Thursday, September 27, 2007

Monks

Historically, monks were often represented as ascetic, religious beings who had retreated from the mundane world and had found following in Buddha’s teaching and the Dharma. One is also familiar with the Shaolin monks portrayed in Chinese films who stood up for justice and against evil regime.

This week, Myanmar monks staged a massive protest against the military government. This action was alike that of the Shaolin monks portrayed in movies who congregated and fought the evil regime using their strength and might. In the earlier case, the protest by Myanmar monks was a peaceful march, which gathered strength and elicited support from hundreds of citizens as the march proceeded. Unfortunately, despites several warnings by the government, the monks refused to surrender and disperse and yesterday, the Myanmar government commenced their crackdown on the monks, resulting in some bloodshed.

The role of monks seems to evolve over time and has taken on a new definition in this modern era. Strictly speaking, monks should be devoid of worldly affairs and seek to be enlighten and enlighten others. However, if the new dimensions of the role of monks include one of helping others and righting justice, to a certain extent, the monks, in this respect may also fulfill one of the tenets of Buddhism.

The Myanmar monks, protested against the perverted governance of the military regime, helping to fight for reforms, though this may be deemed as one of more extreme acts of fighting for worthy causes by monks.

In other places, ordinary monks continue to do charitable deeds by helping others though the form of such practices may change with time. Singaporeans will be familiar with Venerable Shi Ming Yi who scaled the heights, braved the chilling temperatures of ice and performed other amazing stunts in the annual Ren Chi Charity show. Being a modern monk, Venerable Shi has taken charity deeds to a different platform. He is also the Chairman of Ren Chi Hospital and manages the hospital, which is not a conventional role for monks. This trend of monks entering into professions and starting businesses and schools is not confined to Singapore, it has spread to many parts of the world.

In this era, the varied roles of monks, especially in developed and modern countries enable them to connect to an even wider mass and make their work more integrated with the society. As a result of a more open modern-day public role, the general public may also connect well with the monks and the teaching of the Buddha may spread to an even wider audience.

However, the image of monks may also be challenged in this time by some ‘bad apples’. In the recent few months, bogus monks have been sighted along places like Geylang who solicited for alms. Reports of some monks indulging in worldly sins, rich monks wearing Rolex watches and driving big Mercedes cars also continue to challenge the image of monks .

Monday, September 24, 2007

Impermance of life

Today, one of my colleagues in his 50s did not turn up. It was strange as he was one of the colleagues who would not fail to turn up for work, even at times when he was sick.

He was also a fit man, exercising daily, though at times, it will not be surprising that a man will fall ill at times too.

Half an hour into the start of the day, his child called the office and informed his father who was the aforementioned colleague was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit).

This news struck all the colleagues including me as we did not expect he to fall into ICU.

He would be making an early retirement next year, enjoying his pension and he had lead such a healthy life, all these signs point to a promising future and yet such things struck......

The diagnosis was the narrowing of arteries which require ballooning and he is now still under observation in the hospital. I wish him speedy recovery and hope nothing bad will happen to him.

When I reached home, a relative called to inform a distant relative of mine, in 50s had passed away due to a freak accident.....he had choked on a 'cai xin' (preserved vegetables normally sold canned in supermarket).

Life is always unexpected. One can be happy and merry one day but one will never know what will happen the next day.

The age old truism is to cherish what we have, but most of the times, we will most probably or not, grumble over insignificant things, be sad, angered at some other mild matters or issues.

It is only human nature........ man always learn to cherish something when he loses it or when he is about to lose it.

Health is the most important asset of a human being. Attitude towards life is paramount too.

Think postive, learn and make full use of life, Be sincere,loving, learn to be good, moral, respectable, loyal , fillal and discharge all responsibities to the best.

At this decade of human existence, it is easy to lose our sane, spirtual, mental side amidst the engulfing backdrop of materialism, self-centreness, indulgence, merry-making and declining morality.

