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Stonepeace Old Archives Page 17 of 27

Forgiveness & Letting Go

Forgiveness, letting go... These things are always double-sided. When we read such article on forgiveness, about letting go of our grievances of others' actions, we tend to put ourselves in the position of the poor person who is "wronged", who needs to forgive some "scum" who did us some injustice or who is prejudiced towards us.

But how often do we put ourselves the other way round? Have we done something unfair to others- that we need to ask forgiveness of? Sometimes we are the "scum" in question. What are we waiting for then? In the hope that our mistakes be forgotten in time? In the hope that workings of karma had skipped a beat in "registering" our misdeeds?

While we should readily forgive, we should let go of wanting an apology from those whom we feel should ask for our forgiveness. Forgive others even if they do not ask for your forgiveness. The first person you let off the hook is yourself, not the person in question.

If you trust the Dharma, trust karma. Water will find its way to the sea through a thousand crevices in the highest mountains- injustices will be levelled out. But this is not to say we should simply let nature run its course. The practising Bodhisattva's nature is to right wrongs best he can with his compassion and wisdom till he realizes his efforts are ineffective. Only then does he gives it a rest... in the hope that another inspired skillful means will come to mind to help rectify the situation. We sui1 yuan1 (let things be) ONLY after we have tried our best. When a Bodhisattva practises sui yuan in the moment, he does not give up the future potential of helping the same being.
In the inexact words of Venerable Cheng Yan, "Do not let others' mistakes punish yourself." Conversely, I would like to add, "Do not punish others with your mistakes."

Like i said, these things are double-edged.

"Real forgiveness is the letting go of having let go."
"Forgiveness is for giving (forgiving)- don't keep it, don't wait to let go."


Attending to the Sick

"He who attends on the sick, attends on me." said the Buddha.
But attending to the Buddha will not make us a Buddha-
it is attending to our "sick" mind, when we attend to the "sick", that will make us Buddhas.
In the mean time, we are only "sick" potential Buddhas wishing wellness.
When we are totally healed, purged of our three poisons, we realise the real meaning of well-being- becoming Buddhas.

Sunday, November 24, 2002
Die Another Day?

Zeph: Do not live to die another day- die now- kill the ego bit by bit and start truly living now.
Kay: Live today- don't wait till your dying day to live.
Zeph: We are dying now.
Kay: So are we dyingly living or livingly dying?
Zeph: Both.
Kay: So what about a living veg? Is it living or dying?
Zeph: Both.
Kay: Question commonly asked- How are you?
Answer- Dyingly livingly breathing.
Zeph: Yup- life and death are not different- two sides of the same coin.
Kay: An insight learnt.

Ego Trip

If it wasn't a selfless act,
it was probably a subtle ego trip.

1 Moment

It only takes one moment to die.


Sunday, November 17, 2002
1 Precept

There is only one precept to keep.
That is to guard the mind.



How to be immeasurably happy?
Be happy of the happiness of immeasurable sentient beings.
Don't be infinitely sad-
of the immeasurable sadness of sentient beings-
for it doesn't help much.
Be immeasurably compassionate instead.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Friday Girl

A simple case of Mudita, appreciative joy.
When Friday comes,
I am reminded of the happiness of the Friday Girl,
who loves Fridays.
I smile and feel happy for her happiness.
I try not to imagine her blues from Monday to Thursday though.
But may she be well and happy everyday :-]

Almost Always

Sophie: You hold your views too strongly. You always think you are right.
Zeph: Not always! I must say I hold this view strongly! haha
Sophie: Almost always.
Zeph: Only if it is true.
Sophie: That's what you think. At times we might not bother to correct you because we know you will not listen or accept.
Zeph: Then that is a wrong perception- I am open to discussion.
Sophie: See! you are doing it again.
Zeph: We are both deluded people with strong views on this issue!
Sophie: It is only your perception. Who is to decide what is true?
Zeph: Say the keyword- stubborn- when you catch me next time- then we see if I become closed-minded.
Sophie: You will only argue your viewpoint until the cows come home.
Zeph: We are both deluded people with strong views on this issue!
Sophie: How to give you feedback when your first reaction is that the other party is wrong without giving it deeper thought? Ask for that second or third opinion. And give it more thought.
Zeph: Okay. Either you or me or both are wrong to some extent- because we are not enlightened. I tend to think the 3rd option is true.
What I meant was we are not totally right in our perception- not that you or me are totally right or wrong. I will watch my mind carefully on this and please alert me too- that's what spiritual friends are for- right?

