Saturday, November 24, 2012

Coming back to me

I browsed a few photo albums containing pictures I dared not look at for a while. Did I not dare or did it just not occur to me to do so? Pictures I took at those precious moments, moments that were etched in my mind forever, but which I know will trigger a flood of emotions when I am reminded of them again...

Mum... Mum at the hospital, mum at home, me holding mum's hand, mum looking at me, mum smiling, mum dying, mum covered under the blanket which I took and have kept since that day she passed away... Tears started to form. Last time I cried was perhaps a month or so ago...

Again I am reminded of her kindness, reminded of the warmth only she could give me. Again, I am reminded, my goodness, how much I/ we have gone through these few months... How painful, how difficult, how testing and unsettling... And also how beautiful it all was....

Again I am reminded of the reason why I am going on this trip to a foreign land, to a foreign place in search of peace and closure.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Buddha

In turbulent times, in moments when my mind is spiralling and raging with angry and negative thoughts, when my mind is almost constantly fuelled with repetitions of past events, hurtful words people have uttered, and future uncertainties, I found refuge once again in the life and teachings of the Buddha.

Wise was he! So wise that he saw through the way things are and saw that this world is full of pain and full of suffering. The Buddha underlines the reason behind that suffering... it is planted within us all, in our tenacity to cling on, in the desire of every living being to resist change and transition, in the fear of every living creature for old age, sickness and death.  Save for those fleeting moments when our lusts are satisfied, life is a constant separation from our wants and desires, and suffering arises in our never ending quest to fulfil our wants and desires.

But there is a way out of this suffering... There is a way to live  in this imperfect world full of cuts and bruises, there is a way to live peacefully in this world full of roughness and unpleasantness. There is a way to see beauty, to see miracles and to live wonders in every single moment, in every single place, in every single person and being. It does not rely on placing all hope and prayer in a supreme being. It does not rest on going through extremities of self-mutilation or indulgence in sensual and worldly pleasures. Freedom from suffering lies in the mind. 

Free the mind, clear it of clutter, of the past and the future. Investigate the mind, in this moment, and observe the emotions, thoughts, aversions and cravings that constantly come and come, come and go. There is peace is calmness. There is bliss in being able to be in the present moment and to stopping mind-boggling and heart-wrenching feelings and thoughts that make you feel so unstable and so ill toward yourself, and toward the rest of the world. It's all in the mind. Anger, frustration, agony, pain... they're all in the mind, and subject to appear and disappear as quickly and as forcefully as joy, elation, liking and feelings of pleasantness.

The Buddha said that we all have the Buddha nature. There is a Buddha within us all waiting to be enlightened, waiting to be discovered, only if we will take the time and make the effort to calm the mind that is restlessly infused with sounds, thoughts, sights and sensations. Walk around, and everywhere you look, every one you see, every being you may encounter may be a Buddha. It takes a change of mindset, a shift in what motivates and drives most people in life, and it is a lonely path that no one can walk on except for yourself...

Starting is the hardest bit of all.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Meditation sala

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Walking meditation sala

The 5 hindrances...


Restlessness and Remorse

Dullness and Drowsiness

Sensual Lust

Fury/Ill will 

"Suppose Brahmin, there is a bowl of water that is [...] clear, serene, limpid, set out in the light. If a man with good sight were to examine his own facial reflection in it, he would know and see it as it really is. So too brahmin, when one dwells with a mind that is not obsessed with sensual lust, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, and doubt" (

Khanti: patience... panna: wisdom... virya: vigour, deligence

sila: virtue... nekkhamma: renunciation
Dana: charity, generosity.

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Birken Forest: 27 Sept. 2010

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Difference between Samatha and Vipassana

[notes from Dhamma talks of Sayadaw Utanaka of Chyanmyay Yeiktha]

As the Burmese saying goes
“Samatha is the path of (temporary) enjoyment;
Vipassana is the path of realisation”

Samatha—calmness, serenity, tranquillity
Through samatha, you can temporarily be free from hindrances and defilements, for as long as the concentration is deep

-attain higher degree of mind, through deep concentration
-there is a single object of meditation (in total 40, eg. Respiration)
- focus on the primary characteristic of the object intensely
-when mind wanders, you force the mind back to the object
-to gain purification and get rid of defilements, the mind must be absorbed in the object

-enjoyment of deep concentration results in peace and tranquillity, and states of pure bliss (jhana); however only for as long as concentration is deep.
-psychic/superhuman powers are possible when the concentration is deep enough
-when you disengage from the object, defilements will return


Vipassana—experiential knowledge; realising insight

Vi + passana
Nature of all phenomenon mindfulness and right understanding

Together, the two words vi and passana mean:
“Realisation of impermanence, suffering and impersonal nature of body and mental experiences and qualities”

