Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't worry be happy. Enjoy your movie.

Question : (Unedited)

Can you help understand what the Buddhist definition of "desire" is?

If I desire to watch a movie and enjoyed it, will it lead to suffering?


My comment:

Hi W,

Thank you for asking me.

We can say that the teachings of the Buddha are of 2 levels.  One is for the lay people.  The other is for those who pursue the ultimate release or salvation, generally refers to monks and nuns.  The teachings are no different, but the intensity of practice and realization is different.  If we really want to seek ultimate release or salvation it is very difficult to live as worldly persons because being worldly we are subject to worldly problems, worldly needs, and worldly temptations.  

As a worldly person you would agree with me that it is impossible to live without the necessities of human comfort (and a little bit of sensual gratification).  The Buddha's contention is not so much of ridding material possessions or depriving oneself of any form of sense gratifications, but not to be over crazy with our desires.  We practise a lifestyle of CONTENTMENT with what we already have.  This does not prevent us from further improving our material well being, or enjoying ourselves.  The skill in right-living is to be contented here and now.  Otherwise, we will be like crazy fools chasing after more and more material gains and sense desires without ends.

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".

It is important to understand that the Buddha never asked us to live a layman's life like zombies.  We must have the wisdom to live a skilful life with moderation, to enjoy and be peaceful and be happy.

Please enjoy your movies and other happy activities!!

Hope this clears your doubt.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Training The Mind (Part 2 of 2)

Question : (Unedited)
By the way, what do you think of Vipassana meditation cause I'm thinking of participating in a ten-day course of Vipassana meditation this year. Some people say that Vipassana is difficult.
I also heard of Natural Stress Relief, what do you think about it, if you ever heard of it?

My comment:

Hi L,

First, if you have to pay a fee, then do not go.  Buddhist meditation conducted by true Buddhists should be free. As for "Natural Stress Relief" I think it sounds very commercial!  

As I said before, there are as many types of meditation as there are sandwiches.  As for Buddhist meditation, there are two relevant suttas explaining meditation by the Buddha. They are briefly described below, with references where you can click for details.

The most relevant is the Anapanasati Sutta.
This sutta points out the method to calm our mind by being mindful of our breathing. Another good reference is here:

With a certain level of this mindfulness and focus, the mind achieves full concentration or samadhi    (  At this level, the mind experiences tranquility which is Samatha.  And the resulting experience from this state of mind is  mental rapture or absorption which is called jhana ( The mind is now ready for further training to experience true insight into the true nature of things, vipassana     (  The practice of Vipassana is based on the "Foundation of mindfulness Sutta" or Satipathana Sutta (

So you see, the whole process is pretty complicating; and added to differing interpretations, it becomes mind boggling.  As far as I am concerned, I practise Anapanasati which is mindfulness of breathing, and let the rest takes its course.  It's that simple and easy!!  To summarize: To achieve concentration is just like a person learning to drive a car; he needs full concentration to maneuver the car safely; this is samadhi.  After a while he gains experience and can be relaxed while driving; this is samatha.  Later, while concentrating and relaxing on his driving he can even enjoy the scenery around him and also engage in conversation; this is vipassana.  Later he may become over-confidence and the danger comes!

As a parting comment, please remember that the above is my personal interpretation to the best of my experience and knowledge.  There will be others who will disagree with me.  So, please remember the Buddha's advice: use your own intelligence and common sense to decide.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Training the mind (Part 1 0f 2)

QUESTION: (Unedited)

Hello, how are you?

I'd like to ask you about meditation.
I've noticed that there can be either internal or external meditation. Some people proclaim that it's better to keep your eyes open while meditating, others to keep them closed and focus on your inner world, to watch what appears in front of your eyes when they are closed. Which is better according to you? Which one do you practice?

Thank You!

My comment:

 Hi L,

In Buddhist meditation, the normal thing to do is to meditate with closed eyes.  Of course the problem with this is that we quite often fall asleep.  It is with diligent and effort that we practise through, irrespective of results.  Of course with eyes slightly open, the problem of sleeping through is minimized.  Certain spiritual groups practise it, and one of them is Brahmakumaris (

I have personally practised Brahmakumaris method; but the object of their meditation is different.

Coming back to Buddhist meditation, the object is two fold.  First to tame the wandering mind, then to train the mind to see the true nature of things and feelings.  It is commonly treated as two separate types, namely tranquility meditation (Samatha), and insight meditation (Vipassana).  My personal interpretation is that I will need tranquil mind in order to achieve insight.  As far as I am concerned, I just meditate to stay focused or "one-pointedness" and let "nature" takes over.  I feel that if one can project the mind to focus on one point for a long period, then one will experience insight.  

Please remember, meditation is a very "controversial" subject.  But I am just happy doing what I feel benefits me.

Smile from justinchoo :-)
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