Friday, September 24, 2010

Life is a drama.

Question : (Unedited)
Hello,I am a Buddhist for many years,but recently I started to get really interested in the topic of Buddhism,and many question I really unable to answer, I decided to ask you.

1.What does Buddhists mean by saying "Life is like a dream"?Why do people feel that life is like a dream?I have ponder it over many year...

2.Is reality really a illusion in Buddhism?then what is real in Buddhism?Does it mean we will wake up when we die?I have this question after I watch Matrix...

3.Why did Buddhists say reality is a illusion? In what ways is it a illusion? Is the world we living now real?I don't

My comment: 
Hi R....,

Thank you for asking me.

1) Personally, I won't say that life is like a dream because a dream is not real at all.  Life is for real.  Maybe life is a drama will be more appropriate.  We all play our parts and in the end we fade away.  The Buddha pointed out that life is not very satisfying because we always face uncertainty and danger; and in the end we all die!  It's quite scary, isn't it?  In the end, no matter what we have achieved or failed to achieve, we face the inevitable death.  

2) In the worldly sense, everything is for real.  If you pinch yourself you feel the pain.  If you jump over a cliff, it's suicide!  If you are very poor you may go hungry.  The Buddha pointed out that life is in a flux; we grow and finally decay.  So long as we crave for existence, we will be in this wretched cycle of birth and death.  In order to escape from this cycle, we need to know certain truths and to take certain path.  This is what the Buddha's 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path are all about. Click here:

3) One needs to change one's mindset and perspective to enter a new paradigm to see reality of existence.  We view the world through our senses and interprete what we experience.  However our interpretations may not be the realities.  A good example is when we see a rainbow.  We cannot say the rainbow is not there.  We actually see it, the colourful arch.  However, we use our "extra" intelligence and knowledge to understand and realize that the rainbow is actually an optical illusion.
Existence, in reality is like the rainbow.  In the end all that we see and experience are tricks played on us.  We ignorantly fall victims to the wrong interpretations by using our external sense organs to interprete the world.  Because of this, we harbour greed, hatred and delusion in our lives.  The price we pay, is suffering throughout our lives, living in fear, hatred, and unhappiness.  
To understand and see things as they really are, we need to study the Buddha's teachings about life and existence.

If you need further clarification, please come back.

Friday, September 17, 2010

KISS : Keep It Short & Simple

Question : (Unedited)
No quesion.just wanted to update you and say thank you for your advice. Seemed odd to hear from someone who teaches to tell you to just let it all go for awhile, but thats exactly what i did and it seemed to help immensely.. I gave up the pressure i put on myself and all the meditation for the remainder of the year.. I'm back to my studies and meditating using patience along with knowing that its ok to be uncertain and not perfect as long as i include effort. .. In fact.. dropping the idea of what i had of, how i was suppose to be, has helped allot..
on my morning walk i only do 1 hour of walking meditation instead of 2.  in the first hour i allow myself and things around me to be just as it is in the moment..not wishing for change or clinging and then on my way back i practice walking meditation.. a third of the way back i try to keep my mind in the moment and avoid thoughts of the past or delusions of the future..  the 2nd third of the way i add to that no self talk, and the last third i add focus on my feet contacting the ground.. if you can add to or correct, please do.
again thanks for the advice
Happy New Year
Peace and Love
My comment:
Hi Fr...,
I am very happy for you that you are experiencing inner peace and mental happiness.  There is nothing that I ought to add except to continue practicing what has been giving you positive results.  Forget about high sounding terms and other esoteric methods that only hinder our spiritual progress.  They only make one, either feeling inadequate or bloating in one's ego.  The Buddha's teachings are actually very simple.  If we seek peace in ourselves, we need to do things that make us feel at ease and relaxed.  And that is precisely what you are doing now.
Have fun.
Smile from justinchoo :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What would you like from Santa?

Question (Unedited)
Hi im in a philosophy class and im learning about bhuddism, and i have a few things that im confused about.

Im somewhat confused on the subject of ridding oneself of all desires.  I understand the pain desire can bring, and the necessity of getting rid of that in order to obtain nirvana, however, its seems that the striving for enlightenment and the perfection of the self is a form of desire.  Can you help me clarify?

If one was able to fulfill every desire that they had, and therefore recieved no suffereing from unquenched desires, would that man be happier, as happy, or less happy then a man who had no desires, and therefore also no suffering from unquenched desires?

A little while ago i was asked posed the following question:  If you were given the oppurtunity to have your brain removed and put into a vat, and through chemical and electrical stimulation, you could have your every wish and fantasy come true, and it would be as real to you as life is today, and you were guarenteed this for the rest of your natural life, would you do it?  I couldnt find a simple answer to this question.  Every rational fiber of my being tells me to say yes, and this seems like the logical answer to this question, however, i think if this situation were actually presented to me, i wouldnt do it.  But i cant think of one reason why.  How would you answer this question, and why?
Thank you very much for giving me your time.

My comment :
Hi Ph.......,

Thanks for asking me.

Your first question is a play on semantics.  The "desire" the Buddha was referring to was about sensual desires.  Sensual desires refer to desires of the 5 senses.  These sensual desires are unquenchable.  It is the very nature of physical senses.  Take for example, hunger.  Once the hunger is satisfied with intake of food; the process of depletion starts, and after some time one feels hungry again.  Another aspect of sense desire is the stronger feeling of craving.  One's craving to satisfy one's desire is itself a catalyst to crave for more.  When this craving goes unchecked, one becomes crazy!  So the option is opened to anyone who follows the Buddha's teachings:  to continue feeding these desires with more craving, or to come to one's senses to reduce this crazy cycle of on-going "madness".

