Saturday, May 31, 2008

What sort of question is this?? (Comment part 1 of 3)

I just have to invent some answers to prove I am no fool! Here it is:

I am dumb founded. You are definitely cleverer than me by figuring out the first 4 questions. I wonder what sort of "World History" is this. If you are not making it up just to fool me, then it is really a very strange assignment. A return riddle will be the appropriate solution for the fifth:

I have eyes but not see

I have ears but not hear

I have nose but not smell

I have mouth but not eat

If I look and see

If I listen and hear

If I breathe and smell

If I swallow and eat

The place to go is to come inside me

The way is no returning

Friday, May 30, 2008

What sort of question is this?? (Qn part 1 of 3)

This is going to be a mouthful. Some so-called student posed this non-sensical riddle. Even then, positive comments could be "invented" to satisfy him.

Read his question first: (unedited)

[Hello, I am doing a project for my World History class. We have a series of scenarios that we have to figure out. They are like riddles. This scenario refers to Buddhism and history. I was wondering if you could help me out with it.

Here is the scenario: A contemporary of the one who coined the rule of AU79, he searched for the karmic truth and tried to follow the advice given to Arjuna. He was troubled by the three faces of suffering - and so made something new.After 48 near 2683 he shared this and the absence of casts for decay is inherent in all things?. The three baskets of wisdom overcame the liar by truth? too late for 100000 at Kalinga - but not for those after. Not too late for you either. Still on 593 at 4889 figs and arrows can help you find the way.

1. What is the rule of AU79 and who coined it?

2. Who is he? and what did he make?

3. What is meant by the absence of casts(?)??

4. Why was it not too late for those after??

5.Where can you go to find the way and what is the way?

So far I have figured out the the rule is the golden rule and Confuscious coined it. Also that Buddha made the Noble Eightfold Path. The absence of castes means that there ws no simple division of society in which there are four castes arranged in a hierarchy and below them the outcast. Also, I figured out the the it was not too late for those after because King Asoka converted to Buddhism and became against violence and preached Buddha's doctorine and promised not to fight in a war again.

I am trying to figure out where you can go to find the way and what is the way (Question 5). If you could please try to figure it out and let me know I would be very appreciative. You can just email me any of your ideas at Thanks for your time. ]

It must be World History of the Century!! What a load of rubbish! Can you turn this heap of rubbish into fertizer for the mind? Give you one day to think about it. Then we can compare notes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Praying Aloud, Praying Allowed (Comment)

This is my comment:

The Buddha's teachings are very straight forward. Actually during the Buddha's time there wasn't any rites and rituals. Whatever they performed were in accordance with their traditional practises. These practices were Indian (Indo-aryan)customary rituals. Nothing to do with Buddhism. The Buddha revealed the universal truths and the followers simply conduct their lives in accordance with these universal truths. Universal truths have no boundaries. They are beyond time and space and race and nationality. That is why followers can practise Buddhism without having to change their customs and traditions. That is why we have Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism and what have you. Of course, we do have deviant cults who also called themselves Buddhists.
As Theravada Buddhists, we follow a very simple "ritual" when we pay homage to the Buddha in the form of reciting "homage" to the Buddha, and taking the "3 Refuges" and the "5 Precepts". During the Buddha's time he encouraged his monks to recite certain discourses given by him, for protection as well as for radiating vibrations of goodwill. To-day we also recite a number of his discourses called suttas, for the same purpose. When we pay homage to the Buddha we need not have to say it aloud. Our mental vibrations are good enough.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Praying Aloud, Praying Allowed. (Question)

Actually the term "praying" is not a very appropriate one in Buddhism. I would prefer "recitation" or "chanting". So, do you recite aloud or in silence? Any difference? Someone asked: (unedited)

[im fairly new to Buddhism(forgive me if my questions seem ignorant) and not knowing any Buddhists to discuss things with im glad to have found this site. firstly i have to ask about the rituals that are associated with Buddhism, im not very confortable with chanting and preying, i have a statue of Buddha and im grateful in my heart to him and all people but i dont really see the point in saying things out loud as long as i feel them, do you think this is the wrong attitude for Buddhists?]
What do you think? Tell you what I think to-morrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Different Varieties (Comment)

