Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cherish your Stupidity

If you feel stupid, you should cherish that feeling. You are growing up.

There are no shortcuts to intelligence. Heck I don't know what intelligence is, but whenever I feel that I'm stupid or I have been stupid, I feel less stupid. There is a word play here. Intelligent, wise, knowledgeable: different people might interpret the meanings differently. I cant draw the lines.

People with good IQ or people with the ability solve maths are not necessarily intelligent or wise. I don't know the right word anyway. So does people who passes exams with flying colors, getting through to posh universities, doing fancy jobs, with superior language skills.

Becoming wise (not Enlightened) is not a destination. It's a journey.

Most importantly, wisdom without compassion never takes off. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Freedom from Fear :)

Something wonderful happened to me in the bus the other day. As I was sitting in the last row of the bus, the well built man sitting next to me was suddenly looking at a direction, being very inquisitive. When someone does that, others' follow. Me too took a peek-a-book. And in that moment, the well built man put his hand inside my bag. hoping to get out something valuable. I saw it and I, involuntarily,  put my hand on my bag. The man  took his hand out and apologized. Yeah, he was a thief with manners.

I was terrified. I was hoping that this man would follow me around Pettah when I get down the bus. Here is the fun part full of wisdom, the stream of consciousness. I let go. I had couple of 1000ds and, my phone in my bag. But I let go of everything. Whats the big deal. The fear disappeared. I was free from fear.

:) :D

But don't leave the bag open, even a lil bit. It is an invitation for thieves.

~ finis ~

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

9 Facebook habits that annoy the fish out of me

But who am I to judge how other should behave on facebook.

1. Duplicate facebook accounts, and adding me from both.

2. Everybody knows that game request annoy us. So does invitations for facebook pages.

3. Asking to like their photos. I mean get real. How pathetic is that.

4. Tagging on images that are not photos. And doing it a lot.

5. Asking to like photos for charity so that facebook will pay for them. Rubbish.

6. Changing your name to some rubbish is so freaking ridiculous. On top of that having a picture of a cat as the profile pic. Anooying.

7. Adding me to looong, irrelevant chat conversations and filling my inbox.

8. Sending friend requests without profile pictures.

9. Telling others how to behave on facebook. :P I mean, seriously.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Living with Pain by Venerable Visuddacara

by Venerable Visuddhacara

"Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it." - Tagore

Pain is a fact of life and the sooner we learn to live with the better. It has often been said that Buddhism is a pessimistic religion because it harps on the fact of suffering. It has also been pointed out that Buddhism is not pessimistic but realistic.

Refusing to acknowledge pain in our lives does not make the pain go away. Like it or not, all of us have to succumb to old age, disease and death, that is if our life is not suddenly cut off at an early age.

It has also been said that Buddhism is in fact optimistic in that Buddha precribes a way out of the vicious cycle of birth and death and suffering. So there is hope for all of us. We need not despair. We can work towards liberation. Buddhism is actually a teaching of liberation. It harps on suffering only because it has to wake us up from out pathetic ignorance of the unsatisfactory situation we are presently in.

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell put it nicely when he said, "The secret of happiness lies in facing up to the fact that life is horrible, horrible, horrible." The reason is simple. If we know that suffering is inherent in life, then when suffering visits us, we wouldn't be too surprised. Of course we will try to alleviate or overcome it, but when that is not possible, such as when we are having an incurable disease, we can accept and learn to live with it. On the other hand, the person who refuses to acknowledge the fact of sufferings, suffer all the more when he finds difficulty in reconciling with his suffering.

How do we learn to cope with pain? Mindfulness is the key. It can help us to live remarkably well with pain. A meditator, for instance, can observe painful sensations during his sitting meditation. He can "go into" the pain, sort of be one with it. He can feel it. He can observe its intensity. He can see its changes, how like the music in an orchestra, it increases to a deafening crescendo, or how it rises and falls as if in waves. He can watch it calmly without mental pain or resistance.

