Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Sam Poh Morning Chants

10 days at St John's followed by 2 subsequent visits to the first teacher and monastry that made me interested in the dhamma some 20 years ago.
Click Here for the pre-dawn recordings...

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Bird Cage

More than 3 years ago, when i tasted freedom; tried to fly back into the bird cage recently. Yes, there's a steady and predictable flow of water and food, shelter to protect me from the elements but i lost myself in that process; i was unhappy inside the bird cage...
As i look back, I've already know where to forage for food, know where to spend the night (but probably needs to become more mindful to drink enough water and be aware of my breath.) So why on earth do i still yearn to fly back into the cage?

Friday, 25 March 2016

A brush with Divinity

Yes, everything happens for a reason. and sometimes listen to some music at some point at our lives will raise goose-pimples; as i dabble into the age-old question whether there is an omnipotent creator; i chance upon Yann Arthus-Bertrand not so latest documentary 'Planet Ocean' released in Jun 2012; it occur to me that it totally wasn't in my radar screen back in 2012; during my last days in an organisation i spent a good decade in.
interestingly enough...this documentary lead me to re-live the HOME movie hype back in 2009 with all the bookings of cinema halls and private and public screening of it....one thing lead to another....

a fabulous piece of music composed by the red hair priest. Antonio Vivaldi who lived more than 300 years ago....i wondered what inspired him to composed such music? may we give gratitude, servitude and spend some solitude time to contemplate on a great man who forgave those who nailed him to the cross...on this day humans call it Good Friday.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) : Nisi Dominus per contro-tenore, archi e basso continuo (Psalm 126) RV 608. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

GE2015 & Yoniso Manasikara
Many of our hearts have been overworked these past week not because of the haze lah.
but if we can look at this heart and tell me whether it matters what political party he/she believes in?
or expand to a larger scope which religious teacher he subscribe to
or what nationality he belongs to
or what race and culture he is born into....

ONE thing for sure; this heart is born and will start growing until it reach the desired size...there after.....it
will degenerate
will sometimes beat faster, sometimes beat slower
will sometimes have skipped a beat or two
will work 24/7 till the last day.
BUT eventually, it will stop.

Monday, 16 February 2015

A Trilogy...a Full Circle?

In 3 days time, it's the lunar new year
I came back a year ago
where it started, it shall end...

I was born a Chinese Buddhist, or what some may call a mahayana Buddhist. As i turned into an adult, i started exploring into earlier versions when it was still in India and Sri Lanka; or what some may call theravada Buddhism. And I've found solace in it as it kind of suits my fiery, impatient and egoistic character.
Lately, i chance upon words of wisdom while watching; of all things, the latest rendition of a famous martial arts soap opera by Jin Yong, "Demi-Gods_and_Semi-Devils".

I am going back to Crystal Jade Restaurants this evening to serve food; that's where i started off when i came back from india a year ago; the impending CNY double pay of course was a motivating factor, but i have other reasons for doing this...

I also met a very promising young dude whilst serving behind the counter at Buddhist Library; i was over-zealous to say the least in trying to help him. But as the poem states, it ended up become a mirror of sorts!

The body is the Bodhi tree
The mind is like a bright mirror stand
Moment to moment, diligently wiped
To let no dust settle...

The Bodhi originally has no tree
The bright mirror also has no stand
Originally there is not a thing
How can dust alight?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Love affair with Hong Kong

It's been 2 decades since my maiden trip to the 'Pearl of the Orient' or better known as Hong Kong; literally translated from Cantonese to mean 'Fragrant Harbour'. What an apt name.
Hong Kong is a place that might not appeal to a visitor like me on arrival, but upon venturing away from the concrete jungles to the other parts of this famous land, (40% of the land is protected forest) that's when the fragrance really prevail.
I'm here to accompany my 75 year father to 'send' my 86 year old 'Da Gu Zhang' (1st Aunt's Hubby) to his next destination and visit his eldest sister(my 1st Aunt), she emigrated to China in the late 1950s to join the communist (that's where she met her husband at a teachers training college, then fled to HK during the Cultural Revolution.
When one is at 86 years old, it's not Money nor a Feast that one longs, but the company of our loved ones...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Haven In Koramangala