A cake is a cake, in whatever shape or size. This was what I said:

To a new comer it is pretty confusing to suddenly being confronted with so many different Buddhist traditions or schools of thought. I still remember when I started to study Buddhism seriuosly, I was actually upset with the sudden knowledge that there were so many schools of Buddhism. What I wanted to learn was the teachings of the Buddha. I had to accept the fact that there existed the various schools and there was nothing I could do about it. So the best strategy was for me to concentrate on the tradition that I had been studying, i.e., Theravada tradition.
In order not to hurt the feelings of our fellow Buddhists who belong to the other traditions, I have to be very careful in answering your query about the different schools. Generally speaking, there are 3 main traditions of Buddhism. In alphabetical order, Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana. Mahayana means the Great Vehicle (Path) Theravada means the Path(Way) of the Elders(Senior monks) Vajrayana means the Jewelled Path Countries belonging to Mahayana are mainly China which spread to Korea, Mongolia, Japan, and Taiwan. So today, you would find mostly Chinese from China and Taiwan practising this tradition. Theravada spread to Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and all the countries of Indochina. (I practise the Theravada tradition) Tibet is the country practising the Vajrayana tradition. So you can say that it is commonly called Tibetan Buddhism.
The fundamental teachings of the Buddha are to be found in all the 3 traditions. They are the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The differences are in the rites and rituals which are purely cultural and traditional perculiar to its followers' cultures and traditions. Apart from this, there are a number of different discourses belonging to the different traditions. You would have to read a bit more to acquaint yourself with these traditions and then to decide for yourself your choice. A few visits to the different temples will help you to decide in due course. Zen Buddhism came from Japan when the Chinese introduced the Chan school of Buddhism there. Please be patient with yourself, and the path will be cleared! Hope to hear from you again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Different Varieties (Question)

We are all spoilt for choices. Even in religion. See how many Christian denominations. What about Buddhism? Same problem. When I was learning more about Buddhism, what I was interested in was just the teachings of the Buddha. That simple. But when I learned more, I was disenchanted to find so many different "schools" or traditions of Buddhism. I was really upset. I wasn't interested in them. I just wanted to learn the teachings of the Buddha. That's all.
Someone has similar problem. He lamented: (unedited)

[thanks alot for your answers justinchoo, they helped me to understand some things better.
of all religions i think buddhism suites the person iam best, but unfortunatly like many things with me i still cant help feel abit skeptical, even though i know nobody has anything to gain at my expense, it really is something i would like to get rid of but maybe that will come in time. after all the idea of reincarnation, kamma and meditation are not things that i was at all familar with until recently.
i also wanted to ask about the different types of buddhist religions, as i was interested in visiting one of the centre's in my area, there seems to be afew different kinds like the new kadampa and friends of the western buddhism order and of course the more mainstream kinds, from what i read online they both seem quite similar, i have also recently leanrnt more about zen buddhism but there is alot of information to take in and i feel that no matter how much i read about buddhism it is still only a very small amount compared to what is avaliable, but i think the trick is knowing when to stop for awhile and wait until you have fully absorbed something before you carry on.
anyway sorry for going on abit and again thanks for any help,
wishing you peace and clarity, ]
Any advice for our friend? I shall tell you to-morrow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Om Mani Padme Hum

OM! The universal mystical sound vibration. The sound of peace, compassion and meditation.
Om! should not be haphazardly uttered. When done without purpose, without inner power (Chi), it will only be a disturbing noise from the throat. But if you take a deep breath, let it sink to the base of your navel, and then aspirate with the Om sound with your throat wide open, the Om sound will become a powerful positive vibration! Try it.
The esoteric mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum! is similarly forceful and powerful if chanted with the above breathing technique. The vibration is soothing to the listeners. This mantra has been chanted in a very wide variety of styles. It is also very popular with the accompaniment of musical instruments. This one from youtube is presented with traditional Chinese ensemble, (amongst the other instruments are the "er hu", Chinese flute, and the Chinese 2-string guitar) which I find it to be very soothing, powerful and full of positive vibration. It is from the album "Tibetan Incantations". Hope you enjoy this special and unique presentation as much as I do. (Unfortunately abruptly cut short to only 7.5 minutes in Youtube.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Matter Of Priority (Comment)

