Friday, February 27, 2009

Know when to stop

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Today's dynamic and industrial world convinces us that we are always in a hurry for somewhere and we are constantly running out of time. How do Buddhists who believe in reincarnation and peaceful existence adapt to these modern views?

Answer: Hi D,

Thank you for asking me.

There are 2 aspects in our lives. One is the worldly life that we are living. The other is the spiritual life where we try to find inner peace and spiritual happiness. We have to strike a balance between these 2 aspects which more often than not, contradict each other. The Buddha's advice to us is to use our human intelligence and common sense to maintain this equilibrium. We have to be ever alert to the onslaught of worldly temptations and to know when to stop. This is Buddhist wisdom.

Smile from Justinchoo :-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Go ahead; get annoyed!

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hello again my friend, I hope you are well. I find myself frustrated this week. You see, I work long shifts as a paramedic (12 sometimes 14 hours). And this particular week I'm working with a rather unpleasant individual. She is angry, impatient, rude, and generally not nice to be around. Now I've tried to be understanding, I've tried to think that this is my chance to practice the dharma and be compassionate towards her. But I have to say, I find myself very frustrated. Why does it have to be so? Why do some people have to go through life so angry? It just makes me sad (and its hard to work with too). Does the attitude of some people in this world not sadden even you, and others like you who practice the dharma so fully?

My comment:

Hi G.......,

I'm fine except the irritating coughs which started today. That makes me very tired. That's the reason for the slight delay in my reply.

The fact that you realize the situation is an achievement in itself. It is this realization of the true picture that we see the Dhamma. So long as we realize our reactions to situations, we are learning. This is treading the path of Dhamma. We learn to be a better person through our personal experiences. If you are forever patient with all difficult situations, you would be a saint by now; and I will be out of job!

It is easy to recommend radiating metta. But let's be more practical. Get annoyed and reflect on the bad effects of this annoyance. Perhaps this will help us to realize that each time we get annoyed, we feel terrible. And if we don't want to feel terrible, perhaps a little less annoyance can help.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hello friend !

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Question: (unedited)
Hello justin my friend. I want to share two recent experiences with you that relate to my growth as a buddhist.

Recently I was meditating in a park near my home, enjoying a good session with good concentrattion. Suddenly my cell phone rang and I foolishly answered thinking it might be work. But it was a friend who started talking to me about some problem she was having. I became irritated at first because she had distrurbed my meditation, but then I realized: this situation is exactly why I meditate in the first place. To listen, be compassionate, and give selflessly.

Secondly, I recently made some bad financial desicions and became very sad and frustrated at my lack of money. But then I realized after a few hours of sadness, that if I had more money, new problems would creep up. There will always be something to dissatisfy me. I simply must accept this truth. My question is: Why does it take so long to realize these truths? It seems so simple and yet we get so caught up in not seeing how life really is!!

Anyway, just thought I would share my everyday experiences with you, take care my friend.

G. M.

My comment:
Hi G.M.,

Thanks for dropping by; especially when I'm having a dry run this period with no one asking me. You are constantly on my mind and I'm glad to hear from you again. That's what friends are for.

Your experience is what I would regard as being mindful at the right moment. It is a skill that you have now developed. Often times we are not mindful at the crucial moment and continue to make fools of ourselves. I am such a person.

Your second experience can be a lesson learnt; that is, not to repeat the mistake. As for having more money, it isn't that bad to have more than enough. We just have to be wise to spend them wisely and to do more charitable work.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interfaith relationship

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I consider myself Buddhist and try my best to follow Buddhist teachings, however there is one thing I often struggle with. I'm involved in an inter-faith relationship. My boyfriend is Christian and we've been together for over a year. I've heard a ton about why we can't be together from the Christian point of view, but I don't have a concrete idea about what the Buddhist stand point on inter-faith relationships is. My understanding is that as long as two people love each other and are happy together, that's all that matters… but I'm not absolutely positive and I'm afraid that I might be wrong. I'd really appreciate it if you could clarify Buddhism's position on inter-faith relationships? Thanks.

My comment:

Thank you for asking me.

My wife's elder sister is a devout Buddhist. Her husband is a Catholic. They married quite late in life. They already had the mental and spiritual maturity before they decided to commit themselves. When my brother-in-law proposed marriage, my sister-in-law was adamant that it could not work because she would not change her faith and also did not expect him to change either. This future brother-in-law to be, was insistent that if her faith were so strong perhaps he might be influenced to change his. In this scenario, neither party was insistent that the other party must change his/her faith. Neither party was interested to "convert" the other. There was no argument about each other's belief. It is through this MUTUAL RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING that they are still living happily together, without changing one's religion.

My wife has two sisters. One of them is a Catholic. Three of them are very close to one another and always show genuine love and concern for the well being of one another. Each respect the other's belief. There is NEVER any criticism of one another's religion. All three of them live a wholesome and dignified life. This is the true understanding of practicing one's religion.

Buddhists do not have problems living with others who have different beliefs, because they do not demand that others must change their beliefs. But it is always a BIG PROBLEM with people of other faiths who demand that others MUST CHANGE their beliefs.

In the final analysis do both of you have the spiritual maturity to respect each other's belief for the greater good of an everlasting happy married life? You have to think VERY CAREFULLY. Use your head and not your heart to make this very important decision of a lifetime.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hey, George Is Talking To Me!!

GEORGE CARLIN (Who died in July 2008 and wife just shortly before him)………says
…….and isn't it amazing that George Carlin - comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write something so very eloquent. and so very appropriate.

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
George Carlin


George is talking to me. Are you listening??

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Simple concepts.

Picture from
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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.
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