will Jesus love me less? 

Christmas should be a time for reflection, giving, loving, being magnanimous (if you have not been that the entire year...), being accepting and all things nice...

On the contrary, if one day Starbucks or any retailer decides to put the Buddha (symbol of Buddhism) or any holy objects as artwork on their disposable cups, I may balk. 

This is because any image of holy objects which symbolises the Buddha, is to be venerated and respected, and definitely not to be thrown away within 30 minutes! I would feel so disrespectful.

One man's meat is another man's poison. 

So there. A different perspective regarding this Starbucks cup hooha. It's all about expectations and different perspectives.

Live and let live.

At least be happy that the cup is still red, ya. ;)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Remembering Choden Rinpoche (1933-2015)

It's been months and thus the cobwebs here. 

In August when His Eminence Ling Rinpoche was here in Singapore, we had the Grand Puja over at MBS. One of my readers approached me at my booth to chit chat and catch up. I was very happy when he shared that he is now working part time as a care taker in a day care centre for the elderly. He is more relaxed and patient. At least he is not as stressed compared to when he was a telemarketer. He was asking why it has been ages since I last updated my blog. I was quite touched he still remember I have a blog. ;) So thank you so much, if you are reading this, and also for the drinks you bought me during the Grand Puja. 

Choden Rinpoche in Borobodur, Indonesia
On 11 Sept, one of my precious gurus, Choden Rinpoche passed away around midnight. I found out the news from a friend who whatsapped me during breakfast. It was the last day in Dharamsala India. I excused myself from the breakfast table and went up my hotel room. Alone, I cried. I was heart broken. The rest of the day, I remained pretty upset and devastated on the flight to Delhi. 

11 Sept was the day which the entire Sera Jey Monastery monks and students were supposed to be there to conduct an extensive long life puja for Rinpoche. It was ironical yet a suitable day Rinpoche chose to leave (and went into clear light meditation), because everyone was present to attend this long life ceremony. 

Choden Rinpoche has always been a special guru to me, even though I did not manage to receive many teachings from him in this lifetime. I only first met him in 2010. He did bestowed me some precious empowerments and teachings. He was the one and only guru whom I first met in a dream even before I met him in real life. This is something special and significant to me. In that dream, I was in a huge crowded teaching ground inside a huge building where the walls were all white and clean. I remember Choden Rinpoche walked in slowly, smiling gently, holding a rosary in his palm. I didn't even know his name or who he was in the dream. 

Also Choden Rinpoche was the first guru who personally agreed and promised to guide me in all my lifetimes until enlightenment is attained. For this, I am very grateful. 

Choden Rinpoche's words of wisdom:

"The future life is more important than this life – this life is just like a dream. Future lives are much more important than this life. 
When we die we don’t just vanish. We have to take rebirth, and we don’t have any choice in that birth, only what our karma determines – whether we’re reborn in the lower realms or upper realms. If you’ve done positive things in this life you can take rebirth in the human realm, and you can enjoy the result of these actions. If you do negative actions, the karma does not vanish; even the smallest karma accumulated you have to experience in the future.

The future is very long, many eons. This life is so short, it’s just fiction, just a dream. Your mind continues infinitely, and when you die in the next life, again it doesn’t vanish, and again you continue to the next life, and the next – many lives you have to go through. So all of these are determined by the present actions. You have no choice. So the present action is very important. This life is so short, perhaps only one hundred years – very small compared to the future lives. This is why the future lives are more important than this life".

May my precious guru return soon to guide me. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Happy 50th, Singapore!

We've come a long way since 1965. I just want to wish my readers and all a great jubilee weekend celebrating our nation's 50th year of independence! 


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

How have I been?

I've almost forgotten that I've a blog. Plenty happened these 4 months. 

As busy as a bee. Went on 2 work trips, to Bali and Bangkok. Had a nice break in Bali amidst all the big meetings and Congress. Had a up close and personal meeting with Nic Vujicic too! He was my VIP. In between work, explored Bali a bit but didn't exactly wind down and relax. All because Mr Lee Kuan Yew our founding father of Singapore passed away that week at age 91. The whole nation was in mourning the entire week I was in Bali. Although I could watch Channelnewsasia and bombarded by news of LKY in Facebook and social media, I probably didn't feel the intense sadness until I landed back home. Engulfed by morbid grief and a heavy heart. I was at the same time glad to realise we Singaporean aren't an ungrateful bunch after all, judging from the long queues in rain or scorching weather to pay last respects to a great man. I was very touched. Spent that weekend attending a prayer session specially arranged for LKY and then that Sunday biding farewell to him and watching it all on TV. I know everyone was sad but in retrospect, I prefer to celebrate his life. He is a Bodhisattva, someone who worked to benefit masses of people and made the country a better place in every aspect. And he would definitely return to benefit people again in his next life. 

