(Archive : Jan 2005)
A new ad with a serious message with a touch of subtle humour by
Hope you will heed the message and get the "joke."
How Are You Changing the World Now?
"Global warming is no longer a threat of the future - already,
about 160,000 people worldwide die every year
as a direct result of sudden and extreme changes in climate (conditions
such as floods, droughts and heat and cold waves).
Unless air pollution - the root cause of climate change - is reduced,
mankind will end up on a catastrophoc collision course with nature...
Dominated by an increase in temperatures worldwide, climate changes
are widely believed to be result of carbon emissions... no coincidence
that a European heat wave that same year (2003) left 19,000 dead across
A world resurgence of diseases like dengue and malaria is also attributed
to rising temperatures. Rising temperatures could also melt ice caps
in the Antarctic, raising sea levels by more than 5m and threatening
coastal regions in the Pacific and Indian oceans, he warned... no area
is likely to be spared...
What can we in Singapore (or any other place) do? For a start, use smaller,
more fuel-efficient cars, he (Prof Speth, environmentalist, dean of
Yale University) said. Vehicles account for a
fifth of all carbon emissions worldwide... people can also make environmentally
informed purchases, like opting for energy-efficient goods."
-The Straits Times (21/01/05)
The above are live examples of how we are all
interconnected, interdependent. Whatever anyone
does anywhere anytime affects everyone and everything. Saving
the planet is largely a concerted effort of reversing our collective
karma. If you are not part of the solution, you
are most probably part of the problem. For instance, must you
really drive? I do sincerely hope your answer is "no". Every
excess joyride leads to the opposite of joy in the long run. Public
transport, be it cabs, buses or trains, are running anyway - why not
use them instead? Give up your car entirely if possible! It's amazing
how we are actually killing each other via lack
of concern for the environment. Environmentalism is not an abstract
thing anymore. Your disegard of cause and effect and interbeing, along
with others', can indeed kill thousands via various means... a heat
wave, a cold wave, a flood, a drought, malaria... Are you an accomplice?
Who says you can't change the world? You are changing it now with the
things you do or not do. How are you changing the world now? One of
the many things I'm going to do is surf the web less for leisure - to
reduce use of electricity. I'm going to forward this blog entry to friends
Alternative Perpectives on the Relation of Karma and the Tsunamis
Homage to the Buddha! Looking at the pictures of unscathed Buddha images
near the tsunami-affected Sri Lankan coastline, it is obvious that there
was supernormal cause and effect at play protecting the images. Most
Buddhists believe it is the power of the Buddha's undestructable and
immeasurable spiritual merits that guarded these representations of
His perfected virtue. Note how close the sea is in the pictures. Many
of the unfazed Buddha images are made of simple materials like wood,
while the shattered buildings around are of solid concrete. It was clearly
not an accident or by chance that the images were unharmed. If so, can
we likewise infer that the affected people's experiences were not accidents,
but also cause and effect at play?
Is there proof that natural disasters can be linked to collective and
individual karmic fruition? Historically, there are recorded cases of
people in the Buddha's time, such as Devadatta, whose negative karma
was so intense that the Earth physically opened up in a "natural"
quake of sorts, swallowing them whole.
we believe that merits can prevent accidents, then there
are no such things as accidents, especially massive ones. For instance,
the Buddha cannot be killed by assassins due to His shield-like merits.
It isn't as mystical as it seems, for He is simply so meritorious that
He deserves and gets the unasked 24/7 protection of many guardian devas
Even in the case of "accidentally" banging your knee, it is
an instant karmic effect of being unmindful. There are no such things
as unavoidable or random "bad luck", or there would have been
many Buddhas in the past who happened to run into spates of "bad
luck", dying prematurely, accidentally and ungracefully. The passing
away of Buddhas is instead dependent on the nature of their vows and
the collective karma of the masses during their time. The moment of
great decease is exact and not by chance.
