Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Vesak 2010


...Lian 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sawadee-Kar ...Thailand

As we moved into the holy week of Vesak, the political situation in Thailand worsen. Countries around the world scrutinize this upheaval but there is nothing they can do.

I stayed and worked in Thailand before. I love this country, the people, the food and the culture. Although there are class differences in this country but it is the 'not so class' that makes the mass. I love the people I met on the streets when I asked for directions, they were so helpful. It is not so difficult because most do speak English or we can also get by with a few Thai words.

The food is fantastic and I ate around the road sides which we are not able to find in clean Singapore. Although I know that it is not healthy with all the pollutions, dust, fumes etc. but since I am out of Singapore, I decided I want to be rebellious. I allowed my immune system to rough it out. Other than a few 'bad stomach' incidents, I am still intact. The incidents were not because of bad food but because I over test my limit of ‘spicy’ level.

As I watched this beautiful country going into chaos, it saddens me. Thailand loves their King and what he said is well honored and respected. As I watch his frail body and seeing him on a wheelchair, I realized that is maybe the reason why he is quiet over this violence. Thailand loves the King but they are fighting for what they believe in, at no cost, even with their lives and will what the King says now affect their change of mind? I believe such movements and hurts that the citizens suffer pain the King’s heart as well. I have watch how the Thai people respect the King, Queen and the Royal Princess. I saw how much effort the Royal family put in to help the agriculture and people of the country. I love the Queen’s project at Narathiwat, all those beautiful hand-woven baskets and because of religion clashes, I am not able to see them in my regular shop anymore.

I was in Bangkok end last year despite friends said better not go because if they close the airport when violence breaks out, we will be stranded. I still want to do my yearly pilgrimage to Thailand…it is always Loykatong time. I will travel a week before the festival to provinces like Saratburi, Suphan Buri, Buriram, Kolak , Loburi and Ayutthaya. I always ended my tour at Wat Tong at Saraburi because my Luangpo is a monk here although he resides in Singapore now spreading the Dharma.

I read the papers, the internet and saw pictures of the breakage of violence with the shooting and killing of a general, when will all this end? I am sure the country’s economy suffers and people too. What are they fighting for…’’The Return of ….”or they are fighting for better livelihood? What is all this red shirt and yellow shirt…they are fighting for someone’s else political power?

It is humane in nature. We cannot be complacent for too long. It only takes someone to fan all the pent up frustrations and the fire will roar burning everyone and everything as it goes. In the end…? The Chinese saying “ When something turned into 3ft of ice, it did not happen in a day”.

Today I saw in the papers that CentralWorld was burnt down because the mob threw bombs into the building. People have stood so low that they do not care about taking others lives. I love the supermarket in CentralWorld and also its food court, what a waste.

Thailand is a beautiful country and I pray that peace comes back quickly for them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stay focus...

Buddha attained Enlightenment during meditation. Therefore it is crucial that we meditate. It is during meditation that we are able to see the activities of our mind. We can only do so when we are focus and once we do, we are able to tame it. The ability to stay focus is called “awareness”.

There are many ways to meditation and many subjects to meditate on. In my earlier years I took meditation under a Master. He was a very good guide. He took me from concentrating to a point on my nose to enter into the various stages of Jhana. It is something I never thought I could achieved. He pointed out that we should be mindful when we enter into Jhana. When we get too engrossed in the bliss of each stage, we will be caught up in desire. During meditation people said they saw lights, Buddhas, Bodhisattva and frightening images. These are tricks played by the mind. The mind is able to manifest things of desire as well as things that you are afraid off.

Not every one is able to concentrate. For some, the time of concentration is very short but the more discipline ones, they can sit for hours or days. Some guys friends said that they find it difficult to sit as their crossed legs were painful and thus lost focus. Some said they have visions of all the lustful “applications” that they find it disturbing and felt that it is wrong. Others, their mind flickers around like monkey. I am amazed how our mind changes “channels” faster than we say “ABC”.

All the thoughts that came to our mind are the activities that we performed daily and throughout many life times. Do not say that you will not remember what you have said about another persons, or the bad you have done to another person, or some secrets which you do not like others to know and will forget after some time… it is not true, it will return to haunt you for sure.

For different type of people, the meditation subjects varies. For a starter, it is Breathing. It is focusing the taking of air into one nostril and come out by the other nostril. Just keep your mind on it. I guarantee that your mind will stray, it’s OK…just come back once you realized that you have ‘gone’ off to somewhere else. Keep on it and nothing can be achieved without perseverance. Once you are able to tame your mind, you can move on to other topics like Rising and Falling; Cause and Effect; Walking or Sensory feelings that you have with your 5 Senses or simply watch the mind.