In such a case, there is only physical pain but no mental distress. One is observing the pain as a mere sensation. One would not identify it as "my pain" or "I am in great pain", or "This pain is killing me. It is terrible. When will it go away? If only it will go away". Such thoughts need not arise; for when mindfulness is strong, the idea of self does not arise. One does not take the pain as belonging to a self. Rather one see it as a mere process, that it is merely pain that arises and pain that passes away. Here, there is pain but no sufferings.

Another condition can be attained ... a condition of ecstasy.  A condition so far from what the people of planet Earthexperience it's not even discussable.

A non-meditator may find this hard to understand but experienced meditators can vouch that even excruciating pain can be watched calmly. Of course, this is not easy. But the meditator who keeps at it will eventually acquire this ability to observe the pain. With repeated effort and noting, his mental "muscles", so to speak, will become strong.

When we can observe pain thus, we will come to have less fear or no fear of pain. And therefore when pain comes in our daily life, we can face it. We can observe and endure it. We can turn it into just another meditation object! We can live and work with it. This ability to cope with pain is a very desirable benefit that comes with mindfulness meditation.

Monks takes robes leaving their worldly pleasures for something that is even more pleasurable. 
In fact, this practice of mindfulness has become popular in the West. In the US, the Stress Reduction Clinic at the Univ of Massachusetts Medical Ctre has for the past 10 yrs successfully been using Buddhist mindfulness techniques to help patients cope with pain. The Clinic runs an 8 weeks' mindfulness course of 45 mins per day, 6 days a wk. The course has been so successful that the Clinic has made a video program of the mindfulness technique. The 1-hr video World of Relazation has become so popular it had been purchased by over a hundred hospitals in America & Canada.

The Mindfulness Clinic was started by John Kabat-Zinn, PhD, an associate Prof of Medicine. Dr Kabat-Zinn who is a meditator is internationally known for his work using mindfulness meditation to help patients cope with chronic pain and stress. More than 4,000 people from all walks of life, incl doctors, heart specialists, executives, businessmen, teachers & judges, had taken part in his stress reduction program using mindfulness techniques.

Patients with problems ranging from headaches, high blood pressure & back pain to heart disease, cancer ; AIDs, had been referred by doctors to his Clinic. One elderly patient who came of a wheelchair with severe pain in his feet told the class on his first day that his pain was so severe, he just wanted to cut his feet off. At the end of the 8-wk course, he had progressed from wheelchair to crutches to cane. The pain, he said, had not changed much but his attitude towards the pain had changed a lot. He found it more bearable after he started meditating.

Another patient who suffered from a series of chronic aliments - hypertension, coronary disease, ulcers, arthritis, lupus and urinary tract infections - coped remarkably well with her pain and stress after taking up mindfulness practice. She slept better, her blood pressure dropped and her symptoms and pain decreased dramatically.

Her story and that of many other patients who found relief or a refreshing new way of living through minfulness had been documented by Dr Kabat-Zinn in his book, Full Catastrophe Living, published in America in July 1991.

In recommending mindfulness practice as a way of reducing stress, coping with pain and finding peace of mind, Dr Kabat- Zinn said, "There are no drugs that will make you immune to stress or to pain or that will by themselves magically solve your life's problems or promote healing. It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing and inner peace. This means learning to work with the very stress and pain that is causing you to suffer."

Look at the big picture of the wheel of life. Above it, there is a Buddha. He is pointing, not towards the wheel, but away from it. He is indicating that there is something else - nirvana.

Pain is something we can work with, if we know how to apply mindfulness. Mindfulness gives us mental stability and courage. With mindfulness we can face any situation without fear or anxiety. We can take them all in our stride. Not only will we live well and be a source of good cheer, solace and inspiration to others, we will also be able to die well.

Ven Visuddhacara from Malaysia had written on how one can use Mindfulness to work with pain. It is in one chapter of his book "Drinking Tea, Living Life - Applying Mindfulness in Everyday Life & Critical Times".Below is a condensed version of that chapter.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Meditation and Bipolar

As I see it, meditation creates an equilibrium in our mind. Our mind is on a rapid flux. It fluctuates from moods such as anger, depression to bright happiness that prevents us from seeing what's happening around us. Due to these moods we take wrong decisions, make mis-judgements.

