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Stonepeace Old Archives Page 15 of 27

Letting Desires Rise

While many of us might know that we have the choice of not following our desires, we might not be aware that we also have the choice of not letting desires arise. Enlightenment is attained not by not following our desires; but by being able to permanently stop desire from arising in the first place. This is the part of the practice of Right Effort in the Noble Eightfold Path- not allowing unwholesome thoughts from arising. We think we are passive observers of desires that rise and fall when we are in fact unmindful active producers of these very desires. We are victims who victimise ourselves!

Sweeping Leaves

Some of us were sweeping the temple yard in the morning where there is a Bodhi tree. It took quite some effort as some of the leaves were stuck to the wet cement ground. Anyway, the wind just blew by this afternoon and rustled the tree... And there we have it, leaves for our morning chore tomorrow. Here's my much rendered version of a Zen story inspired by the above-

Disciple: Why do we keep sweeping the leaves?
Master: Because they keep falling.
Disciple: Why don't we chop the tree instead?
Master: Why don't you chop your impatience and laziness instead?
Disciple: But it's really a waste of time and effort!
Master: See your impatience and laziness rising now? Sweeping the leaves is thus not so simple- it is sweeping away your impatience and laziness.
Disciple: But... it's such a mundane repetitive task.
Master: Mundane tasks can be done mundanely. Spiritual practice is doing mundane tasks spiritually. Isn't it an exercise for training patience, effort, mindfulness... Do not separate your tasks into the mundane and spiritual.

Enlightenment can be attained while doing any task. How well we take up and handle the mundane is the measure of how far we have transcended them while perfecting them. Be thankful there are enough so-called mundane tasks for you to actively practise and measure your spirituality!


So many "realisations" I meant to write forgotten. Right now, I can't seem to recall a good lesson I learnt this morning. I cannot say there is no attachment involved. But I do know I record them to share with others. Nope- this still renders it an attachment- but one more spiritually legitimate? Slightly maybe yes- but remember that no attachment is ever totally legitimate in the name of Enlightenment. Maybe I need a book-burning ritual, or, in my case, a soft-copy deleting ritual for these stuff?

Uen just came by and gave me the "What's up?" look as I write this into my pocket notebook. And I replied, "Convolutions!" Hong shook his head when he saw me holding my notebook.

Repetition (2)

Earlier, I mentioned about not liking to repeat high experiences. Likewise, I do not like to repeat low experiences. Does this means I have aversion to low experiences? Yes, of course. But when I say I do not like to repeat low experiences, it means I do not like to feel the routine arising of aversion over the same things. Any repetition means I have not grown out of that particular attachment yet (attachment to the experience being nasty- yes, attachment and aversion are two sides of the same coin that come together). We should go beyond duality altogether- highs and lows, and take things as they are without adding in the deluded complications of our feelings of like and dislike.

Repetition (1)

There are a whole bunch of experiences that we have to repeat in order to survive- eat, sleep, shit (sorry if it sounds nasty, but that's a truly routine must of life) ... But I don't believe in deiberately repeating experiences if I can help it. Constant repetition of unnecessary experiences means we are most likely hooked on them. Addiction can be subtle. How often do we realise we are addicted to life? That's why we keep coming back life after life.
Spirituality can be a drug too. How then, you might ask, can we advance towards Enlightenment if we do not repeat our spiritual highs? (Here, I speak of "high" in a generic way- think of it as your highest "landmark achievement" in spiritual practice so far) Simple- go higher an higher, and transcend all! Enlightenment is attained when we have reached a spiritual high so high that we transcend to the other shore of Nirvana. Being hooked to your previous high, such as your most beautiful jhanic experience, will only bring you so high. In anticipation of repeating past highs, we lose greater heights. Remember that the Jhanas are only milestones or stepping stones to insight meditation.
A good lesson comes from the Buddha's previous 2 meditation teachers who got hooked to 2 of the highest planes of the formless jhanas and ended up reborn there for aeons, missing the Buddha's teaching. Highs can thus be tantalising but deadly traps in the guise of "true" attainmments.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

If she really loves you, she'll let you go. And she'll want you to let her go too. For true love is freedom with no strings attached. On the other hand, if she doesn't love you, you're a fool to not let go of your attachment to her. Either way, whether she loves you or loves you not, a love that clings from either or both sides is imperfect. But a love that does not cling is already not worldly love! Worldly love is that which struggles and oscillates between holding on and letting go on both sides. This in fact, is what makes the courtship phase of playing hard-to-get, lovers' squabbles and of the like "intriguing"! This is the nature of Samsara- always an interplay of duality. Holding on and letting go; attachment and aversion; love and hate; life and death.

