Monday, January 26, 2009
Happy New Year
- Venerable S. Dhammika
Well, its Chinese New Year again and the first day of The Year of the Ox. Actually niu doesn't mean ox, in English ox being a castrated bull, so technically we English speakers should rightly call it The Year of the Bull. To the Chinese the bull suggests prosperity won by hard work; it symbolizes patient endurance and just quietly getting on with the job. People born in The Year of the Bull have all these qualities, plus they don’t say much but when they do it's eloquent, to the point and sensible.
It's interesting to see what the Buddha and his contemporaries thought about bulls (usabha). To call someone a bull of a man (purisusabha) meant that he was virile (Vin.III,39). But to the Buddha the bull conjured up the idea of nobility, courage, psychological strength and leadership. A monk who attained enlightenment was compared with the 'bulls, the fathers and leaders of the herd' (usabha gopitaro goparinayaka) who lead the other animals across the river (M.I,226). In the Anguttara Nikaya he said, 'When the cows are crossing, if the bull swerves they follow his lead and swerve too. If he who is considered the leader amongst humans does not live correctly neither do others. If the leader is immoral the whole group will be so too. When the cows are crossing, if the bull goes straight they will go straight following his lead. If he who is considered the leader amongst humans has integrity others will have too. The whole group will be happy if their leader is good' (A.II,70-1).
When King Asoka had one of his pillars erected at Rampurva he chose a sculpture of a bull for the capital. It is one of the masterpieces of early Indian sculpture. Unfortunately, this magnificent object is housed in Rastrapati Bhavan and six attempts by me to get in and see it have ended in an avalanche of forms, slips and permits, 400 k of journeys to offices, 3 passports worn out by being examined, 34 hours of being stared at with slit-eyed suspicion and no results. Maybe one day.
To all my Chinese readers Kung See Fa Choi or better Shen Tee Jen Kang Lomg Ma Zing Sern.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
My 3 bulls and myself (I'm also a bull) wishes everyone a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year! May it be a BULLISH year for everyone as we strive for our best in our family, studies, friendship, spirituality, health and other endeavours! May you and all your loved ones be well and happy and may the BULLISH VIRIYA be with all of you! Lets all MOOOOVE on to peace and happiness! Sadhu!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Though sadly, houses are taken out right now, but we can always be as a whole SBM right now. :)
Thanks for everyone who had make a different in my life. :)
With love, wanlingx. :)
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Deer Couple - from The Jakata Tales
This is what I (note 1) had heard:
Once upon a time, there was a herd of deers glazing by the riverside, lead by a Deer King.
One day, a hunter set up a trap to hunt animals, but unfortunately, as the herd of deers was glazing by the riverside, the Deer King was caught by the trap. He struggled and struggled against the trap, while the other deers were so scared that they all ran away.
But, a female deer did not escape. She stayed with the Deer King and said to him, "Before the hunter comes along, you better try all your strength to loosen the trap. May be you still have a chance to get away with it."
But, no matter how the Deer King tried, it was no use. Finally he said, "I am becoming weak now. There is no hope of escaping. You better go and take care of yourself."
At this time, they saw the hunter was coming. . "You see, " said the Deer King, "that black faced man must be the hunter. He is wearing a deer-skin robe and he will kill me for my skin and for my meat."
On hearing this, the female deer approached the hunter and confronted him, "Mr. hunter, you may kill me first, before you kill the Deer King."
The hunter was surprised by the courage of the female deer and asked, "What is the relationship between two of you?"
"He is my husband," replied the female deer. "I love him so much that I am willing to die for him. We cannot be separated from each other. Now, if you want to kill him, you should kill me first!"
The hunter was startled by what he had just heard, "she is a very loving wife! I never seen any thing like this before." He was so moved that he told the female deer, "I have never came across such a loving wife before. How can I be so cruel to separate both of you. OK, I will release your husband and let both of you go. I will pray for your love with each other."
Having said that, the hunter cut loose the Deer King and let them go. The female deer was so happy and said, "Thank you very much. I, my husband and my herd are so grateful to your compassion."
Having finished the above story, the Buddha told his disciples, "In our former lives, I was the Deer King and Yasodhara (Note 2) was the female deer. She had always been by my side, supporting me and suffering because of my deeds. Other couples may be separated or even divorced, but not us."
Note 1: the "I" refers to Ananda, who wrote most of the Buddhist Sutra.
Note 2: Yasodhara was Prince Siddhartha's wife. Later she became his disciples
This king was a devote Buddhist, he was very concerned that the Dhamma should be preserved and disseminated, and he made wide use of writing as a part of public policy. Everything we know about Asoka suggests that committing the Tipitaka to writing is the very thing he would have done. If this is correct it would mean that about 200 years passed between the writing of the Tipitaka and the Buddha’s passing. However, the Manjusrimulakalpa says the Tipitaka was written down during the reign of Udayin, the son of King Ajatasatu (tadetat pravacanam sastu likhapayisyati vistaram).
If this is correct, it would mean that the Tipitaka was written down only a few decades after the Buddha, when people who met the Buddha were still alive.
Centuries before the Buddha the brahmans, the hereditary priests of Hinduism, had perfected ways of committing the Vedas, the sacred scriptures, to memory so they could be passed on to the next generation. The earliest Vedas date from about 1500 BCE and did not start being written until at least the 11th or 12th century CE. This means that they were orally transmitted for at least 2500 years.
Despite this, all historians and Indologists agree that the Vedas reflect daily life, beliefs and language of the time they were composed, i.e. that they have been faithfully handed down. How was this done? A brahman’s whole life was dedicated to becoming a living receptacle for the Vedas. From an early age they chanted them until they had committed them to memory, great attention was given to getting pronunciation and intonation correct.
