Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Do you like to live again?

Question (Unedited)
Hi again,
I would like to ask about compassion.  I feel compassion towards people, I would help a stanger in distress as well as a friend or family member, if a see suffering on the news, I feel for the people who are hurt. But,this is not exactly the compassion that Buddha speaks.  He speaks of a compassion towards people, who have ignorance and therefore pain and will relive their lives over again.  I understand the logic.  But how does that cultivate a "feeling" of compassion?  Can you help me with that? Also, yes, there's suffering in life, but also a tremdous amount of happiness.  Reliving life may not be such a bad thing.  Can you please address these two points for me? Thanks.

My comment:
Hi M,

Welcome back.

Your compassion is within the Buddha's compassion.  If you are from UK, then I would use "c" and "C".  Your compassion is the small "c", while the Buddha's compassion is the big "C".  If you are an American, then your compassion is within the continuum, while the Buddha's  compassion is the whole continuum.

The word "compassion" is again a semantic interpretation.  The Buddha spoke Maghadian (Pali), while we are using English.  Merriam-Webster @
defines compassion as follows:     

   Main Entry: com·pas·sion
   Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin compassion-, compassio, from compati to sympathize, from Latin com- + pati to bear, suffer -- more at PATIENT
: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it"

I think the above brings out the essence of compassion.  The desire to alleviate it.  And having done that one should feel happy and relieved.  It is this feeling of happiness derived from helping others that is the essence of compassion.  Well at least that is my personal interpretation.  This is the humane side of human beings.  We can leave out "religion" and "belief", but concentrate on alleviating the sufferings of others (in Buddhism this "others" encompasses ALL sentient beings).  This is the Buddha's universal interpretation of "compassion".  It transcends the whole universe irrespective of belief or religion.

As for your last comment, my dear friend, you (and I) are very fortunate to be healthy and enjoying a peaceful life.  Look around you and you will see the sufferings of the less fortunate.  Open your eyes and SEE the world; don't just look but SEE with your conscious eyes.  Do you know that most people have eyes to look but cannot SEE?  Read the news, watch the National Geographic, and Discovery Channel.  If you still cannot SEE the sufferings then go to Iraq, or Darfur (  If you still cannot SEE the sufferings then visit to the hospital.
Finally if you are still not convinced, I am sorry you have to visit the cemetery!  

Sorry to be so harsh, but that's life in reality!

Have peace.


(Dear reader, the above picture is very graphic, and it strikes your conscience as long as you live; so much so that the person who took that photo committed suicide.  If you are interested to read about it, you can do so in my other blog by clicking HERE: )

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheating spouse

Question : (Unedited)
My husband cheated on me, but he said that he made a mistake.  Although, we haven't really talked about it, because I am so hurt that I think I had a mental breakdown.  He doesn't talk much and has really never talked much.  I am hurting inside, but I love him.  I don't want to be with someone that betrayed me.  How do I get through this?  I do have faith in God and I pray a lot.  What do you think?

My comment:
 Hi L,

First, I have to remind you that this is a Buddhist site, which means my views will be reflective of the Buddhist thoughts.  Secondly, I wish to say that I am not a qualified counsellor.  This will be my personal comments based on my little experience in life.

"My husband cheated on me, but he said that he made a mistake."
Did he confess first before you found out?  If this is so, then I would think he felt guilty and remorse and would like to be forgiven.   If you were the one who found out, then it's another matter.

"Although, we haven't really talked about it, because I am so hurt that I think I had a mental breakdown.  He doesn't talk much and has really never talked much."
You don't talk because you are preoccupied with the thought of being cheated by the one you loved dearly.  He doesn't talk, most probably because of his guilt and fear of hurting you further.  This is a vicious cycle.

"I am hurting inside, but I love him.  I don't want to be with someone that betrayed me."
You have to make up your mind before you can resolve this predicament.  If you don't want to live with one who had betrayed you, and can never forgive him, then that's the end of the story.  But if you still love him, then you have to give him a chance to repent. There is no two ways about it. You cannot hate him and not forgive him, and yet desire to be with him. You will never be happy with this state of mind.

Assuming you really want to be with him, then you must give him another chance.  It is not easy to forgive.  But you can just let go of the thought of his hurting you.  This is the Buddhist way:  to let go when the thought comes.  After a while, the hurt will begin to subside because you are not allowing the recurrent thought to torture your mind and ruin your life.  You have to replace this cancerous thought of hate and not forgiving, with thoughts of magnanimity and acceptance of what had already happened.  

" I do have faith in God and I pray a lot. "
If you are a Christian and you have faith in God, then by all means ask for his strength to support you and lead you to the right path.  But I think the most important step you have got to take is to decide for yourself which way you want to go.

Hope my few comments can be of some help and consolation.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Buddhism is Humanism

Question : (Unedited)
Although Buddhism is considered a religion, the more I read about it, the more I feel that it is a philosophy that allows one to live a peaceful life.  Would you consider Buddhism more of a religion or a philosophy?

Hi M,

Thank you for asking me.