In Anapanasati (breathing) meditation, we focus our mind on the breath gradually. First we start by experiences the sensory inputs (what we see, feel, hear, thoughts, perceptions, feelings) as they are. We are aware of what's happening around us. Then we focus on our breath, gradually creating an equilibrium.

The more we are exposed to this equilibrium, we develop a mind that leans towards the equilibrium. It stays there even after we get up from the cushion. Thats the difference with meditation. It creates a permanent effect, unlike meth, although makes you "happy", leaves you with cruel side-effects.

Whatever the biological factors that cause bipolar disorder, our mind also plays a big role in our unstable moods. Except in extreme cases (your psychiatrist should judge that for you), you can train your mind and be prepared for an bipolar outbreak. Theoretically (as I have had not had the opportunity to experience bipolar), the gap between the fluctuations should lesson with meditation. With the continuous practice, the instability will cease.

When life gives you bipolar, you can meditate.

There are so many articles on bipolar and meditation. Please comment if you find good ones.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Thumbs Down - Kandy Railway Station

Fort-Kandy railway journey is a must to have. I have had the exotic opportunity to experience the joyous journey yesterday. Unfortunately, I won't be talking about that today. The bad impression made by the Sri Lankan railway rose upon the joy of the train ride.

The station itself was so messy. It looked as if they have done nothing to improve it after the departure of the British rulers who established the Sri Lankan railway.

Station was dilapidated and messy. It was not clean. The newly imported coaches shone brightly in the unmended platform.

It took such a long time for me to figure out the train schedule. Station had several boards displaying the train schedule. I did not know which one was updated and which one was accurate. Someone was seen dialing down the clocks in the blackboard by hand. How modern that it? Even that was messy. It was quite hard to figure out the times, whether the train or express or fast? etc.

I was in queue waiting to get a 4 PM train ticket to Fort. When I finally met him he told me to come back after sometime. He was rude; callous; unhelpful. If it was mentioned in a board or something, I would have saved some time.

Contrary to the popular belief that government offices are inefficient, i thought that the offices have grown. But the Kandy railway incident deeply reversed my good opinion. Good opinion once, twice, thrice lost tends to lost forever.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Buddhist Approach to Stubbornness in Children

By Venerable Panyananda Bhikkhu from his book Love Your Children The Right Way 

DEAR PARENTS, Please listen to me again about this important matter. Several days ago, a lady came to see me at the temple. She said she had only one son but he was trouble for her. I asked her how. She told me that her son was very stubborn. He did not listen to her at all and always acted as he pleased. Any time she disagreed with him there would be big trouble. When he became angry he would break things, which were close to him at the time. I listened and could not help feel pity on her and on that boy as well.

Mothers always have problems with stubborn children. If the children cannot be cured, the stubbornness will become a bad habit. When they grow up they may become hotheaded and cruel. I knew another boy. When he was young he would always be angry at something. When he became angry he would hit his head against the wall every time. The parents had to help each other hold him and talk to him to calm him down. After a short time, this family moved away. I met this boy again when he grew up to be a nice young man. He seemed to have changed and became a decent cool-headed man and not a quick-tempered one any more. It was probably due to the fact that his parents had corrected his condition in time. Ill-tempered children bring a great deal of heartache into the family. We should look at this issue as well.

One way to correct the stubbornness in children is by improving the behaviour of other people in the family. The fact of the matter is the children will not know anger if we do not teach them to be angry. The children will not know stubbornness if we don’t teach them stubbornness. The mistake in cases like this is usually that of the adults more than that of the children. The children are always innocent by nature. They don’t know how to do evil things yet. If we want to compare them to an object then they are like a piece of clean white cloth. It has not been stained by dirt. Nothing has contaminated the white cloth. It is the same for the children. Their minds are still controlled by nature. They have only a few needs. They also act in a direct way without any tricks up their sleeves. We have a duty to bring up our children, but we have not learned to know about their needs. For example, they may be busy doing something on their own and are having fun in their own little way. The adults do not understand what the children are doing and they do something against their wishes because the adults are only thinking about themselves. That makes the children angry but they don’t know how to justify their action. They don’t know how to tell what is inside their mind so they show their reaction by getting mad. If the adults force them more, they will become angrier and the reaction will be as strong as the action of the parents. You will end up thinking that your children are stubborn and do not want to comply with your command.