Someone used to comment that there are four types of priorities. Urgent and important. Urgent but not important. Not urgent but important. Not urgent not important.
This is my comment:

There was this person by the name of Malunkyaputta who insisted that unless the Buddha answered all his questions, he would not accept his teachings. The Buddha then used the analogy of the arrow to emphasize a point. If a person were shot by an arrow, the most urgent thing to do was to pull out the arrow and administer the wound. Then all other investigations could follow after that. If the victim was to insist that he must know the reasons for the attack and must know the details as to how the arrow was shot, and what kind of an arrow was that before administering the wound, he would be dead before he could know all the answers. What the Buddha was emphasizing was that we should not wait until all our questions and doubts are answered in order to follow and practise his teachings. We should start the urgent journey now and gradually discover the answers along the way. In this analogy of the arrow, the most urgent and important thing is to pull out the arrow and save life. All other questions may be relevant and important, but not urgent. In this context, the starting of our spiritual journey is urgent. The understanding and realization which are also important will reveal themselves along the path of this journey when we arrive at the various resting places, until we reach our final destination.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Matter Of Priority (Question)

It's not about reaching 40 and changing priorities. After all I am way past that young age! I am 58 years young. It's about deciding on priorities, like the question below: (unedited)

[If one accepts that there are unimportant questions, questions that divert the mind from focusing on finding the way to pull the arrow out and cease suffering, and, on the other hand, one accepts that ignorance must be eradicated in order to achieve the same goal, how is one to know what is an important question and what is not?]

What say you? My say will be to-morrow, as usual.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Natural Disasters and Kamma (Comment)

This is my comment:

Yes, we are all very sad about the tsunami disaster. But there is at least a positive side to this tragic event. We know that the whole world has come together to help those affected. We also know that there is now ample material help going its way to the affected areas. The problems now lie in the reconstruction of the affected areas, and the very delicate handling of all the displaced people, especially the children who have lost their parents, and the resolving of psychological problems now and the future. You have not indicated your homeplace. So I don't really know how to comment on your desire to help. Of course, the most common method is to send monetary contribution to genuine tsunami disaster fund. Just contribute the amount that you can afford. You can also help in the packing of the materials for sending out.

On the spiritual side, there is much that we can learn from this disaster, especially being Buddhists. We can reflect and contemplate how true and relevent that the teachings of the Buddha are, even today. I would like to copy and paste here, a passage from my comment to a previous questioner:

(Question: During this period of sad mourning for the millions of victims caused by the devastating tsunami across south-east asia, India, Sri Lanka and the neighbouring countries, all of us share similar grief for this terrible suffering. However, different religions have somewhat different explanations and reactions which sometimes are even contradictory to one another, and even within the same religion. What is the Bhuddist opinion regarding this?

Comment: Thank you for asking me. The Buddha revealed that there were 5 Cosmic Orders or Laws that influenced and governed this world. They are: 1. The physical or inorganic order, such as temperature, seasons, wind, snow, rain and other physical events. 2. The organic or germinal order, such as plant life and other living beings. 3. The kamma order, the natural order of cause and effect. 4. The mind order, the consciousness factor existing in living beings. 5. The natural phenomena order, such as gravity, creation and destruction, and impermanance. All events in this world are caused by any one or combination of any of these 5 Cosmic Laws. The recent tsunami disaster can be attributed to the laws of the inorganic order, the natural phenomena order, and the law of kamma. No one is responsible for this natural disaster, although many would attribute this as "act of God". As Buddhists, we simply regard this as a natural disaster. Your question at this point in time can be regarded as a very sensitive question, because so many thousands have died, and millions are suffering. It may be better not to comment on others' beliefs. What I have commented is the Buddhist perspective. What others would want to comment and believe in other ways is up to them. As Buddhsits, we can agree to disagree.)

We can now realize how fragile and unpredictable our lives are. It is time for us to cultivate goodness so that we can be free from sorrow. As the Buddha assured us, that he who practises the Dhamma, the Dhamma will protect him.