It is a semantic exercise in futility.  Depending on the interpretations of the words "religion" and "philosophy", the conclusion is still debatable.  My personal view is that "religion" emphasizes on belief and obedience.  It usually subscribes to the belief in some supernatural powers or a supreme being controlling us.  "Philosophy" entails intellectual analyzes of human endeavours.  

"Buddhism" is about the teachings of the Buddha.  The Buddha taught universal truths and inner peace.  His realization was not based on belief nor on intellectual analyzes.  His findings were the results of his mental cultivation throughout aeons of countless existences.  His mental cultivation culminated with his enlightenment embodied with a perfectly pure and powerful mind.  He attained the power of supramundane insight, which meant he was able to penetrate into the supramundane dimensions which no other humans could.  His knowledge was not through his intellectual ability nor through his external senses.  His discoveries of the truth of existence and the universe were through the supreme power of his mind.   From his discoveries which he shared with us, for lack of a better term (or would it be dictated by social norm?) that we mortals refer them as "religion" or "philosophy".  

As you have rightly referred Buddhism as allowing one to live a peaceful life, could it then be termed as "religion" or "philosophy"?  The Buddha advised us to live a dignified and harmless life, so that we could enjoy a peaceful life.  We need to conduct our lives in a humane manner.  

To me Buddhism is humanism.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Right livelihood

Question : (Unedited)
what does 'right livelihood' mean? i know it means to work hard, well and humanely, but is there anything else? also, what kind of jobs would buddhists do/not do?

My comment:

There are four types of trade that a Buddhist should avoid.  They are; trading of humans (prostitution and slavery), any trade involving killing, trading in poison (including drugs), and trading in arms.  Anything associated with these four trades should be avoided, for it brings sorrow and harm to others.  On a wider aspect, right livelihhod means conducting oneself in a peaceful and harmless manner so that none is harmed and one will be at peace.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Queuing to die!

Question : (Unedited)
one day i was going to school and i saw a worm die, when i saw it die i felt so bad and i waned to say somthing to make it feel better for its next life but i had nothing in mind... so can you give me some advice about what to say or chant nextime i see sufering in another life?

My comment:
Hi T,

Next time when you see something dies, reflect on the true nature of this life; that one day you will follow too.  The moment we are born, we are in the queue towards death.  This is to see reality.  Then reflect how much progress you have made in your spiritual development. How much have you reduced your defilements of greed, hatred and delusion?  Reflect how you can continue to lead a harmless life, a contented life, and a happy life.  

Well, next time when you see something dies, you can radiate your good thoughts that it may be reborn in a happier plane.  But remember, every second, millions of beings die!  This is the ultimate Dukkha of this world.  "Dukkha" means "very difficult to bear".

Have peace my friend.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What do you think of me?

Question (Unedited)
I wondered what Bhuddists believed about Jesus. I am a Roman Catholic and so I believe in God as the Trinity and that Jesus is like a designated driver, the safe most certain way to get to heaven. I know Muslims believe he was a prophet and Jews believe he was just a historical figure. I wondered what the Bhuddist teaching is. I also wondered what the best books on meditation are. I heard the Dalai Lama speak and thought he was a fabulous person.

My comment:

Hi Ml,

Thank you for asking me.

First of all if one wants to believe in something or somebody that something or somebody must have relevance to the person.  Asking what Buddhists think about Jesus is like posing the question back to you.  What do Christians (or Muslims) think about the Buddha?  It is actually not very relevant and insignificant asking such question. Apart from that it gives others an implied impression of the importance of one's belief.  Just like asking you what do you think of me?  A positive answer will surely make me feel elated; and a negative answer will hurt my feelings. Sorry if I sound rude, but I don't mean to be.

The Dalai Lama is not the supreme leader of the world Buddhist community.  The public at large has been misled to think that way.  He is the leader of one of the 4 major Buddhist sects in Tibet. Thanks to China that he is now so famous, for the wrong reason.  
Buddhism is the name given to the teachings of the historical Buddha, whose name was Gotama.

What did he teach? He taught us to use our human intelligence to see the world as it really is. He taught us to be masters of ourselves. He taught us to be free from dogmas and commandments. So long as we are fearful of something or someone we are not free. We cannot have peace of mind if we are fearful.

He taught us how to have peace within ourselves. If we do not understand the true nature of the world and this life, we will never experience peace within ourselves.

The Buddha discovered the way to peace and happiness through realizing the true nature of life and this universe. It was more than 2500 years ago in northern India where the Buddha through harnessing the power of his mind realized that if man were to be free of greed, hatred and delusion, he had to look inwards into his mind, and start cleansing his inner defilements. If one reduces one's defilements, one would experience peace and happiness. He discovered that the whole world had certain characteristics and that life continued to exist because of certain causes. This world is very uncertain and unsatisfactory, because we cannot be fully satisfied in life; and that nothing is permanent. He also pointed out that because of our craving for permanent happiness and complete satisfaction, we were always miserable. Once we understand and come to terms with this imperfect world, we will not complain too much, and will live through life with wisdom accepting the whole "package of life".
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