A master said, "When we have accidents, we ask: 'Why me?' But these
are the rules of life." There are accidents, yet accidents are
the rule of life. This once again can be taken to mean that so-called
accidents are subjected to rules of some sort. Is the rule of karma
ever at rest, even for a split-second? No, never. There are causes and
effects for everything all the time - whether we look for them or not,
whether we call it karma or not, whether we believe it or not. According
to Buddhism, there are five cosmic orders or processes (Niyamas) which
operate in our world physically and mentally:
Niyama - Physical inorganic order
(Eg. Seasonal phenomena of the elements)
2. Bija Niyama - Physical organic order
(Eg. Order of germs and seeds, similar to genetics)
3. Karma Niyama - Order of an act and result
(Eg. Un/Skilful intentions leading to positive/negative
Dharma Niyama - Order of the norm
(Eg. Natural phenomena occurring at last birth
of a Bodhisatta, gravity
and other similar laws of nature)
Citta Niyama - Order of mind and psychic law
(Eg. Processes of consciousness, telepathy,
telesthesia, retrocognition, premonition, clairvoyance,
clairaudience and other psychic phenomena inexplicable
Many Buddhists believe the tsunamis were just the Utu and/or Dharma
Niyamas at work. But if you think deeper, the Five Niyamas operate together
in an interweaving and cross-affecting manner, not independently. The
other four Niyamas (all other than Karma Niyama) are cosmic cause and
effect laws, while Karma Niyama is of moral cause and effect. Since
human experience is linked with experience of the universe, Karma Niyama
has to be interlinked with the other Niyamas. For instance, if one does
not karmically deserves to be swept away in a tornado, it is no sheer
"luck" that his whole house might be swept away with his neighbourhood
while he remains unharmed. If we believe we cannot control the four
Niyamas, all we can do is affect how Karma Niyama affects us with our
deeds - which will inevitably "reward" us accordingly, via
our interaction and experience with the other Niyamas. Even the weather
your experience is specifically YOUR weather, never exactly the same
as anyone else's experience. This is how finely tuned our karma and
experiences can be.
The example of the undestroyed Buddha images is a powerful living metaphor
of how the Buddha can stand above the laws of nature. He is able to
do this despite not being the creator of nature, as He is able to understand
the Niyamas entirely and step beyond their control, going beyond the
trappings of suffering in the rounds of life and death. The practice
of the the Buddha's teachings is to become spiritually invincible like
Most people, most probably including you and me, do not know of our
past negative karma. Indeed many people do not do enough good in time
to be able to dilute their negative karma's effects. This is exactly
why we need to do good unceasingly - both for goodness' sake and out
of the humbling truth that we should not be complacent and think we
have done enough good, that we will avoid all un/natural misfortune.
Karma's workings, according to the Buddha, are intricate, exact and
difficult for unenlightened beings to discern in detail. If we do not
trust that this law governs our experiences, this world will be of moral
chaos and life would be meaningless. We would be contradicting ourselves
in believing that we will get what we deserve by our good works, while
believing we can experience what we do NOT deserve via natural disasters.
It is thus both kinder and wiser to trust the law of karma than not.
The "first wave" destroyed life. The "second wave"
is the flood of compassion. The "third wave" we need is the
rise of wisdom, to prevent future karmic natural disasters. We need
more individual and collective compassion and wisdom to permanently
"dam" against future disasters. We need to reflect harder
on how our collective cruelty to nature (including destruction of the
environment) and sentient beings, (including the slaughter of countless
animals for us every day in the meat industry and war), can be linked
to the merciless effects of nature. For we are all inextricably linked
with all plant and animal life on this very small planet Earth, even
if not so visibly. Every little thing we choose to do or not do counts.
-a fellow moonpointer
No Rule is the Best Rule
'The behaviour is negotiated through eye contact.; traffic flows smoothly...'
-Hans Monderman, Traffic planner
An interesting news item appeared in the papers a few days ago...
In the Netherlands, a road intersection has no traffic lights, signs,
road markings or divisions between roads and sidewalks. Yet the speeding
vehicles have lessened greatly, as they move fluidly with no record
of fatal accidents. It's part of a revolutionary counter-intuitive "naked
Everyone is gently "forced" to negotiate the right of way
in an unassuming way. When the rules are taken away, everyone becomes
more mindful and equanimous about their interconnectedness, as they
look out for each other more. In sharing common space with no boundaries,
motorists and pedestrians become naturally and equally respecting of
each other. Differences and duality disappear. They both melt into a
seamless whole, as the traditional concept of the roaring motorist versus
the hapless pedestrian becomes no more. It is a beautiful reminder that
deep down, we are not impatient people who would rather break the law
and choose chaos. Instead, we know it pays to be kind and wise. Whether
they know it or not, the road users are learning Dharma lessons without
labels. That this concept works is very encouraging. To me, it bears
testimony to how the Pureland ideal of universal harmony can bear fruit
in our world! -zeph
Come & Go
Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.
-Matthew Flickstein (Journey To The Center)
Nothing comes... to give you joy.
Nothing goes... to bring you sorrow.
Be at true peace... which neither comes or goes.
Never Let You Down
He stood at an ancient door.
Held it open wide and said to us simply,
Come in. Work hard. The Dharma will never
let you down."