[As I promised earlier, the links for the two authoritative comments are HERE and HERE. ]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Natural Disasters and Kamma (Question)

Myanmar Cyclone Nargis, May 5th, 2008

Dujiangyan, Sichuan, China, May 18th, 2008.

The recent two consecutive disasters of enomous proportions have prompted people to ask why? Is this kamma? Or are they acts of God? Certainly there are as many answers as there types of cheese, or in local jargon, as there are varieties of durians!

After the 2004 tsunami, someone asked this question (unedited):
[Hello... I am a Buddhist originally from Sri Lanka. I have been living in overseas for the past 7 years. During the recent tsunami disaster I felt quite helpless as people were dying and suffering. I'm only a student and I don't have money to travel to the affected areas and also my education commitments make it hard to travel. I was wondering what steps I can take as a buddhist to help the victims. I have done "metta" meditation and prayers but I guess input from someone experienced would be good. Thank you.]

What is your answer? To-morrow I shall share with you my comment. As an added bonus(es) I shall also provide links to two authoritative comments by two very learned monks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Most Esteemed Visitor

Shravasti Dhammika

On Vesak eve, I received a wonderful Dhamma gift in the form of a surprised comment by an esteemed reverend by the name of S. Dhammika.
He wrote:

"Dear Jusitn, I really liked your Vesak thoughts - genuine, thoughtful and kindly. Please have a look at mine at"
My reply:
(I have yet to figure out how to post reply. So now as a stop gap measure, I am using another "comment" as my reply to you.)

It must be the ripening of my good kamma that I am honored to have Bhante in my Blog. There was one day in the Mahindarama Library that I also had the honour to ask you about how to identify the sutta reference in the Tipitakka although at that time still ignorant of your reputation.

I was most impressed after listening to your talk at that time. I was also very impressed that you always recited the first two stanzas of the Dhammapada after each talk, although a lot of listeners were unaware of what you were reciting.

I will surely read your Blog everyday from now. The last time I heard was that you were in Sri Lanka. Are you now over there or in Singapore? Your “Broken Buddha” is a gem. And your “Good question, good answer” is first class. I quite often use your analogy of Faraday to answer the question that the Buddha was no longer here.

I fervently hope that Bhante Dhammika would drop-in this blog often and point out any misrepresentation that I might have committed, so I may learn from my mistakes.

The Buddhist Flag

The Buddhist flag was designed in 1880 by a group of Buddhist personalities known as the Colombo Committee, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Wikipedia noted that Colonel Henry Steele Olcott, later made suggestions for modifying it, which were adopted. It was first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka and is a symbol of faith and peace.

Colonel Olcott, a former soldier and lawyer, was the founder of the Theosophical Society of New York. He arrived in Sri Lanka on 17 February 1880 - a day which was subsequently celebrated as Olcott Day in independent Sri Lanka. He was a very colourful, fascinating and forceful evangelist respected for bringing back the rightful status of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and for the demand he made to the British colonialists that Vesak Day be declared a holiday in Sri Lanka.

There are six colours in the flag, but the human eye can see only five. They are described in the Scriptures as emanating from the aura around the Buddha's head. There are 5 vertical stripes of blue, yellow, red, white and orange. The sixth colour is a compound of the first 5, but for design purposes its five ingredients are all shown in small horizontal stripes on the fly.

This design was accepted as the Standard International Buddhist Flag by the World Buddhist Congress in 1952, and has been flying high eversince, signifying universal peace and compassion.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Significance Of Vesak (Part 3 of 3)

Happy Vesak!

(You may have noticed by now the word "Vesak" is spelt either way with "V" or "W". Actually the pronunciation is in-between V and W.)

To-day is the most important day that Buddhists affirm their reverence to the Buddha. Chief Reverend Dhammananda wrote on how to pay homage to the Buddha the proper way:

" The Buddha Himself has given invaluable advice on how to pay homage to Him. Just before He passed away, He saw His faithful attendant Ananda, weeping. The Buddha advised him not to weep, but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even His own body) must disintegrate. He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard His teachings (The Dhamma) as their Teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma TRUTH is eternal and not subject to the law of change. He also stressed that the way to pay homage to Him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow His teachings.
This is how we should celebrate Wesak: use this opportunity to reiterate our determination to lead noble lives, to develop our mind, to practise loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to mankind."

