Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cross-Breed Beings

There are not just six types of beings in Samsara but exists cross-breeds. Actually I am not sure whether I should call it "cross-breed", or "hybrid" or "interbreed" beings. Anyway, it means you're "half of this, and half of that". These are some that I can think of. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

Any half-god, half-asura? There probably are inter-marriages in heaven too between a god and an asura. According to some believes, the Yakshas are said to be half-god, half-demon. Some Yaksha's are dharma protectors too and... of course, they appear fierce.

Hercules - said to be the result of an intimate moment between Zeus (the Greek God) and a human woman. The other son of Zeus is said to be Perseus (featured in the movie "Clash of the Titans").

Some of the Gods worshiped by the Chinese are probably in this category?

Er Lang’s dog. The Hindu god Ganesha is regarded as in the god category but what about nagas (dragon gods)? And some of the other animals found in the heavens.

According to Buddhism, King Yama is actually in the god category but he is in charge of those suffering in hell.

Is Adolf Hitler in this category? Basically humans that like to wage wars. Or, those rare kind-hearted asuras. In the anime world of InuYasha, there are fictional asuras that marry humans and produce "half-demon, half-human"s.

These are either ghosts that enjoy vast wealth and followers and terrorise on others. Or, these are the worst of the asuras who are tormented by some suffering.

Vampires and draculas? Medusa?

Those evil-looking demons that torture the hell-dwellers.

Sometimes they appear as humans and sometimes ghosts. The local Malay folks have what is called "Orang minyak", "Orang bunian" (said to be elves-like spirits), and probably some of the other local ghosts.

Werewolves. What do you call that half-man, half-horse that we read in Greek mythology? Ah...its called Centaurs. According to wikipedia, in Hindism, the Gandharvas are said to be half-spirit (god or ghost? Probably god), and half-horse or half-bird. If this is true then they are similar to the Greek centaurs. But in Buddhism, Gandharvas are in the lowest god category. They are heavenly musicians.

Probably those very tortured and tormented of humans that we see such as Africa, India and other places.

Have you not heard of cat spirit, spider spirit and other animal spirits?

These are probably those very tormented ghosts. I am not sure to out the horse-head and bull-head hell guardian in this category or Animal/Hell-being category.

Those wild animals dwelling in hell that eats and terrorise other hell-dwellers.

Now, what about aliens from other planets, if any? LOL! I wouldn't know. What do you think?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods, Buddhism and The Jade Emperor

About Tiger Wood's public confessions and announcement that he is a Buddhist (check out the many news on his recent public apology such as this one, I certainly welcome him with open arms. But as expressed by others too in the news media, I also hoped that it was not a publicity stunt and that he really is serious in returning to his Buddhist roots. Also, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama correctly pointed out, it doesnot need to be Buddhism to deal with sexual infedelity. You only need self-disclipline. Tiger Woods was quoted as saying that he only practices bits and pieces of the religion. In other news article it was said that he doesnot believe that humans are capable of achieving enlightenment. Well, I think therein lies the problem. He probably need a good master who can tell him that it is due to the human (and other sentient beings as well) weakness that enlightenment is possible. Not the other way as Tiger Woods thought. You can't practice bits and pieces selectively and then hope to understand and improve yourself. This is due to those problems that you are actually having, you probably will not be selecting their corresponding antidote teachings. So you will continue to sink deeper and deeper into the problem and you wouldn't realise it until its too late. That was what I think happened to Tiger Woods. That's because he was not practising those teachings that ask him to curb his desires. However, apparently he has realised his mistakes now, so I wish Tiger Woods well and hope that he is able to accomplish his aims.

O - one more thing. About Fox's Brit Hume advice to Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity, it just shows how Christians like him are always seeking ways to convert people even though they show ignorance in understanding Buddhism. Buddhism may not have anyone to forgive our negative actions, but we have something even better than someone to forgive. In Fact, having someoen to forgive us is really of not much use. That's because we will always have the tendency to go back to our bad ways if the causes of the bad ways are nto dealt with. In Buddhism, we deal with the causes of our bad actions. In Tiger's case, he has to deal with his craving for sexual desires. In Buddhism, there is even the possibility of uprooting completely any unwholesome sexual desires so that infidelity does not happen again. So I'll say that we ignore Brit Hume's ignorant advice.