Why don’t you try thinking about yourself for a minute? Suppose you are enjoying yourself doing something and some one interrupts, you probably will be unhappy too. That kind of interruption is the thing that irritates people. The irritation, which occurs frequently in the mind of anybody, is a sure way to accumulate anger little by little. Eventually that person will be easily provoked and becomes angry-prone. Any person in anger does not know one’s self, does not know reasons and does not know anybody. Listening to nobody is a sign of stubbornness. So we can conclude that to contradict the children often will turn them to be easily provoked and angry-prone. The grown-ups must be very careful about this. Both children and adults love freedom. Give freedom to the children and don’t get involved with them too much. This is when the parents are usually wrong. They try to get involved too much. They lack understanding about their children. We can easily see in the following example.

A little girl is enjoying herself playing with a new toy. She is having fun with it. An adult comes by and picks up the toy to take a look at it without asking. The girl is unhappy because she was enjoying it. We interrupted her enjoyment all of a sudden. The girl is unhappy and shows her resentment. When we see that she is unhappy we want to make her angry seeing that it is a fun thing to do for the adult. But it is no fun for the little girl. She is angry because she is unfairly treated. The adult actually loves the girl and wanted to play with her. But she does not understand the intention of the adult. The adult does not know the feeling of the girl. So the two don’t get along. The little girl is at a disadvantage. Such action by the adult made her angry. When she is angry we punish her and we blame her for being a cry baby. This is actually the fault of the adult.

We adults should remember not to interfere with the children’s business before they have agreed to let us get involved. For example, if we want to take a look at their toys. In stead of taking your liberty to look at the toys, you should compliment them first and act like you want to see the toys. “Do you mind letting me see your toy?” They would say, “Of course not.” Then you can look at it, as you so desire. This is the right way to do it and it will not hurt their feelings. It will not anger them as well.

When the children are playing with their friends in a make believe situation such as playing at selling goods. You will see that they act as sellers and buyers with all kinds of things for sale. The buyers are buying and bargaining just like the way they have seen and remembered. You see them you may feel the love for them all of a sudden. The love in you makes you do things without any constraint. You go to your child and kiss her with love. You thought that your child would love it but you were wrong. The thought of the children were still with their world of make believe. They are sellers and buyers. How could you embrace a seller? They may feel that they will lose the money from damaged goods. They are not happy and they may be angry and cry. Then you were mistaken again for thinking that your children were too sensitive and they get mad all the time. It was you who were at fault to interfere with their business needlessly. Remember always not to interfere with the children when they are having fun playing. As a matter of fact, you should be thankful that they are not bothering you and leave you to do your work by playing like that.

On some occasions, your children were interested in something. They were paying full attention to that so much that they forgot all other things. They were concentrating on that particular thing and you wanted them to do something for you or you wanted them to come to you to do an errand. You called them once, you called them twice and they still did not move. You started to feel angry and said, “What kind of a son your are. I called you twice and you did not come to me.” If you became angry easily, you might beat your children and they would get hurt in vain because here again the adults were wrong. Please understand that the mind of the children can concentrate more easily than that of the adults. When they are doing something, they cannot hear anybody calling them at all. Don’t be angry with them. Be angry with your self for lacking an insight to do the proper thing. If you want to talk to the children, look and see what they are doing first. If there is no real need, do not try to separate them from the interest they have in whatever they are doing. When you need to ask them to do something, approach them and draw their attention from their _activity to you. Then you may ask them to do whatever you want them to do. Your children will understand and their feelings will not be hurt as well. The relationship should improve this way.

