Sunday, April 30, 2017

6 Types of Freedoms, which ones do you want?

1. Western style freedom
We hear the notion that USA is the land of the free, of people defending free speech, even unto the stage when they might not agree with what I say, but they will defend to the death my right to say it. Even if that message is promoting rape culture.

Coming from a Buddhist perspective, I have a different notion of freedom. (No. 3-6)

First, let's look at the way Americans usually talk about freedom. They generally mean freedom from the government​ to do whatever they wish to, as long as they do not break the laws. Part of their definition of freedom is the freedom to do evil onto themselves, laws are just to protect evil done onto others. Yet a lot of times, there are firm resistance​ towards new laws which would help to protect others.

Most obviously is the laws to outlaw guns or even lesser, just to make guns harder to obtain. They got trapped in a false debate on the causes of unintended deaths due to the massive gun ownership situation in USA. The debate for those who wishes to have the freedom to own a gun (which they claim to be the freedom from fear of criminals having guns) focuses on the reason that it is crazy people or people with careless keeping of the guns who are the causes of gun deaths, ignoring suicide by gun cases.

Those who wishes to have the freedom from fear of being gunned down, are focusing on the fact that guns are massively owned and too easily obtained. The truth is of course, both are right. You need guns and crazy people both to produce the gun dangers in USA. Australia outlawing guns had shown that taking guns out of the equation is an effective measure to reduce the deaths. Of course a healthy mental education is required to produce less extreme personalities so that they do not become the local terrorists, and less suicidal cases. And better economic distribution of wealth to reduce the numbers of criminals in the world.

Secondly, there is the freedom of speech. By the terrorists attacks on the French cartoonist who drew the Islamic prophet, people are realising that free speech does not mean freedom from responsibility from your speech. This is a step towards the right direction.

Free speech also should not be used to justify evil speech. Eg. Speeches by predators who teaches men how to get laid and then dump the girl for another one. Or songs which promotes treating women as objects. These are unhealthy developments which is against gender equality. As we know, the pen is mightier than the sword, it is perfectly good for Universities and countries to block assess to those evil people wishing to spread messages which causes harm to others.

From the Buddhist perspective, right speech is the way to go. Speech which is true, harmonious, kind and fruitful spoken at the right time is right speech. So there is a self restriction in speech to promote freedom from fear of: being cheated or lied to, freedom from being slandered or having tension in relationships due to speech, freedom from fear of being blamed or scolded unreasonably, freedom from being bombarded with useless information which clouds the mind.

My take on free speech, is that free speech which adhere to right speech is best spoken to all who have open mind and the wisdom to judge the contents. Not to all, especially ignorant youths and foolish, closed minded people.

As for the gun issue, practising right action, we get avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. If everyone does that, there would be no criminals to need to defend yourself from. But even if there is criminals, having a gun is to hurt or more likely, kill others, so it is still not compatible with right action. People in most parts of the world do not live in fear of being robbed due to not having guns. So USA is actually not free if they are being manipulated by this fear.

Yet, no matter the political situation, there is no real freedom to be found via any system of politics or economy. More on that later. Obviously, people in USA would think that Singaporeans have less freedom in that they cannot buy chewing gums, simply indulge in drugs, no guns etc. But Singaporeans enjoy freedom from fear of being victim to crime, freedom from gun violence, freedom from social harm caused by drugs.

2. Catwoman Freedom
This is inspired by the movie Catwoman. In it, Catwoman says she is free to be good or bad as she likes. There is a disregard for the law and of good and bad as well. Yet this is not real freedom. There is no freedom for Catwoman to unmask herself when she steals things. Or if she does, then there is no freedom to live like a normal citizen under the law as she regularly breaks the law. There is also no freedom to just walk around unhindered while in Catwoman costume as law enforcements would want to catch her.

And from Buddhist perspective, there is no freedom from kamma for her when doing both good and bad things. There will be good and bad results for her.

3. Freedom from blame/ Moral Freedom
This is not freedom from being morally upright. It is being morally upright so that you are free from blame and regret. It is to avoid killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxicants (alcohol, drugs, tobacco) which clouds the mind to be heedless. The last one is so that one does not become heedless enough to violate the previous ones.

