Saturday, October 27, 2012

Abolish the Mandatory Death Sentence

Referring to this piece of article, there was a comment to seek public consultation.

Therefore, even though I have stated my opinion before in a previous blog post, let me state my unreserved support for the abolishment of the mandatory death sentence for drug offences. I support the view that the law should not tie the hands of the judges. And it is not simply about saving Yong Vui Kong or the lives of any Malaysians, for that matter. It is about fairness to the judges and the alleged offenders. A person can and does possess the ability to repent and change him/herself for the better. He or she does not need to be sentenced to die at the first instance of offence. Give him/her a chance to change, especially drug mules. I have argued that very often they are tricked and cajoled into such offences. And very often too, they come from not very well-off family background. They often also lack education. It is the drug barons a.k.a. the drug lords who should be punished, not the young mules that they recruit. And even then, they should be given the chance too to transform themselves. You can keep them as long as possible in the prison but do not hand them the death sentence without giving them a chance to repent. I have argued in my previous blog post on this topic that the death sentence itself may be still necssary for hard offenders, who refuse to repent and transform and especially if their continued existence posed a threat to others. The death sentence should be reserved only for these repeat and stubborn criminal offenders, whereby no prisons is able to hold them. If there is a prison that can hold these people, the authorities can put them there. Yes, even if it is built in the middle of the sahara desert, where it is hot... almost like hell! Give them a taste of hell and then maybe, they can repent and truly regret their evil actions. But if we don't give them a chance, but send them to their death, they will never get the chance to experience the blessings of heaven and the spiritual goodness that all religions preach. We have to provide them the chance, but if they don't take it, that is their problem. If we don't provide the chance to them, that is our fault. It becomes our negative karma. In the future, others may also not give us a chance, even if it is just a minor mistake. Our bosses will scold us over a simple typing error, for instance. So, it is important not for us to sow such seeds of "not being given the chance to change for the better". Take the chance to lead the drug mules into a positive life, free from drugs. We can be "angels of positive transformation", instead of death punishers. For those who think abolishing the mandatory death sentence will result in more crime, well, I have suggested the authorities publicises actual life in prison environment (using actors) as well as show documentaries of criminals being whipped (with the faces hidden) on national television. Most people have never seen these punishments before and they don't feel the pain if they are not aware of it. Death is swift and immediate but suffering the whipping and shame of prison life is more unbearable. In return of abolishing the mandatory death sentence, the authorities could increase the number of whippings and increase the minimum number of years in prison. This will be the deterence.

Think about it and abolish the mandatory death sentence for drug offences. Let the judges have the freedom to decide what to punish the person after considering the weight of the offence and not tie his hands to only mete out the death sentence.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Preposterous Claims on Borobudur

 I chanced upon these articles below (and others in the internet) and this blogpost reflects my personal thoughts about this matter. You do not have to have the same opinion as mine. You should think and reflect, and then have your own opinion. The Buddha advised us to think for ourselves, not merely to follow others' thinking. In case you forget, we do have our own brains and minds. I am not trying to influence anyone. Please note that there are a series of video in youtube on this claim but it is in Bahasa Indonesia.

If you really study the logic of the claim made by this guy, any right thinking proper scholar will surely dismiss his claims as nonsense and preposterous. It is too wild a claim just to base it on similarity of the names. For example, he claimed that the word "Jawa" came from the word "Jews". Another silly logic has the name of first pronounce in prophet Solomon's name  in Malay (which is "Sulaiman"), i.e. "Su" as the origin of names of Indonesians such as the former leaders of Indonesia, i.e. Suharto and Sukarno. So, they are the descendants of prophet Solomon? Then does that mean that all the Chinese people with the family surname of "Su" or "Soo" are also his descendents? He also mentioned one place of Solomon called "Saba" and he believed it is something to do with Jawa. But I can tell him, there is a place, indeed called "Sabah" and it is the name of a state in Malaysia. It is situated in the island of Borneo. Not Jawa. His reasonings also did not take into account actual historical records written by independent voyagers from China and India to Indonesia from the 7th to the 14th century AD. Among them are Fa Hsien, Yi Jing Gunavarman, Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra, and Atisa Dipankara Srijnana. All of them recorded that Jawa was a thriving place of Buddhist knowledge and practice. The Chinese voyagers even went there to learn sanskrit before going to India to bring back the Buddhist scriptures. All these are factual historical evidence ignored by this muslim scholar. The scholar also claimed that the statues in Borobudur are not modelled after the Buddha but are those of the prophet Solomon himself, who he claimed had curly hair. Obviously he does not know anything about the Buddha and why the Buddha's image has those tiny curly hair. Moreover, if these statues are modelled after Solomon, why aren't those Bamiyan statues not? And what about the different hand mudras of the Buddha? Solomon also had those hand mudras? 

