Vesak 2558 BE

13 May 2014

Today is Vesak Day in Singapore. I went to NTUBS Vesak Day Temple Tour, which travels through 4 temples in a day.

On 8.30 am we started to gather at Boon Lay MRT Station where we visited Buddhist Fellowship first. Buddhist Fellowship held a family Vesak carnival (including bathing of baby Prince Siddharta) and we joined them until 10.30 am to start moving to Poh Ming Tse (PMT).

At PMT, we attended the book launching event by Sister Sylvia Bay. After that, there was sharing of merits and bathing of baby Prince Siddharta. Then we had a lunch there first before getting the book that is just launched by Sis Sylvia Bay, titled “Between the Lines: An Analytical Appreciation of the Buddha’s Life”. This book is the first volume of Buddha’s life that told us about the scholarly views on his life, which in reality, was quite boring, have ups and downs, and all other problems a normal monk have. The book is said to clear the distinction between what are myths and factual truths.

We then went to KMSPKS (Kong Meng San Phor Kark See), which is a Mahayana-Chinese temple. At Ven Hong Memorial Hall there, we were greeted by Ven Chuan Guan where he gave us a mini talk about the Vesak celebration at KMSPKS. This year, their theme is gratitude, which are towards: parents, nations, sentient beings, Triple Gem, and the planet. Next, we went around and watched a short movie screening there. Before we left, Bro. Seng Yip (and Bro. Hong Seng) gave us a little temple tour of KMSPKS.

We went to Sri Lankaramaya Temple after that and met Bhante Rathanasara, who gave us a little talk, basically just consisting of questions and answers. He answered some basic questions like: What is Buddhism? [ans: teaching which goals is to reduce evil doings, increase good doings, and purify heart and minds] Why Vesak day is celebrated on different days? [ans: the differences between calendar system used and the uncertainty of when is the exact date] After this, we were done and went to Jurong Point to have dinner first before going back. Overall, it was very nice to have visited Vesak celebrations in 4 temples but it was very tiring especially in transportation.

Happy Vesak Day πŸ™‚

The Meaning of Life

13 May 2014

On 4 May 2014, I viewed an interesting video about the meaning of life. Watch it here: http://sivers.org/ml Brief summary of the video The author explained some philosopher’s view and argument about the definition of life, such as:

  1. life is time
  2. life is choice
  3. life is memory
  4. life is learning

and the author mentioned some other definition, until he mentioned about his experience in learning Chinese character, where he inferred that every character must have a meaning in the pictograph, but after his search at dictionaries, he concludes that some of the characters have no meaning in the pictograph and just chosen because of how it sounds. He states that human are very fond of pattern finding that they just cannot accept things that are random. Hence, he concludes that life has no meaning at all in the first place. It’s just random. Accept it. End of story. Life is Suffering? Disclaimer: all the statement written here is not yet confirmed to be true; I just voiced out my opinion based on what I’ve already known (mainly from attending many sessions of NTUBS Dhamma Classes, and BF Sunday Services) The author also mentions about meaning of life, according to Buddhism:

Should we look at the Buddhist idea that life is SUFFERING? Nah, that’s no fun.

Well, I laughed at the author’s joke of life being “no fun”, although I know that he misinterpret the first noble truth of The Four Noble Truths. Simply put, if “life is suffering” is true, do you feel like suffering right now? In Buddhism, the Buddha gave the first sermon about The Four Noble Truths at Deer Park around 3 months after his enlightenment. He taught about the Four Noble Truths to his first five disciples. This Four Noble Truths consists of:

  • the truth of suffering
  • the truth of the cause of suffering
  • the truth of the cessation of suffering
  • the truth of the ways leading to the cessation of suffering

This first noble truth, as quoted from the sutta (scriptures), is this:

Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering β€” in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.

From the quote, we can infer that those 8 conditions are called suffering, but those 8 conditions did not make up “life is suffering”. Suffering, is part of human’s life, but unnecessarily is the human’s life. Rather than stating that life is suffering, for me, it really means that the thing called suffering exists in this life, and identifying it is important in Buddhism. Why Buddhism is all about suffering? Instead of that, what is true happiness? To answer this question, the Buddha’s approach to see the other side first, suffering. Because not suffering is true happiness, and true happiness is indescribable. Hence, he taught the four noble truth: the description of suffering; the cause of suffering; the end of suffering; and the ways to the end of suffering. Hence, those thinking about everything about Buddhism is about suffering is false, Buddhism is about happiness, but to achieve it, the Buddha do it this way:

  • identifying the opposite of happiness;
  • knowing the cause of the opposite of happiness;
  • knowing that there is happiness;
  • practicing the way leading to happiness.

Finally, back to meaning of life: Well, I couldn’t agree more with the author’s view that life, like many other things, have no real meaning from its first creation. Everyone can put their own meaning to life and hence there is no correct answer to “what is the meaning of life”. Happy Vesak Day. May all the beings be well and happy. πŸ™‚ References

See also My blog post on Vesak Day of 2012, and Vesak Day of 2013.

2013 in Review

31 December 2013

Many things happened in 2013, just like in 2012. The following lists what have happened to me in 2013:

Here comes the end of 2013, happy new year 2014. This blog is never been this crowded before. Thank you for being an audience of my stories. May the blog be filled with more posts in terms of quantity and quality.

P.S. see my year in review from Facebook.

Vegetarian

24 May 2013

Vegetarian means you don’t eat any meat while vegan means you don’t eat any meat and its products such as milk and egg. In my opinion, being a vegetarian once in a while like the one I practiced is good. I am a vegetarian twice in a lunar month: at the first and at the 15th. It is a tradition from my mom. The kind I and the family practising are not eating meat, garlic, onion, and fertilised egg. We don’t eat garlic and onion because it increases our desire to eat. I don’t care much about garlic and onion though. About fertilised egg, we believe that it will soon be alive, so to eat that is similar to eating meat.

Why once in a while? Not every day? Well, the first, for me, I can’t stand being a vegetarian every day. Vegetarian food is more expensive. Also it gives fewer calories than the normal food I ate so I become hungry faster. Another reason is vegetarian food are rarer. We are surrounded by non-vegetarian products everywhere. We need to find a specific restaurant to eat vegetarian food. Here, it is rare that a restaurant serve food that is vegetarian as main dish.

Being vegetarian doesn’t mean you go green. You are just the same. Think about what if everyone is a vegetarian. First, vegetarian products give fewer calories than meat. So to fulfil one’s hunger they eat more. Because they eat more, it means the world needs to supply more food. More food means 2 things: deforestation and/or intensification. Intensifying means creating products that may harm our health. Deforestation means global warming.

Global warming is a current issue which we think being a vegetarian will reduce the warming effect. I suggest that to reduce the effect we can start from things around us. Like using less clean water or even use used-water to flush the toilets. It is good idea to reduce the usage of plastic bag from any transactions. Switching off the lamps while we went out even if it is for a while is also a good idea. Keep in mind to recycle used papers and plastic bottles. Another is to plant some plant in a pot. I’ll let you know that planting there means you also make home for other fungi, algae, bacteria, insects, and even worms. Be clean though, if not, health problem will come. Being healthy is a gift, because if one’s not healthy, they can’t do anything.

To sum up, I think that being vegetarian once in a while is good but it will be a problem if everyone is a vegetarian every day. Being a vegetarian don’t reduce the global warming effect; start to reduce, reuse, and recycle but keep in mind that health is very important. Happy Vesak Day and may all the beings be happy.