Quoting Thích Nhat Hạnh....."You would not cry if you knew that by looking deeply into the rain you would still see the cloud. When we remember LKY, everything we see of Singapore today, are traces of him, beyond the memories, beyond the rain and storm, beyond the sun, we see the rainbow in our hearts. He will always be in our hearts.

As life went back to normal, I remember a particular day which made me very down and sad (just wanted to jot this down memory lane). Was one of those days when I came home at 7.30pm and just laid on bed until 10pm without doing anything else. Was also one of those days which I wanted to just cry my heart out, so that I can feel better. The heart was burning and the stomach was curled up in knots. It was one of those days which I stoned at the bus stop for half an hour without knowing if I should go home or elsewhere. I won't elaborate but I was truly disappointed by someone whom I respected a lot, and the treatment I received that day was utterly unexpected. It broke my heart. Although immediately things brightened up the very next day, it reminded me not to take things for granted and that everything will not remained unchanged for long. In short, don't be too happy when you're happy, and don't be too sad when you're sad. Have to keep my feelings and expectations in check. And less of meaningless endeavors.

Then Bangkok work trip came. Was only 3 days and I was mostly in the hotel for meetings apart from going out for dinner. Had one of the best meals in a while, a treat from the business associate. Work wise, things are picking up and more stable. This will be a year of travel. Up next will be the Philippines, India, Chiangmai and hopefully Sydney.  And maybe even Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, all the countries which my company has a presence in. In fact, plenty to be thankful for. Great bosses. Manageable work load. Independent office environment. So I'm grateful. Now looking forward to a new office space soon. 

Then earthquakes struck Nepal, triggering even more earthquakes in other places. The damage is too scary and the lives of the victims at stake. Funds were raised to help the Nepalese victims. Pray that their lives will return to normal soon and that they won't go hungry. It struck home how vulnerable we are to natural disasters, especially with the Sabah earthquake last week. There were Singaporeans who died in that earthquake, young students. It broke my heart listening to a young victim's father when he was being interviewed. I asked myself what if I was the victim, how would my parents or family have felt. I asked myself if I was the parent, how devastated I would be if my child's life was robbed from me. I asked myself if in any crisis, would I be ready to die. Am I prepared to die? Then it dawned upon me that I was not that worried if I were to die, but I wouldn't want my loved ones and close friends to experience the grief of losing me. I realise being prepared to die anytime is very important. 

At the home front, the situation was pretty tense and stressful because my father was getting weaker and harder to look after his needs. My mom and I were feeling edgy, exhausted, stressed and burnt out. And my father's moods weren't getting better either. Looking after an ailing person is serious business. When I was home to take care of my father, I would feel frustrated at times because he might not be always cooperative, and there were lots of washing and cleaning up. When I was not at home and my mom was looking after him, I would feel guilty too. Not to mention his frequent trips to the hospital for check up and 'check-ins'. Not to mention we had to work too. So most days were not exactly a happy fulfulling day. Not a win-win situation. We were so exhausted and disheartened that we finally decided to get a helper. 

My new helper has been with us for almost 2 weeks now and it is really a big difference to our lives. It helps that she is experienced in taking care of old folks and great in housework. I've heard and seen many horror stories regarding foreign helpers. Many friends keep advising me how best to monitor my helper and cautioning me to be careful in many scenarios. Yes I am wary I might make a wrong choice because I was the one who chose her. Only time will tell if I made the right choice. When I interviewed her, I went with my gut feel. She was calm and asked reasonable sensible questions and didn't provide run of the mill answers which would please a prospective employer. I knew she was not the blur type or pretending to be blur. She is smart and quietly confident. Most importantly she didn't over promise or tried to over impress me. I think I'll still choose to be kind and humane when dealing with the helper. Humans are reciprocal and appreciate understanding and kindness. She is a human too.

So far it has only been 2 weeks, we are truly happy with her work. She has the initiative in her work without much instructions from us. I only drew up a daily work schedule for her and it helps that her English is good. Also, my father likes her (less mood tantrums), she keeps the house real clean, she helps my mom with the cooking and housework. We need not worry about both my father or the housework anymore. I need not rush home in time to fetch my father from the daycare centre anymore. I have hot homecooked meals everyday. My room is impeccably cleaned everyday, bed gets made and clothes neatly ironed. Most importantly I feel instant relief. Redeemed freedom. I've not felt so relaxed for more than a year ever since my father fell ill. Peace of mind is so important. 