Because of his announcement and His Holiness' current visit to the US and meeting with President Obama, Buddhism has received much scrutiny by the world at large. Usually when this happens, other people from other religions may become jealous and start to focus their gospel activities towards the Buddhists. So we must be particularly aware of this.

Sarwam Mangalam! Today also coincides with the Birthday of the Jade Emperor according to chinese calendar. In Chinese culture, the Jade Emperor is the emperpr in charge of all the gods in heaven. As such, he is conceptually equivalent to Lord Sakra in Buddhism. So, here's wishing him a big "HAPPY BIRHDAY". Hope he will continue to support and spread the Buddha dharma.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Trip to Tibet is in Jeopardy

Sometimes having more money does come in handy. For example, it wouldn't have been such a problem for me to decide whether to go to Tibet on a pilgrimage this June or not. It is because I have limited funds that I may not be able to go. The cost of the land cost is said to be US$2250 and the cost of the Chengdu-Lhasa-Chengdu another US$465. The plane from my home town to KL and to Chengdu is expected to be around US$260 assuming I manage to book the low cost flights. Then there is the additional US$350 that I have to pay for having to stay in a single room (being the last one to join; the rest have been paired with a roommate). And what about donations to monasteries and tips to carriers (I was told to set aside US$150 for this) along the way plus the 10 meals that are not included in the package (say, US$50) and the souvenirs we will be buying (US$150)? What about the Chinese visa entry said to be about US$150? Let's say travel insurance costs US$100 and the other personal stuff that I need to bring there say costs US$150. All in all, the total will be at least US$4,075. Rounding it to US$4,000, I means I need to set aside at least RM14k at the current exchange rate. And this amount is on the conservative side. It will very likely be RM15k.

This amount is way beyond my budget. Hence I don't think this trip will be possible...unless my financial circumstances suddenly improve or someone decide to sponsor my trip (which is highly unlikely). And I donot wish to spend that kind of sum on myself and having to cut down on another budget that I have set aside for my family on something that I have been said to have postponed and postponed year after year. I do not want to make my family sad or end up quarrelling with any of them if I go to Tibet and resulting in having to quarrel about money. You get what I mean? I donot want to be like one guy (whom I donot know) in e-sangha who signed up for a 3-year retreat but end up having to literarily "beg" for sponsors. I did contribute to him some money because I wanted to create positive connections for my future retreats. I hoped to have the karma (including being financially adequate) to join long retreats in the future. I donot wish to be indebted to people by collecting sponsors for own personal matters.

So this is a sad blog post for me. Well, looks like I have to shelve my own personal interest for others' again. Hey, isn't that a good thing? So I'll say this is a happy post. Or, is it happy and sad post? Or neither happy nor sad? What am I saying? LOL! Anyway, I will pray for better karma next time. Hopefully I will create some... !

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For the Benefit of the Dragon Boat Victims

For the benefit of the six victims of the Penang Chung Ling High School 5 students and one teacher who drowned in January last year off the coast of Penang island, I have used my own money and donated to the Festival of Lights and Merits. The money will be used to offer lights to the Maha Bodhi Stupa at Bodhgaya and arranged for the merits to be dedicated to them. Today is the first day of the Day of Miracles and it coincide with the Tibetan and Chinese New Year. It is believed that whatever good deeds we perform during the days of miracle will be multiplied many millions of times. Similarly, for any negative deeds done.

Hence I take this opportunity to dedicated the merits to these 6 victims and take it my personal responsibility to rescue them from the lower realms. Why do I say so? Well, it is difficult to say but I had a feeling once upon waking up one morning several weeks ago that at least one victim had been reborn as a fish and another as a ghost. I am putting myself as if I was their parent... and if they were my sons and if I know they had been reborn as a fish, wouldn't I do something to help? Anyway, even though I am no bodhisattva, but there are things I can still do as a normal human to help sentient beings - death or alive. I am also preparing myself for the role of a major bodhisattva later. Therefore I cannot pass the responsibility to others even if I donot know any of the victims personally. None of them are my friends. But you can shoulder it too if you want to, after reading the blog.