He also took one picture/relief in the site and related it to prophet Solomon. If we study the Borobudur, we will know that the reliefs show the life of the historical Buddha and his previous lives(based on the Lalitavistara and Jatakamala), and they also tell the story of Sudhana's journey to Enlightenment according to the Gandhavyuha Sutra. And there are reasons why the reliefs were arranged in such manner from the lowest level to the highest. In fact, the entire structure has a spiritual Buddhist meaning. If you ask this scholar, he will not be able to explain the reasoning of the entire structure and the flow of each relief in the site from lowest to highest. There are many other aspects of Borobudur that this scholar did not explain in his "Solomon" context.  
There are other preposterous claims (such as a youtube video) claiming that the "2012" end of the world prophecy is also recorded in the Borobudur. the mathematical derivation of 20122012 is just his own imagination. At least, this is what I think since there is no recorded historical evidence of a "20122012" ever being inscribed on the site itself. This is definittely not recorded in the Borobudur. But the video is in Indonesian language. If you understand, you will know what I mean. The video link is here - 
If such flimsy reasons lie behind his logic of Borobudur being a muslim heritage, then it does not deserve any attention by any court of law. It is certainly imaginative and preposterous. He need a lot more concrete evidence to support his claims. And those that he had so far put forth, aren't. I am sorry. The Borobudur remains a Buddhist relic and monument. Congratulations to it being listed in 2012 as the Guiness World Record for the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
view of Borobudur from the top

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Eating Animals

Eating Animals

Not eating meat,
I liberate animals.

Eating meat,
I liberate them too.

What do I mean?

- written 14 Oct 2012, 10.40am

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Many & The One

The Many & The One

The many returns to the one for wisdom,
But got lost along the way.
Lost, distracted, suffering in the wilderness of samsara,
How are they going to return to the one?

Responding to the calls for help,
The one returns to the many.
Diving into the depths of samsara,
How can one save them all?

Many and one.
Wisdom and compassion.
Form and emptiness.
Fingers and hand.

and yet in essence
the same.

The many returns to the one.
The one returns to the many.
How does the many return to the one?
How does the one return to the many?
Only don't know – just do it,
Like this – BAM!
(slap on the floor)

-          Written 13 Oct 2012,  10.40pm
-      edited 11.49pm

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Afterlife - A Doctor Sees Heaven

Referring to this news link:-

I feel that it is a pity that people usually only can see heaven or hell only when they are in a state of coma or on the verge of death. Then when they wake up, by medical or non-medical reasons, he/she will attribute it to the glory of God's miracle. He/she will then proclaim it to the whole world and say that it is prove of Jesus' or God's Greatness. Not writing this with the intention of taking away anyone's faith in other religions, but the truth is anyone can actually see heaven and hell after they have practice their meditation for some time and achieved what the Buddhists called "samadhi". To the Buddhists, these seeing of Heavens and Hells are really nothing special. We already know these things or external "realms" do exist. People who thinks that only what we can see with our human eyes are real, are really mistaken. Ghosts, for example, cannot be seen by the normal human eyes but by using special scientific equipment, there are documentaries and TV shows that have shown that these equipments are able to capture images of these "ghosts". 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Applying "Only Don't Know" to resolve any issues

This is another of my “summary” of the talk given at Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre in Singapore on 30 September 2012. These may not be their exact words, but I try to capture the essence of their message. I may have added in a few words for clarity. I hope it is correct. However, any mistake is mine.