His full text is found here:

On this day, it is also appropriate that we reflect on the Buddha's reminder of the second phenominal characteristic of existence, and that is " existence is shrouded with unsatisfactoriness." At any time, anything can happen to us, both good and bad. May we reflect on what is happening right now in Myanmar and Sichuan in China. The wrath of nature has no mercy. So please take care.

(This period you would also notice Buddhist flags adorning temples everywhere. To-morrow, I shall share with you the origin and meaning of the Buddhist flag.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Significance Of Vesak (Part 2 of 3)

To-day is Vesak-eve. Vesak Day always falls on the first full moon day in the month of May. Vesakha is the name of the month corresponding to May. It was decided in 1950 at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) held in Sri Lanka, that this day be celebrated as Vesak Day.

To know more you can click here:

To-morrow is Vesak Day. Let us see how we should celebrate this day. Actually I personally prefer to use the word "observe", rather than "celebrate". My revered teacher the late Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda of the Brickfields Mahavihara (Temple) wrote:
"On Wesak day, devout Buddhists are expected to assemble in various temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist Flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dhamma (His teachings), and The Sangha (His disciples).
Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their great teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind us that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, life is subject to decay and destruction in similar manner as the flowers, candles and joss-sticks. Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. In some countries notably SRI LANKA, two days are set aside for the celebration of Wesak and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed by government decree during the two days. Birds and animals are also released by the thousands in a symbolic act to liberation, of giving freedom to those who are in captivity. However, it is not recommended that birds be released in the heart of crowded cities, because by doing so we may cause harm to the poor bewildered birds which are unable to fly far after a long period of captivity. Unscrupulous bird dealers would recapture such birds for resale to well meaning devotees. If birds are to be released it is recommended that this be done in rural areas where the birds can achieve real freedom. Some devout Buddhists will wear simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts."

The full text can be found here:

Have a joyful holiday!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Significance Of Vesak (Part 1 of 3)

Come Monday 19 May, Buddhists celebrate Vesak Day (or Budhha Day). The thrice blessed day when the Buddha was born, gained enlightenment, and passed into Nibbana. This is also the day where you see many "Buddhists" proclaim themselves to be so, by visiting the various temples. After that they revert to their old selves again without learning anything about the pristine teachings of the Buddha. We don't have to blame anyone for this sad state of affairs. To-day I shall share a little information on the significance of Vesak. For the next 2 days we shall share the joy of this auspicious day by further discussing its significance.

This is extracted from Ven Mahinda's message from here:

[The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind.

As we recall the Buddha and his Enlightenment, we are immediately reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and insight which arose in him on the night of his Enlightenment. This coincided with three important events which took place, corresponding to the three watches or periods of the night.

During the first watch of the night, when his mind was calm, clear and purified, light arose in him, knowledge and insight arose. He saw his previous lives, at first one, then two, three up to five, then multiples of them .. . ten, twenty, thirty to fifty. Then 100, 1000 and so on.... As he went on with his practice, during the second watch of the night, he saw how beings die and are reborn, depending on their Karma, how they disappear and reappear from one form to another, from one plane of existence to another. Then during the final watch of the night, he saw the arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and physical. He saw how things arose dependent on causes and conditions. This led him to perceive the arising and cessation of suffering and all forms of unsatisfactoriness paving the way for the eradication of all taints of cravings. With the complete cessation of craving, his mind was completely liberated. He attained to Full Enlightenment. The realisation dawned in him together with all psychic powers.

This wisdom and light that flashed and radiated under the historic Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in the district of Bihar in Northern India, more than 2500 years ago, is of great significance to human destiny. It illuminated the way by which mankind could cross, from a world of superstition, or hatred and fear, to a new world of light, of true love and happiness.]

I shall continue to-morrow.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How To Find Self? (Comment)

Have you found your Self? Below is my comment:

Thank you for asking the question. I shall do my best to share with you my views on how to find self. It is an irony, actually. This is the simplest question and the answer seems so simple and direct. Go look into the mirror! Just joking! Or just give yourself a pinch, and if it hurts, you've found your self! Another joke!