If people only take death as a normal phenomena and don't care about where they are being reborn into, and don't do anything about it, then as mentioned in Berzin Archives, when you achieve enlightenment, you may achieve only the state of "Arhatship" whereby you only liberate yourself and unable to have the strong motivation to "get up" to help others. Your actions now determines what seeds you are planting later for enlightenment -whether it is "Arhatship" seed or "Bodhisattvaship" seed. From what I understand, we could actually be practising the Mahayana path of Bodhisattvas, but if we lack the motivation to actually get up and help beings, we could possibly get so stucked-up during our attainment of bliss-emptiness stage that we downplay on conventional reality and not be motivated enough to leave our blissful state to help sentient beings. So, even though we think we may be walking in the Bodhisattva path by practising Mahayana Buddhism, but in the end we end up in the "Arhatship" path. I put in inverted commas because what is meant here is the theoritical believe that Arhats gets so stucked up in their blissful state that they are not so motivated to help sentient beings. Of course, in reality, the actual Arhats may not be like that. Same with people who are in the Arhatship path. Due to strong compassion, they could actually be walking in the Bodhisattva path. So, we are only talking about the spirit of compassion here, whereby we understand that the difference between the so-called "Arhatship" and "Bodhisattva" paths are not so much the outer practices and geographical demographics or culture, but what happens inside us. It's there somewhere in Alexander Berzin's website. Check it up.

So, I am taking the advice by the Lam Rim masters to take on the personal responsibility to liberate all sentient beings, starting with this small donation for lights to be offered at the Maha Bodhi Stupa at Bodhgaya. The names of the six victims are as follows, in case you want to dedicate merits for them during this Days of Miracles. You can go to or other sites or do other actions. It doesnot have to be this one that I am doing.

1. Chin Aik Siang
2. Goh Yi Zhang
3. Cheah Zi Jun
4. Brendon Yeoh Yuen Khye
5. Wang Yong Xiang
6. Jason Ch’ng Wai Seong

I will end with this verse from the short Lam Rim verse:

Led by this pure thought,
Mindfulness, alertness, and great caution arise.
The root of the teachings is keeping the pratimoksha vows:
Please bless me to accomplish this essential practice.
Just as I have fallen into the sea of samsara,
So have all mother migratory beigns.
Please bless me to see this, train in supreme bodhicitta,
And bear the responsibility of freeing migratory beings.

By doing this I also hope to dedicate this pure act to the long life of Kyabje Lama Zopa who is in Singapore now and other Gurus too. I am not able to go as I am saving my leave hopefully to go to Tibet later in the year. By this pure act may all my Gurus' holy wishes be fulfilled. May all my spiritual wishes relating to my practice be fulfilled too!

The Economics of Greed

If Buddhist leaders themselves are not able to reduce their greed, what do you expect from others with no dharma knowledge? Why do you think our world now is facing so much problems and as we know, cancer and other illnesses seem to be on the rise. More and more people are getting sick. And it is not surprising considering there is so much greed in society. This greed is even more pronounced during the festive season. They take the opportunity to increase the selling prices just because it’s chinese new year even though there is no increase in the price of their raw materials. The Ang Ku kuih (a type of local cake used for prayers) that used to cost 80sen, is now 90sen. Drinks are also increasing. And so are other goods and services. Even barbers charge for cutting hair by an extra RM1 to RM2. When raw material prices increase by 10%, they increased their prices by 20-30% or more. But when prices drop, do they drop their prices too? No. If this is not greed, what is? This is ridiculous. It is pure greed and eventually they are going to suffer the consequences of their own actions. Many people have resigned to the fact that this is due to economics, i.e. supply and demand. Well, yes, it’s the economics of greed!

Even without the GST (Goods and Services Tax) scheme, there is so much greed and cheating and fraud being committed, with the introduction of the GST scheme next year, the scenario may be worse. Buddhist leaders and businessmen (women included) must not be stupid. The positions Buddhist leaders hold are not theirs forever. Business people cannot expect to reap obscene profits all the time. When karma ripens, you will be held accountable to your own actions. That’s for sure. When cancer strikes or tragedy strikes your family, you go crawling to the Buddhas for help and mercy. When death approaches, and you start to see the fires of hell burning, cancer will seem a minor problem to you comparatively. Think about what I wrote in my poem seriously – “Greed –drenched soul".