Also it is doing the right thing when no one is watching. It is to have integrity, to develop generosity, loving kindness, respect for self and others, contentment, honesty, right speech. To be generally speaking, a good person, at least on the level of speech and actions. This is the foundation to have freedom from regret, to be a pure hearted person and the start of the Buddhist journey towards even greater freedom. Observing morality, you also give the gift of freedom from fear for others around you. They no longer fear that you might do something bad to them.

You can also add in the various social justice to here. Feminism, LGBT rights, Veganism etc. So overall, humanity is getting more and more morally whole. But also in some other respect, humanity is less moral, for the lost of respect for elders, higher divorce rates, increase in porn consumption which drives sexual slavery etc...

Morality is a spectrum, the basics is avoid evil, higher than that is to do good, and even higher is sense restraint, to develop the 10 perfections of virtue, etc.

4. Freedom from unwholesome thoughts/ Freedom from the world of sensual pleasures.
So the next step is mental training, or commonly called meditation. There are also stages of freedom depending on the level of mastery. With meditation, we can be free from not just unwholesome speech and action, but also unwholesome thoughts, at least temporarily. It happens when the 5 hindrances of greed for sensual pleasures, ill will, restlessness, sloth and torpor, and doubt are temporarily overcome and reduced.

Keeping on the training, one can eventually attain to Jhana, which is the form world, free from the world of sensual pleasures. It is bliss and happiness so beautiful, it surpasses all sensual pleasures and is identified by the Abrahamic religions as experiencing God.
5. Freedom from Greed and Hatred/ Freedom from Self view
This is the freedom from development of wisdom. Here I split wisdom attainments into no. 5 and 6. It encompasses from the first insight all the way to the 3rd stage of sainthood.

So having freedom from regrets from morality practise, one can practise meditation well until freedom from sensual pleasures is attained (Jhana). Then one can see things as they truly are: empty of self. There is no inherent enduring soul which does not change and independent of things. The body and mind we identify as self gives us a lot of trouble. We tend towards a self centred view of the world, if it does not concern me, then I don't care as much as when it does concern me.

With the story of a self to describe essentially just automated biological and psychological series of events we call the body and the mind, we develop likes or dislikes in response to pleasant or unpleasant feelings when our senses are in contact with things. These likes and dislikes develops into greed and hatred at the extreme.

So the wisdom to realize that there is no self can eventually lead to even the letting go of likes and dislikes, much less greed and hatred. This was what the Buddha realized by practise and helped to spread out. He also realised even more. Onto the next freedom.

6. Freedom from death, freedom from suffering/delusion/pervasive conditioning
This is what I mean earlier on no matter what political and economical solutions are in the world, they cannot lead to freedom from death and suffering (dissatisfaction).

This dissatisfaction is deeply meant by pervasive conditioning. That all conditioned things are subject to change and thus once attached to will cause suffering. Yet, everything worldly we do inside the conditioned world still leads to conditioned world. (The laws of nature applies) There seems no escaping this suffering world. Yet, the Buddha had shown the way out of all this. The noble 8fold path, the middle way of morality, meditation and wisdom.

In wisdom attainments, this is the arahant (4th and final stage of sainthood/enlightenment) level, to the level of parinibbana, the death after attaining to arahant.

Having attained to enlightenment (freedom from delusion that the world is self, happy and permanent, when in actual fact, all conditioned things are not self, suffering and impermanent), one realises the unconditioned Nibbana (which is not self, the highest happiness and permanent). The mind is freed from suffering. An arahant can still have bodily suffering as the body is still conditioned upon this world. So when the body dies, it is the ultimate freedom from all suffering.
Also as there are evidence for rebirth, (google it), the arahant is also freedom from death, as there would be no more rebirth for them as they had abandoned all cravings (which leads to rebirth). That is the ultimate freedom worth suffering for.