-Rafe Martin (On meeting the late Shunryu Suzuki)
First, give as you wish...
(as you are easily
Next, give till it hurts...
(so that you stretch
your generosity and grow)
Then, give till there is joy...
(so that you derive
increasing joy with increasing generosity)
Finally, give till there is no thought of giving...
(so that it becomes
a pure act without self or ulterior motives, not even joy.)
This is the perfection of giving. -stonepeace
Mother Sentient Beings' Continual Sacrifices
Received this SMS message last evening once each from two friends:
"Heard from news that 4,000 goats are to ship from Perth to Singapore
for slaughtering to celebrate Hari Raya Haji on this Saturday. Please
dedicate merits to them and help to spread this message to Dharma friends."
After dedicating merits after doing evening puja, I replied them this:
"More than 250,000 chickens, according to statistics, die for Singaporeans
alone DAILY. Please dedicate merits to them and help to spread this
message to Dharma friends."
I hope my friends will send this message backwards upstream to those
who sent it to them, to raise awareness of our daily not festive killing,
to remind them that they might be part of the process. The power of
statistics can be great, though it can also be just numbers to some.
We need a critical mass of vegetarian/vegan activists to change the
world in terms of animal cruelty. Will you be one of them? It takes
collective karma to transform collective karma - but even so, the collective
consists of individuals.
With all due respect on religious harmony, please see this on the Buddha's
perspective on animal sacrifice. Please see this on Mahayana Buddhism's
view on how violence to animals create human suffering. -shiqin
Pass the Burden
We went around with $50 worth of Muji vouchers, which were a present.
There was lots of nice stuff, but there was no need to buy any particular
one thing. Any other thing we kind of half-heartedly wanted seemed like
an unnecessary extravagance. We spent about 20 minutes hanging around,
revisiting shelf displays of various items... after which we left with
nothing. I remarked that the vouchers could be gotten rid of easily
- by giving them away as a present. The funny thing is... what seems
like a gift to someone was for the 20 minutes a burden to us. Venerable
Sheng Yen's words came to mind again, "What we need is not a lot;
what we want is too much." We didn't need the vouchers. We didn't
need anything in the shop. Much as we tried to want what we did not
need, we saw the senselessness. Have we grown or what? Maybe the friend
we pass the vouchers to will realise the same? -shiqin
What you do not become attached to there is no need to let go. Realise
that there is nothing you can hold on to anyway and be free instantly.
Because old habits die hard, we have to keep reminding ourselves...
"As nothing can be held, nothing needs to be let go of."
We are already free - though we are just not free of the delusion that
we are not free. -stonepeace
Cause of Natural Mass-Deaths As Effect of Unnatural Mass-Killing
Venerable Cheng Yen of Tzu Chi Foundation, which dispatched more than
half a million volunteers to participate in the tsunami relief work,
said, "Eating animals for food has numbed
our hearts to the suffering of other living beings. If we have not taken
good care of our heart, then we would eat other living creatures without
qualms. It is truly inhumane. We must cease the killing of animals and
cherish all lives---not just the lives of human beings but the lives
of all beings. Every thing has a life of its own, be it the trees or
the mountains, and taking good care of them in fact safeguards our own
health. When mountains, trees, and the land are healthy, human beings
will naturally be healthy, and climate patterns in harmony. As it is
said, "When there is timely wind and rain, people will naturally
enjoy prosperity and wellbeing." So, we must exercise moral discipline
and abstain from the taking of lives. If we do not stop such actions,
disasters will not dwindle in severity." (See rest of
What is one of "the most effective single things you can do
to make this world a kinder, fairer & better place"? Well,
it is this.
But, seriously, "Must
Buddhists be Vegetarian?" (Now linked in MoonStations) -stonepeace
This Haunted World
The papers has articles these few days, of folks in Thailand living
near tsunami-affected beaches, who report many ghost-sightings. As usual,
the health "experts" label it mass-hallucination, due to mass-trauma.
This might be true - but only to some extent. The other take is that
it is mass-reality. We are either the haunted, or those who haunt. We
are haunted by the lost past. We haunt because of we lost our past.
Anyone trapped in the past is a restless spirit, whether dead or alive.
Most of the sightings are of "foreign ghosts", who seem not
yet unaware that they are no longer alive, as they still hail cabs,
laugh and sing on the beaches. Just a while ago, it struck me that the
relatively well-to-do foreigners whose lives were suddenly swept away
were like gods who die terrible deaths as they fall from their heavens
upon their depletion of good karma. It is said that the experience of
their last moments before they fall can be equivalent to that of hell.