Some children like to do things as they please. When they do anything like that it does not mean that they are pretending but they have not understood the right and wrong in this world. They just do it because they are naive. The adults may feel frustrated by this kind of behaviour and will be offended by it because they think the children are so naughty. Sometimes you will forbid them to do things by saying, “Stop! Don’t! Come here! This boy is so naughty!” To do that is totally wrong. Words like that come from a depressed mind. A depressed person has a sad face and the action is gross due to the depressed mind. You are showing a bad image of yourself to your children. They may remember this image and do the same thing to you later on. Besides, your action like that may provoke the children. It is of no use to you and to the children when you release a poisonous rage in your mind. Please refrain from doing anything like that. If you see your children doing improper or bad things, tell them nicely Show them your love first then talk in a way to make them understand. In general, the children tend to be good to start with. Try to support them. But some parents love to compliment the children and spoil them unwittingly. For example, there are guests in the house. Because you never taught your children before or because your children stay close to you all the time, and the children can never stay put like puppets, while you are enjoying yourself talking to the guests, the children start doing their own things. You may tell your guests that, “Oh! This little guy is very naughty.” Or you may say, “This boy is very good.” This kind of remarks may anger the children. They may think you want them to be that way. This is a no win situation. So it is better not to say anything at all about them.

There are parents who train their children to receive bribes. For example, when the children are angry and crying, and making all kinds of obnoxious gestures, you are annoyed by the way they cry and do not know what to do to stop it so you give them a bribe. “Be quiet, I will take you to a movie. Be quiet, I will give you some cookies.” The children are happy that they will be going to a movie; they are happy that they will be given a cookie; so they stop crying and get whatever they want. Or some of you may forget the promise you have given to the children. The results are two ways. If the children get as promised, they will have a bad habit or wanting all the time. If they don’t get as promised, they will think that you don’t keep your promise. It is a no win situation as well. So I want to remind you not to bribe your children — they will be spoiled. This is just like the situation we have in Thailand with the people taking bribes in this day and age. This is a shameful thing, to say the least.

If your children start being easily provoked. They get angry very often. You have to try to correct the habit. If you leave it like that too long, the anger will stick to the mind of your children and it is hard to get rid of it. To correct this depends on the example in the family, i.e. the parents, the nanny and other people close to the children. Everybody must be careful not to show anger for the children to see. Do not argue in front of the children. This is an improvement on the part of the environment in the family first. Then try to find out the cause of the anger of the children. Hopefully it is something you can discover. Usually it is something inside your own family. Try to learn about the needs of the children as much as possible in order to be able to comply with their wishes. As mentioned before, to contradict the children often will make the children easily provoked. The children do not know anger if the grown-ups do not teach them to be angry. This is a basic principle, which the grown-ups must recognize.

children do not know anger if the grown-ups do not teach them to be angry. This is a basic principle, which the grown-ups must recognize. ing and playing to a certain degree. Allow them to be alone or to have fun with their friends. The adults should not be involved with them so much but only to watch what is going on. It is something like some one who keeps a watch on an engine. When the engine is running smoothly, he does not bother it any more except listening to the noise to hear whether it is running properly. It is the same for adults and children. If there are no needs, don’t bother. It is the best way. But whenever they want us to get involved, you must do it with a cool head and with loving kindness and compassion just to allow them to see that we are there to help only. When you see that something will bring harm to the children, you should do or say something to make them understand that it is not the right thing for them to do. And you don’t like what you see. The children will understand and will behave accordingly. Remember always that:

Children will do as the examples they see often. No matter the example is good or bad. Grown-ups should behave well to set good example for the children. Whenever you are in a bad mood, don’t go near your children. A bad mood can do anything improper to your children. Love and compassion are important tools to help your children become good persons by receiving good example from the parents. You, the parents, should be proud to have a chance to make some one a really good person. Your status and your job are not a limit, which prevent you from doing the right thing for your children. Please turn your attention more to your offspring. They will brighten you up in doing their good deeds. A parent is a big mirror, which gives a reflection for your children to see. Try to clean up the mirror and show a good image for your children to remember it for a long time.