At first, it seems interesting- the stuff romances are made of. But if you were to delve deeply enough into the actual experiences repetitively, it becomes overwhelmingly sickening, nauseating- a merry-go-round that went too many rounds. When you want out, that is the thought of renunication, of letting go. Thankfully, the process of getting off the unmerry-go-round is more interesting than riding it. Am not asking you to renounce your worldly love- but reminding you that good love leads to unbinding, not more


The courage of the Buddha when He was still an ascetic, was in his resloute determination to discover the path to the end of suffering for all beings. I find it very brave because He was setting forth on the premise that there was a solution when there might be none. I mean, what if the puzzle of the suffering of life and death was a like a trick or faulty rubik cube with no solution? The Buddha was staking His entire life on the possibility of finding a solution. But it wasn't like any other gamble. It was the worthiest gamble... and boy, aren't we all glad He took the gamble and won the Truth!

The First Taxi

Lynn: I think I'll take the first taxi on this road. Seems unfair if I don't.
Zeph: But it's such a long road- where is the first taxi? Likewise, when we are waiting for a taxi on an open road and someone suddenly comes before you to flag one, we tend to think he cut queue- be it intentionally or not. But the question is- Is there a queue in the first place? If yes, where is it? Is the end of the queue always behind you and not in front? If there is a queue, maybe YOU cut queue!
Lynn: Okay! I'll take the first taxi- after the traffic light.
Zeph: Haha taking a reference point. Yup, first or last is relative. Much of our suffering comes from not realising we are fighting over the relative. Only with the attainment of the absolute (Nirvana) is there True Happiness.

Dessert Practice

Daily practice is the main course as it is a must.
So any other additional practice is dessert.
Dessert can never replace the main course.
But do not take dessert for granted as it enriches life.


Reading Too Much Meaning

Sim told me that recently, he kept encountering certain persons here and there wherever he goes to. He asked me what I thought of it- whether it meant anything significant. I replied that he was reading too much into the chain of coincidences. Coincidences happen karmically by cause and effect and when a chain of coincidences happen, it simply means there was a chain of similar causes created in the past. There is no particular omen-like significance to it. I even remarked that reading speculative meaning into incidents unnecessarily is a thinking disease that should be done away with! In short, I was downright denying there was any special meaning in the coincidences.

Sim gave me a surprising rebuttal. He said that just as he was attached to the speculation that there was some special meaning, I was attached to the speculation that there was no special meaning! In both cases, we were reading some meaning into the coincidences. He was reading the meaning of some meaning, and I was reading the meaning of no meaning! Perhaps, when he asked for my thoughts in the first place, I should have maintained a Zen-like silence or gave him a Zen yell to snap him and myself out of all speculation!

Whiling Away, Wasting Away

I see a girl on the train playing Gameboy furiously. Her phone rings and she puts the gameset aside and talks excitedly into the phone. When the call ended, she looked out of the window to check what station the train was at... before returning to the game. I wonder how often she does the gaming. Yes it might just be my perception, but she gives me the impression that she feels she has too much time to kill. Makes me think that she sees the phonecall, reaching her destination and such, as part of her real life and the gaps in between boring, to be whiled away with. She might be thinking she was cleverly making use of her spare time, when she could be mindlessly killing precious time. The gaps in between our busy tasks in life are just as real and important. These are the occasions where our minds can take a breather and reflect or meditate. These are precious moments not to be wasted away.


Although "Karma" means intentional "Action", we should also remember that inaction is also an action, though a passive one. But inaction is also an active action in the sense that there is a moment during which we actively and intentionally choose to ignore something that can be done- be it out of good or evil. Thus, both passivity and pro-activity can have as much devastating and/or beneficial effects for oneself and/or others.

Special Bonus

What can be one of the worst case scenerio of constantly hanging on to a samsaric thought when alive? For instance, if you keep wanting love, and a car whizzes by and whams you in a case of hit-and-run on a deserted highway, your last thought might be, "Damn! This is so unfair! I have not experienced love yet!" This is enough to propel you to your next samsaric birth. It is thus advisable for us to hanker on as little attachments as we can when alive, especially strong ones.