So I guess I've been really happy and euphoric. More focused now. Oh, and I've been eating lots of bingsu lately. Hope the days will get even brighter for the rest of this year. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dagyab Rinpoche is coming and Grand Puja at MBS 28 Feb & 1 Mar 2015

My dearest teacher is coming to Singapore again!  After one whole year, the popular Grand Puja @ MBS which everyone is waiting for is here again, happening this coming weekend!  Exciting weekend ahead! 

White Umbrella Goddess Demon-Subduing Grand Puja
Pacify major obstacles, demonic forces & supernatural harassment. Those who own the White Umbrella Goddess khorlos may bring it along for recharge of blessings.

28/2/15 (Sat) 10:00am to 12:30pm

This grand puja is a ritual based on the practice of the White Umbrella Goddess, and is one of the most powerful and sacred puja amongst various Buddhist rituals.  One procedure of this ritual is to consecrate and offer tormas (ritual cakes) to counterattack negative forces such as illnesses, mental disturbances, disputes, enmities, defilements, misfortune, premature death, factors against congenial surroundings and 84,000 bad forces. Hence, this puja is named DUKAR TORTHOG in Tibetan, literally meaning - counterattacking negativities through torma offerings.

By this ritual, we drive away all harms and evils by the blessings of the White Umbrella Goddess and her surrounding deities in the form of tormas (one big torma in the middle representing the Goddess, and surrounded by 33 white flags representing the deities). More than 30 different kinds of ingredients are required for this puja - whereby it serves to offer to specific deities, and seek their protection for different kinds of obstacles. By participating in this puja, one gains the protection from dangers of fire, water, weapons, poisons, malediction, untoward accidents and untimely death. It also pacifies the chances of epidemics, harmful spells, contagious diseases, conflicts and wars. In addition, we also receive the benefit and protective care of a myriad of divine guardians and goddesses.

During the puja, visualize all your obstacles & negativity of your past & present lives are being taken away by the substitute figurine. Throw away your shirt symbolic of obstacle-clearing, and generate in your mind infinite food and money offerings to offer to all your debtors. Once the substitute is being sent out, think you have no more relationship with all these supernatural beings, and all your obstacles are ceased.

Cittamani Tara Grand Cleansing Puja of Immediate Rescue from Poor Health & Danger

28/2/15 (Sat) 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Cittamani Tara Blessing Initiation

28/2/15 (Sat) 7:30pm to 9:30pm

The Cittamani Tara practice is a special method of Tibetan Buddhism to dissipate interferences and to liberate all living beings from any form of fear or danger. And this grand puja is the most extensive ritual amongst all healing pujas, to alleviate the sufferings and bestow blessings to aid recovery of all patients.

This Cittamani Tara Grand Cleansing Puja is especially conducted for people whose force of bad karma is very great. When bad karma ripens, many obstacles arise and we face various problems in our career, family, things do not go smoothly for us in various aspects, and the most disturbing of all is none other than that of our health problems. When the negative karma is heavy and strong, then the obstacle that manifests from its ripening is greater. We require the huge merit and blessings of our daily practice and pujas to overcome all our hindrances.

This puja is especially beneficial towards the purification of the 4 types of obstacles mentioned below:
  1. Serious illnesses, including prolonged medical conditions and strange diseases which doctors are unable to treat / diagnose
  2. Curses and other unorthodox methods / negative actions to instill harm done onto you
  3. Black magic, witchcraft, evil spells
  4. Offended nagas, Landlord Gods and other worldly gods or protectors

The merit and power of this grand puja is inconceivable. It helps us to avoid all sufferings of the health, stay peaceful, auspicious and healthy; and even for patients on the verge of dying, this puja can instantly bring you to safety – just like how a miraculous force of power saves you from falling to your death from a cliff. Unless all conditions for death has fully ripened, otherwise under other circumstances of death due to exhaustion of merit, or premature death, this puja is certain to aid significantly in recovery and redeem back one’s life. In case where the person cannot be saved, especially those who have committed heavy bad karma to be reborn in the animal realm, this puja can help save them from the lower realm rebirths.

This puja text is a ritual from Tantric practice and requires an elaborate set of torma (ritual cakes), human effigies made from dough, special puja offerings and other necessary items to be used during the ritual. And together with chanting of secret mantras and performing mudras, this puja is very powerful.

