Saturday, February 22, 2020

Buddha's Teaching

The essence of the Buddha's teaching is The Four Noble Truths as shown below.
1) Understanding of suffering (dukkha)
2) Understanding of the origin of suffering is due to greed, hatred and ignorance
3) Understanding of the ending of suffering
4) The path leading to the ending of suffering is the Noble Eightfold path.

Noble Eightfold path
1) Right view (come first- Understand the Four Noble Truths)
2) Right thought( To get rid of three poisons- greed hatred and ignorance)
3) Right Speech (No false speech/No divisive speech)
4) Right Action (Avoid harming of life, alcohol and sexual misconduct)
5) Right Livelihood
6) Right Effort (Be diligent in the practice of Noble Eightfold path)
7) Right Mindfulness (Be aware of your thoughts, be contemplative )
8) Right Concentration (Meditation)
You can read more on the Noble Eightfold path from Access to Insight.

Before Buddha parinirvana, he again reminded his disciples of the Noble Eightfold path on the path of liberation from samsara. His last words to the monks,"All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!" Besides the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold path, Buddha also taught the precepts, the 12 Dependent Origination, five aggregates of attachment and the six sense basis. Craving for sensual pleasure lead to endless rebirth. 

If others teach otherwise like burning of paper houses or indulging in alcohol or sex, then it is not the teaching of Buddha.   
From google image

Monday, February 17, 2020

Story of my life - Luangpor Dhammavuddho

During my free time, I enjoy listening to the Dhamma, both by Theravada and Mahayana monks. For Theravada Buddhism, I like listening to Ajahn Keng and Luangpor Dhammavuddho dharma talks.

Luangpor Dhammavuddho was a successful Malaysian engineer who decided to renounce the world and became a monk. He used to go to the United States to be a Mahayana monk but later became Theravada Buddhism. YOu can listen to his talks and find out more why he decided to renounce and became a monk. 

In the talk, he also talked about rebirth. Its a very interesting talk and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Praying at Kuan Yin Temple on 15th Day of Chinese New Year

Today is the 15th day of Chinese New Year. This morning, I went to pray at Waterloo Street Kuan Yin temple.

This new year is the year I feel upset due to the coronavirus. Due to this virus, many families are separated in China and other affected countries including in Singapore on this festive season. I pray that there is a cure soon for coronavirus soon. 

May all sentient beings are well.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Characteristics Of A Sotāpanna

In this video, Venerable Dhammavuddho Mahathera gave a dharmma talk on the characteristics of a sotapanna. 

By listening to Buddha and understanding his words, you can become a Sotapanna. 

From the Pali Canon, the qualities of a sotāpanna are described as:
…those monks who have abandoned the three fetters, are all stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening. This is how the Dharma well-proclaimed by me is clear, open, evident, stripped of rags.
— Alagaddupama Sutta

Venerable Dhammavuddho Mahathera

Monday, January 27, 2020

Explanation of Om Mani Padme Hum

I think Venerable Bhikshu Zhihan gave a very clear explanation of the six-syllabled Om Mani Padme Hum, a Sanskrit mantra which is associated with Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. I will quote the essence of what he said below. It be best that you watch the video. 

By Venerable Bhikshu Zhihan

When we recite the mantra, we are trying to connect with the energy of compassion in the universe. 

Even the mantra itself, the sound creates a certain vibration that if you recite continuously, you will start to vibrate at the same frequency and that is how you create positive energy via reciting mantra. 

You needs to understand what the mantra means. 

Buddha said, " Your practice is limited by your own mind. "

This compassion you develops, you want to share with all beings. 

Om is the sound of Big Bang (universe). Om sound does not comes from the throat but comes from the abdomen.

Om in Sanskrit literally means homage, respect, a lot of veneration.

Mani means gem (jewel). Jewel has a lot of facets. When you shine light into diamond,its like a prism, it actually radiates light all over. Its actually a symbolism of Compassion.

Padme means lotus. It symbolises Wisdom. Lotus grow above the mud. It grow from the mud and the lotus blossom above it.. It symbolises we live in this chaotic world, materialism, yet we don't have to be the same as everyone. We can be the lotus that helps others to grow out of the mud. 

Hum means the union of compassion and wisdom. According to Buddha' there is no such thing as compassion without wisdom. Your intention has to be pure. 
Wisdom implies the understanding of non-self. 

So Om Mani Padme Hum means the Homage to the union of compassion and wisdom.