As for striving for enlightenment, it is a very different concept.  Here we are talking about one's commitment to reduce one's greed, hatred and delusion until complete eradication.  This is not a life-long process, but countless life-processes.  "Desire" is not an appropriate word to describe this journey towards enlightenment.  Of course anyone can still argue until the cows come home that it is still "desire".  So it is up to you to decide.  No big deal if you still insist that it is "desire".   The important thing is that I have given you my opinion.  See, this is the beauty of Buddhism.

<< If one was able to fulfill every desire that they had, and therefore recieved no sufering from unquenched desires,...........>>

The "If" already answered your question.  "Desire" is unquenchable!  It's just like asking "If you can live forever".  We call this foolish renderings.

As for your last question, ask your questioner what he would like from Santa Clause this Christmas!  

Have fun!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Compassion and forgiveness

Question : (Unedited)
Hi! I don't know much about buddhism but I have read a bit on compassion.  I tend to hold grudges quite often, and it is hard for me to forgive people.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can find compassion towards people who have hurt me, instead of holding these grudges?
Thank you very much! 

My comment:
 Hi L...,

Thank you for asking me.

"Compassion" is a very big word and a tall order.  It is easy to feel compassion for others, while still not lifting a finger to do anything.  The dictionary defines it as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it".  Perhaps replacing "practise compassion" with "act with compassion" will send a clearer message.

The degree of compassion one may have will depend on one's spiritual qualities and external circumstances.  
We must be careful not to become "good hearted fools". We have to be pragmatic in conducting our worldly affairs. It is easy to deceive ourselves that we can be really compassionate for all and sundry. If we are not up to the standard, so to say, we just cannot be compassionate to all. We simply don't have all the qualities that enable us to behave as such. So the next practical approach to take is to do our best. We must first of all assess our level of spiritual maturity, and then to practise according to that level. Given time, we may be able to improve ourselves in our spiritual pursuits and hopefully be able to really feel compassionate for more people of all characters. At the same time to act on it.  In the meantime we need not have to take on the role of a "perfect" Buddhist.  In this world of imperfection, we just have to try our best and leave the others which we cannot control.

The Buddha reminded us that "anger" is one of our 3 evil roots. The 3 evil roots are "greed", "hatred", and "delusion". "Anger" is a form of hatred. "Delusion" is our ignorance to comprehend the true nature of our lives and the world. These 3 roots cause us great pain because we react to conditions in the wrong way leading us to greater miseries. Take "anger" for instance. Medical science has proven that when we get angry, our system heats up, all energy wasted to further support this heat wave when we wallow in this cycle of adding fuel to the fire. Our bodies literally burn inside us; consuming us both spiritually and physically. Knowing this fact, do we still want to hurt ourselves by this foolish behaviour?
It is already bad enough that others had hurt us. Do we want to further hurt ourselves? By getting angry, we think that we are getting even with the other party. No. It is like spitting up in the air.

"What does one do about people who have wronged us?"
It is easy to advise that we radiate loving kindness to them. I find this to be too difficult for most people. Why not take the rational approach? First we have to be sure that they are the ones who had wronged us. Many times we may be the culprits. Well, assuming they had hurt us. First, is to take whatever rational approach available, legally or diplomatically. Now come to the spiritual aspect. You have done whatever that needs to be done...that's all. Now you get on with your life. When we start living life in this positive manner, we will have inner peace. Let nature, kamma, or whatever, takes its course. The Buddha reminded us that if we follow the Dhamma, his teachings, the Dhamma protects us. This is the type of confidence that a wise Buddhist will have. Given time, we will find that we can genuinely forgive those who had hurt us. Then we will have complete peace in ourselves.

In the meantime, if thoughts of hatred and unforgiveness crop up, just note that emotion and be mindful that this emotion is negative, unproductive, and detrimental to one's health.  Then let go of the thought.  Given time, you will feel a sense of inner peace.  Time heals.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blessing the Buddha Image

Question : (Unedited)
My friend brought me back a beautiful Buddha from Singapore and when talking to one of the members of my Sangha she said i should have our teacher bless it.  I didn't want to feel stupid and ask what that entails.  So can you tell me.  Thanx,

My comment: 
Hi K...,

Thank you for asking me.

It depends on which tradition you are practising.  I shall comment as a Theravada follower.  Blessing the Buddha image, especially a new one for the home is more of a psychological ritual which makes one feel a sense of confidence in the Buddha image.  Whether there is any other benefit is subject to debate.  Very long time ago when I got my first Buddha image for my home, I got it "blessed" by the monk in the temple.  Some temples perform "all-night chanting" during auspicious occasions and devotees would bring along their Buddha images to be blessed throughout the night.  I feel this is a wholesome and meaningful ritual, and followers would definitely gain a psychological confidence.  Strictly (or wisely?) speaking, there is not a need to "bless" the Buddha image.  Come to think of it, does the Buddha image need us (or monks) to bless it?  Quite ironical, isn't it?

In the event if a Theravada monk were to perform the "blessing", what he would do is to recite some suttas while clasping the image and transferring his metta (wholesome vibration) to the image.

Hope this helps.

Smile from justinchoo :-)
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