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Too young to meditate…
Too bad to meditate…
Too in love to meditate…
Too busy to meditate…
Too worried to meditate…
Too sick to meditate…
Too excited to meditate…
Too tired to meditate…
Too late to meditate!

-Unknown Source

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During a tea session on Friday, my friends asked about the trip, two of them went there just for a day in April earlier this year.

“So any ghost encounter?” Mr Ng asked…

“Do you know the forest is actually haunted?”

“You sure.. nothing happens.”

And I mentioned Robin passed me an auspicious object for “protection”, borrowed from a friend, well it was better to keep it with you, whether you believe it or not. When we reached Temoh at around 5:30am. .. the street was basically without any light, for the shophouses, more than half was unoccupied. Do look scary…. we had our breakfast in a cool envirnoment while waiting for pick up.

*Female dormitory on a hill, which was away from the main meditation hall, quite a walking distance, that can be pretty dark at night.

*Used by monks to meditate in the forest, by adding a mosquito net one can sit on the stone throughout the night, but I think the heavy dew will probably soaked it.

So Mr Ng told me the story of a monk’s stay, what he encountered on the first night. Staying in kuti (hut) inside the forest, meditating at night and got disturbed by “spirits”, “ghosts”…. his story was posted on the monastery website in pdf, as a personal account. So I read it last night, found it funny, a couple of strange death around the area, just laugh it off.

So the first question the Venerable (we call him Bhante) will ask every new guy in the morning was: – “How was your first night in the forest?”

Anyway we stayed in the male dormitory above the meditation hall. We were given the choice to select and choose the later. In the morning it is a beautiful place, at night, if you think about it… can be pretty scary. Dogs barking now and then, plus the loud cricket sound throughout the night.

It was true that a boy was drown in the mining pond a few years back, somewhere near our location in Ipoh. Bhante had mentioned it before, he had been there for so long, so he knew all the happenings. The boy returned to look for his parents a few days later. Somehow the boy just stood at the gate crying and didn’t went into the house. So traumatized, the parents moved out shortly, the boy ghost returned again that night and went beserk when he discovered his parents were gone, Bhante was involved and told us the whole story.

I had the opportunity to understand more on meditation, and had a brief conversation with one monk (they don’t talk much, unless you ask them something).. on why they delicate their whole life meditating. I knew why they prefered to stay away from the world we are in.

For us, we meditate for the calm, tranquility, peace, happiness… for the monks it is to get out of samsara (the wheel of rebirth).

Well, I probed more … when death came.. at the very instant moment, the last thought is very important. So they perfect their practice diligently.

How long is a person’s life?

Human life exists only between every single breath 🙂

Beyond the light (NDE)

http://www.nderf.org/beyond_light_pmh.htm

On Humility & Equanimity

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.”

Confucius

“Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.”

Abraham Lincoln
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Day 2

After working in the forest on the 1st day, I started to get weak, not conditioned to taking 1 meal a day. We woke up at 4 am, under a heavy thunderstorm throughout the night, I would have gone back to sleep! (waking up at 4 am or earlier happens only when there is a road race) The group meditation starts at 4:30am and ended at around 7am (everyday – 7 days a week).  After meditation, we had our breakfast (exactly 19 hrs since the last meal on the previous day).

My stamina and endurance are still alright, however I am not used to carrying heavy stuff, my weakness is the lack of strength, probably need to train more by lifting weights. My body temperature was exactly 37C (luckily Robin had bought along a thermometer, plus panadol).  Because of the heavy rain, we were excused from Day 1 task, so we were now in-charge of all the toilets till the day we left (9 cubicles ++ ) 🙂 We were required to wash the toilets exactly after lunch, we don’t mind at all, calling ourselves Toilet ICs!  Anyway, we still find time reading in the library, before the 4pm meditation.

It is never easy to stay in a monastery, in Mandarin, we called it 道场 “training ground”.

Shortly, I gained back some strength and the body temperature was back to normal.

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Grateful for all the people who had given us food during the past week, we followed the precepts (a requirement in monastery/retreats). We only eat because it sustains the body, because it’s our duty to keep the body reasonably healthy.

There was this friendly Malay family of 3 (a bit amazed), who had brought us food during one lunch and again after our 4:30 am meditation on the second day. Thank you, the only thing I can give to the Muslim friend is a smile 🙂 And he returned the smile.

At that moment, I thought of all the good Malay friends I had in Singapore, especially those I knew in NS days. Now I appreciate & understand my friends more, during Ramadan, the fasting month.

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Day 3 – pindapatha

After breakfast, we followed 2 monks for an alms round at around 8am, we took a van out with a driver, we stopped half-way and walked towards the small town, we walked bare-footed for more than 1 km, houses to houses, the small pebbles on the road hurts everytime I took a step, the floor was wet and hard, came across a couple of dead frogs with flies circling over their bodies (crashed by passing vehicles), being mindful, I watched every steps, not to step on any rubbish, especially broken glasses if any.

Shortly we walked to the market place, standing behind my teacher, we waited for the villagers to offer us food, it was an unforgettable experience. When he received the food, he will turn around and pass it to me, so his bowl will be empty.

I get in touch with my true self, I kill my pride, ego. Non-self…

An enlightening moment, just that 15 mins standing bare-footed in the market, in slient.

Everything seems to freeze.

The food collected was enough to fill the back of the van, the lunch was shared among 20 over people in the monastery, just barely enough (our only meal, nothing is wasted, the workers were the last to eat everyday, any leftover were brought back by them). The lesson on not wasting any food!

Alms Bowl

My teacher’s alms bowl… he went out everyday to collect food, for the last 10 years.  A day experience for us is sufficient & wonderful. One of the tradition for more than 2,500 years… however I think some of the things are difficult to substain in this modern world.