Friday, February 12, 2010

Celebrating with Buddha

Harapan Suci Menjelang Perayaan

Awan putih berarak di angkasa
Burung bangau bertengek di atas pokok
Mentari pun dah tinggi di langit.
Aku lihat sekalian insan,
Sibuk –
Sibuk ini,
Sibuk itu,
Dari pagi sampai malam
Ketandusan rehat
Kehausan wang.
Bermandikan hawa-nafsu,
Mengejar kebendaan tak terhenti-henti.
Alangkah dahsyatnya kalau mati tiba-tiba
Mimpi tak tercapai
Kesengsaraan melaut-lebar.
Aduhai insan-insan,
Rehat-lah di sini -
Di taman harapan (note 1)
Minda yang suci.
Usah sibuk-sibuk.
Duduklah bersama-sama aku (note 2)
Di bawah pohon yang dingin ini
Menikmati kesucian alam semesta
Memuji kesempurnaan di sebalik rupa.

O-Yang Amat Berahmat,
Bila-lah nak menjemput murid ini -
Murid yang tidak seberapa ini,
Untuk beraya dengan-Mu
Pada malam Tahun Baru Cina (note 3)
Bersama gumpalan awan di langit? (note 4)

Indahnya kalau doa ini

“Gong Xi Fa Cai!”

1. "Taman harapan" refers to the serene, undisturbed mind free from elaborations (Minda suci).
2. "duduk bersama" refers to resting the mind in meditative concentration.
3. it can also be written as "Pada malam bulan purnama"). Hence, it can also be interpreted as the Buddha advising the people to come sit with him in meditation under the Bodhi tree.

4. "Gumpalan awan di langit" doesnot refer to the clouds. Rather it is referring to the blissful mind of the Enlightened One.

This Malay poem was originally written for another celebration. But now, after substituting some of the words, it has become a poem for celebrating the chinese lunar new year with the Buddha in his Pure Land. :) It can also be written so that it is like the Buddha sitting under the bodhi tree and exhorting people to come sit with him. (added in on May 9, 2010)

The English translation:-

Garden of Hope (note i)
White clouds marching through the sky
Egrets perching on trees
The noon sun scorching from above.
I see all human beings,
Busy -
Busy with this,
Busy with that,
From morning till night
Never resting
Forever lacking,
Drenched with greed,
Pursuing wealth non-stop.
Alas, how tragic if death suddenly occurs!
Unachieved dream
And suffering wide as the sea.
Hear Ye, humans,
Rest here -
In this garden of hope
A pure mind.
Do not be forever busy.
Sit with me
Under the tree that is cool
Enjoy the purity of the universe
Praise of perfection behind the appearance.

O - Blessed One,
When can You invite this disciple-
Who has nothing much,
To celebrate with You
Among the high clouds
On this Lunar New Year? (note ii)

How wonderful if this prayer
Is achieved!

note i: I have titled it differently than the Malay title.
note ii: It can also be written as "On this full moon night?"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Purification of Suffering?

Whenever an obstacle strikes, some Buddhists comfort themselves or others by saying that it is a purification of suffering. I myself have heard these words coming out from Buddhist friends. They like to say, "rejoice!'s purification!". At first I thought that these people are merely trying to give a positive outlook to an otherwise negative situation, but later I realised that these people really believed that it is a purification. Two fridays ago I found out that this is not so. Most negative situations encountered are really just obstacles or sufferings. The teaching I heard it from explained that it is NOT a purification unless at the time of experiencing it, you apply the four opponent powers. If so, then those people who believed that the sufferings they encounter are purifications and that they should rejoice, are merely fooling themselves.

But then... you wouldn't want to make people feel even worse when they are already feeling bad, do you? I guess it's better to just say, "you can turn it into a purification if you apply the 4 opponent powers." If he/she doesnot know what it is, you need to explain these are Regret, Reliance, Remedy and Resolve. Or, you may use other methods to ease the person's pain/suffering...such as relying on the power of mantras or deities' blessings.

added on 8.2.10
When we suffer due to karma from the past, it does mean that at least that amount of karma has reduced and hence we are suffering the effects of it now. However, as I heard during the teaching recently, very often we create even more new karma while suffering the effects of that previous karma. So, the net effect is our karma is not rduced at all, but in fact increase even more. In that way, we are caught in the vicious cycle of karmic causes and condition again and again. I heard this during a teaching on the Bodhisattvacaryavatara, chapter 4. We will not escape until we stop identifying with this "I". That's when we have some hope of breaking the vicious karmic cycle. I suppose the point to learn from this is to realise that Ripening of Karma does not equal to Purification of Karma. We must know the difference between these two and the characteristic of karma. There is also the different types of karma such as the one called, "immutable karma".