I dun profess to be a saint, but at least I try not to lose my sane in this fast paced era.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Festivals

How time flies, today is almost the end of September and I thought that the Chinese New year which has passed is just a few days back !

Personally, I enjoy the last quarter of every year as this is the period which sees many festivals together.

Kick starting the slew of festivals is the Mid-Autumn festival which falls on 25th September this year (Tuesday). In line with the festival, there are themed attractions lined up for Singaporeans and tourists alike, which includes the lantern procession in Chinatown, Singapore River and the Chinese Gardens.

Following is Hari Raya Puasa in October which falls on a Saturday. The falling of a public holiday may dull the festive mood for some Singaporeans as it means not having an extra holiday for it. Well the ‘off’ arrangement depends on companies and certain companies have arrangements to make up an off-in-lieu for the public holiday. In tandem with Hari Raya Puasa, areas like Siglap and Geylang Serai are definitely not to be missed.

And when November comes, it is Deepavali, and this is when little India transforms into a town of thousands lights and thronged with festive crowds………

And when December comes, need I say more? It is Hari Raya Puasa, Christmas Day and welcoming New Year 2008 ! At this point in time, Orchard Road will be immersed in a spirit of giving and it’s the time when many Singaporeans will bask in a mood of festive, reflect on the past year and set new year resolutions!

Singapore is small and sometimes life may seem bored, but the array of festivals will certainly add some fun and laughter to our lives. So I recommend all Singaporeans to visit the special theme attractions in line with all these festivals and be thrilled and cheered living in this multi-racial island.

Mental health

Singapore will be spending $88 million in the next 5 years to improve the management of mental health and increase the pool of psychiatrists to 200 from the current pool of 111 by 2015. The investment on mental healthcare will then be topped up by $17 million every year then.

However this news should not be greeted with alarm by Singaporeans. There is no mental illness epidemic in Singapore, the measure dished out will be a preventive measure. There is a general trend that as society develops, the increase in mental illness subsequently increases in correlation.

As society develops, stress is inevident. Coupled with the hectic pace of life, one needs to relax, enjoy, be at peace with oneself, learn to let go and lead a healthy life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dengue Claim 8 Lives this year



Dengue claims the 8th life this year amidst the backdrop of a declining dengue infection trend.
The victims are mostly the aged.
Dengue spares no one but Singaporean seem complacent and think they will not be infected with the disease.

DHL Balloon


This DHL Balloon has now become a common sight for Singaporeans.

Sited in Bugis, it plays host to Singaporeans and tourists who take its flight up 150 m into the air and enjoy the breathtaking view.

The whole journey takes 10 min up, down and stationary. And no, the balloon will not fly away as Singapore is so small, one blow and it will fly to Malaysia or Indonesia.

The price of the balloon journey is $23 per adult, and $13 for children.

The DHL balloon will have to move in December 2007 when its lease is up. The balloon may have to shift to a new location then or be deflated.........and like the Crazy Horse Show, kiss Singapore goodbye.

Lift


Due to the scarcity of land in Singapore, lifts are a part of many Singaporean lives as close to 80% of Singaporean live in HDB flats.

Singaporeans seem to take lifts for granted, and when lifts break down, it is quite common to sense the anger and frustration emanating from Singaporeans.

Picture above is a man repairing a lift. Machines do break down at times, and when the fixing come, many want the fixing to be fast to prevent inconvenience to them.

Instant gratification takes centrestage in Singaporean life as the pace of Singapore is increasing and non-stopping. Coupled with technology, Singaporean's gratification become a need to be satisified instanteously.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Singapore felt the tremors

Parts of Singapore, especially the western and northern areas felt the tremors when an earthquake, measuring around 8 on the Richter Scale shook the island of Indonesia.

There were many aftershocks today and the media stations were inundated with photos, video footages of Singaporeans recording swinging household items on their cameras or camera phones.

Singapore is blessed to be curious and surprised by tremors; other nations face and have to contend with the fallouts of natural disasters such as quakes, volcanic eruptions from time to time.