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The Seven factors of Enlightenment –

Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy, Rapture, Tranquility, Concentration, Equanimity.

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No, I’m NOT enlightened. Finally, I came across this clip which I like to share 🙂

This post is just a personal experience. I seek the highest truth through exploration, investigation & experiences, I am not here to convert anyone. During this trip, on the library shelves, it included the Bible & Quran (under world religion category) as the respect for all religions.



During my national service as an infantry between 95-97 and even reservist (another 10 continuous years), I had been to countless number of forests, both local and overseas. For overseas training, had been to Thailand’s forest at Kanchanaburi, Brunei’s Temburong Jungles and Taiwan’s mountainous forest.  It was our playground, playing our games there, creating noise, killing the plants as we moved in companies and battalion levels, both men, equipment and vehicles, firing both blanks & live rounds, disturbing the peace by cursing and swearing. At night we were attacked by the mosquitoes infested forest.

We usually stay for a few days or up to a week … imagine the rubbish we created (eat, shit and sleep). So the training grounds in Singapore which is much smaller (Lim Chu Kang Area or Tekong island) stinks like hell even today.

I never appreciate any forests, as there isn’t any good experiences at all, it reminds me of carrying heavy load, lack of sleep, digging of defences at midnight, lots of sweat and suffering… We always bring our weapons into the forest to fight a “fake” war there.

But recently, I learnt it is actually a very peaceful and beautiful place.

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Day 1 (4 Jul)

The Venerable welcomes us, “How was the trip?”,  “Do you get to sleep?”

“Yes some sleep”, I replied

I waked up at around 3:30am as the roads were bumpy. Robin woke up earlier as he had to ensure the bus stops at the right location before travelling all the way to Ipoh. And we arrrived before 6am on the small town call Temoh. The hill we are located, is half surrounded by a Chinese cemetry. ( no pictures, actually i feel like taking a few shots)

“Go give some help in the forest.”

“Sure!”

Upon arrival, we were told to give some support in the forest, building of “kutis” also known as “huts”.  A monk was with us too, together with 2 other workers. Before the trip, I was mentally prepared for anything, treat it as a training exercise! 🙂

So we started carrying the wooden crosses (carrying the heavy cross, and know what is suffering!) , was advice to find the pivot point so it will balance and reduce the weight, about 15kg,  and other planks at the bottom, walked around 30-50 metres up hill. After about 15-20 trips, hands and legs started to ache. My t-shirt was soaked in sweat, more irriated with the mosquitoes bite. Exhausted… we stop for lunch.

Pictures taken on the 3rd day (click to enlarge)

We are not required to have heavy manual work after lunch, as we are taking a meal a day.  What a day!! I wonder if we have more on Day 2, we don’t really call this fun… However have to agree, that nature was in complete harmony with the spiritual tradition for one to be in the forests to contemplate deeply and perfect one’s spirituality.

So we looked forward to the first group sitting meditation at 4 pm, at least we can rest & relax!

3hrs of sitting and watching our breath.. leg cramp, plus backache, after an hour plus for me it starts to get challenging.
Robin is a good meditator, able to sit for 3 hrs without moving.

Most people find it difficult to sit still for 15 mins, thinking of tasks on hand, together with thoughts of the past & what might happen in the future together with the pain that arises. If you can’t change it, if you can’t do anything about it, try to develop equanimity.  We have a “monkey mind”, never in the present moment, that is why we have to train.

The next post is on the most important lesson learnt. Lesson on humility and equanimity on Day 3.

Standing quietly by the fence,

you smile your wondrous smile.

I am speechless, and my senses are filled

by the sounds of your beautiful song,

Beginningless and endless,

I bow deeply to you.


Dear friends,

I am back from my trip 🙂 There will be a few posts coming out. At the meantime enjoy this post, I read this article during my time in the library.

This poem is written by a friend of Venerable Thich Nhat Hahn, who died at the age of twenty-eight in Saigon, about 30 years ago. After he died, people found many beautiful poems he had written, and Ven. was startled when he read this particular poem.

“You” refer to a flower, a dahlia. That morning as he passed by the field, he saw a little flower and was deeply struck by the sight of it, he stopped and wrote the poem.

You may think that the poet was a Zen master, because his way of seeing things is very deep. But he was just an ordinary person. How he saw the flower is exactly the way we practice mindfulness meditation. We try to be in touch with life in the present moment and look deeply into the things that happen to us in the present moment. We can do that while we drink tea, walk, sit and so on.

The secret of success is to be yourself, be really yourself, because when you are really yourself, you can encounter life in the present moment.

Slow down your pace, do stop and appreciate the flowers around you..

🙂

Pictures of dahlia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia

“What is the purpose of this trip?” My brother asked.

I was half joking with my friends that I will become holy or zen like…haha. I am just contended with meditation practices 🙂

Here is one of the famous little story from the Mullah Nasrudin 😛 Do a google search for more stories.

This little man was in front of a pot of chilli peppers with tears streaming down his face, his face was red from eating so much chilli. Someone came by and asked him, ” Why are you eating all those hot chillies”, and he said ” I’m looking for the sweet one”. All the hot chillies, all the pain and suffering he was experiencing, one chilli after another chilli after another chilli, suffering and burning because he was looking for the sweet one.

It’s a very good metaphor for life.
Look at our fame, wealth and relationships.

Life is just the pursuit of happiness and the running away from pain and suffering. (humans & animals alike)

In practicing meditation, craving will arise and move the mind, it agitates the mind; it’s the wind which makes the mind move. When craving disappears, when the wind dies down, when it’s absolutely still, then you are still and it that stillness is peace. In that peace is contentment. In that contentment is happiness.

🙂