Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category

Don’t Jump Over the Cliff

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

I had just recently taken an SAT practice exam a couple days ago and I came across an interesting essay topic:

Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his or her pupils; it is moreover the way to win favor of the teacher unless he or she is a very exceptional person. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.

Can the passive acceptance of the teacher’s authority and knowledge lead to disastrous consequences?

As I was writing this essay, I remembered a story from “Saffron Days in L.A.” by Bhante Walpola Piyananda. The short story was titled The Disciple Who Jumped Over the Cliff.

It was about a Buddhist monk’s encounter with an interesting situation. One day as he was reading, an upset woman came crying to him and asked for his help. Her name was Kamala and she was a resident of the meditation center. She had just been kicked out of the meditation center, and didn’t know what to do!

Kamala had always been a follower of this popular Indian guru. And a couple days prior to this situation, she had asked him for advice on how to lose a little weight. He told her to have sex as often as possible; morning, noon, and night. Her teacher said not to think of it as sexual misconduct, but as a way of exercising to lose her unwanted weight. Although this idea may sound absurd, she truly thought that this was for her own good. So Kamala made bright yellow posters to put up around the meditation center. They each said ‘Anyone who needs sex, please contact me. Kamala.’ This greatly upset the abbot, and he wanted Kamala to move out immediately!

Bhante was shocked! He then asked her, “Kamala! Would you jump off a cliff if your teacher told you to? you have to think for yourself!”

She put all her trust in her guru and was convinced to follow whatever he told her to do. Bhante helped Kamala cope with her situation and explained to her that passive acceptance of a teacher’s wisdom is not always good. It is absolutley foolish to follow another’s wisdom without the judgement of his or her own understanding.

The Buddha says “You should do your own work for, for the Tathagatas only teach us the way.” Your emancipation depends on your discovery of Truth, for you must be the one to see; no one else can see for you. The Buddha also taught that in using your own rational mind, if you see that a teaching is wholesome, then accept it wholeheartedly; if it is unwholesome, then discard it immediately.

Kamala eventually realized her foolish mistake. In the end, she developoed a very analytical mind and decided not to follow in the footsteps of her guru. To this day she is a devout, practicing Buddhist.

Oneself is one’s own protector;
What other protector can there be?
With oneself fully controlled,
One obtains a protection, which is hard to gain.
Do not follow mean things.
Do not dwell in negligence.
Do not embrace false views.
Be watchful.
Be not heedless.
Follow the Law of Virtue.
The virtuous live happily in this world now and also hereafter.


The Adventures of Monk Baldy Part III

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011


Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In Buddhism, desire, or craving, is considered the main source of suffering. This is due to the impermanent nature of all things. We may get what we hoped for, but as with anything, it cannot satiate us forever, and we risk falling into a cycle of desiring-having. Or, we may not get it, and be disappointed.

Desire is a strange thing. We want something, for one reason or another, and more often than not, we don’t realize why we want it, and how craving it affects us. From the simplest cravings, such as for a particular type of food, to the strongest ones, as in a crush, an ambition, or an idea, we sometimes just appear to be puppets of desires. If we can pause, and observe them, we can better understand their effect on us, and see what is the best path to go forward with. Or just put them on a leash!

- T


Good Friendship

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Note: The following quotes are from the handout that inspired the awesome discussion we had during our April 9th gathering on “Good Friendship, Wise Communication.”

This post is dedicated to S.L. and H.L., two courageous members of the YWP who will be temporarily ordaining as novice monks this weekend. We are happy for and proud of them and wish them all the best on their mission!


In the suttas, the direct teachings of the Buddha and his disciples recorded in the ancient scriptural texts, we can see that the Buddha placed great importance on friendship. Few suttas said it more simply and clearly than this:

“With regard to external factors, I don’t see any other single factor like noble friendship as doing so much.”  (Itivuttaka: 1.17)

The Buddhist path is a gradual one and having good friendship is the best way to make sure we help keep each other walking on the path.

In addition to the above quote, the Buddha had also given many other discourses on friendship. In the Mitta Sutta, the discourse on friendship, the Buddha stated the “gold standard” of what constitute a good friend:

“A friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? (1) He gives what is hard to give. (2) He does what is hard to do. (3) He endures what is hard to endure. (4) He reveals his secrets to you. (5) He keeps your secrets. (6) When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. (7) When you’re down and out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.” (Mitta Sutta: AN 7.35)

Another very famous sutta that focuses primarily on lay Buddhists provides ways we should behave when interacting with our friends:

“There are five ways in which a person should treat his friends and companions: (1) by gifts, (2) by kind speech, (3) by being helpful and looking after their welfare, (4) by treating them like himself, (5) by sincerity and keeping his word.”