We should see the fulfilment of all our attachments as bonuses. Yes, even love is a bonus. It is wiser to think of being loved as a bonus rather than a birthright. But it is a special bonus- you can always give this bonus to others without wanting any return of it. Like I said, it's a bonus- if your love is requitted, it's a bonus for you. What makes worldly love worldly is that it cannot stand the test of love being unrequitted- at least not for long. The Bodhisattvas are ones who love unconditionally- who give free love again and again despite it being unreciprocated. This is perfected love. Parental love sometimes resemble this love. But being unenlightened, imperfect parental love is often given without thought of wanting reciprocation, but given with the lack of wisdom.


While we should learn to see the goodness (non-cracks) in other cracked pots,
we should learn to see the "badness" in our own cracks.
In the end, it is self-reflection that will save each and every being.
We ourselves, have to self-reflect- for we are the cause for our salvation.
Others, have to self-reflect- for we can only be conditioning factors for their salvation.

Even when we hold up a mirror for others to see themselves, they have to look into it to see.

To Cherish All Life

"Buddhists who insist on vegetarianism have a simple and compelling argument to support their case. Eating meat encourages an industry that causes cruelty and death to millions of animals and a truly compassionate person would wish to mitigate (ie. to moderate (a quality or condition) in force or intensity; alleviate) all this suffering. By refusing to eat meat one can do just that."

-Roshi Philip Kapleau (To Cherish All Life)

Samsara & Nirvana

"Happy is one who knows Samsara and Nirvana are not two".

-Milarepa, "Drinking the Mountain Stream"

As long as we see Samsara and Nirvana as dual conflicting opposites,
we will, if we are in Samsara too deep,
have attachment to Samsara and aversion for Nirvana.
If we yearn for Nirvana too much,
we will have attachment to Nirvana and aversion for Samsara.
And this duality of attachment and aversion is Samsara itself-
they have to be dissolved for Nirvana to be attained.
And when they are dissolved in Nirvana,
what conflict will Samsara have with Nirvana anymore?

Thursday, December 19, 2002
Purpose of Life

The purpose of life to the wise is not to simply fulfill an endless string of tasks big and small;
but to ensure this string leads to the spiritual fulfulment ot True Happiness of one and all.
The spirit this is done in is called Compassion
and the way it is done called Wisdom.


My toddler nephew of two came into my room and grabbed a pocket calendar lying on my desk. I grabbed the other end and he began brawling a spoilt-child brawl, as he tugged and tugged, while I was passively holding on with one hand while surfing with another. The calendar was crumpled but it didn't matter to me and we all know it can't truly matter to him. My Mum came along and coaxed me to give it to him. I refused, saying this is something he has to grow out of for him to grow up. It's good to let kids have a taste of the dissatisfaction that arises from not getting what one desires early- especially when what they want they don't need or deserve!

I managed to loose his grip on the calendar- as he went to a corner of my room, carrying on screaming away. I took out my Canon S45 and made a short clip of him crying. I then playbacked the clip at maximum volume to let him see and hear. He was surprised, puzzled and stopped crying. Throughout, I did not say a word. I was only being his mirror. He grabbed and I grabbed. He cried and I showed him his crying. Haha... sometimes self-reflection at our absurdity helps us snap out of our nonsense instantaneously.

Cyberspace is Not Enough

If we have a window to the entire realm of multimedia cyberspace in our home, with all kinds of entertainment for the senses, and so much more to come with advances in virtual reality (I'm talking about the www and of the like), ... and yet have the capacity to feel bored at the same time, it suggests so clearly, that the fulfilment of True Happiness is not in space or cyberspace. I like this simple but true revelation- makes seeking Enlightenment so sensible.


Only just a minute ago, as Mum came into my room to close the windows, in the anticipation of a drizzle turning into a heavy shower, I realised that I took this long to get over any contempt for rain. "Foul" weather in terms of rain hardly fouls my mood anymore- despite it greying the skies, making me key this in grey light now. Somehow, over the years, I'd finally accepted it as something whose arrival I can't predict, as something neither good nor bad in itself. (Let's face it, while the rain might "spoil" the picnic in the park, the trees in the park need it!) Okay okay... congratulations then... But there's more to go. There's haze to learn feel equanimity to for example...

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