Cittamani Tara, the Wish Fulfilling Mother, is the embodiment of the heart-jewel wisdom and energy of the Buddha. Of the various types of Tara practice, Cittamani Tara is a unique practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra class, which possesses the heart-jewel method of developing the five deep awareness, or Buddha-Wisdoms. It has a special efficacy for developing the wisdoms of accomplishing activities and overcoming outer and inner obstacles in one's lifespan, clearing obstructions in the path to enlightenment. We are fortunate that H.E. Dagyab Rinpoche has compassionately agreed to bestow upon us the blessing jenang initiation of this practice to all of us.

The Elements Cleansing Healing Grand Puja is ranked second class amongst all healing pujas in Tibetan Buddhism, and Cittamani Tara Grand Cleansing Puja belongs to the first class of healing rituals. These two grand pujas are considered to be the two most beneficial pujas effective and most helpful for the masses, especially the ill. Cleansing pujas are very beneficial as it aids in quick recovery of illnesses. The more cleansing pujas one attend, the greater the benefit towards recovery.

Note:   All participants must attend the puja personally to receive the blessings and effectiveness of the puja. All are required to bring along a small amount of bathed water (water from your own shower) on that day for participation of the puja. There are also specific items that are required for this ritual and this can be invited at an offering of $10 per set at the puja.

Leng Chag Torma Puja to Repay Karmic Debts
Specially to repay karmic debts of past lifetimes, preventing/resolving supernatural harassment.

1/3/15 (Sun) 10:30am to 12:30pm

Since beginningless time, we have been trapped in this uncontrolled cyclic existence of samsara, and have undergone countless reincarnations. Although we are unable to recall what we did in our previous lives, it is certain that we must have committed many acts of greed and hatred out of our ignorance - which explains why we are still unable to be liberated from samsara. It is also certain that we must have accumulated many debts in all these lifetimes, ie. we could have owed someone a sum of money, or even a mere sack of rice, or in serious cases, we could have harmed others or caused their deaths.

When we do not repay such debts and they accumulate, these creditors may one day return to seek revenge against us, especially during times when we are experiencing low luck. They can cause us various obstacles, from illnesses to problems at work, sleepless nights, nothing seems to go smooth, or in worse scenarios, could be even fatal. Through the performance of this Leng Chag Torma Puja - by offering torma (ritual cake offerings) to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Protectors, and together with the immaculate blessings by the Holy Speech of the Buddha’s texts, we purify the negative karma that we have accumulated over the reincarnations and pay off these incurred debts.

Note: Interested participants may invite the dough offering (to repay karmic debts) at $2 per set at the puja. You may also like to offer on behalf of your family or friends.

Five Dzambalas Wealth Congregating and Fortune Blessing Puja

Invoke wealth blessings of all directions for increase of positive conditions in work and dharma practice

1/3/15 (Sun) 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Five Dzambalas Blessing Initiation

1/3/15 (Sun) 7:30pm to 9:30pm

The five Dzambalas are the manifestations of the compassion of Buddha and Bodhisattvas to guide sentient beings along the path to enlightenment. They have the essence of generosity and represent the activities of increasing benefit.

In Buddhism, fortune and wealth refers to ‘merit’ - because everything good that we possess is established from merit. Every form of success, every piece of happiness, every kind of enjoyment can only be materialized should there be enough merit to support it. To have merit means to have wealth and assets; if there is no or insufficient merit, then one encounters many negative conditions and obstacles. Even in the Buddhist path, you also need to practise and fulfill both merit accumulation as well as karma purification to be able to attain Bodhicitta.

This wealth grand puja summons immense positive wealth energies upon the puja participants, and is a very effective method to invoke positive wealth energy of the universe and its inhabitants. Though getting rich is a result of one’s past actions, participating in such wealth-congregating pujas play a significant role in its own way to change the course of one’s financial situation. With a sincere motivation to accumulate merit, purify our negative karma, as well as make prayers for all sentient beings to be freed from all poverty and all sufferings, without doubt - one will certainly receive the vast blessings and protection of the five Dzambalas.

Note:   Interested participants, please feel welcome to bring along your wealth vases, fortune wands and amulets for recharge of wealth blessings and energies during the puja. Interested participants can invite the Namtose Wealth Incense.

Green Dzambala: Will enable all endeavors to be perfectly accomplished and purify all bad luck and obstacles, prevent theft, bad debts and loss of wealth.

White Dzambala: The compassionate manifestation of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig (Kuan Yin). By practising White Dzambala one can remove the suffering of poverty and sickness, purify non-virtuous karma and karmic obstacles.