There are many sources that we can elarn about karma, one source is this link: -

I am writing this so that I won't forget about it, and it is something new I have not heard before. Moreover I want to share it with others here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome, Tiger! Welcome, Bubbles!

According to fengshui masters, today is the official start of the year of the tiger. But it is not the commencement of the new Chinese calendar yet. The official Chinese calendar only starts on Feb. 14th. Chinese only celebrate the new year on Feb. 14th, not today.

Along with the commencement of the tiger year, also comes a pleasant surprise this morning. My wife grabbed me by the hand and told me to see “something” and she was looking at the seven small glass bowls on my table (which also acts as an offering table) just in front of the urn of Dorje Khadro. Behind the bowls I hang the thangka of Je Tsongkhapa and Arya Maitreya. What’s the surprise? Well, the “bubbles” (I call them “water tig-les”) return.

This was a pleasant surprise because 4 days ago, the first signs of the bubbles had appeared in my main altar, where I placed the bigger bowls. But the bubbles did not appear in every bowl as the first 3 times, and only one or two bubbles in those that had them. Hence I was not that excited over this appearance. Nevertheless I did not disturb these bowls and got out another set of smaller bowls to be placed in front of the main bowls. The next day, to my surprise, there had appeared at least one bubble in each of these bowls, except one. These bubbles looked different from the ones in the bigger bowls, in the sense that some of these bubbles seem to have a white substance underneath. They looked like “eggs” actually. In these smaller bowls, one of them did not have any bubble and I did make a comment something along these line “how come you did not have any bubbles”. With all these small and big bowls having bubbles in them, I got out a third set of tiny glass bowls to be used to make water bowl offerings. To my astonishment, on the third day (yesterday) I found one bubble had appeared there. Gosh, had “they” listened to me or what…although I am not sure who I am referring to by “they”. For the 3rd and 4th day, I had been using the small crystal bowls without any bubbles appearing.

But today, the bubbles manifested in full force in all seven bowls. It wasn’t one or two that had appeared in the other bowls mentioned. The bubbles are tinier and because of the glass bowl, they shimmer and shine like little diamonds in the water. They seriously look beautiful in all seven bowls. I tried to take some pictures of them but I found it difficult because of the lights and reflections from the glass bowls. I am not expert in using cameras, and I am only using an automatic camera. I can only point and shoot. The photos did not turn out good. I am really bewildered at these strange phenomena. The bubbles just come and go as they please.

Anyway, I wish to welcome the Year of the Tiger as well as the "bubbles" (whatever they are)!

Cheers! May all be auspicious!

edited at 11.45pm 4 Feb 2010:
I changed my big bowls after ensuring all the small one or two bubbles had disappeared. After cleaning the bowls, and wiping each with a clean tissue paper, and changing the water, I put these bowls back on my altar. Few minutes ago, as I walked to my altar to switch off the lights before I go to sleep, I saw the bubbles in all the bowls. And this time, it is not just one or two. There were plenty of those tiny bubbles in each bowls, almost as many as the first time they appeared in October 2008. So now not only my glass bowls have those bubbles, but also my big bowls and also the smallest bowls on my altar. Tomorrow I would need to get new bowls for my water bowl offering. Immediately I lit up an incense stick and offered it to these "bubbles". They really appear in a big way this time. To celebrate the coming of spring? Hahahaha...!! Someone in a previous comment in this blog said that he has heard that these are possibly sentient beings. If so, then may they all be liberated!

edited on 11.20pm 8.2.10
I bought new pastic disposable cups for the water bowl offerings last Friday. On Saturday 6.2.10, nothing appeared. But on Sunday a few bubbles (at least one) appeared inside every cup. So, I put up new plastic cups. Today I came back from work wanting to change water, but I found many many tiny bubbles in each of the cups. The ones that appeared in my metal big bowls are slowly disappearing but it looks like they have "jumped ship" to the plastic ones. :)

edited 30.5.10
One bubble each appeared in 2 of the 7 water bowls today.