So which freedom are you devoting your life for to attain?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Death's End Review and the whole Trilogy

If you don't know the series yet, do yourself a favour and read from the Three Body Problem, to The Dark Forest, followed by Death's End by Liu Ci Xin. Originally written in Chinese, it had been translated to English. I am glad to have brought the first two books. After reading so many science fiction novels and series, this one just became my best series so far. Better than Dune series, Foundation series, Robots series (by Issac Asimov), the Ender and Shadow series by Orson Scott Card.

It contains so many of the main characteristics of why we read science fiction: to have problems which we solve by science and technology. The problems presented in the books were so logically primed, it was amazing to see how the author did not back down from the challenge and is willing to let the characters in his book to pay the price for choosing something which is less than ideal or without foresight.

Although much of this book looks down upon love and compassion, the main character embodies it very well. It didn't gave the moral of the story as you should be as dark as the universe, but rather to always choose human nature over the beast nature, and be willing to bear the consequences if it didn't turned out well.

Spoilers ahead.

I am just sad at one thing, Cheng Xin never got to meet Yu Tianming again. Just a few minutes apart, they were suddenly separated by a few million years. It was the cruel application of basic physics and what happens when you manipulate the laws of nature. I thought somehow a clever Yu Tianming and AA would meet up with Cheng Xin and Guan Yilun again. Too bad no such thing happened. Haiz....

To be sure, it was hard to read the process whereby the Solar System gets turned into 2D.

The most amazing part was actually the fairy tale. I would have loved to stop and kept on thinking about what it meant if I wasn't so eager to let the book do the job for me. It's so brilliant that the message was well hidden. So sad the humanity didn't pay more effort into thinking more about it and linking it to manipulation of the laws of physics before going full speed on the bunker project.

It seems that the Trisolarians were afraid that humanity would be able to use these advance tech to destroy both Trisolarian fleet before they were safely out of range of the solar system, so they didn't share these tech. At least they allowed humans to keep on having a little bit more time and some chance to escape.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Incident at Low Yat- a Buddhist response


I was asked to write about what would a Buddhist do in the aftermath of the Low Yat Incident a few days ago.

So here's the background for those who don't know the incident. Basically, a man stole a handphone, got caught and in that weekend, gangs of people came and smash the shop, fights broke out and also a riot, caused in no small part by someone from the gang using misunderstanding and racial slur to mobilize the mob to do such uncivilized behavior. Lucky for Malaysia, the incident has been resolved very fast and efficiently by the police, using CCTV cameras to show that the case is a theft case and the thieve called for revenge. That's it, don't bring in racial hatred and spoil the harmony in Malaysia.

And I am inclined to agree with that. Case closed, no comments. I don't need to continue anymore, don't share the ugly stuffs.

Yet, I think the real impact of the incident is online and that means in the minds of those who shared, commented, or even just read about the incident. Many are very level-headed, condemning the incident as not racial thing, but just an ugly thing. I agree. Don't need to get angry. So let's drop the Low Yat thnig and pretend you came for a Dhamma lesson.

Where's the Buddhist stuffs? Hmmm... well, back in Buddha's days there was a sort of racial separation as well. That's the caste system, separated into four caste based on birth that has no chance whatsoever to change caste (unless they join the ascetics). When there is also the untouchables, the outcaste. The Buddha had spoken out against such discrimination, using various methods and logic to show the people at that time that it does not make sense to discriminate by birth, only by deeds is one an outcaste.

There is the biological reasoning, that we are all humans with the same eyes, ears, nose, heart, brain, liver, so what is the basis for discrimination amongst humans? Biologically we are of the same capabilities. Another reasoning is that there exist virtuous and evil people in all castes, can we really discriminate and say one caste is morally inferior to another? Is it justified to use a biased preconceived notion to judge others? In any caste system, a person who had committed a crime still pays for the crime committed.

In Digha Nikaya 4, The Buddha once asked a Brahmin (a person from the highest caste): What makes a Brahmin?

