Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No I, No Self

Question (Unedited)
If there is no self at all, who is meditating? your body? your mind? Are we something bigger than just humans? and when we die, who is being reborn?

Thank you!

My comment:
Hi Kt,

Thank you for asking me.

The Buddhist concept of "no self" is not to be literally translated as such. The Pali term is "Anatta".  What the Buddha meant was that there was no permanent,unchanging self.  There is no permanent unchanging soul.  There is no permanent unchanging "I".  In order to understand this concept, we need to know the Buddha's revelation of what constitute a person.  A person is comprised of matter (physical body) and mind.  We know that this physical body will perish one day.  It is not a permanent entity.  The mind is also not a permanent unchanging phenomenon.  The mind is always in a state of flux.  There are thought moments continuously going on in the mind.  This is the consciousness or energy that gives the mind its substance.   The energy of the mind is just like the electric current flowing continuously, but no two moments are the same.
The existence of a person is the results of the energy of the mind taking existence in this physical body. The nature of life-form that this mind energy affixes to, will depend on the nature of the accumulated "kammic" store-house which the being had generated throughout its numerous life existences. If the kammic storehouse has a greater portion of evil and unwholesome kammic energy, this mental energy will seek a rebirth in the appropriate existence such that the evil and unwholesome energies will actualize in that life, causing agony and suffering for the being.  Likewise, wholesome kammic energy will seek out a happy rebirth.  Often, the kammic energy is a mixture of both good and bad strains.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Chant of Metta : Imee Ooi

(If video does not appear, just click on the screen.)

The Chant of Metta, beautifully rendered by the artistically talented Imee Ooi.  The music is very soothing and the lyrics universal, from the Budhist text.

Hope you experience inner peace listening to this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Wesak

Today, Tuesday May 17, is Wesak Day. The thrice blessed day when the Buddha was born, gained enlightenment and finally passed into Nibbana. 

The Buddha is dead and gone.  We don't depend on him as a person to gain protection and to experience inner peace and contentment.  It is his teachings that hold supreme.  The Buddha advised us to practise his teachings, the Dhamma; and the Dhamma will protect us and give us peace and contentment.  The main theme of the Dhamma is to avoid harming others, help everyone, and to purify the mind so that we can reduce our greed, hatred and delusion in life.  We pay homage and reverence to the Buddha for showing us the Path to liberation from all the unsatisfactoriness of existence.

May this auspicious day bring you inner peace, contentment, and most important of all, good health.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where is the proof?

Question (Unedited):

If this statement is true,

no one can concretely prove what happens to our consciousness after death.  Why it is Buddhists believe everything in the religion is logical?  I can agree with Buddhism until there is talk about the next life, there is no proof.  Both the eastern and western religions look to what will happen after death.  No human knows, and no animal has told us.  I question why is reincarnation, with rippling effects from previous lives, more logical than heaven/hell after death.  Scientists have not proven that evolution of complex animals is a fact.  Many things written by Buddhists, I have read, uses evolution as the proof of reincarnation.  Scientists have proven adaptation is a fact, to date I have not read about and multi-cellular creatures changing species; if proof exists please guide me there also.

My comment:

First, we must remember that the Buddha's message was about overcoming the unpleasantness of existence.  His message was that if we care to reduce our greed and hatred, we will find that life will be more pleasant.  Whether you agree or not with rebirth, reincarnation, or life after death is up to you.  Buddhists never waste time in trying to prove things.  They explain the Buddhist concepts and it is up to the listener to analyze and form his conclusion.  

The Buddha warned that there were many concepts that ordinary mortals like us would never fully understand. We are hopelessly limited by our 5 senses. These 5 sense faculties have their limitations. Our ears can only hear sounds within certain decibels. Our eyes can only see things within certain range. So are our sense of smell, our sense of taste, and our reflex system. Our ability to perceive the world is actually hopelessly very limited. Even our thinking is very flawed. We have been indoctrinated to think in a certain manner. We can't think outside the box because we restrict ourselves with our assumptions that such and such a thing must be like this or like that. There is this flaw in humans believing that one can reason with everything through logic.  One has to understand that the physical faculties have serious limitations. That's why it takes geniuses like Einstein and other brilliant scientists to discover and interpret concepts in a very different perspective. It took the Buddha eons to fully cultivate his mind to SEE through the nature of this world and this life. The Buddha had acquired an extraordinary power not available through the five physical senses.  It is the power of the mind, which an average Westerner is so grossly ignorant of.  This supreme power of the mind is what set the Buddha aloft from the others.  The power of the mind is the epitome of human achievement. We should be grateful merely to know about the truths that the Buddha expounded, although we don't possess the wisdom and mind power to fully comprehend the nature of the universe and life.

The Buddha advised us to concentrate on conducting our lives wisely so that we would not suffer unnecessarily.

I would like to share with you this story.  Once there was this student sitting for his Philosophy exam.  There was only one question to answer in this 3-hr exam.  The question topic was "Why?".  This student just stared at the paper, while the rest of the students were frantically putting their thoughts in writing. As usual, the invigilator announced the final 1 minute left before time out.  This student was still deep in thought with a blank sheet in front of him!  Then he calmly took up his pen and wrote:  "Why not?"!

Friday, May 6, 2011

What is sexual misconduct?

Question (Unedited):
Hello again Justinchoo,
Namo Buddhaya,

i would like to ask about the Buddhists' views on intimate relationship, well i meant by sex before marriage?

thank you so much.

My comment:

Hi Y,

The third precept states that one should undertake to refrain from committing sexual misconduct. This has no direct bearing on whether couple should be legally married. Marriage is actually a social/legal obligation when a couple becomes man and wife. Sexual misconduct means having sexual excesses with one and sundry without a thought for genuine relationship. This behaviour is just like animal sexual instinct. Sexual misconduct will bring potential problems like unwanted children, abortion, adultery, and death from AIDS! If a couple is genuine in love and cares for each other, I would say that whatever they do in privacy is not sexual misconduct. However, I would of the opinion that the couple should adhere to social norm and human dignity to get married if they want to live together.

The beauty of the Buddha's teachings is that you have the freedom to chose. The Buddha never issued commandments forcing anyone to follow his teachings. He advised his followers to be wise to conduct their lives in a harmless and dignified manner. So remember, we have to be wise to realize that freedom comes with responsibility.
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