Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love And Happiness


Question:  (Undited)

i have done some brief research on bhudism and consequently have decided to purchase a few books which i hope will give me better insight into bhudism. what i was wondering though was this, i am currently reading a website on happiness. it says self worth is unconditional, that self love is loving yourself no matter your faults, your situation etc. even if u had disabilitating diseases, if u were working in mcdonalds all ur life etc, or unemployed, that self worth and self love is to love yourself no matter what. it says if u place values on external things which contribute to lowering yourself self worth then the self worth is only conditional. for example, if u dont feel yourself worthy of someone elses love, you feel inferior to other people because you aren't as confident in social situations etc. my question is, though i understand that you must seperate your self worth to love yourself unconditionally. i just dont know how to do it, i hope this makes sense and if not i will go over the website again to make this more succint. but hope you can offer me some words of advice

My comment: 
Hi b,
Thank you for asking me.

What is the basis of happiness? In common term, the basis of happiness is the presence of specific factors which make us happy. The most classic example will be having lots of money. Once this condition is present, the person will immediately feel a sense of happiness. After a certain period, this condition of just having money is no longer the main factor for his happiness. He will have to seek new factors to experience new happiness, like having a new house, new cars, and other things. Once these are fulfilled, the law of diminishing returns sets in. These conditions which previously generate lots of happiness are now stale. If no new conditions are satisfied, then the person will no longer experience the happiness again. In short, "happiness" is a "conditioned" experience. Without the prerequisite condition, happiness will not appear. The Buddha warned that all conditioned things are transient, they cannot last forever. Anyone who seeks or chases after happiness will be very disappointed in the end. However, this does not mean that a person should not be happy when conditions are right. The warning is that at any time these happy conditions may change. To an uninitiated person the absence of such happy conditions or the presence of negative conditions will trigger a state of unhappiness. The wise Buddhist approach to life is to be contented with the things we have, be happy when conditions are right, and be careful when conditions are not right. We have to ride through the waves of living conditions, the ups and the downs. In so doing, we live a guarded contented life. Since happiness is a conditioned state of mind, we cannot be happy if sad events occur. To be happy when our loved one dies is madness.

Now coming back to "love". The Buddhist context of "love" is "compassionate" love.
First let me comment on Buddhist compassionate love. The dictionary defines it as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it". It is love without conditions. Another term is spiritual love or universal love. There is nothing to do with whether you like the person or not. You still can show compassionate love to the person even though you do not like him.

But if we talk about love for oneself, then we have to be very careful with its interpretation. The person cannot love himself and be happy acknowledging that he is ugly, stupid and down trodden. To have this sort of misinterpreted understanding of love and happiness will be very catastrophic for the person's life! He will not be able to make it. The more appropriate approach is to come to terms with the given conditions with guarded acceptance of the present realities confronting the person. With this acceptance of the realities of the present conditions, the person will not feel as bad as before. Then from this realization and acceptance, the person should embark on a mission to improve himself. With this mindset, he will see himself in a new perspective of self-worth and not a failure. Unfortunately, from my experience, Buddhist writers are not as eloquent as the American motivation gurus when describing self-worth and self-improvement. Read any good book by any of these American motivation gurus and you will get the perfect picture. Strangely enough, these people most probably do not know any Buddhist teachings, but what they write are universal truths as taught by the Buddha himself 2500 years ago!!

Hope my comments do not add to the confusion. Please come back if you need further clarification.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don't Be A Zombie

Question (Unedited) :
My question is about how to live life without being attached. I am very drawn to the doctrine of non-attachment as I recognize that I am overly emotionally attached to my opinions about everything and that it causes me no end of anxiety problems. I am still dogged by searching for something to be and something to do with my life that will be meaningful. But I sense that 'meaningfulness' could lead to attachment. I also struggle with motivation. So I guess that my question is: what is my life for if I am not to be attached to anything in it?

My comment:
Hi J,

Thank you for asking me.