The answer he got was:
  1. Racial caste purity documented to seven generations;
  2. Knowledge of the mantras (of the Vedic religion);
  3. Appearance;
  4. Virtue;
  5. Wisdom.
Then the Buddha skillfully asked him that if one quality is to be dropped, and still the person could be considered a Brahmin, which would it be?
The Brahmin, Sonadanda then dropped off appearance. As it is relatively unimportant. 
Then the Buddha continued, if one more quality is to be dropped, and still the person could be considered a Brahmin, which would it be?
The Brahmin, Sonadanda then dropped off knowledge of the mantras. (Note this is like dropping religion off a race association.)
The Buddha continued even more, if one more quality is to be dropped, and still the person could be considered a Brahmin, which would it be?
The Brahmin Sonadanda now said birth can be left out, for virtue is more important. Wisdom and virtue are the two mutually irreducible qualities of a Brahman. Thus, Sonadanda says, “wisdom is purified by morality, and morality by wisdom.” This combination he identifies with the highest good, and the Buddha concurs. 

This was how the Buddha gradually lead the person to be trained into the right view taught by him, by self discovery and question.

This is also how you should be asking yourself. Are you affected by racial comments? Are you able to let go and be calm in all situations? Are you able to see logically and calmly what makes a good human? It's not by birth (Chinese or Malay) nor by religion, nor by appearances. Merely virtue and wisdom. In this regard, the Malaysians humans can be proud of themselves for displaying wisdom in condemning the incident and not raise it to racial riot, and the virtue to forgive and be non-violent, and letting go of anger.

Of course, even nationality boundaries are also a sort of discrimination based on birth, so I would use, as a good member of the human race, let's be continue to be wise and virtuous.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dhamma and Buddhism

I am currently taking the Bachelor of Arts in Buddhist Studies in Buddhist and Pali College of Singapore at Mangala Vihara. I am also a Buddhist practitioner with knowledge of the Dhamma since 11 years ago. This article is to clarify what is the difference between Dhamma and Buddhism as I see it currently. This article would reflect what is being taught in Majjhima Nikaya no. 22. Clarification, I didn't read it fully.

I would define Buddhism as the container of Dhamma. The Buddhist Societies, the humans who practices it, the culture, history, geographical spread, the social context, Buddhist arts, etc... all these are Buddhism, you can also include the Dhamma in here as well.

Dhamma there might be many deep meanings. First and most commonly that I would use is the words of the Buddha. Technically that is also Buddhism as the words are signpost to the thing pointed to. So the second and truer meaning is the realization of the truth of the world as it really is. Yet, the Buddha has also mentioned this before: the Dhamma is like a raft to cross the river of suffering. Let it go after crossing. So the third meaning of Dhamma is the way to the end of suffering.

To learn Dhamma properly, one only needs to understand properly the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths in brief are:

  1. This is suffering (or dissatisfaction) to be understood.
  2. This is the cause of suffering (craving and ignorance) to be abandoned.
  3. This is the end of suffering to be attained/realized. 
  4. This is the way to the end of Suffering to be developed.
Right View, Thoughts, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Meditation are the Noble Eightfold Path. 

There is a repeat there that the Right View of the Noble Eightfold Path includes Four Noble Truths. And the Fourth of the Four Noble Truths is the Noble Eightfold Path itself. Thus saying the Dhamma is the way to the end of suffering (Noble Eightfold Path) is technically correct as well.

Properly taught so that the learner can know how to attain to Nibbana (the end of suffering), that is the purpose of learning Dhamma. In this sense, learning Dhamma is a lot about strengthening one's Right View. Thus, don't criticize a person who keeps on learning Dhamma. They are starting on the path. If they somehow is not able to apply it to develop Right Thoughts, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Meditation yet, then encourage them to continue on the path and develop them.

To learn the Dhamma, one can go to various Dhamma talks, Basic Buddhism Courses, Dhamma Class, online, Dhamma books, etc... that's the business of Buddhism.

The danger is when the Dhamma is not properly taught and the grasping on the Dhamma becomes wrong grasping as stated in the sutta.

In brief, the way is to establish Right View properly, so that one thoughts becomes gentle, kind and able to let go. One develops Right Thoughts. With this, one's speech and action is also Right when one observes the 5 precepts. One's Livelihood would be Right when it does not harm oneself and others. Right Effort and Right Mindfulness are involved together with Right View in developing the rest of the Right Factors. You have to know clearly, remember and put in effort to develop these factors. Finally, Right Meditation is to have stillness of mind together with the seven Right factors, to let go all the way into the Jhana states (of mental absorption, and shutting off of the five physical senses).