Main altar at Kwan Yin Chan Ling, Singapore
Zen Master Dae Kwan of Su Bong Zen Monastery, Hong Kong talked about how to apply “only don’t know mind” into our daily life. She showed the relevance of “only don’t know”. She also demonstrated what it means by slapping our hand on any surface. That is the Kwan Um School of Zen’s mudra (action code) of emptiness (my own term). She said that there was once when they were having a retreat at HK’s Lantau island. There was a huge storm that was heading to the island. At that place of retreat, there was hardly any television, radio or computer for them to know what was going on in the world. They were blissfully focusing on their retreat. Fortunately one of the followers of Su Bong monastery managed to contact one of the administrators and the horror of the storm was communicated to the group. They prepared for the storm as best they could. After the storm, many trees were uprooted and there was much damage everywhere in Lantau island. Then ZM Dae Kwan saw a big branch of a tree hanging dangerously above a statue of Wei Tuo Pu Sa at the temple. If it fell, the statue will sure be damaged. But they could not figure out how to save the statue since moving it was near impossible. It weighted about a tonne!  Then everyone put their heads together and brain storm. It does not matter if the idea was crazy or not. It does not matter if previously they could work together or not. It does not matter if their idea was not successful in moving the statue. The important thing was everyone was of a single mind to save the statue. In the end someone thought of putting small pipes underneath the statue and slowly rolling it over the pipes. It succeeded but there were other problems that arose. Now how did do they put it on to a flat surface, since it was rolling down a slope? Then someone thought of a truck that they have. By parking the truck at the bottom of the slope, it resulted in a flat surface. Hence they could roll the statue on top of it. Basically, ZM Dae Kwan wanted to point out that putting our minds together and not discriminate “I, my, me” or “He, she, him, her”, then we can definitely work our correct function in life. With "don't know" mind, we can listen to others. We don't always have to say we are right. When someone has any idea, everyone just try. This is life's situation. Together action. Don;t be afraid of these words - "don't know". People may ask, in a society where everybody needs to know, why "don't know" by our School? With this "don;t know, we have less criticism. And like ZM Dae Bong said, we can then turn around situations in our society. We need these type of people to turn around society more harmoniously and respectful of each other. We can apply in our office environment too. There may be people we don't like, or have very strong opinions, at that time we should apply the "don't know" mind. Then the principle will come across to us. Make all our enemies our friends. This "don't know" has 2 qualities - great compassion and great wisdom.
But despite her explanation, during the Q&A session, someone in the audience still asked about how to apply “only don’t know” to the China-Japan issue whereby both of the nation fight over some islands. This guy said that society will not accept “don’t know” as a solution. He obviously did not get ZM Dae Kwan’s (or the previous Zen Masters) explanation of “only don’t know”. ZM Dae Kwan explained again that “only don’t know” is not “I don’t know”. It is “don’t know”, or “don’t know me”, “don’t know my”. Later ZM Dae Bong reiterated that it is about sharing. Together action is important to resolve issues. In this society, too much of “I take from you”, “You take from me” attitude means we are having animal behaviour. Are we having animal attitude? He explained that if we observed animal behaviours, they survived in the animal kingdom based on taking the life of other animals. They thrived only in their own group. They are incapable of mixing and sharing. If society and nations continue to behave like animals, then there is no hope for world peace. Therefore, as a conclusion, we can apply this “don’t know” mind to any situation and resolve issues, big or small.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Like Magnets, Our Mind Has Energy

Some notes (in point form) I took of Zen Master Dae Bong's teachings at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre on 30 September 2012 in Singapore in conjunction with the inaugural ceremony of Kwan Yin Chan Ling, Singapore. I have lighted edited it to make the notes taken clearer. All mistakes are mine:-
  1. Zen Master Seung Sahn used to take 2 magnets and a pencil with him last time.
  2. Magnets have energy but we cannot see it.
  3. Our mind also has energy, like magnets.
  4. When our mind has "I, My, Me", it can push away even people who are close to us (e.g. our family members) like negatively charged magnets.
  5. Practice will clear away our delusions and then we can connect with others better (like oppositely charged magnets). That is the purpose of practice.
  6. Apparently there are people complaining life in Singapore is stressful. Creating lots of   negative thinking.
  7. Stress always exist but we do not have to be negatively affected by it.
  8. Original people of America reportedly came from Asia. They don't have any word for "problem". To them problem is opportunity. (N.B. the chinese character for problem consists of word for "opportunity")
  9. Dukkha is normally translated as "Suffering". Today I will translate it as "problems".
  10. Suicide will not end problems because in Buddhism, we get reborn again. Hence we will continue to suffer the same thing again.
  11. There was a study in America whereby people who have won lottery are interviewed 2 to 3 years later if they are still happy or happier.
  12. The result was that they were not happier 2 to 3 years after the win.
  13. Correct mind practice - like the magnet, we can turn negative situations around.
  14. We can then make correct connections to our family, friends, co-workers, our environment, etc.
  15. Our purpose in life is to make that. Correct relationships. Correct function. Correct direction.