Response to Response on "The Meaning of Life"

Thank you for your comments. Yes, the film could had been scripted better.

>Having seen your film, i feel that it is essentially dangerous to propagation the theory of "meaninglessness" and to push that the only meaning to life is to become Enlightened.

Although it states that "So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!", it also states that, "It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life."

>Even though I do subscribe to the latter, some people might interprete the first and second part of the movie as they can do anything they want because meaning is something they can commission and rule, much like a god onto themselves. thereby cultivating a selfish approach to life.

Although it states that, "It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life.", it also states that "So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!"

Thus, the film counters nihilism (meaninglessness and moral-lessness) with liberation and altruism (becoming enlightened). It is a sequential thinking process that leads the first to the latter point of view.

Dharma Cartoon: The Meaning of Life

Click here for a perspective on our existential dilemma.

Annotated Script of "The Meaning of Life"

Scene 1

A: What is the meaning of life?
This is the primordial question we ask when we become spiritually conscious enough.
B: You should first ask, "What is the meaning of meaning?"
Before we pursue answers to our questions, we should always pursue to meaning of our questions.

A: Meaning means meaning!
If something means other things? What does "meaning" itself mean? Does it mean itself? In this sense, meaning means "self-essence" or "self-nature" which does not really exists since meaning is derived from interdependent relationships.
B: Then life is life!
Life is itself too, just as the universe is itself. This is the macro view of life on the whole, of dependent origination, interbeing. All aspects of life interlink in itself.

A: But what is life?
B: Life is what you experience now- the sun, the wind and the waves...
Life is none other whan what we experience through the six senses in the moment. It is not beyond what you cannot experience as that is not meaningful to you in the moment. This is the micro view of life for the individual.

Scene 2

A: What does all these stuff we experience in life mean then?
It is perhaps the blessing and curse of sentient beings to question and seek meaning, and to suffer due to unanswered questions!
B: First ask whether they intend to mean anything.

A: I don't think so.
Things that happen to us, that we experience are essentially natural effects from causes and conditions. They do not mean anything by themselves. For example, failing an exam or falling rain does not intend to spoil your day.
B: So meaning is created by us.

A: What does this mean?
B: Everything is meaningless till you put meaning into it.
Life is meaningless to the individual till he has found, or unless he seeks, meaningfulness. This imputation of meaning applies also to each and every act we do and our response to things that happens to us.

Scene 3

A: So life, the universe and everything are essentially meaningless!
Essentially meaningless in the sense that each being or thing has no intrinsic meaning or significance in itself, only on the relative level, in connection to other things.
B: Not necessarily a good or bad thing- if you see what I mean!
This truth is not necessarily a good or bad thing- it is just as it is- till we choose to take sides- which is not necessary too. However, as we are unenlightened, we will habitually take sides.

A: What does it mean to you?
B: It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life.
This means we have no moral or spiritual obligations- free to choose to believe what is good or evil, free to choose whether to purify ourselves. But the wise urges us to walk the Noble Eightfold path, as reflected in the following line in red.

A: But why do that, since life, and even death, are actually meaningless?
B: So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!
Becoming enlightened here can refer to either the goal of self-liberation (Arahanthood) or the goal of liberation of all beings (Bodhisattvahood which leads to Buddhahood). Thus, the end of this film shows why it is perfectly rational to seek enlightenment, whether for oneself or all.


"I" am a magic trick
that continually fools and amazes "myself."

Thursday, November 07, 2002
Letting Go

Yuan: Gor, I dreamt of grandpa last night, I don't remember wat it was about, but I miss him. I feel horrid, can't even get a grip on myself.
Gor: That was just a dream- he had to let go of life- now you have to let go of him...