Tremors become big news to Singaporeans who have never experienced the wrath of nature before.

Singaporeans have been taking nature for granted, and tremors like those experienced today and yesterday serve as grim reminders that nature can only be tamed to a certain extent and its wrath is unthinkable!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple



Two days back, I went to visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Sago Lane.

I have always thought that I have quite a strong knowledge of Buddhism, thus I was humbled after an hour of learning in the temple.

To those who are not familiar with this temple, this temple:

is one of the most recently built temple in Singapore
is one of the very few (or maybe the only one in Singapore) which is air-conditioned
sparks controversy on the authenticity of the Buddha tooth housed in the uppermost floor
has some of the golden structures built from gold donated by devotees

for more information, you may want to visit its website at http://www.btrts.org.sg/Eng_Index.html


To me, this temple is really a very good temple, though it may seem boutique to many Singaporeans and may be billed as a temple built to cater to the tourist.

There is a nice museum depicting the life of the Buddha, which non-Buddhists interested in Buddhism may be interested.

On basement 1, from 1200 hrs to 1800 hrs, there is free vegetarian lunch for all, devotees or not. This is a usual practice in temples and for this temple, such free provision of lunch also cater to the poor elderly in Chinatown, an area with a high population of elderly.

All the statues of Buddhas and other deities are beautifully crafted and the layout of the temple is very neat.

Overall, this temple really gives visitors a sense of peace and serenity whenever one comes. I can attest to this view!

From the learning gained at the temple, I was surprised to know that there are actually deities who are protectors for people born in the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs:

a. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is the protector of people born in the year of the rat.

b. Akasagarbha Bodhisattva is the protector of people born in the year of the ox and the tiger.

c. Manjusri Bodhisattva is the protector of people born in the year of the rabbit.

d. Samantabadra Bodhisattva is the protector of people born in the year of the dragon and snake.

e. Maha-shtama-prapta Bodhisattva is the protector of people born in the year of the horse.

f. Vairocana Buddha is the protector of people born in the year of the goat and monkey.

g. Acala Buddha is the protector of people born in the year of the rooster.

h. Amitabha Buddha is the protector of people born in the year of the dog and pig.
One can adopt a statue of his protector Buddha/Bodhisattva at $3000 with five names together.
Buddhism may be centuries old, but its relevance is important and still applicable to this present world. In fact, Buddhism may even be more important in today’s world given the huge amount of unrest, delusion and declining morality besetting human kind.

In my opinion, the location of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, close to the city best epitomizes the reigning importance of Buddhism in this modern world.

Amidst the backdrop of skyscrapers and shopping centres is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
This colourful palette of city life, cultural life and religious life may be one of the aspects that make living in Singapore interesting and exciting.

Yesterday, I went to the temple again being the first day of the eight lunar month, after the hungry ghost 7th month to pray.

There is a huge lantern in the temple: a tortoise carrying a pagoda with trees surrounding the structure, all man-made.

For $2, devotees may write his or her wish on a piece of paper to be pinned up on the branches of the artificial tree.

In the main hall of the temple, one can see large statues of Buddha and small statues of Buddha decorating the two sides of the grand hall.
All these statues have been adopted according to the answer given to me by one of the attendants: the large statue at $100,000 and the smaller statue at $5000, mainly by the sponsors I believe.

I pinned my wish up on the tree, hopefully it can be realised.

In life, there are always problems, think nobody is free of problems, its just the nature and extent of the problems that is different.

I pray for divine help in problems that are hard to solve.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chaos at MRT Station

Taking the MRT today, I alighted at Tanjong Pagar MRT station and proceeded to exit A. Nearing the escalator to the exit, I realised that there was such a large crowd of disorderly passengers proceeding slowly up the stairs. For a moment, I thought that an accident or incident had occurred. I joined the queue of people walking up the stairs which seemed neverending in this slow procession and finally saw ‘daylight’ after 5 minutes- double the normal exiting time.

