Monday, May 25, 2009

A New Awakening

Thirty youths, between the ages of 20 & 35. Youths of all color - Indian, White, Chinese, Latin American, South East Asian, Middle Eastern. Youths of all traditions - Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Christian.

We gathered together. We breathed together. We loved together.



That was how we felt as we underwent the 5 day Wake Up retreat at Deer Park monastery. By the end of 5 days, we addressed each other as brothers and sisters. It did not matter what background we came from; we were one, we were the same. It was truly touching.

Together, we would wake up early, at 5am. College students and workers alike had to adjust to the early timetable. But it was all worth it.


In complete silence, as the sun began to rise, the sunlight streaming in, we would sit in morning meditation. Aware of our breath, aware of our bodies, aware of our feelings, our emotions. Together, as a community, we sat, we transformed.

Paying respects to our ancestors, be it our parents, our forefathers, our spiritual teachers, we touched the earth. Touching our foreheads to the ground, we radiated love, we promised to transform ourselves for our sake, for their sake, for everyone's sake.

We would enjoy our meals in silence, truly appreciating our food. Enjoying each bite, tasting each morsel, we would savor in gratitude the simple vegan dishes; dishes prepared for us lovingly by the community.


We would share our individual stories. We would listen to the gifts of insight delivered by our fellow monastic brothers and sisters. Insights that help us understand deeper the meaning of life. We learned how human the monks and nuns were, as they shared their difficulties. Hardships, that we too, have undergone, that we have shared a part of.

Everything was done mindfully, in full and complete awareness. It was a week of reflection. But it wasn't all serious. We had fun too, lots of it.


Ping pong, mountain hiking, stargazing, joyful singing, kung fu, break dancing, these were a just handful of the things we did during our spare time. And it wasn't just us youth participants taking part, the monastic brothers and sisters too, showcased their talents.

We shouted as we lost (completely) in ping pong to monastic pairs. We stared in awe as we watched bald men in robes break dancing. We smiled and laughed as we heard them playing instruments accompanied by beautiful voices. It was truly heartening to see how talented, how human these bald people in brown robes were.


And yet, throughout all the fun, we were aware of ourselves, of what we were there for. Some of us wanted healing, many of us wanted peace, all of us wanted happiness, wanted Truth. And here was a perfect answer, Truth is not to be found in some isolated place, in a cave deep in the jungle; Truth is to be found in real life, in a community, in a society.

Happiness is to be found right here, right now. One need not become a hermit and torture oneself in isolation. Neither does one need to chase after material gains, to go after power, fame, wealth. Happiness can be found in simplicity. Happiness is when someone serves you food with a smile. Happiness is when you walk together with a loved one gazing at the stars. Happiness is when you receive a long, loving hug from your fellow brother or sister.


And so that was how it ended. With loving hugs. On the last day, we sat in the meditation hall, enjoying our last meal - a lunch done in the tradition of the Buddha, more than 2500 years old. After a quiet communal lunch, we shared our heartfelt gratitude through poems, songs and loving words. Finally, to our newfound brothers and sisters, we waved our hands, we said our parting words, we hugged goodbye.

And yet, although we physically parted, we knew that we would never be truly separated. The bond that we had created, that we shared, would always remain a part of us. As long as we continued the practice of Love and Understanding, we knew, that we would always be there for each other, with each other, in each other.

No coming, no going
No after, no before
I hold you close to me
I release you to be so free
Because I am in you
And you are in me

Because I am in you
And you are in me


Monday, May 18, 2009

What is True Meaning?

To be empty is to be full.
To be full is to be empty.
Empty your cup, for it is full.
But whose is the cup?
For it, too, is empty.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sape Music

I have recently re-discovered the joy of listening to sape music. The sape is a musical instrument very much like a guitar played by the Ulu tribe of Borneo. It's sound is so unique, so tranquil, so beautiful! I remember listening to it for the first time when I visited Sarawak, and I was completely entranced by it. Brings back many fond memories of my visit to East Malaysia. Will forever treasure that. =)

In the meantime, listen to the awesome music of sape:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Scar of my past
Scar in my heart
I thought you had healed
But you tore apart

But worry not
I understand
I'll embrace it with love
And be a man

Monday, May 11, 2009


Just came back from giving a introductory presentation of technical analysis to the Associate members of Blue Chips.

I realize that I really enjoy teaching. I love presenting ideas to people and watching them learn. When I see my students smile and laugh as I teach, a rose in my heart blossoms with joy. More importantly, I realize that I learn at the same time I teach. I learn more not only about the subject matter, but more importantly, about myself.

Haha, that being said, I probably would hate the mundane side of teaching. Preparing the materials, administrative work - not my cup of tea.

One thing's for sure, I need to be a workplace in which I can interact with people, teach and learn at the same time. Career paths that come to mind right now:

- management consulting (presenting to clients)
- seminar instructor (how to invest/how to live your life)
- personal counselor/human resource trainer (I get to run personality type tests and reach out to people)
- preacher/monk (give talks on my favorite topic - how to apply religion/philosophy into your life!)

Haha, the possibilities are endless! I love teaching. =)

How I Pray Before I Eat

For those of you who wonder what I do when I clap my hands together and bow before I eat:

This food is a gift from the entire universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard work.

May I eat this food with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy of receiving it.

May I transform my negative emotions of greed and learn to eat in moderation.

We accept this food to nourish us on the path of Love and Understanding and to achieve our ideal of serving all beings.

We accept this food to nourish our brothers and sisters and to help bring us closer together as a community, as a family.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Discourse on Loving Kindness

He who is skilled in doing good and who wishes to
attain that state of calm should act thus.
He should be able, upright, perfectly upright,
obedient, gentle and humble.

Contented, easily looked after,
with few duties, simple in livelihood.
Controlled in senses, discreet,
Not impudent; not greedily attached to families.

He should not commit any slight wrong,
so that other wise men might find fault in him.
May all beings be happy and safe,
May all beings have happy minds.

Whatsoever living beings there are;
feeble or strong,
long or large,
medium, short, subtle or gross.

Seen or unseen,
Those dwelling near or far,
those who are born and those who are to be born.
May all beings, have happy minds.


I am aware
You lurk somewhere in my house

How did you come in?
Have I not banned you from my home?
Have I not banished you from my kingdom?
How did you slip in from under my guard?

I know!
I was weary
You dulled my senses, you lulled me to sleep
With songs of praise
Of false hope
Of false confidence
How devious you are

But I see you now
The light of awareness shines upon you
Though weak from weariness
I can see your shadow
Sneaking around

I will rest now
To rejuvenate

When I awake
With renewed strength
I will escort you
Out of my house
And return you
To the nothingness whence you came from

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Song of Mindfulness

Thank you friends for today,
For sharing and showing the way.
Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about.

Sitting here, rushing there,
We can practice this everywhere.
Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about.

Every thought we think,
Every word we say,
Every thing we do throughout the day.
Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about.

Feel the sun,
See the clouds,
Enjoy the rain
And touch the ground.
Smell the flowers,
Smile and breathe
This is what mindfulness is about.

Feeling anger,
Feeling fear,
Just remember,
Just hold dear.
Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about.

Sitting here, rushing there
We can practice this everywhere
Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about

Breathing in, breathing out,
This is what mindfulness is about.