4 Dharma Cartoon Movies

1. The Truth is In Here
2. Conquering Mountains
3. Sad Moon
4. Watch It

Friday, November 01, 2002
Uninventing the Wheel of the Chicken & Egg Question

(M)arshall: Which came first- the chicken or the egg?
(Z)eph: Neither- Your ignorance first- to ask such a question-
to not realise that it arose from ignorance
before the chicken and egg question- an ignorant question from the depths of your ignorance.
M: But isn't this the primodial original question?
Z: No. the primodial question is "Where did our ignorance come from?"
It is the source of our dissatisfactions, of all our unanswered questions.
But we are often too ignorant about the question to ask it, and even when we do, we are too ignorant to know the answer.
In fact, to know where ignorance comes from is the end of ignorance itself- it is Enlightenment.
M: What can we do then?
Z: Just move towards wisdom, towards Enlightenment-
don't stay where you are or move backwards towards ignorance by asking ignorant questions.
When approaching the pure light of wisdom, the darkness of ignorance disappears.
No one can understand ignorance with ignorance; but only with wisdom.

The Noisy Silent Falling Tree

(Z)eph: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, is there a sound?
(M)arshall: I heard it while thinking about it.
Z: But I already said no one was there to hear it, why did you put yourself there?
M: ?...
Z: Try not to think of a pink elephant- can it be done?
M: When the first question was heard, the sound was heard- my mind moved.
Z: A sound is a sound only when you label it so with your thoughts-
otherwise, it is just meaningless air vibrations.
To understand yourself and the world, don't think about it-
silent your mind and observe without judgement.
This is meditation. The more silent you are, the more you hear, see.... naked reality.

Living in Emptiness

(C)lyde: What is the appropriate way to live? Where should our heart and mind dwell?
(Z)eph: In emptiness.
C: What is emptiness?
Z: The truth that because everything mental and material is changing all the time (Anicca).
Hence, there is no substantial thing or self (Anatta).
C: How to live in emptiness?
Z: In the middle way.
C: How to live in the middle way?
Z: To avoid all physical (bodily) and mental (attitude/concept) extremes.
To treasure everything in the moment because it is only here for the moment, (changing from moment to moment) and
to be unattached to everything in the moment because it is only here for the moment.
C: How can we treasure without being attached? Sounds paradoxical and impossible.
Z: Does the Buddha treasure all sentient beings?
C: Of course! With His perfect all embracing Compassion.
Z: Was He attached to them in any way?
C: Not in the least.
Z: That is treasuring without attaching.
This is living in emptiness with Compassion and Wisdom-
without which, you are no different from a piece of rock,
which also dwells in the same emptiness as every other thing and person in the universe,
whether it realises it or not, whether you realise it or not.
The difference is knowing and seeing this universal emptiness and living in it.


The problem is not the splinter in your flesh
but that you are a splinter in the flesh of the body of the universe.

As long as you do not rid yourself of the splinter of your "self",
of your delusion that you are separate from the universe,
you will be as you envision,
separate, stinking like a splinter everywhere you go,
causing suffering to yourself,
and the universe.

When the self moves,
the splinter twitches.
What pain!

Dissolve the splinter.
Realise non-self.
Be one with the universe,
be free.

Monday, October 28, 2002

It is terrible to desire and not possess,
and terrible to possess and not desire.

-W.B. Yeats (The Letters of W.B. Yeats)

It is terrible to desire-
because what we think we truly desire changes.
And what we truly need is to be beyond desire.
It is terrible to possess-
because what we think we possess for good changes into what we do not desire.

-Zeph (A Buddhist's Journal)

Waking Up in the Dark

Day in and out, my toddler nephew takes his afternoon nap in the bedroom. He would wake up at dusk, when the sunlight streaking in the thinly curtained window is almost no more. He wakes with a start, and wails miserably, as if the end of the world was here. He would scream and scream despite there being light beyond the open door, which he can walk towards... till my babysittting Mum comes to scoop him up, and comfort him. And when that is done, he stops crying as suddenly as he started.

I think it is an existential crisis kind of thing. I can imagine his recurrent "nightmare" of waking up in the dark, not remembering how he got there, smack in the middle of the the "dark night of the soul", of life itself, not knowing where is refuge. He will grow out of it in time, this I know. But is it good news or not? I think we have forgotten this form of early existential crisis, which many of us inevitably went through. In getting used to it, we stopped questioning. We accept the coming of night just like we accept the "promise" of a new day. We even manage to fool ourselves that impending death is no big deal, shelving it at the back of our mind. We become blind to the horror that is to come. Is our spiritual quest, which we hardly embarked upon since we were toddlers, already ended?

I did not laugh at his silliness when I heard him cry, I frowned empatically. Let us rediscover our original existential crisis- What are we doing here, experiencing life day in and day out, night in and night out? What should we really do before the day of life finally fades out?

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