Coming out from the exit, I saw scores of people waiting at the exit from where the staircases led, blocking the passengers exiting from the staircases. It was raining heavily and unarmed with umbrellas, these people had no choice but to wait at the exit, thus blocking the passengers exiting from the stairs. To make matters worse, the usually upriding escalator to the exit was made downriding and the confluence of the factors due to the crowd and the escalator gave rise to the chaotic situation.

I was surprised to see no immediate action from SMRT to resolve the chaotic problem. They could either make the downriding escalator upriding or to send staff to the exit point and manage the waiting crowd.

It would even be more unthinkable if the SMRT staff did not realise this chaotic problem at all.

Given such chaotic problems could actually arise from a normal day and the fact that SMRT did not react or react promptly, it would be unimaginable if the station faces a terrorist attack!

During that situation, apart from the disastrous consequence, the disorderly crowd would become a chaotic and panicky crowd ………would SMRT have the expertise to deal with this crowd in view of today’s event?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Multi-Vitamins

Are multi-vitamins good?

I think yes they are good but they can never beat the natural vitamins of fruits and vegetables.

Singaporeans are always on the hurry, and a balanced diet is only something that can be achieved if one painstakingly choose and plans the meals he takes. Discipline is key.

I always can feel that most outside food is not really healthy, being excess in the wrong things like salt, MSG, etc and lack in the greenies and natural goodness.

These food upset our bodies and affect our health. The food cooked by our mummy is always the best!

Multi-vitamins can be taken, but I do not propose a persistent regime on these.......man-made vitamins are always protrayed as boosting health benefits but the side effects are always not made public........

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Man vs Nature

The efforts against the Mozzie epidemic seems to pay off with declining cases in the past seven weeks or so........

The recent supercluster to hit headlines after Pasir Ris is Bukit Batok. Though the dengue infection cases seem to taper off, dengue claimed the 6th life early this week.

It is a sad and sober thought that such seeming small and innocuos creatue can claim the life of a living being million times the size of it.

Though man is the intelligent animal species, man is not invincible. Man cannot fight the forces of nature, the forces of infection..... when man faces threat, he invents counter-threat, and with such counter-threats, side effects happen.

In his bid to create a better life for himself, man builds and clear the land...... pollution problems now abound and threatens the whole world.

Man cannot also tame nature. The crocodile hunter, Stephen Robert Irwin, in his bid to tame wild lives has shown the world that wild life can be tame. But it is a sad irony that in the end, it he passed on in 2006 after being fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray barb, a creature which does not usually attacks human unless provoked, showing to the world that usually harmless animals can be wild.

(no disrespect to Stephen Irwin, but this is the irony of life I feel)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Results of En-Bloc


The DBS Building just besides Tampines MRT station has been pulled down to make way for a hyermall: Tampines One.
The En-Bloc Fever seems to be everywhere!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Christmas


Christmas is coming soon in few months time!

This picture shows the giant Xmas tree in Ngee Ann city last year!

Laksa


Food is the craze of Singaporeans in this gourmet city!
How about a piping hot laksa served to you, from the famous Katong 328 stall ?

Merlion performing a David Copperfield Stunt


Singaporeans see the Merlion many times that it is taken for granted.
How about not seeing the Merlion as it gets wrapped up for a bath?

National Museum



Does the new National Museum look like a wonder of Singapore?

Chinatown


Decades may pass, facades may change, but Chinatown remain the social, religious and cultural hub of Singapore !

An oasis no more


In land scare Singapore, sentimental, meaningful places have to give way to meet modern land use and planning.

Oasis building, sentimental by the sea at night has to give way to the new sports hub. The National stadium also faces the same fate .......

Living in a city


HDB blocks vs modern office skyscrappers........within few km away......this is Singapore

Giant Balloon


Fancy a ride up this hot air balloon?