Yellow Dzambala: By practising Yellow Dzambala, can remove poverty within the six realms, increasing virtues, life span and wisdom. All material and spiritual needs shall be met.

Red Dzambala: By practisng Red Dzambala, one can attract people, wealth and fame. One will enjoy wealth in abundance and shall be well respected and supported by people.

Black Dzambala benefits the poor and those in solitary retreat. If a person’s mind is always virtuous, Black Dzambala will always take care of him/her.

Wealth Deity Practice with the Correct Motivation
It is a common misconception to believe that one could obtain wealth by making offerings and reciting the mantras of wealth deities. The wealth deities in Buddhism have manifested as Protectors driven by the bodhicitta mind to benefit all beings. Hence should we wish to achieve success and wealth by engaging in their wealth practices, one should be driven by the positive motivation to benefit others, uphold the dharma, make offerings to the three jewels and the like. If it is solely for one’s own self benefit, we shall not be able to receive the blessings of the wealth deities despite extensive effort of practice. With pure motivation to benefit others, dharma practitioners shall receive boundless blessings and protection to achieve both material and ultimate prosperity.

Recently in Dec 2014, during the Jangchup Lamrim teachings bestowed by His Holiness Dalai Lama in Gaden Monastery, Dagyab Rinpoche and the people of Dagyab offered a long life offering to His Holiness.  It was an auspicious and joyous occasion. Here is the context. 

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Winding up 2014

I guess I'm on time in wrapping up this year (last year I dilly dallied my 2013 review until 12 Jan 2013). I won't go into detail how 2014 was. I will try to keep this short and bittersweet. 

What a hell-uva year. 

1. Life, interrupted.
The most stressful year in my life, disrupted by my father's bad fall at the beginning of this year, which made him unable to walk normally again and drastic deteriorated health. Now our family life centers around taking care of him. Total loss of freedom. A few hospital admissions, and numerous A&E visits and follow-ups, we lost track of how many times we visited the hospital. Huge dosage of medicine daily. Constant standby and looking out for infections. His condition has improved but will never be his normal self again. 
Also, lost 2 aunts, a cousin younger than me, and another friend to heart attack and cancer. When I think of their sudden departure, it somehow makes me treasure my ailing father.  As I see his life drifting away, I want to be there for him during the last leg of his life, no matter how tough it is.

2.  She's 90!

Celebrated my grandma's 90th birthday, the biggest celebration this year. I am happy she looks happy and calm and that she still remembers me. May my grandma remain in good health and bliss.  

3. The unspoken.
Made new friends, lost some (sort of). This year, I realise everyone needs a listening ear. That is the reason why each of us sought out friends, to have someone to listen to our problems.  I had this happen to me all the time, friends who ask me out because they need a listening ear/confidante/venting machine. It's good to catch up and mostly, I don't mind being the brunt of their frustrations and verbal diarrhea. However sometimes, I am exasperated that I just want to block out everything I hear, so instead I go out with those friends who like to eat and enjoy a happy relaxing time. Food is music for the soul, no? Haha.

4. Happy times
Group gatherings can be fun, basically chilling out doing whatever activity together and just bonding.  Sometimes I prefer the sessions to be one to one /two, so then can really get to know the person/s better. 

5. We still need to eat. 
Some people complain I post too much food.  I am at the age where I don't care what other people say anymore, just be happy with what I do. Posting stuff online allows me to retrieve/search for them easily when I need to. I still have not learn how to bake, even though I cook a lot.  I like to grill meats and veggies, and boil soups. Also tried to cook more wet dishes so that it is more palatable for my father to chew, like steamed chicken in chicken essence, my multi-ingredients porridge, my first time cooking almost-authentic ramen and also lots of soup dishes and steamboat. 


6.  Lost it.
Just before the year ends, I lost something through my reckless mistake and ignorance. It's a blind stupidity year. It is not convenient to reveal here and something which I will keep to myself. It may not be something significant to everyone, but it is important to me. I lost sleep over the matter for a couple of days. Anyway, it is something material which I will probably get over it in time. It taught me a precious hard lesson though and I will never forget it. All I can say is, I hope justice is served one day. 

7. No regrets
I have said it before and I will repeat again. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I am glad that I am fortunate/blessed enough to meet the Dharma; all the gurus, the teachings and so many spiritual friends whom I learn alot from. Maybe because I am trouble-ridden these few years, it made me appreciate even more that Dharma can help me overcome all the negativities and a tired mind. Or at least I try to view all problems and solve them from the Dharma perspective.