Many of the Buddha’s disciples who became monks were brahmans and they brought with them the mnemonic skills they had been educated in. These same skills were used to preserve the Buddha’s suttas, his sermons, talks and sayings. Like the Vedas, the suttas are clearly designed to be chanted. They are full of mnemonic devices – rhyming verses, repetitions, numbered lists, stereotyped phrases, etc. Even before the Buddha’s passing, monks and nuns would regularly chant the suttas in congregation (D.III,207). This made it difficult to add, delete or change anything once a sutta had been settled and committed to the memory of the monastic community.
It is also important to realize that lay men and women had a role to play in orally transmitting the suttas too. The Vinaya says that if a monk hears that a lay person who knows a sutta that he doesn’t is dying, the monk should go and learn it from them before they pass away. Inscriptions from Sanchi mention lay men and women who knew (i.e. by heart) suttas and sometimes whole collections of suttas. The Buddha said he wanted not just his ordained disciples but also his lay men and women disciples to be ‘knowers of the Dhamma’ so that they could ‘pass on’ what they had learned to others (D.II,105).
The oral transmission of the Tipitaka for two or even three hundred years was kids stuff compared to the 2500 years during which the Vedas were orally transmitted. It is interesting to know that long after writing came into vogue in India Buddhists continued to transmit the Tipitaka orally, believing, probably correctly, that it was more accurate than writing. When the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hsien was in Patna in the first decade of the 5th century he noted that although the Vinaya was written down the monks preferred to commit it to memory.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Camp Ehi-Passiko 2008 from Liew Shi Xiong on Vimeo.
The full version of Camp Video 2008, uncut and uninterrupted from Youtube's dispute with Warner Music Group.
A chapter was closed on last Sunday, as Hangqi and Mabel pass the baton over to Kaiwen and Chenxin, to welcome the new Camp Master and Camp Mistress for Camp Ehi-Passiko 2009 in its 12th year. As we proceed on with the year, lets reminisce some good moments of the past camps within the last 11 years and all the laughters and tears we have had for this Camp and for this group. What is the reason for organising Camp Ehi-Passiko? Many of you will ask. But I believe that answer takes root differently within the hearts of everyone. Camp Ehi-Passiko is definitely a BUDDHIST CAMP, where we want to introduce basic Buddhism to young people messed up with the mass media and the rat race. We know that we do not go in depth into the Buddhist teaching, but then this camp is a youth camp and not a retreat. We hope we can plant a Dhamma seed in everyone of you and when the conditions are right, may it bloom and flower into an inspiration for your lives.
Of course, Camp Ehi-Passiko is also a celebration of friendship. The Buddha told Ananda that spiritual friendship is the whole of spirtuality and rightly so. Sometimes we may have petty quarrels with our friends, but it is only natural for we and our unenlightened minds are still learning to become perfect but are not perfect ourselves. Camp Ehi-Passiko thus gives us a reason to come together with ou dearest dhamma friends and to work for a camp that propagates the beauty of the Buddha-Dhamma. Together in spirit, we hope that we are able to create a positive energy within ourselves as we strive on with our lives as friends, brothers and sisters. So learn to be patient with one another, take a step back and accept each other for who they are. Ultimately, learn to guide each other on the right path, the Buddhist path.
First Dhamma Introduction by SX and ZM
Initiation of the very first War Game
Dec 1998 picture not available.
Organisers behind the first Camp Ehi-Passiko back in 1997! It was also the camp where I got to know Zeming, Anglee, Kaiyi and co and of course, Camp Ehi-Passiko has lasted for 11 good years!
Friends, if you identify with a specific camp, especially your first, please let me know so I can update it here. Do also check thru' if there are any errors as there are so many camps and I reckon I could have probably made a mistake.
To many more good years of Camp Ehi-Passiko and building a vibrant, faithful and wise youth Buddhist community in Singapore!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Next we have, NG video outtakes which did not make any sense at first, but our guys were bored so they did this
Of cos the MUCH awaited Camp Ehi-Passiko 2008 Video (Part 1)!!!
And the MUCH awaited official Camp Ehi-Passiko Video (Part 2)!!!
Lastly, we hope that in this camp you have made many spiritual friends and brought smiles to yourself and to others. Through Smiles, May we find the happiness and peace that we all human beings are seeking for. And through Buddhism, May we grow in Wisdom and be the Light!!!
We'll thank Zhen Yu for making the Vid, and all the campers and organisers who made up this wonderful moments in 2008 for us to cherish and remember. Lets all Embrace a new and hopful 2009!
**Note: You can download the full High Quality version of the vid from this link http://ehipassiko.sbmyouth.org/downloads/cep2008%20final%20mpg%20version.mpg
Pls rem to Right Click and "Save Target As". The file size is 300 mb!
Organisers and campers are reunited at Singapore Buddhist Mission, to receive their camp certificates and also to enjoy the camp video edited by Zhenyu.
HANDING OVER: And introducing Camp Ehi-Passiko 2009's Camp Master and Camp Mistress: Teo Kaiwen and Chua Cherngxin!
Snapshots of the event: the many faces of Singapore Buddhist Mission's youth group!
Weijie emo. It's not easy being the top dancer in Ruby Lane.
Ivan is the real Malaysian ah beng, not Kevin. Amy is Ah Lian.
A rare appearance by Yuanyi. What is that in her mouth?
And each time before you enter the temple and when you leave, ALWAYS remember to pay your respect to BIG BOSS aka Our Teacher, the World Honoured Lord Buddha.
Part 2 coming up...