Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel Peace Prize Speech

Transcript of her speech here.

"A positive aspect of living in isolation was that I had ample time in which to ruminate over the meaning of words and precepts that I had known and accepted all my life. As a Buddhist, I had heard about dukha, generally translated as suffering, since I was a small child. Almost on a daily basis elderly, and sometimes not so elderly, people around me would murmur “dukha, dukha” when they suffered from aches and pains or when they met with some small, annoying mishaps. However, it was only during my years of house arrest that I got around to investigating the nature of the six great dukha. These are: to be conceived, to age, to sicken, to die, to be parted from those one loves, to be forced to live in propinquity with those one does not love. I examined each of the six great sufferings, not in a religious context but in the context of our ordinary, everyday lives. If suffering were an unavoidable part of our existence, we should try to alleviate it as far as possible in practical, earthly ways. I mulled over the effectiveness of ante- and post-natal programmes and mother and childcare; of adequate facilities for the aging population; of comprehensive health services; of compassionate nursing and hospices. I was particularly intrigued by the last two kinds of suffering: to be parted from those one loves and to be forced to live in propinquity with those one does not love. What experiences might our Lord Buddha have undergone in his own life that he had included these two states among the great sufferings? I thought of prisoners and refugees, of migrant workers and victims of human trafficking, of that great mass of the uprooted of the earth who have been torn away from their homes, parted from families and friends, forced to live out their lives among strangers who are not always welcoming."

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I have been asking around for possible rental places recently. Friends have offered to help me find a new place to stay. I thought a bit more about this, and I realize how much more significant this decision to find a new place meant for me.

Relationship between my dad and I have deteriorated lately. My mom’s early on-set dementia has challenged all of us – but most of all, my dad. I still remember how I was depressed two years ago, because of my mom, and compounded by unemployment. I would wake up in the morning and just couldn’t bring myself out of bed. I am a lot better these days, and I refuse to go back to that dark place.

I have been putting some things in place over the last few months to change things positively in my life. What I have learnt about real change over the years is this: Real change is subtle and we may not always sense that we are changing within until one day, we notice how we are responding differently to certain things.

I am thankful for the positive changes in my life. I recognize that when I started looking for a rental place, it isn’t about escaping the situation in my life. What it really is, is that I have begun to see possibilities in my life. I have stopped seeing myself as powerless against difficult situations. What I am doing is creating space for myself away from the negativity. It is the ultimate compassion I can extend to myself.

I am thankful for this recognition.

I am thankful for this teaching from Pema Chodron, and find something that reaffirms my intention. Just keep moving. Just keep taking care of yourself in a real way. I can see how I am now less concerned about my career, and just working to try my best to learn, to do a good job. I am less concern about what others will think of me. My job is just to do my best, and to love honestly. Whether or not they love me back, while it may hurt sometimes, isn’t important.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Making Class

I had the opportunity to try my hand at making chocolate today. It was something new, and I am glad I did it.

We worked in teams, and one of my team mates laughed because every time one of the chocolate pieces get mangled or we crush the shell, I just go "Oh well", then I pop it straight into my mouth.

It's a lovely thing, where it's ok to make mistakes. You can just eat it. That's what I love about cooking - it's ok to make mistakes. No one will die. It's not brain surgery. You can just eat your mistakes (most of the time). Every mistake is an opportunity to learn. Yes, this applies everywhere, but let us try to avoid mistakes for brain surgeries, okay?

Our instructor was the lovely Chef Judy, who showed by step by step the different processes of making the chocolates in the photo above. But when I took most from the class, was the story she shared with us.

Chef Judy shared that she helped craft the tallest chocolate sculpture in 2008, with two other chef. One of them, she told us, was a Belgian chef who used to own a shop that sold beautiful artisan chocolates. Her friend would work on each chocolate by hand, pain-stakingly crafting each piece. The sad reality is, when it comes to production, it was difficult to compete with chocolate factories that could mass produce chocolate way faster. While the Belgian chef put in a lot of heart into his chocolate, yet when it comes to market forces, we seem to prefer the soulless mass produced chocolate. The shop isn't around anymore.

This has been something I have always wondered about cooking, or any other kind of art. The handcrafted art versus mass produced copies. What happened to the days when we used to appreciate the heart and soul that goes into making something beautiful? And how sad it is, that we make choices that drive these heart works out of existence. We get what we deserve, if we don't know how to appreciate the finer things in life needs effort, and deserves the time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there

In human life, if you feel that you have made a mistake, you don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there. Tremendous openness as to where you are is necessary. This also applies to the practice of meditation, for instance. A person should learn to meditate on the spot, in the given moment, rather than thinking, “. . . When I reach pension age, I’m going to retire and receive a pension, and I’m going to build my house in Hawaii or the middle of India, or maybe the Gobi Desert, and THEN I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ll live a life of solitude and then I’ll really meditate.” Things never happen that way.

— Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Transcending Madness

Monday, June 18, 2012

Everybody's got a story to tell: Keanu Reeves

This guy reading the newspaper on the subway is Keanu Reeves.

He was from a problematic family. His father was arrested when he was 12 for drug dealing and his mother was a stripper. His family moved to Canada and there he had several step dads.

He watched his girlfriend die. They were about to get married, but she died in a car accident. Before that she had lost her baby. Since then Keanu avoids serious relationships and having kids.

He is one of the only Hollywood stars without a mansion. He said: 'I live in a flat, I have everything that I need at anytime, why choose an empty house?'

One of his best friends died by overdose, he was River Phoenix (Joaquin Phoenix's brother). About the same year Keanu's father was arrested again.

His younger sister had leukemia. Today she is cured, and he donated 70% of his gains from the movie Matrix to hospitals that treat leukemia.

On one of his birthdays, he went into a little candy shop, bought himself a cake, and started eating alone. If a fan walked by he would talk to them and offer some of the cake.

He doesn't have bodyguards. He doesn't wear fancy clothes.

When they asked him about 'Sad Keanu', he replied: 'You need to be happy to live, I don't.'"

Everybody's got a story to tell. Sometimes it's a really sad one, like his.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Now Reading: Eat & Run

Now reading: Eat & Run by Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

This Is How We Love Each Other

This Is How We Love Each Other

Line 20 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra reads:

sraddha (faith) virya (energy/strength) smrti (memory) samadhirpajna (integration) purvaka (something preceded by)

Continuity of practice. This is how we love each other. We fail again and again because we can’t love each other unconditionally. We slip, we fall back and forget. But because of our practice, we’re not hard on ourselves. We fail, and our failures are ok. They can also be embraced with space and curiosity.

When difficult feelings surface perhaps you can begin to trust that your practice can take care of what is arising, of what is happening in your life. This faith (sraddha) gives you enthusiasm for this practice, though too much enthusiasm is not the best quality either. You know how you go to parties sometimes and there’s someone demonstrating yoga poses? You don’t need to become that person. Or there’s the person who comes to the sit for the first time, and the next week they arrive with their family in tow.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village is a retreat destination each year for a particular couple, though the woman is not keen to go. The husband says to Thich Nhat Hanh, “My wife doesn’t like being here.” He replies, “I can tell.” The husband continues, “She just wants to be on a beach for her vacation.” Thich Nhat Hanh replies, “I think you should go to the beach.”

When there’s energy and enthusiasm (virya) in your practice you can practice smrti (memory) – to remember what’s important. And together energy, enthusiasm and memory give rise to samadhi: the connective tissue of integration. These five movements are circular. All of this you can watch through your breathing, and through your relations with others.

~ excerpt from How We Love Each Other