There are five ways in which friends and companions thus treated by a person will reciprocate: (1) they look after him when he is careless, (2) they look after his property when he is careless, (3) they become a refuge when he is in danger, (4) they do not desert him when he is in trouble, (5) they show consideration and concern for his family.”(Sigalovada Sutta: DN 31)

In yet another sutta, the Buddha laid down “four grounds for the bonds of friendship”:

“There are these four grounds for the bonds of friendship. Which four? Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, and consistency. These are the four grounds for the bonds of friendship.” (Sangaha Sutta: AN 4.32)


Source: based on friendship post from “Handful of Leaves” blog:

Wheel of Karma

Monday, July 4th, 2011

There are many times in our lives when we feel as if someone is unnecessarily rude to us. What we do after that situation has more consequences than we think. I ran into this video while surfing the internet with my sister. Here, Larry David is confronted by a man for using the handicapped stall. The “disabled” man gives Larry a hard time. The scene then cuts to the next part in which Larry runs into the same “disabled” man using the normal stall. Larry then gives the people he encounters every scene after that a hard time. After Larry encountered the man in the wheelchair in the first scene, he had a choice to discontinue the anger directed at him, but instead Larry choose to continue the anger the man directed towards him and direct it towards other people. If Larry showed the disabled man in the second scene kindness instead of anger, the anger started by the disabled man would have stopped. Instead, more people were unnecessarily exposed to the distasteful situation. This is just something to think about the next time a person gives you a hard time.


Good-byes have been said

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The truth of impermanence is one of the Three Universal Characteristics. Understanding that nothing lasts forever is not an entirely difficult task – living with the truth of impermanence can often feel like an unbearable feat.

I think people best understand the how bittersweet impermanence can be when they have to say good-bye. Currently, I am facing two terribly difficult, but necessary good-byes.

In less than a month, I will bid my teacher, Su T. farewell as he begins his journey to a foreign land. In the short time that I have known my teacher, I have learned priceless lessons that have made me into a better person. Not only have I expanded my knowledge of Buddhism through Su T., I have gained a moral compass and a spiritual friend.

In a somewhat ironic set of events, I will also say good-bye to my own students. For the past few months, I have been working as a tutor. However, I have been accepted for an internship and, as a result, can no longer continue working at my current employment. Although I haven’t worked there all that long, the good-bye will still be a difficult one for me. There have been several students that have taught me how to be more patient, understanding, and compassionate. There are others that make me laugh and some that truly make me excited to see what the future generation will deliver.

Impermanence is not an easy truth to embrace, but denying it altogether will only cause more suffering. Instead of fighting the inevitably of impermanence, take the time to savor every moment.


More Wisdom Quotes

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A fool flatters himself, a wise man flatters the fool.
-Robert Bulwer-Lytton

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Don’t taunt the alligator until after you’ve crossed the creek.
-Dan Rather

A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountaintop.
-Author Unknown

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
-The Buddha



Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Memorizing a shuffled deck of cards in less then two minutes or running a 100 meter in 9.58 seconds. These seemingly impossible task have been done before.

Many, including myself, have decided stand on the sidelines and watch people accomplish difficult tasks or even simply ones, like trying new things, because of the belief that one cannot do something or failed at it once. However, creating negative beliefs and fears of failing are holding us back from achieving great possibilities.

“Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon. ” -Denis Waitley

Do not hold yourself back; break down those mental barriers and achieve. If you still did not succeed, you still succeeded in finding a way that did not work. :]



Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

There is a saying that goes

“If you have a difficult choice to make, flip a coin. If you decide to make it two out of three, you want the other one.”

It is one of my favorite quotes, not because I have lots of hard decisions to make, but because it implied that the answer was always somehow lying in us.

Sometimes what is right and what is best for us don’t seem to align, but I believe that most of the time, we already know what we are looking for. Our fears and delusions might create doubt and confusion, but if we can get through those, be it from a deep breath, or a longer meditation, we can see the difficulty under a new light, and in a much simpler way.

Next time you have a difficult choice to make, try to get away from the deep and hard reasoning, and try to find that clear peace of mind. You might not even need it, since you already have the answer!


- T


Taking Care of Ourselves First: An Argument for Self-Care

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Let’s face it, if you’ve had the interesting karma to grow up within a household influenced by cultures other than the United States of American one, you’ve probably experienced the habit of caring for others before yourself. Your mother was probably this way: while you and others in your household were eating scrumptious platefuls of her cooking, she was gnawing away at the flesh left on bones and pits of fruits to give you the “best.” Your father has probably accused you of being “selfish” because you were doing what was best for you and not for the good of the family the way he was working 60-80 hours a week to pay for everything for everybody.

But how can you take care of others when you yourself are not happy and well? How can you have the energy to give when you barely have the energy to get through your day? How can you support others in their struggles when you are ravaged by your own troubles and problems?

If you are able to do it, it’s probably a noble but mediocre attempt because it’s not a 100% effort. Your intentions may be completely whole-hearted and divine but your methods may be flawed. So then what?

You must take care of yourself first!

Nourish your body with enough sleep and rest, nutritious foods and drinks, and physical activity and you will have the ability to get through everything with energy and strength. Take care of your mind by providing it with plenty of chances for problem solving, novelty, and skill building and you will be keen and alert. Feed your soul with meaningful activities, positivity, and goodness and you will shower yourself and those around you with the same.

Do you want to be that grumpy mother who’s snapping every 10 minutes at her family because she is exhausted and unsatisfied with her life? Can you accept your life if you are a father who works so much in order to provide for your family’s needs but you never have the time to spend with them? How long can you go if you are a friend who always supports and helps others but doesn’t allow others to help you?

Think of it this way: when you are well and happy, you can shine like the sun. If you can shine like the sun, you can shine on everyone and everything around you. How wonderful would it be if everyone were to shine?