Sunday, February 1, 2009

Simple concepts.

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Hi Justin,
I read your description and thought you might be the right person to help me.
I would like to know how to be a better buddhist with everyday things. I read some books but at times I find them very difficult and not related to day-to-day problems.
Can you please help?
Thank you!

My comment:

Hi P......,
Thank you for asking me.
There are two aspects of the Buddha's teachings. One is the detailed analyses of the mind and consciousness. To a new-comer, it is very awe-inspiring. The other is the day-to-day practical approach towards a more wholesome and peaceful life. It is important to understand the latter approach in order to conduct our lives in a skilful manner, thereby experiencing inner peace and happiness.

The Buddha's teachings are very practical and down to earth and are meant for everyone. It is so because it is based on universal truth that transcends race, nationality, location, space and time. He preached kindness and compassion based on universal truth. He was not interested to convert anyone. He just emphasized that we must avoid committing evil deeds because we, ourselves, are very fearful that others may hurt us. On this premise alone we can just use our common sense and fair judgement that it is not fair to hurt others. We must have this human dignity to conduct our lives in this dignified manner.
On the other hand, we always wish that all good and happy things come our way. Knowing that, it is also fair that others should be given a fair chance to enjoy good and happy lives.
Do we need any more creed, commandment, or threat in order to live in a civilized manner? It is only when others demand that we must believe in their dogmas or else hell will befall us, that the world is in trouble.
As a practising Buddhist, I just have to live my life guided by the 5 precepts, which I repeat here:
1)Refrain from killing
2)Refrain from stealing
3)Refrain from sexual misconduct
4)Refrain from telling lies
5)Refrain from taking intoxicating things
The Buddha advised us to keep these 5 precepts to the best of our ability, and we will be able to live in peace with ourselves. What others do, or do not do, is their business. We cannot change the whole world. But we can change our lives if we want to.
Our life's trilogy is this:
I want
I don't want
I don't know
If I get what I want I will be very happy. The more I get the more I want; I become greedy. I don't want things that give me sorrow. If I get things that I don't want, I become very angry. The more bad things I get, the more angry I become, the more hateful I become. I am subject to such uncontrolled reactions because of "I don't know" the true nature of this world and this life. Because of this ignorance, the vicious cycle goes round and round. I get greedy, I get angry, because of my ignorance in life. Our lives revolve around this trilogy of human tragedy.

Unless we change our mind-set, we will suffer through our own ignorance and stupidity. The whole world is such.

The Buddha's message is very simple: Reduce our greed, reduce our hatred, reduce our ignorance by realizing the truth of existence, the message of the Buddha. Then we will have inner peace and happiness.


Barry said...

In my experience, Buddha's teachings on mind and consciousness come alive in everyday life ONLY when I pay close attention to my mind in everyday life.

Meditation practice provides the basis for this kind of investigation of mind. But meditation - if we only do it while on the cushion - will not transform our relationship to everyday problems.

When we bring the same clear, concentrated effort into all our human relationships, then the Buddha's teachings will truly help us.

Thank you, Justin!

Justin Choo said...


How true. I am not a true blue meditator partly due to timing constraint. However, I do notice that those "serious" meditators could not do justice to their practice once "out of the cushion".

It is indeed very difficult to maintain the "present moment" idealism. But I am sure regular meditation does help.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Barry.

A true Malaysian said...


"Simple concepts" sound simple, yet many people failed to adhere to the 5 precepts as listed above especially for "refrain from telling lies" as we can see amongst Malaysian politicians.

I can proud myself that I adhere to the 5 precepts, but sometime "telling lies but not for the purpose of hurting others", in short, no hurt was inflicted. So, can I still regard myself as adhering to these "Simple Concepts"?

Justin Choo said...

A true Malaysian,

Just do your best.

A true Malaysian said...


Justification for telling lies - not hurting or not causing harm to others.

Sure, I am doing my best, thanks.

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