 
It was a crazy rush as the weeks grew into days and before i knew it, i only had 3 days left before i board the flight to experience something not done before in my life!
When i agreed to the posting almost 2 months ago in December, i was a little disappointed because i had hoped for a rural posting to some place quieter and where the local folks live a more simple life; being born and bred in buzzling Singapore, i am not too keen to venture into another busy city where people generally have no time for each other.
I kind of told myself that everything happens for a reason and if i am meant to be posted to another city, it must be a test for me. In life, the only Constant is Change and i am quite confident i can find inner peace amidst the external chaos in a city.
And so I herded a whopping 57kg of luggage as i wanted to bring as many gifts, stationery, clothings and toys for the disadvantaged kids at Koramangala; my friends were overwhelming with contributions that i had to turn many down.
The Singapore International Foundation made my initial settlement in a strange environment as comfortable and smooth as they possibly can; from arranging me to fly in my home country carrier to finding me accommodation that most locals would find it a privilege to stay in; they even arrange airport pickup as i dreaded evening arrivals to a strange land. I am most thankful for Elaine to making all these possible.
My first day in India was a Sunday and it was true to the day, a very fine and sunny day! For a moment i thought i was in Australia or New Zealand as the drier and cooler morning crisp air blew with a tinge of scented flowers in bloom this early spring morning; there was hardly any pollution and noise where i reside. A staff member of my host, Parikrma Humanity Foundation came looking for me by mid morning and drove me around the neighbourhood to get me familised with the 2km walking route to the school. My first impression of the school went deep into my DNA; it was ‘love at first sight’ or sorts as i had just left a profession of almost 11 years dealing with the environment and there in front of me a giant 3 storey high concrete sculpture of a tree protruding out of the school walls!
I was pretty restless the rest of the day as i hope Monday would come soon as i was looking forward to meet the change makers of the school as well as these kids who have weathered so much anguish in their young lives; some have been abused or brought up in a rough neighbourhood with an absent father who is either an alcoholic or have ran away with another woman. They are generally in the bottom income strata and probably the first generation school attendees.
The rest is history, the past 4 weeks has been an eye opener for me as well as a humbling experience; the first scene where i saw hardly any food waste as all the 300 kids finish whatever rice and dhal they are given made my eyes wet with sadness and a reflection how fortunate our kids are in Singapore.

My first month passed by without much time to be homesick at all. I was constantly surrounded by the kids as they vie for my attention; something they dun get much at home due to their dysfunctional families. Many a times, they try to get into trouble so that they will be pulled out and get my attention. The cheerful faces despite the spartan facilities at the school makes me respect the principal, teachers, volunteers and school cleaners beyond words; i learnt they could well get a better salary teaching in other ‘normal’ school but they chose to stick with Parikrma due to the beliefs and conviction to help the marginalised.
For a start, i am tasked to mentor a group of way-ward kids that most teachers simply do not have time for because of the huge class size. These kids have either behavioural /discipline issues or have learning disabilities from ADHD to Dyslexia. Coming from a hash environment where beatings and fightings are common; they are in desperate need of loving kindness and compassion.
Every single day I’ve spent there so far have been trying at times due to the lack of space or funds; only the Grades 8-10 kids have benches and tables to sit in class while the grade 1-7 all attend classes sitting and writing on the floor; some w/o mats to cushion their buttocks against the cold concrete floors. Brand new textbooks are a luxury and rarity. I see many children w/o textbooks. While the 30 kids to 1 teacher tried to ensure as many of these kids are not left on the streets without an education, sometimes that also means the teacher is struggling to cope as some of these kids have been detained 2-3 times as they simply cannot catch up with their peers. It didnt help when English is their 3rd or 4th language after their mother tongue(Tamil) and Hindi/Kanartaka.
Despite all these setbacks, living in a city busting to the seams with migrants from the rural areas trying to get a slice of the economic pie; many students are motivated to strike out of this cycle and make a change in their life for the better. Never mind the constant power cuts and water cuts at school and at home.

Also see : 
Article in sif.org.sg
Article in parikrmafoundation.org
 

Monday, 10 February 2014

A family union

The initial euphoria of home-coming has waned off after barely 2 weeks back on home soil...
CNY is really a unique period to be back home; the streets are empty, the feast is never ending; after a year in India, Singapore seems sparsely populated and there's so much affluence; how i wish i could bring the kids over. A year is simply too short to change someone's life...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Last Sunday in Bengaluru

The boys came over yesterday and gave me a heartwarming farewell; a musical box and a card more befitting for Dads. I'm leaving Bengaluru with a heavy heart as the infectious boys kept asking me when will I be back. All things come to an end; who knows I might be back before they get married.
A year in this bustling city already; just did a quick Wiki and found out that it has already became india's 3rd largest city after Mumbai and New Delhi. It's certainly confusing for the children to be growing in this soon to be mega-city. I can only pray that they find solace in simpier things in life; at the end of the day, it's such things that anyone will find happiness in.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Changing of the Seasons

The locals just celebrated last weekend with consecutive evenings of fireworks, crackers and sounds of explosions that was sounded more like scenes in war torn countries; at the end of 2.5 hours of almost continuous din, i had a slight headache.
The changing of the season saw the spike in flu and various ailments in school; i could have remembered that i felt feverish some of the cold mornings when temperatures started to dip below 20C.
Incidentally during this period, i discovered it's pretty nice to wake up at 4.30am and soak in the pre-dawn morning air.