-elimination of suffering through the realisation that all phenomenon are impersonal
-this is done through insight into the three basic characteristics of all phenomenon; which are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness / suffering and non-self

-all mental (mind) and physical (bodily) processes must be noted and realised, so all phenomenon are objects of meditations
Eg. When sitting, mentally note ‘Sitting, sitting’.
When thinking, mentally note ‘Thinking, thinking’
When angry, mentally note ‘Anger, anger’

-the mind must always note /be mindful of the most dominant thought, sensation, feeling etc. at the time
-concentration is deep, but not too deep, as you must be aware of ever-changing states and processes
-just see all phenomenon as they are; no judgements, no liking or disliking
-switch the focus of attention between primary and secondary objects

Eg. When doing sitting meditation, primary object is the rising and falling of the abdomen (physical process); a sudden memory arises (mental process), which is the secondary object; note this secondary object until it disappears; then return to the primary object of rising/falling of abdomen

-realisation of the nature of all phenomenon
-deliverance from suffering, through the right understanding that all defilements and processes are impermanent, unsatisfactory / suffering and non-self

Cause of suffering, and the way to liberation

[notes from Dhamma talks of Sayadaw Utanaka of Chyanmyay Yeiktha]

All beings suffer because they do not see the world as it really is. When there is pain, we feel it is unpleasant and unbearable. When there is a good sound, we find it wonderful and feel happy. When we see a person we dislike, we feel anger and hatred.

But all these emotions, sensations and thoughts are just that: they are physical and mental processes which come and go, come and go, continuously and never-endingly.

Since we attach to our feelings and sensations, we suffer. We are constantly caught in a web of liking and disliking whenever we interact with the world around us. There is no rest because the mind races from one place to another, jumps from a memory to a plan.

The ultimate liberation comes from Vipassana.
In being mindful of each and every process and state we experience in our mind and body, we can purify the mind of its impurities and defilements which cause us to suffer.

When we are not mindful, we come into contact with something (eg. A sound, a sight, a memory) and become caught up in the object. We become involved and cannot detach from it

We then get a reaction as a result of this involvement/attachment to the object, which causes an improper attitude toward the object to appear
Eg. Anger / love; craving / hatred; like / dislike

The reaction causes the mind to be unwholesome, because of our previous experiences and nature we come to see/hear/feel the object through tainted judgements.

We must not get involved, we must not judge, we must not feel either pleasant or unpleasant. We must be aware of the object as it really is, whenever we see, hear, touch, smell, taste and think— this is non-judging, non-reacting judgement.

Because we think there is a person, a self or a soul that exists, that person (the “I”) has desires and aversions.

When we see all objects with intuitive insight, then there is purity of the mind.
When we note physical and mental processes, we realise that they are fleeting, everchanging, unsatisfactory, not permanent, and most important of all, they do not belong to us. They simply appear and disappear, but do not linger on.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"prosperity according to [one's] wishes"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

meaninful sign

meaningful sign: all around Ajahn Chah's monasteries are signs which contain his short but powerful messages

meaningful sign: this one by the Lord Buddha

forest path

meaningful sign

at the crossroads

more forest (and kuti)

Kuti in the forest

more forest (kuti too)

new meditation sala at Wat Nanachat. Compared to Wat Nong Pah Pong, the international monastery is more 'foreigner-friendly'... and I came across four German lay-people while there!

the forest at Wat Nanachat is huge...I heard it takes an hour to just walk the circumverence of the forest!

Journey to Wat Nanachat (the International Monastery, branch monastery of Ajahn Chah's forest tradition). Suprisingly, the landscape in the area is quite dry and somewhere in the desert!

the prepared food is then set on tables, and monks, nuns, lay-people (in that order) come collect whatever they want to eat, buffet style.

when the monks return from the alms round, the tradition is to re-offer the food again. This is done by a lay-person who assists the monks in receiving the food

the food offered are separated and then prepared by the nuns or volunteer helpers

monks returning from 'binde-bad' (alms round). The monks set off barefoot at around 4.30am, going to nearby villages for offerings from the locals.

morning light

Shrine built after Ajahn Chah passed away. Inside is an altar dedicated to the venerable. On the altar are many crystal-like stones, which have remained after the venerable was cremated.

The Wat Nong Pah Pong animal farm! With ostriches, peacocks, rabbits, doves...and even a crocodile (or two).

more forest

giant bamboo...they creek and dance in the wind

many cockerels and hens and chicks run freely around the forest

more forest

monks use the bark of jackfruit tree to dye their robes. By boiling the bark for a long time, you get a concentrated orange-coloured dye, which also has a sweet fragrance. All done by hand

forest well: back when there was no tap water, the resident monks had to fetch water daily from this well