Esplanade View



The scenic view of the esplanade amidst the backdrop of the skyscrappers and shopping centres.

This is a popular spot for tourists as well as for Singaporeans to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of high stressed city life !

A building that is no more


This building at Tampines has been demolished ! Works are in the pipelines to construct a hyermall- Tampines 1.
Creation and Destruction - that is the fate of some buildings in Singapore as the society changes its need to meet the changing Singapore and the globalising world!

Farm city

Singapore is not only a garden city, but a farm city where animals like cows coexist peacefully with traffic and residents in towns !

Bad crossing of roads


Singapore is not bereft of proper road dividers, traffic crossings, but look at the girls in the picture!
This picture shows that in Singapore some rules are there to be broken !

An Asteroid?


Once in a while, I believe all of you will have noticed some flying streak across the sky, looking like an asteroid, star dust or an UFO..........

Monday, September 03, 2007

Armed Soldier in Orchard Road !

Missing armed NSman caught in Orchard

SINGAPORE: An armed SAF National Serviceman was caught in Orchard Road at 8pm on Monday, 19 hours after he had gone missing from camp. Police said the 20-year-old went missing at 11.59pm on Sunday from the Mandai Hill Camp, with a rifle and some ammunition issued by the army. 200 officers mounted a manhunt and police found him near Orchard Cineleisure. They also recovered the missing rifle and ammunition and will investigate the case under the Arm Offences Act. The Ministry of Defence has identified the NSman as Corporal Dave Teo Ming. Mindef said he had been given the rifle and ammunition for guard duty. He is an infantry rifleman from the First Battalion at the Singapore Infantry Regiment. Corporal Teo was enlisted in the army in September 2005 and will finish his national service with the army next month. - CNA

Void Decks

What is a 'void deck'?

I believe this term is unique to Singapore.

Though this term may not make sense to the whole English-speaking world, this phrase is well known among Singaporeans.

But is our void deck really void? Yes, our void decks may be void, and I believe our the term 'void deck', gramatically means decks which are "without contents, empty" as defined by the dictionary.

However, our void decks are in contrast, abundant of life and full of activities!

One can just grap an insight into the whole spectrum of the life of an average Singaporean from school going children waiting for their school bus with their parents or maids, working adults rushing for work, old folks practising tai chi, school children playing soccer, students misbehaving, maids reliving their longings for their homes, old people observing the pace of life, postmen doing their work..........

Many amenities have also sprung out of void decks: from RCs, to Kindergartens, to child care centres, to karaokes, to children libraries, to provision shops and more..............

Instead of being 'void', our void decks are really bustling activity centres where Singaporeans mix , interact on a daily basis. It is the focus point, an integral part of Singaporeans. Perhaps, the relevant authorities can look into revamping the term, 'void deck' in tandem with its move to make HDB living a premium living for Singaporeans.

Bus speed

Travelling by bus everyday, I notice how the speed of bus drivers driving their buses affect the whole of travelling time, especially for buses plying along the expressways.

Some bus drivers really drive so slowly in the mornings, when everyone is vying to be punctual for work.

Imagine the economical losses to Singapore if people turned up late for work due to the slow driving of bus!

End of Korean Hostage Crisis

The Korean hostage crisis ended peacefully with the release of the rest of the 21 Korean hostages by the Taliban.

The crisis ended amidst the backdrop of criticism from the international community, drawing protests that Korea should not have engage in direct talks with the Taliban.

There were talks that the killing of hostages was averted by the paying of a ransom, ranging from US 2 to 40 millions!

Emboldened by the results of the kidnapping, the Taliban announced it would carry out more abductings of foreigners in time to come.

Meanwhile, the Korean hostages returned to Korea, apologising to their country folks and nation for going to Afghanistan despites travel warnings issued by Korea.

Meanwhile, though Korea had made a pact with the Taliban to draw out its troops and forbid Chrisitian missionary work in Afghanistan, some Christian groups remain deviant and adamant and sought to continue their work.

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