Finally I understand why I lost the desire to eat meat whenever I chant Om Mani Padme Hum for a period of time.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Heart Sutra Concert at Singapore Esplanade Theatre

Yesterday finally I got to listen to Imee Ooi live at Singapore Esplanade Concert theatre! I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hours plus concert. The concert started at about 7.35 pm and ended at about 10.05pm with 20 minutes intermission. Besides singing the Heart Sutra in 8 languages (Mandarin, English, Sanskrit,  Cantonese, Korean, Spanish, Japanese and Tibetan), she also sang the Great Compassion mantra with Jing gang (8 male singers) and Om Mani Padme Hum at the start of Heart Sutra concert. 

Whenever I feel frustrated or upset, I'll listen to the Heart Sutra by Imee Ooi to meditate. By chanting the Heart Sutra, I feel more at peace. I need to recite the following verse "照见五蕴皆空,度一切苦厄" to remind me of the impermanence of the nature of life and it is foolish to be angry for long since my identity as a female body in this space and time is just a vehicle for me to experience life in this material world. 

照见五蕴皆空,度一切苦厄  means perceiving the five aggregates (skandhas) making up a person* is but an illusion (emptiness), and with this he was delivered from all sorrow and suffering.

five aggregates: : material form , sensation , discrimination, thinking , and consciousness. 

Heart Sutra is one of the Avalokiteśvara bodhisattva  (觀世音菩薩 ) (practices. In this samsara world, the imperfect world, I'm glad we still have the Dharma, the teaching of Buddha. However Buddha said that once you cross the shore, you also have to stop clinging to the Dharmma. Just let go. The Dharmma is just like a boat that helps you to cross the shore. 

Although music is not really encouraged, but I think producing Buddhism music is a way to reach out to the young in the spread of Buddha's teaching.

Inside the Esplanade theatre Singapore.
I paid for $104 (second most expensive price). I sat on first row but was blocked by the speaker.

So happy to hear Imee Ooi sing live. Great awesome performance.
 The Great Compassion Mantra by Imee Ooi and the Jinggang 
The Esplanade theatre by the bay. One of my favourite places in Singapore. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Emptiness in nature and its application in daily life by Master Sheng-Yen

In this video, Master Sheng yen explained the relationship between impermanence, no-self and emptiness and how we can apply in our daily life. 

Emptiness indicates change that things won't exist eternally. Emptiness doesn't mean nothingness. 

Emptiness implies that there's certainty, definitely existence, ever-evolving existence and ever-changing existence. 

Any object or thing exists in appearance but empty in nature. Why is it empty in nature is because we see that the appearance is constantly changing. It exists because of causes and conditions. Take water for instance. Does it exist or not? It exists right? But if you heat it ups what will happen? It'll evaporate and disappear in the air. When boiled, it will eventually disappear. So does water exist or not? You can't say it doesn't, but you can't say it exists either. 

So Buddhism talks about emptiness in nature 自性空, existence produced by causes and conditions involves changes. We know existence is produced by causes and conditions and recognise that it is changing, unfixed, non-staying, without ever remaining in the same state. This is what impermanence 无常means. Since it is ever-changing, constantly changing in appearance, then what about its nature? Its nature changes too. The nature of clouds and that of water are somewhat different. So they exist out of emptiness, in their existence, you see emptiness. So the Heart Sutra says Neither increase nor decrease 不增不减, it is neither arising nor ceasing 不生不灭, in the the first place. This actually means it's neither empty nor existing.   

Emptiness in Buddhism refers to the kind that is neither empty nor existing, and that is true emptiness. Rather than a distinction separation between existence and emptiness. That would be a kind of void, hollowness, a lonely kind of nothingness. Buddhist emptiness is not lonely at all. Instead it's lively and bustling, ever evolving and changing. So this is existence of impermanence. We can see impermanence from changes, from existence. 

Therefore impermanence is also referred to as no-self. 

Take our body for instance. We often think our body represents "I". However is it true? Is yesterday "I" the same as today "I"? They are different. There is no continuous "I" that stays the same and never change. This is what no-self means. It doesn't mean this body is not existent now. The body does exist. However this is only temporary existence, not eternal. This is emptiness or no-self.

Things in our daily life can be divided into three categories in terms of how we feel. The first are things that benefit us, the second are things that are unfavourable and the third are things that neither benefit or unfavourable.  

Sometimes when I face unhappy situation, instead of wallowing in sadness, just reminds ourselves that this is temporary and it will pass. When good things happen, don't be too happy or arrogant as this will pass too. 

Buddha's Teaching