Now the serious stuff. The Buddha's mission was actually to find the self. He wanted to fully comprehend the nature of this self as well as the world. He wanted to find peace and truth. When we want to find something, it is usual to go look for it. We always look outwards to seek things. As for the self, the farther you look, the more you are lost. The whole of the Buddha's teachings centred along the understanding of this self. For once we understand this self, then we understand the cause of all our problems.

In our daily activities, we are actually confronted by 2 opposing forces. The first is "I Want". The 2nd is "I Don't Want". Because of our ignorance in this self, we succumb to the whims and fancies of these two opposing forces. Whenever pleasant things come our way, we respond in pleasant pleasures. The more we are pleased, the more we want, and the happier we are. On the other end of this continuum, when unpleasant things hit us, we cringe with apprehension. The more the nasty things hit us, the more negative we become. The more this happens, the more hateful we become, and also more anger. This in no time will degenerate into fear and aggression as a natural defence mechanism to strike back. The catch phrase these days is "preemptive attack"! How horrible and barbaric! We gradually become slaves (assuming we haven't yet) of these dichotomy of forces. We react each time these forces strick us. We become puppets on the strings being manipulated by the craftsmen of good and bad. So long as we are ignorant of the Buddha's revelation of the universal truth of life, we will danggle like the puppets.

The cause of our problems is the 3rd factor "I Don't Know". Not knowing the self. So we have this trichotomy: I Want, I Don't Want, I Don't Know ......Ignorance of the Buddha's teachings is the "I Don't Know". Once we decide that enough is enough, then we can tell this self to listen to us and to do the things that we command it to obey and follow. We take control of our "self". When good things or bad things come our way, we no longer succumb to unmindful responses. We now understand that the nature of this world is both good and bad. We cannot expect the perfection of this world, because the very nature of this world is Imperfect, and in the final analysis Suffering. If we can come to terms with this imperfect world, we will be able to come to terms with this imperfect "self".

You may find this an unusually approach in answering your question. I hope you get the message. Please feel free to let me know whether you are satisfied with my answer. I will try another approach if you so desire. And God bless you also!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How To Find Self? (Question)

Ever wonder what or who you are? This curious person wants to find Self. This is the question (unedited):

[Hi, my name is D G from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. I want to know how to go about finding and becoming self. I feel like I am ready to pursue my self. Thank You and God Bless you. May you attain the highest truth.]

Can you find Self in yourself? My comments to-morrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Forgiving The Unforgiveable (Comment)

This comment is dedicated to Sweet Caroline:

Welcome to the real world. The more fortunate people do not have to experience the agony of family feuds, naughty and incorrigible children, unfilial siblings, squabbling parents, and a host of other family problems. I fully understand how you feel for I am still reeling over similar problems, perhaps more than yours.Before we get too upset over these problems, we have to realize the true nature of life. As Buddhists we are reminded that this life and this world are by their very nature, unsatisfactory. We are here to act out our parts in life, the good and the bad. As Buddhists we attribute this as the results of our past kamma (actions). Many things we have the power to change and prevent. However, certain things and events are destined to happen. We can try our best to lead a skilful and peaceful life. Having done our best and troubles still haunt us, then we have to find solace in the teachings of the Buddha. This is the true nature of existence.

Now coming back to your comment: " How do you forgive those who have hurt you so deep you can not even stand to look at them or think of them or talk about them with anyone?"

Actually you are experiencing the exact opposite of what you wrote. You still want to look at them, you still think of them, and you still talk about them! That's why you are feeling miserable. Just consider this: If you do not look at them, do not think of them, and do not talk about them; then you will not have any more problems with them! This is pure logic. We have been deceived by our mind. Each time when I took my shower, the old scenario played itself over and over again, how they hurt me, how they deserted my mother, why my daughter could have become such..... After awhile I finished my shower and the mental self destructive stage-play stopped! We become victims to our problems which by themselves are already bad enough. To associate mentally with them is like the proverbial adding insult to injury. This is what the Buddha referred to as unskilful conduct, which causes misery.