Am writing about this not out of disrespect or insensitivity, but as
a humbling reminder of how unrelenting the law of cause and effect can
be. of how important it is to create merits, whether we want out of
Samsara or not. -zyrius
Bleeding for Strangers
Donated blood yesterday. It's surprisingly the least painful round ever.
It occured to me that...
If you chant the Great Compassion Mantra over water,
it becomes blessed Great Compassion Water.
If you donate blood out of compassion
and chant Great Compassion Mantra while donating,
it becomes blessed Great Compassion Blood. -shiqin
Comments: Very true indeed. There is an
experiment that have shown that our thoughts can influence how the water
crystals look like. With great compassion blood, the recipient will
recover very fast. -gjooheng
She's A Working Girl
This came in my email from a friend at 6.22pm from
~A yell in cyber space.....................................
Sorry :P Just venting my frustration
Oh... working OT is it? Poor girl. If you have to do it, might as well
love it... but without attachment of course. If you learn to love your
work, you don't have to work for a single day of your life. It's play,
not work. Play hard! Don't ever work! -zeph
In many Mahayana temples are volunteers who are addressed
as "Dharma Protectors. (Hu Fa)" But some of the most active
of them get caught up in politics between volunteer cliches. The addressing
of them as Dharma Protectors is supposed to help inspire and remind
them of the nobility of their actual role in safeguarding Dharma teachings
and Dharma practitioners. But the term gets used till its meaning is
easily forgotten, becoming just an empty label. The best way to be a
Dharma Protector is to practise and share the Dharma well by example,
not to merely guard holy books, objects, customs and the ego. Though
humans are imperfect, one of the last places politiking should take
place is in a temple, which should be a refuge away from worldly politics,
which are struggles of the ego for self-benefit. Struggle for others,
for the Dharma; not for oneself. A Dharma Protector first protects his
mind to prevent the non-Dharma from corrupting it.
part of the process of revamping moonpointer, notice the side menu on
the moon masthead, which is now less thick, is now gone. So is the liner
"The fullest moon reflects on the stillest water." But it's
there when you mouseover. Just a little Dharma surprise for first-time
visitors. You can now find the links under MoonStations. This might
not be the final design though. We are blogging this to track the design
evolution. Any suggestions? Do
Check this out... TDE-Weekly,
a Dharma sharing project created by one of the creators of moonpointer
If you think of it carefully, it is actually not easy
to engage in right livelihood, to be working in a job that does not
directly or indirectly link to harming sentient beings. But if you thnk
even deeper, every vocation is dependent on the resources of the world.
Let's say if I am a writer... Even as I key these words now, I am using
electricity, which is created at a power plant, which uses sea water
to cool its machinery. The drawing in of sea water inevitably kills
many small sea creatures. Because we owe everything to everyone in this
universe, let us cultivate infinite gratitude to all. Universal compassion
will then naturally arise. -stonepeace
The practice of compassion with wisdom, for the enlightenement
of one and all can be trying at times. But so what? What else is more
worth doing? If it is worth doing, just do it. Hesitation and doubt
only leads to more wasted precious human rebirths. What's more, it is
the only way to True Happiness for everyone. -shiqin
Some Samsaric Stuff
A direct link to Some
Samsaric Stuff, which is easily missed, previously listed only in
Journal, is now listed under MoonStations on your right as SSS.
As suggested by the blog title, it is of more casual nature, not so
directly linked with the Dharma. Have fun!
The crowd follows the crowd. People tend to be more curious
of longer queues and join them, especially outside restaurants. It's
like thinking, "Since it looks so hot, it must be hot. Since so
many are taking the trouble, it must be worth the trouble." But
history shows us that the popular is not necessarily the best or true.
Heck, most of the Earthlings of old believed the Earth was flat. True
truthseekers are rare, and truth and the path to it can be hard to find.
Do you have crowd mentality? You know? There is a crowd of people who
believe they do not have crowd mentality. -zeph
has 5 new entries pls a movie review. Do visit Silent
If you are observant, you'll notice that Zeph's
banner design has changed. It is now more three-dimensional, courtesy
Yes, it's a struggle to keep blogging regular. A matter
of discipline really. Makes sure we are mindful to learn something worthy
of sharing everyday. At least one lesson. It helps when we know there
is an audience :-] You can reach us
! We missed a day yesterday :-[
City of Glass
Found this in "City of Glass" by Paul Auster
(the graphic novel adaptation) - "Baudelaire: 'It seems to me that
I will always be happy in the place where I am not.' Or more bluntly:
Wherever I am not is the place where I am myself." Confounding?