edited 20.6.10
Do you remember the strange tiny bubbles that appeared in my water bowls at my home altar? Well, last week I went to KL and stayed at a hotel in the city. I was down there to meet with Lama Zopa Rinpoche and also to spent the few days as a retreat. It did not turn out to be much of a retreat but the strange thing that happened was the tiny bubbles appeared for 2 consecutive days (14 & 15th evening June 2010) in the water bowls that I offered at the hotel room. On the 3rd evening, they did not appear anymore.Previously, there was a reader who asked if it was perhaps due to some chemical in my water or my home environment. With this latest appearance, there's now no doubt they were not due to my home environment. And certainly not due to any special thing in the water that flows to my home. And it was not due to the stainless steel bowls that contain the water either. The ones I used in the hotel on the first day of appearance were more likely made of aluminium to me. The next day, I used bowls made of clay and the bubbles still appeared. I then offered the extra cup of water using the plastic cup provided by the hotel as an offering. To my surprise, even that one appeared many little bubbles. But the fact that they did not appear on the 3rd evening showed that it was not due to the water from the hotel either. So, what were their appearance due to? They seems to be following me and appear as and when they wish. Strange. I usually do not disturb these bubbles and leave it untouched until they disappeared naturally. But when I checked out of the hotel, there was no way I could that all those bowls back without a special container that would hold those bowls and yet not spill the water when I am in the bus. Hence I had to clear the bowls and had to invite the bubbles back to my home town with me. Here's some pictures I took. You may need to click at the pic to view the enlarged image. The bubbles in the clay bowls are not that clear. This is partly due to the colour of the clay. But one of the bubbles in one clay bowl partially hidden can be seen clearly at one of the images. I am not an expert in taking pictures and do not know how to adjust to capure the bubbles properly. It may also be due to my limited camera functions.

edited 30.6.10
During my trip to Ipoh, the bubbles appeared in the water bowls at the Hotel Excelsior where i stayed. The next day, they disappeared. I don't need to pack them back like those in KL... except for those that appeared in a mineral water bottle. I took them back, a lot of them vanished during the journey, but some came back once I reached home.

edited 22,23,25.7.2010
one bubble appeared in the steel bowl (22/7), and the next day, one each on two steel bowls, and on 25/7, one appeared in the plastic cup.

edited 8.10.10 (1st day 9th lunar month)
Tiny bubbles appear on this auspicious day. But they disappeard quickly within 2 days. Before that one or 2 bubbles have been apeparing in one or 2 of the bowls (plastic and the stainless steel type). Today I came to knwo that the drinking water bottles my wife puts on the side table also has some bubbles in them. But these were meant for drinking, not for offering). Not sure why the bubbls appear inside them.

edited 11-12.11.10
small micro bubbles appear in the bowls on the altar on 11.11.10 but hey disappear the next morning...only to appear again the enxt day. And disappear again by the enxt morning.

edited 13.11.10
small balls of sticky substances appear in the smaller aluminium bowls that I used in replace of the steel bowls. I am still perplexed as to what they are. One appears on each bowl, but some bowls have two.

edited 9.5.2011
The sticky substance appeared in the small aluminium bowls in front of my standiung baby Buddha and Dzambala statues. Started apeparing probably around 3 May 2011 in stages. 

edited 4.6.2011
The bubbles came again on night of 23.5.2011 (Tuesday) and my wife saw it on the next morning before work. I saw them only at night. The bubbles were smaller in size and less in number but still scattered as before, especially in 5 out of the 7 main bowls. The other 2 were older "water" waiting for the one or two tiny bubbles to disappear. The sticky substances appear sometimes these past few weeks in the smaller aluminium bowls.   

edited 15.3.2012
After a long absence, the tiny bubbles came again in abundance in all 7 bowls. I noticed them about 9.10pm just as I was watching "Journey to the West" TV series. There is now an 8th bowl which I placed in front of Dzambala at a side table, slightly away from the other water bowls at the main altar. The bubbles also appear there. Strange!