8.  Non existent
Didn't blog much this year. In fact, my blog just past the 10th year mark. A DECADE. 10 years of blogging, and boy, maybe I have become tired.  One thing about blogging, is that I almost never go back to re-read my previous posts. I don't know why, I find it squeamish. I am not sure where this blog will be heading, but I know I will still be hanging around in social media.

So, there. Not a spectacuIar year. Have not travelled too. Missed a work trip to Japan. Missed another trip to India. But no regrets. I have had special moments too, which warmed my heart and which I will treasure forever. 

I will end with this quote which sums up how I feel about 2014. 






No matter how you feel at certain point, be it happiness or sadness, it will soon be just a memory, a dream. So why hold on to such emotions? For it, too, shall pass. 


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Let sleeping dogs lie

early at 7am (my usual auto wake time is 6plus on weekdays). Spent the whole morning clearing 1001 photos from my mobile phone, some to be archived into hard disk, some to be posted in Facebook and the rest to be deleted. 

I realise I take lots of photos, so i can remember the places i had been to and the people I was with. Some I took because there is something I want to write about, some to be shared in social media and friends. Some are for my private collection.

I share different stuff to different groups of friends in Facebook, meaning not everyone can see everything that i post. I'm considered more interactive than most of my friends. Other than a handful of them who share articles or photos regularly, the rest are pretty inactive. When I say inactive, it is not that this group of friends doesn't check Facebook. They do, but they seldom post stuff. So to the world of Facebook it seems that they are inactive.

Recently when I bumped into some friends in a couple of events or gatherings, I have quite a number of them asking me about some stuff I posted in Facebook. They told me they enjoyed my sharing of photos. I was surprised and told them I thought they were 'dead' on Facebook as many could not be bothered to interact. I teased them, saying at least they could have clicked 'Like' sometimes even if they have nothing to comment. Their replies were nondescript. Haha.

So I think it's an unexplained strange phenomena in Facebook. I understand people value their privacy, or just do not like to show their faces. Then why are they in Facebook in the first place? Just to stalk on people whom they considered friends?

Then there are those whom I tagged photos of them in their seemingly happy shots and they would always say, 'yes, post! post!'.  But when I posted and tagged them in the photos, they did not allow them to be displayed on their timeline. Yet the same people would post their own stuff, or things they considered more important. So when I realized this, at times I am a little disappointed. Hence I decided not to tag these people, or even post their photos in the first place. Sharing is not caring sometimes.

A lesson I learned in Facebook is that human biasness still prevails. Many seem to be quiet and inactive and oblivious to everything, but whenever someone 'important' posts something, all will clamor to click 'Like' and comment. All suddenly appears out of nowhere, out on a rampage. So there, we learn something new everyday.

To me, the photos I have taken (of myself and/or of others) have some significance to me, and they contribute to my nostalgic memories, whether they are good memories or not so good ones. Likewise, what i write are solely my thoughts at different moments of my life. I'm not new to social media. Heck, most of my friends don't even know I have been blogging for a decade. I will just continue to do my own stuff and let sleeping dogs lie.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Heart to heart

For the 20 months, almost 2 years, that I did not see my guru Lama Zopa Rinpoche, I was like a lost lamb. Strangely when one is having obstacles, the guru would not appear (physically), even though the guru is in one's heart all the time. Then having gone through that period of struggles of many kinds, I then realized perhaps that itself (not having the karma to see the guru) was also a lesson in the training of the mind.  For one thing, I learned not to take things, and most importantly, the dharma, for granted. The guru, who is the physical manifestation of the Buddha, may not always be there as and when we wish.

In the airport the previous week to welcome Rinpoche, I managed to have some brief moments with him and to make a request to him (in which he looked at me, then smiled and then laughed). That familiar feeling I felt with him since the very first time I met him, has not changed. Perhaps I've forgotten that feeling, or perhaps I had been blinded by lots of obscurations, but this time, that close feeling with him was revived. All these years, as little as I see of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, every time something will happen to make me realize he will always be my guru. No matter what, nothing, and no one can come between me and my guru. I may have many gurus, but there would always be a special place in my heart for just a couple of gurus and Lama Zopa Rinpoche is one of them.

Tonight while I was volunteering, Rinpoche suddenly made an unplanned appearance. There was no scheduled teaching during this brief stay, and there was not any program tonight. So for the few of us there who managed to receive his blessings, even if for a few minutes, naturally we were blissed out. Such good karma. With Rinpoche, there are always impromptu moments, and they are anything but ordinary. However to me, there is always a tinge of the predictable amidst the unpredictable. Certain things, I knew he knows what I had wanted to ask. And many times, what he taught, already answered what I was thinking.

