Friday, January 25, 2008

Destiny Makes a Cameo Thrice

I ate at a restaurant supporting Master Ching Hai last week. I wanted to find out more about her, so I Googled, and avoided the Wikipedia article so I won't get a consensus bias. Found her news channel to be really touching, albeit something I would've described as corny in my teenage years. The site had many links about vegetarianism. Cruising around on iGoogle. Funny, the first story on the Digg list was 10 reasons to be a vegetarian. First story on the howtos section was pilates to strengthen your back. Great, just what I needed since my back is terribly sore. Just when I thought the synchronicities had ended for the night, I found a flyer for something like Buddhism near my dad's computer telling me a few timely quotes like,
  • Helping others is helping yourself. Harming others is harming yourself.
  • Offenses that fill up the skies are dissolved by a sincere thought of repentance.
  • Stop procrastinating. Life is exceedingly short. Don't squander your time.
  • Value, appreciate, and be content with what we have. Enough is enough!
  • The past is history. The future is a mystery.
  • Overcome and accept our problems and obstacles.
Ironic since my dad is a devout aspiritualist. Wonder where he got it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comparison of Jesus and Siddhartha

  1. Jesus Christ's divinity ~ Siddhartha's carriage on the trunk of a heavenly elephant into his mother's womb.
  2. The incarnation of the Son of God ~ Siddhartha's reincarnation as a Buddha.
  3. His baptism and crucifixion for the salvation of us all ~ Buddha's vow to end all suffering, nearly killing himself in the process.
  4. His resurrection ~ Buddha's enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. From Mara's hell of temptations rises a liberated man.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Trishna: a Buddhist concept similar to desire. The word is the root word of the English word "thirst," but it's meaning is here is wider. Trishna is the desire for things to be a certain way, a desire that is easily disappointed when reality turns out to be different than what you wanted. In this sense, it is not just desire but also aversion, since aversion is just desiring something to go away.

The Buddha's admonition to rid ourselves of desire is seen by many people as an austere rejection of pleasure. What motivation do we have for living if we are not to desire? I think this misunderstanding comes from taking the word "desire" too literally. Of course you must desire to be free from suffering to even start to learn about Buddhism.

The kind of desire we must investigate is the desire to reject reality. We look around us and categorize the world into:
  1. Stuff I like (the good)
  2. Stuff I don't like (the bad)
  3. Stuff I don't care about (the neutral)
When someone criticizes me, I don't like it. That is "aversion." When I'm disappointed with reality, I'm rejecting reality. When someone tells me how smart I am, I like it. "Attachment" or "desire." (Remember that these words are just approximate translations of what the Buddha meant.) How is this rejection of reality? I am smart, of course, and that person did tell the truth. Well, imagine once the person changes her mind. Or if someone else calls you an idiot. Suddenly you are disappointed with reality, rejecting reality. And believe me, for every person who praises you, there will be at least one person who will look down on you. So within each desire is a hidden aversion to reality. Reality will be what it is, but our ideas of what it should be and shouldn't be get in the way of our happiness.