Your last question first:
"what is my life for if I am not to be attached to anything in it?"
Answer: Your life will be like a Zombie!!
My personal feeling is that we must live a "moderate" lifestyle, unless we want be monks. Under normal circumstances, we will have a certain degree of likes and dislikes. It is a matter of conducting our lives with a bit of wisdom. There will be occasions which make us happy; and others which make us unhappy. It is part and parcel of life. The most important lesson is to understand the first Noble Truth of "Unsatisfactoriness" or "Imperfection". We may have certain attachment to various things at various times. When conditions are favourable to us, we derive happiness from these attachments. And surely, when conditions are unfavourable, we experience unhappiness. Our opposing feelings reflecting both conditions are due to our association with worldly affairs. So long as we live in this world, we cannot escape from this scenario. The next best thing to do is to "wise-up" our outlook to life. Do not be "TOO ATTACHED" to things. Be ready to "LET GO" of these attachments if need be. Nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change. When we can SEE this bigger picture of life, then we are willing to ACCEPT the inevitable. We can then "LET GO" of that which we cannot hold forever. Then we no longer have any problem due to "attachment".
The problem in life is not so much of attachment. The real problem is our inability to let-go of the attachment when conditions dictate that we should. It is just like the "angry young man". But when we come to terms with reality, it is just like growing old and becoming more mellow; life becomes more peaceful.
Smile from justinchoo :-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Health Is The Greatest Gain

I find this quote very pertinent, especially when one's age is catching up.  Without good health, everything is lost! That is why the Buddha said, "Health is the greatest gain."  

Please take very good care of your body.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gay and Buddhism


Question : (Unedited)

HI, I am gay and a nicherin Buddhist and have been having a great deal of trouble as late.I am being harassed at work and everywhere i go with heterosexual sexual literature. in my e-mail at work wtih people looking at hetero videos and one particular member of the group who thinks that i should change my sexual orientation. This sucks. Genetics! thats why i am born gay.This person keeps telling me that my guides say that you are suppossed to be straight. If anyone would want to have an unhappy life i think that to try to harras someone into changing their sexual orientation is foolish and this crazy. I want to give up this practice just because of this. This is the same thing that i always experinced throught out societies. Gay are considered second class people . So the Buddhist are just a prejudiced as the nonbuddist or is it just this sect.

My comment:

Hi A,

Thank you for asking me. This subject is a very controversial and sensitive one. My comment will also surely be treated as such. In the final analysis, one must use one's common sense and human intelligence to think, analyze, and decide for oneself. Throughout history, societies have always wanted to play "God" and impose "moral" judgement on others who do not "behave" like them; not that their moral codes are necessarily correct. The Buddha did not introduce any "new" or "special" moral standard for his followers, but advised them to think and analyze by using their human intelligence and just plain common sense. We do not have to depend on any "super power" or anyone for that matter to teach us what is generally right or wrong; for example; stealing, killing, and telling lies. Likewise we don't have to succumb to others' opinions about our own private lives. There are actually only three simple rules which we need to consider for everything:
1. Is the action harmful to oneself?
2. Is the action harmful to others?
3. Is the action beneficial?

The Buddhist perspective of life is that this "being" consists of the physical body and the mind. The existence of this being 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. In this sense, you can consider that evil mental energies will seek out conditions that favour such existence (and vise versa). This also applies to one's sexual orientation. Although genes play a great part in one's character, the mind if properly trained will be able to counter the bad effects of bad genes. As for your case, a properly trained mind with clear understanding will be able to counter the adverse effects of "differing" sexual orientation. In my personal layman opinion, your condition is purely sexual and physical. Let not this "differing" condition affect your mind as well. Our mind is very powerful. But just like fire, it works both ways. Practise the pristine teachings of the Buddha. As for those people in your group, they are mere mortals like you and me. We all have our prejudices due to our mental "blindness" which we are unable to see the real picture of life and existence. You have a choice whether or not to continue to associate with such people.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Question: (Unedited)
what are the method and duration of fasting in buddhism?
I know that they keep fast after noon but when do they break their fast and when are they allowed to eat their meal (between sunrise and noon?)
What is their method of fasting?

My comment: Hi B,
Actually it is not so much about "fasting". It is more on "refraining" from taking food. There is a subtle difference in that "fasting" means refusing to take food. Whereas, "refraining" means not to succumb to temptation to taking food unnecessarily.
Monks and nuns have their food in the morning before 12 noon. The rest of the day, they refrain from taking solid food. There isn't any "method of fasting". They eat before noon. That's all.
On a lighter note; the dietician say you are what you eat. The fashion designer will say you are what you wear. And the beautician will insist that you are what you put on your face! The Buddha said you are what you think!

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