Your next comment:"I know that this anger and hate is causing me more pain and destruction of myself than my hating this person does to her. She will always be the kind of destructive person she is. I can't change her-how do I change me?"

You got the facts right! Then start with a bit of common sense. Since such behaviour is not to our benefit, we should make effort to reduce this bad habit. As for me, when such thoughts came by and at times when I was mindful, I would command my mind to stop the poisoning, stop the non-productive and destructive thoughts! I didn't have to forgive. Maybe I am not wise enough or magnanimous enough to forgive. But I can stop the destructive thoughts from haunting me. This is the difference.

Your next comment:"This has been going on for 35 years. I ask them to stay away from my home and myself about 2 years ago. Even tho I have no contact with them, do not speak of them with other family members things are still uneven in my marriage and other family relationships."

If this person is no longer within sight, then I would assume this person would not be causing any problem now. Thirty-five years is a very long time. Perhaps you may want to try the method that I am practising.

Have peace in yourself, if not for others.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Forgiving The Unforgiveable (Question)

It is human nature to get angry when hurt by others, especially the one you most loved and trust for life. How on earth are we going to forgive this cruel betrayal? How could he done that to me? Why is it like that? Why?Why?Why?? I will never forgive him! Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! The world continues to go round and round and round.........
Someone, (very angry), asked this question (unedited):

[How do you forgive those who have hurt you so deep you can not even stand to look at them or think of them or talk about them with anyone?I know that this anger and hate is causing me more pain and destruction of myself than my hating this person does to her. She will always be the kind of destructive person she is. I can't change her-how do I change me?
Thank You, Janet
Not really sure to tell you what my "belief" is. I have always tried to do the right things, taught my children to be decent, loving, caring, understanding. They are wonderful. Why is it so hard for me? I don't want to hate, I am sickened by the anger this person brings to my life. She is a relative so it is impossible to escape having her in my life. She does not care who she hurts or how. She is never sorry. Unfortunetly her daughter is the same way. I have tried to forgive her several times and we have started over without it lasting for long. They lie, steal, manipulate people and situations, always causing grief and destruction in my life and my marriage. This has been going on for 35 years. I ask them to stay away from my home and myself about 2 years ago. Even tho I have no contact with them, do not speak of them with other family members things are still uneven in my marriage and other family relationships. Forgiving them only sets me up for their next catastrophe. Any suggestions?]
Terrible, isn't it? Would you like to give some advice?
I shall give mine to-morrow at 12.01am and dedicate it to Sweet Caroline.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Realities of Life (Comment)

This is my comment:

We do not talk about belief. We face the realities of life. No matter who you are or what you believe, you are subject to old age, sickness, and death. The nature of this world is that nothing is permanent. As such you cannot have permanent happiness. In this respect, this life is ultimately, suffering. It is up to you to think otherwise. It's not going to change this universal truth. Realizing this ultimate and universal truth, we come to terms with life. Life comes as a package, happiness as well as sorrow. When there is happiness, we don't go over board. When there is sorrow we don't over react. We are at peace with ourselves and the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Realities Of Life (Question)

To-day's question centres on the most commonly asked. If life is suffering then there isn't much to be happy. This is the question (unedited).

[Buddhism centers around the belief that life is suffering. How does this affect a Buddhist's outlook on life? Does it mean that he/she tends not to find life as enjoyable as someone who isn't a Buddhist? ]

What is your opinion? I shall give you mine, tomorrow.

In the meantime, to all mothers: Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Robin Hood (Comment)

This is my comment:

