- the fullest moon reflects on the stillest water -

MoonCentral (Archive : Jan 2005)

Serious Humour

A new ad with a serious message with a touch of subtle humour by zlyrica here.
Hope you will heed the message and get the "joke."

29/01/05 01:16 AM

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 the continent.

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 too. -shian

29/01/05 12:29 AM

Alternative Perpectives on the Relation of Karma and the Tsunamis

Awe-inspiring! 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.

If 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 (gods).

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:

1. Utu 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 results)
4. Dharma Niyama - Order of the norm
    (Eg. Natural phenomena occurring at last birth of a Bodhisatta, gravity
    and other similar laws of nature)
5. Citta Niyama - Order of mind and psychic law
    (Eg. Processes of consciousness, telepathy, telesthesia, retrocognition, premonition, clairvoyance,
    clairaudience and other psychic phenomena inexplicable to science)

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 Him.

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

27/01/05 03:22 AM

No Rule is the Best Rule

Christopher Hutsul (TheStar.com)

'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 street" design.

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

26/01/05 10:20 PM

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.


26/01/05 12:17 AM

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)

25/01/05 01:24 AM

Give till...

First, give as you wish...
         (as you are easily comfortable with)
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

23/01/05 12:16 PM

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

21/01/05 02:13 AM

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

20/01/05 01:12 AM

Already Free

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

18/01/05 12:39 AM

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 speech here)

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

16/01/05 02:54 PM

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

16/01/05 02:10 PM

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

16/01/05 01:51 PM

She's A Working Girl

This came in my email from a friend at 6.22pm from her office:

~A yell in cyber space.....................................
Sorry :P Just venting my frustration

My reply:

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

13/01/05 12:28 AM

Dharma Protectors

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.

12/01/05 11:46 PM

Simplified Masthead

As 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 .

11 Jan 2004 Design

12/01/05 01:29 AM

Introducing TheDailyEnlightenment

Launch Flash Diary

Check this out... TDE-Weekly, a Dharma sharing project created by one of the creators of moonpointer -

Are you a member yet?

11/01/05 08:40 PM

Right Livelihood

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

11/01/05 08:25 PM

Worthy Difficulty

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

11/01/05 12:03 AM

Some Samsaric Stuff

A direct link to Some Samsaric Stuff, which is easily missed, previously listed only in Zeph's 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!

10/01/05 11:55 AM

Crowd Mentality

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

10/01/05 12:01 AM

Swirl On

Zlyrica has 5 new entries pls a movie review. Do visit Silent Swirl. If you are observant, you'll notice that Zeph's Journal's banner design has changed. It is now more three-dimensional, courtesy of Zlyrica.

09/01/05 10:30 PM

Daily Blogging

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 :-[

09/01/05 09:55 PM

City of Glass

Book Excerpt  Book Cover

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". -Shiqin

07/01/05 11:25 PM

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 Grey

07/01/05 12:00 AM

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. -zeph

06/01/05 12:09 AM

Hey Hello!

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 it. -shiqin

05/01/05 12:14 AM

Happy Birthday

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

05/01/05 12:07 AM


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

04/01/05 12:25 AM

Unseen 1

You are invited to be a fellow moonpointer here :-]

04/01/05 12:01 AM

Reality Thingie

Reality is not a thing;
Reality is that every"thing" changes.

(Inspired by the Diamond Sutra)

03/01/05 11:54 PM

Repaying Compassion

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

Using Relics

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

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