Tonight, through Venerable Drachom, I also learnt what Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said about the elaborate long life puja we offered him the past Sunday. Rinpoche said that although he did not mention it during the puja, he felt there was good heart connection with those present that day, between the students offering sincerely to him and his heart also felt strongly for and went out to the students that day. What more can you ask for, when the guru says this? 

The karmic connection is sealed, there is no doubt. That is why Rinpoche will be coming back soon again to bestow a special empowerment for us. I know this coming from Rinpoche is not that usual, seeing that sometimes for certain teachings or empowerments, he would often not bestow, or would not start the scheduled topic until the time is ripe, ie. when some get too tired waiting and eventually leave, that is when he would begin, even if it is already way past midnight. I know this only too well. If you didn't know, the meaning of Rinpoche's name, Zopa, means patience in Tibetan. You need lots of it. ;)

So, to have Rinpoche said about having heart to heart connection with us that day, this is such blessed news and even more precious a gift any student can receive from a guru. *tears of joy*

See you soon, precious guru.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Life is busy enough

I don't know why it has been such an incredibly exhausting week and time just flew by so quickly. So busy at work. So busy bringing the father for checkup which dragged the entire day. So busy with so many telephone calls. So busy running errands. So busy preparing for guru's arrival. So busy despite my hurt finger and backache cranking up. So busy until no time to cook. So busy until no time to do my hair. So busy until I feel physically and mentally drained. 

So relieved finally the weekend is here. And just when I was beginning to unwind..... 

Had a long discussion with a friend via whatsapp earlier on and it turned into a session which I felt so zapped of energy. It was centered along the lines of the self cherishing ego and guru devotion. What I had thought to be an innocent sharing led to some sort of disagreement with friend regarding self cherishing and selfishness.

While I do not deny that all of us have our own ego issues and delusions in varying degree (that is why we behave and react in certain ways), I do not fancy a highly charged endless debate. An opinion is an opinion. First of all, I am not well versed in the dharma, hence not qualified to correctly point out the futility of having certain thoughts and views. Secondly, I'm not an articulate person. I cannot express myself well when being shot with many points and be expected to give my answers at the snap of fingers. While it's good to ask questions and to clarify, I felt it was too aggressive a session which gave you no chance to explain until /unless you admit and concur with the other party's viewpoint. I'm weak in giving instant analogies and to substantiate my views. And I refused to be drawn into a tiresome exchange just to satisfy the others' idea of a fruitful dialogue. So how? Just pull the hand brakes, period. Even though I did not agree with the way the topic was being broached and being 'attacked', I decided to put an abrupt end to the conversation. I simply do not have the luxury of time to engage in endless discussion day in day out and do not see the need to. 

Life is busy enough without additional, unnecessary invitation to debate in guise of 'contemplation'. 

I rather sleep.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Pokey pokey

Today for the first time in my life,  I got myself poked twice on separate occasions on the same day.

First stop at the Chinese medical hall. My injured index finger was swollen again even after 4-5 months since the injury. It became stiffer. Already I couldn't bend my finger and now it became worse. So the Chinese physician used acupuncture to poke at the vital points and the machine to heat up the hand. In addition, she also poked my shoulder at my back which has been my perennial problem since last year.

Next stop is the Blood Bank! I had a sudden urge to donate blood this morning when I woke up. I had donated at the beginning of this year and so I thought it would be good to do it again to round up this goddamn year which has been sickness and accident-prone throughout the year. The process was usually quite fast for me and it was completed within 10 minutes. Good to note my blood pressure, iron and overall health is optimum.

Truth be told, I actually have a slight phobia of needles, especially the first few seconds when the needle was inserted into my body. I usually close my eyes, take a deep breath, chant something and only open them when the needle is in. 

And this was my reward. Anyway, it felt real good to donate blood. Plus a little dedication after the ordeal. Phew.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Falling in love with less

OK I'm on a roll (blogging) here, but not sure how long I'll be inspired to write. I broke record this year for having blogged the least. I think I've lost plenty of readers but it's OK. You win some. You lose some. So enjoy my writing while you can. Haha!

Anyway I've been doing lots of spring cleaning since I'm stuck at home most of the time to take care of the father. Decluttering. I have packed the different areas of my house and threw away stuff that we no longer needed. I'm not a hoarder of stuff yet things just kept piling up; in the store room, wardrobe, kitchen cabinet and even the fridge. Desperately clearing yester-years junk. I'm not OCD about cleanliness. I just prefer a neat and tidy house which is not messed up so often. A clean slate physically also means a clean mental disposition, yo.