There are many gurus on the nets telling you how you can meditate or what you should meditate. To me is simply be aware of what you are doing. If you speak cheerfully, note it; if you become angry, note it…simply note what is going on without being judgemental. Be aware so that you do not create further negative Karma for yourself. The Mind is like a child, once the Mind knows that you are watching her, she will quiet down and behave. As time goes by, you will be able to control your mind more and more.

Whether you are praying silently, chanting loudly, bowing full body on the ground, sitting cross-legged, walking, talking, sleeping…it all boiled down to being aware of yourself and your surrounding. Note that nothing is permanent. Things change every minutes and so is our mind. The true nature of oneself is actually as it is. No need to think of the past, what will happen the next minute or what will the future be. Live NOW.

I will not go into details on step to step meditation. However I learnt one thing for sure…Taming the Mind…is not an easy task. Do not be fooled by others who look composed, or people who said they are so good and they can see Buddha etc. These are misleading and that is not our ultimate goal…our ultimate goal is Enlightenment and not physic power which come naturally to one if one purifies one’s mind.

May those who are searching for Enlightenment achieve it for the benefits of all Sentient Beings.

Happy Vesak 2010.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Holy week...SAGA DAWA

Once again it is into the month of May where Buddhists all over the world will celebrate Vesak Day,

To Tibetans Buddhists, 27th May is known as Saga Dawa Day and it is the holiest time of the Tiebtan calendar. This is the time as recorded that Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment and Parnivarna. However people observed starting from New Moon (14th May) day and follow through to Full Moon (27 May) as a holy period. It is an auspicious time to do all good deeds as it multiplies by 100,000 but not forgetting that all bad deeds will have the same effect. Remember DO GOOD and DO NO EVIL, during this period and all the time too.

Many temples are gearing up for the celebrations. Prayer schedules are set, Lives releasing schedule are set, getting ready necessary offerings and getting ready candles and other items that will help people create positive merits on the day.

In Singapore, different traditions of Buddhists have their own way of celebrating. The common one will be bathing the Baby Buddha. On this day in ancient time, it was said that Lady Maya gave birth under a tree when she held on to a branch. The Baby than walked seven little steps and with each step, a lotus flower sprung to hold his little feet. On the seven steps, the Baby pointed a finger to the sky and said..."Of Heaven and Of Earth, I am the King".

Many devotees undertake vegetarian vows for this period to cleanse their negative actions. Others look forward to tasting vegetarian meals prepared by each temple which differs from each other. It is a 'makan day', a holy day for positive activities and meeting up friends and temples visiting day too.

Many years back I undertook the 'Three steps, One bow' in different temples. It is an exercise of the body and mind plus devotion to Buddha, cleansing accumulated negative karma and at the same time remember this great Teacher who showed us the way out of Samsara.

This day is also a declared World wide public holiday. Especially in the Eastern countries, this day is taken very seriously. Vesak is like Christmas to the Christian.

All great teachers have their own legend behind them. Buddhism is way before Christianity. As Buddha was born under a tree, Chris was born in a shed. Both taught Compassion and Love, however Buddha emphasized on Cause and Effect. Buddhism is about self salvation.

So on Saga Dawa week, I pray that all beings be well, be happy, be safe, be healthy and may all good deeds multiply in merits and dedicate to all Beings and the world so that there will be lesser calamities.

Happy Saga Dawa and Happy Vesak to All.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tropical Herbs...'Seven Star Needle'

Someone gave me a plant and said that the name as translated in Chinese is 'Seven Star Needle'. She told me that the leaves of this plant has medicinal value. By eating 7 pieces of the leaves, it will clear toxic in the intestine. This will relief all bad toxic and therefore avoid Cancer.

After doing some research, I realized the scientific name of this plant is Pereskia Bleo. Its flower comes in orangy red. I was given a stem to plant and after 7 months, it started to flower.

There are many herbal plants around us and we do not know them and therefore missed the chance of better health. As this plant grows by the fence, it naturally needs it as a support. However because it is a herb and it is used locally, people have been eating it and getting results from it. As I mentioned before Prevention is better than cure and it is good if you have this plant in your backyard and eat the leave occasionally or make drinks with it so that the family can also benefit.

This is how it can be taken

1) Pluck 7 pieces of leaves, wash and chew it. Do it once or twice a week (A word to pregnant women that you should not try anything as your body may not be able to take it with a baby.)

2) Pluck 7 pieces of leaves and boil it with one bowl of water until it is one cup and drink it like tea. This is good for clearing toxic in the intestine.