Or just the case of fundamental existential dukkha (dissatisfaction)?
Happiness and identity is always displaced - but only when it centres
around attachment to one"self". An intriguing story about
search, confusion and loss of self-identity, but as with all false existential
premises, a solid fixed self or "I" is taken to exist in the
first place. That's where the existential crisises come in. No self
in existence means no existential crisis. The Buddha is a true genius.
When you liberate yourself from your "self", what else can
hold you prisoner? What dukkha will you have left? True Happiness comes
from being free from false identities, from mis-identifying one"self".
Your Existential Rights
Actually, existentially, we have rights to do anything,
though what we do might not be (morally) right! Exercising your rights
are your own responsibility - they can bring either happiness or suffering
to yourself and/or others. The Buddha's teachings are about perfecting
the appropriate rights leading to True Happiness for all. -Zyrius
Cash & Kind as Emptiness & Form
Inspired by the tsunami disaster, I came up with an
analogy for form and emptiness. Relief donations are preferred to be
in cash rather than kind at the moment - to clear up the logisitic jams
and to facilitate the purchase of whatever is needed, instead of hoarding
up material excesses. Donating in kind is like "giving form".
Donating in cash is like "giving emptiness". Form and emptiness
are the same in essence - they have value, usefulness. But the empty
(of fixed nature) characteristic of cash is more practical now in the
sense that it can "manifest" into the necessary forms needed,
such as food and medicine, while material donations are already of certain
forms. Even though form is emptiness, it needs to be exchanged into
cash first before it can have the same ready usefulness of cash.
The stranger bumped into me accidentally. I yelped
a little "Ouch!" The bump was too obvious for him not to notice.
So was my yelping. But he acts blur as he walks by. I yelled "Hey
Hello!" It was so sudden and loud that he would definitely turn
around to see. But I didn't look for his reaction. I just walked away,
as normally as he was walking away. Unfortunately, there was a sense
of hatred towards his accidental and intentional insensitivity. Why
the yell and the feigning of ignorance on my part? Just my simple pseudo-zen
way of waking him up, while reflecting his behaviour. I hope he gets
I have a friend who remembers many friends' birthdays.
But I don't think many remember his. He used to, out of the blue, despite
not being very close friends, send birthday greetings to me. I used
to feel a sense of bewilderment and reply thanks sheepishly. It suddenly
hit me that every one of his birthday greetings to every one of his
friends might be a subconcious cry for help, the echoing of his silent
scream of loneliness. Maybe it was his little way of reaching out, of
communication. Maybe he knew no other way. I became grateful for his
greetings, for his remembering of me, and my thanks become sincere -
not out of pity, but out of the realisation that I had taken too long
to realise the above. Whatever happened to my practice of loving-kindness
and universal friendship? The day he stops the greetings is the day
he had given up on me as a friend, because he realises his is an unrequitted
friendship? Maybe I should ask when his birthday is - though I'm not
a birthday-fussy person myself. -shiqin
I saw it yesterday - how the pure Dharma can be mistaken
even by monks and nuns to be non-Dharma. Vice versa, I saw how a layperson
need not be a "layman" per se in Dharma experience and understanding.
I hope these are not strong signs of the thickening of the Dharma-ending
age, if it is already here (which many argue it is not). It has taught
me to more deeply respect laypersons and not to overly idealise non-laypersons.
This is being realistic. -Zyrius Grey
You are invited to be a fellow moonpointer here
Reality is not a thing;
Reality is that every"thing" changes.
-stonepeace (Inspired by the Diamond Sutra)
How do you repay the unconditional compassion of others?
By doing what they would like you to do -
by being unconditionally compassionate to others.
03/01/05 01:25 AM
How to skillfully use any sacred relics of the enlightened you may have
at home - Store them in a small stupa and circumambulate them while
chanting mantras (such as "Om Mani Padme Hum", the mantra
of universal compassion) daily as part of your practice. (The reverent
circumambulation of stupas and relics, which are symbols of enlightenment
bring much merits.) After that, dedicate the merits to the well being
of all beings. Let's not just let the relics sit on the shrine while
we only admire them once in a while. The above is now part of my daily
evening puja routine. This practice also keeps the thought of compassion
going and growing. The simple idea above came to mind when I was thinking
a few days ago as to how I can generate more positive spiritual energy
(merits) for the tsunami victims (current estimated death toll: 144,000+
going on 150,000). Even in the light of the disaster, may everyone have
a happy new year! -zeph
01/01/05 11:42 AM