Hi Robin Hood,
If I may call you such. You know, there is a moral to this legend. Robbing the rich to feed the poor. And we all love Robin Hood. He was also the hero. He was not the villain. As for your adventure, first let us define what constitute "stealing". A lot of people said that taking things that are not theirs is stealing. I beg to differ. To me taking things that we know belong to someone is stealing. You see the difference? If I see a coat hanging on the wall, say in the office where I work for the past one year, and knowing that no one in the office is the owner, what should I do? Of course I can rigidly keep my precept of not "stealing" and let the coat collect dust. Or I can use my common sense and human intelligence to decide whether I should take it and if I so desire, donate it to charity. The Buddha always encouraged us to use our common sense and human intelligence to conduct our lives skilfully guided by our precepts. In Buddhism, we must always remember that there are 2 paths to conduct our lives. One is that of renunciation, which means we have made up our mind to keep stringent precepts irrespective of consequences. Our precepts take precedence over anything else. If we want to follow this path then we have to become a monk. Otherwise, the conditions of this world are such that we will face contradictions between our supreme spiritual principles and the dictates of our worldly affairs. The 2nd path is to live as a lay person to face the challenges of this unwholesome world and to try our best to live in peace with ourselves while being bombarded with the evils of life. Here, we have to be very careful in interpreting and living a Budhhist way of life. The Buddha encouraged us to keep the 5 precepts. The precepts are supreme principles, they are like what we called in worldly terms "standards". Standards are yardsticks to measure our performance. Each of us has a certain level of "performance". It is our "standard". How much we score depends on our level of the "standard". Just like performing gymnastic in the Olympics. Are we required to score 10s every time? Or can we? As a lay Buddhist, we must be aware of this "standard". We can only perform up to our "standard" at this point in time. Hopefully, with progressive improvements through diligent practice. In your scenario, you can assess your actions in terms of wanting to perform a 10 in your principles; or you can still be Robin Hood and continue to be a hero in the eyes of the suffering poor. Or you as a 100% holy monk, blissfully, maintaining your perfection in upholding your lofty principles. It is a question of perfection of the path; or being an ordinary Joe trying his best to help other less fortunate people in this world. The first path is what we called the Aryan path, the path of perfection which is above the world. The 2nd path is the path of ordinary mortals like you and me. I keep my precepts to the best of my ability at my level (which is below the prescribed "standard"). I can have peace with myself that I have tried my best, given my mortal limitations. The choice is yours. The Buddha would want us to analyse condition in this manner and not to succumb to rigid interpretations of life. But one word of caution. Whatever or whichever we choose, we must be guided by the Buddha's teachings. What is it? Avoid doing evil, do good, and think wisely. Once we have decided, we must have the courage to face the consequences, whatever they may be. Take care.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Robin Hood (Question)

Robin Hood

Welcome to the first chapter of this journey of discovery. Discovery of the multitudes of life's problems and puzzles. Will there be always a satisfying answer to a question? Let us begin with this "catch 22" scenario. Below is the question (unedited).

[I am a bread/cake route driver. For years now I have given some of my returns to the employees at my accounts, most are making minimum wage and are poor with familys. My company sends the returns to the bakery, tries to sell some at thrift stores but they throw a bunch away to the landfill. They consider giving away the returns stealing. Since I have begun taking on-line mahayana classes I realize that this is stealing and have told my customers I must take back all returns. Still I feel guilty for not helping these people. How can I clean up my bad karma for stealing and stop thinking I'm taking food from peoples mouths?]

Well, what do you think? I shall post my comment tomorrow.

This is the dawn of a new chapter!

A very good morning to all of you! And welcome to the opening presentation of this exciting Blog. At precisely 12.01 noon time, Robin Hood will appear and will have the honour to shoot his first arrow. Let the show begin!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Buds appearing!

Another day passes by and buds appearing. Tomorrow it will be in full bloom!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Getting bigger and sturdier!

Healthy green leaves are in full foliage. In another two days the flowers will bloom.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Leaves getting bigger!

The leaves are getting bigger. Nature will nurture if humans do not disturb! Three more days to go!

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's coming out!

It's coming out! With a little tender care and a bit of moisture it will surely come to life. Give it another 4 days.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Roots appearing!

Roots appearing. Give it another 5 days and they will spread.

A New Beginning!

To-day is a new beginning of a new chapter for this "speck" of a Blogger! I am constructing my "anchor" blog which is the life-blood of my life. The subject is BUDDHISM! But wait a second before you yell "Oh not another one of those!!" and immediately click off this site.

This is going to be a very special blog commenting on mostly questions posted to me through one of the Buddhist web sites over the past years. You will savour all the down-to-earth comments on questions pertaining to life's vicissitudes; the ups and downs; the whys and why nots; the agonies and the felicities; and what have you.

"Life Is Like That" will take roots on 9 May 2008 at 12.01am.
Have a new beginning!
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