3) Pluck 7 pieces of leave and boil it like a soup, add pork ribs and a little salt. It is a good soup for the family.

4) Pluck 7 pieces of leave and stir fry with other vegetables.

It not only counteract Cancer, it lower blood pressure, cholesterol, migraine and many more.

I ate the leaves from this plant myself every time I do my gardening. I plucked and chewed it. It is crunchy and give out a nice smell. Since it is cactus family, the leaves are a little gummy but acceptable. However its flowers and fruits can also be eaten, cooked or raw. The needle thorns are used by Chinese Doctors to cure skin disease.

Here is some facts about this plant...

"Pereskia is a genus of about 25 tropical species and varieties of cacti that do not look much like other types of cacti, having substantial leaves and thin stems. They originate from the region between Brazil and Mexico. They can be classified as shrubs, climbing plants or slightly succulent trees.Most of the species are found in dry forests or thorny scrub, in tropical climates..."

Apparently from the net, I also found that Malaysian Doctors have recorded about the benefits of this plant. You can search by typing "Pereskia Bleo".

"Both Pereskia bleo and Pereskia grandifolia have been used as natural remedies in cancer-related diseases, either eaten raw or taken as a concoction brewed from fresh plants. Both are believed to have anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-rheumatic, anti-ulcer, and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also used as remedies for the relief of headache, gastric pain, ulcers, hemorrhoids, atopic dermatitis, and for revitalizing the body. [3],[4],[5] In Panama, the locals use the whole plant of Pereskia bleo to treat gastrointestinal problems, [6] while in India, Pereskia grandifolia is used to reduce swelling. [7],[8]"

For those reading Chinese, you can also try searching for "七星针草药".

This plant is easily found in Malaysia and Singapore. I was told that the Purple Flower Pereskia Grandifolia is also widely search for its medicinal abilities. I had one stem growing and will share the flower picture once it blooms.

Hope this article is helpful and beneficial for those reading here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Being accused...

Some years ago, a Boss told me 'Lian, you don't need friends'. I was thinking to myself why she said that. Is she having difficulties in getting friends? Or she is not able to find friends. That was back than when I did not understand the meaning of friends.

There are different types of people in the world. Some are loners, some could not keep a friend, some have friends everywhere, some wanted true friends. Being friends need good affinity. Some friends come by when you are in trouble, see you through your troubles and disappeared. Some become your friends for life.

I got a message from someone who is very special to me, someone I call friend. However I believe our friendship would have been a life time but it takes a big heart to keep a friend. A friend is not infallible, a friend is not one who will not make mistake, a friend is not one who is forever cordial and congenial, a friend is not one who dare not behave or show her feelings when she is bitten by it. A friend dare to behave like this because a friend thought that a friend would understand.

Today when I am being accused of being in the 'mood' for two to three years amused me. NO, how can the facts be so wrong?

I do not want to explain myself to her. People forget why they behave that way so the finger points at another party. It is OK. I can accept this accusation because I accepted the fact that 'nothing is forever'.

When I am down and need a ear, where are you? When I behave like an idiot, did you find out why? When I called you, you were cold. When I emailed you, you were not encouraging. When I dated you, you turned me down and I understand. Now that when I turned you down, you accused me for being in the 'mood' for two to three years now?

Did you know I need someone to listen when I decided to quit my job? Did you know I lost my dearest brother in a car accident and he died so violently a week or so ago. You did not bother to find out why I turned you down and accused me for being in the 'mood'? Yes, I am in a 'mood'...a sad mood.

Yes, you would say that 'Hey, aren't you practicing Buddhism? Why are you behaving this way?' A practising Buddhist understand impermanence and the Law of Cause and Effect. This does not mean that person is a stone without feeling and compassion. If I am not able to feel for the death of a love one, what conditions do I have to practice compassion and Bodhicitta? I do not want to show the world that I had lots of compassion for sentient beings when I cannot even feel for my lost of a brother.

I know I will need to let him go and I have to let him go. How can I make merry when I am in the mood of mourning? Therefore I think the older people are wise when they said 'You will feel pain only when the needle pricks you.'

I am sorry and I think I have the right to choose to say Yes or No to a meeting. I have the right to choose who I want to see.

Now I know why my Boss said I don't need friends. Do you know?

It is not a nice feeling for being rejected, but this is just a meeting for a meal. If you lost track with your friend and did not keep in touch for too long, you will not know what happened. Your friend will also not tell you because you are disinterested.

To people who have friends, value your friends, forgive if you think that person is worth the friendship and everything that happened is a mirror effect.

I expect too much from a friend. After 20 years, I realized I had a friend.