This was what I found - a small vintage suitcase which I bought about 20 years ago! Love the prints and leather trimmings. My sis has another one with different prints. I'm thinking to use it as a bedside table or something. Haven't decided.

I also found these plates which I bought from Turkey about 20 years ago too! One is made of porcelain painted with a tree of flowers. The other is made of heavy brass with very nice intricate carvings. Deciding where to hang them. The thing about items which should be hung on walls... I can't bear to drill a hole on my wall because I change the arrangement of my furniture pretty often. I can't possibly keep drilling. Maybe I'll use bluetak. :P

This is one part of my wall which is green and the other 3 sides are white. I can safely say my room is the neatest in my house. My quiet sanctuary of refuge and rest. 

I also cleaned up my fridge. Threw away stuff that were expired and packed items into tupperware boxes and sorted out everything, since we have 1001 tupperware. 

Every day I'm inundated with articles of life hacks for the house. Got the idea to hide all the wires and plugs in my chest drawer. Whatever that needs charging are all hidden and tugged away. No ugly sight of wires hanging all over the place.

While packing I found this very important turquoise mala with sentimental significance to me which has gone missing for almost a year! I thought I had dropped it while I was out. It was hiding inside an old hand bag all along. So relieved. I believe it has lots of wonderful powerful energy. 

Finally put up this beautiful painting of Shakyamuni Buddha with gold trimmings in my living room. Again. Did. Not. Drill. Hole. On. Wall. Yet. 

Paradox of choice

I read an article this morning about this teacher in the USA who wore the same outfit for his school's yearbook pictures for 40 years from 1973-2012. FORTY YEARS. Mind you, it's the SAME outfit, not similar outfit. Although it's perfectly fine and nothing wrong with this, I got to salute this guy, for the fun of it. Heck, it was only but once a year.

It brought back immediate memories of my Physics teacher in secondary school, Mr P, who not only wore the same or similar outfit for photos, but he wore it everyday. EVERYDAY, EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail, it was a neatly ironed (well starched) white short-sleeve shirt and navy blue pants. Plus his thick hair was combed neatly swept across from one end to the other. Even strong winds didn't seemed to ruffle the hair. Once a classmate even attempted to pull his hair just to check. No, it was not a wig, even though it did looked a little stiff. Probably the power of Brylcreem. 

Mr P was a good teacher although his behavior was quirky most of the time. My more cheeky classmates liked to tease him during his lessons and he still continued his teachings with a straight face. Haha. Anyway, all of us adored Mr P in a delightful way, even though I hated science in school.

Then last week, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, explained why he wore similar grey T-shirt every single day. He has a whole wardrobe of greys in the same cutting, and the reason he gave for wearing the same color outfit everyday was so that he didn't have to waste time deciding what to wear. He didn't want to waste energy on silly frivolities, choosing to focus on more important decisions of his giant social media company.

Someone in my Facebook timeline promptly shared this piece of news gleefully, concluding that wearing the same clothes everyday is 'normal'. Yes he seems to wear the same color outfit himself almost everyday too. There's another guy in my neighborhood who is also always wearing the same pastel yellow polo T-shirt everyday. I don't know him, it only made me recognize him, that's all. I cannot imagine myself wearing the same coloured clothes my entire life. 

So what is normal? When a famous personality like Zuckerberg says so, or do so? Does success equate to wearing the same clothes everyday? Or is it simply an excuse for laziness? Wearing the same old boring clothes doesn't necessarily make a man successful or a genius. 

Steve Jobs, with his signature black turtlenecks (designed by Issey Miyake) and jeans, got inspired when he saw Sony's employees in Japan wearing the same uniform at work, and thought he could adopt the same for his Apple staff in order to promote bonding. He got booed, everyone hated the idea.

Psychologists called this phenomenon, 'decision fatigue', or analysis paralysis, which stipulates that when faced with many potential choices, our decision making processes slow down to the point where action is never taken.

Men, in general, presumably don't like the hassle of having to decide over the little things in life. Ladies, on the other hand, live to dress well. Clothes can make a man (more likely a woman). How well one dresses can lift the mood and I personally prefer variety over the same old thing everyday. I do not fancy the idea of wearing the same outfit day in and day out, although I would not be caught dead wearing a black top at all. We all have our favorite colors or designs. What one wears should project that air of confidence. Being comfortable in your own skin is much more important. Not having to make little decisions of what to wear or eat doesn't make us better in making the grand important decisions. I guess we all have our own idiosyncrasies; we have to live with ours as well as others, be it a routined or multi-faceted choice.

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