Right knowledge will appear as one uses the mind with strong mindfulness from the Jhana states to examine body, feeling, mind and phenomena (dhamma). One would find that all conditioned things are impermanent, suffering, not self (a thing that is impermanent and suffering is not worth to call a self or identify as me, mine, I.) Right liberation comes as a result of disenchantment and letting go of all cravings to all conditioned things as the result of seeing things as they are. This is wisdom from realization, not from intellectual knowing and understanding. The whole process of meditation to attain to insight and to prepare for meditation, one has to be virtuous, and to start the path correctly, one has to have Right View.

Buddhism is what you learn if you dabble in the Buddhist world for quite long and also if you take up the Diploma in Buddhism course here: which opens registration in July and August!

In the course, you will learn some Dhamma as well as many other things not needed for the practice to enlightenment. The benefits would be to be able to see objectively how Dhamma has affected the world and to read the Buddha's words. We base it mainly on the Pali suttas, and we have to read up quite a number of them, even learning the Pali language so that we can read the originals without depending on translators!

This path can be called scholastic Buddhism. To be objective in the learning of the Dhamma itself. It is easier to let go of the raft like this in the end. It is also easier to be able to come to terms with the existence of so many different schools and traditions of Buddhism that some would have contradictions in Dhamma. To practice the Dhamma however, does require one to choose a path. Whether one chooses Varjayana, Mahayana, or Theravada or Early Buddhism (the common suttas amongst the traditions, basically Theravada without relying on commentaries and Abhidhamma which may contradict with the Sutta and Vinaya), one can totally practice it well. The worst thing might be to learn Buddhism and not practise the Dhamma. Like mentioned in the sutta above, it is to the long-term harm and suffering to those who wrongly grasp the Dhamma.

To learn Buddhism also enables one to teach more effectively. However it is also possible to just learn the Dhamma, practise, realize, and then teach. That would perhaps be a more direct and effective way.

Anyway, just keep on practising! And if you are serious in knowing the Dhamma objectively, take up Buddhism!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Earth Hour Metta Meditation

28th March 2015, Saturday night was Earth Hour, from 8:30pm-9:30pm. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Gratitude Corner organized a special observance of the Earth Hour: Metta Meditation. Instead of the usual celebratory festival mood, it is suitable for Buddhists to have a more serious approach to a reminder event.

24 participants sat in the open, behind the Hall of Great Compassion. It's a great way to be in touch with the outside air again and to remind us.

The reminder is to have us remember to live a lifestyle that is consistent with a sustainable planet. To have lifestyle change, first our actions has to change, our actions is also influenced by our speech, which is influenced by our thoughts and it all sprang from our views. Inline with that, the Green education part was from 7pm onwards until 8:30pm. There was a 21 minute video of glacier melting, the interdependence of climate change, hope for a green future, evidences of rebirth into humans and the call for working together to have a solution. Together these videos achieved the goal of having the green view of the participants.

There are also poster stands, presenting a story in the Vinaya, Culla Vagga about how the order of the Sangha had been environmentally conscious. In the story, Ananda described how they reuse their old robes by turning them into cover sheets. With the old cover sheets becoming floor sheets, then covers for pillows and mattress, foot towels, then dusters, and finally, the old dusters are shredded up knead into mud and spread out on the flooring.

This shows the level of commitment that Buddha has for environmental protection.

We also had a time to show the official Earth Hour 2015 video! The point of Earth Hour is not to be green only during this hour, but to go beyond the hour, to commit to a greener lifestyle for the coming year and recommit every year!

Then Venerable Chuan Guan gave us a Dhamma talk about how practicing the Dhamma and turning off air-conditioner is one of the best ways to be green. In practicing non-greed, non-attachment, one is not bothered if the air-conditioning is turned on or not. An air-conditioner takes up to thousands of watts of electricity, and most of the other appliances in our home takes up to a few to a hundred watts of electricity. Or compare it with a standing fan of only 75 watts!

We are also introduced to the concept of Metta Meditation and how by realizing that we are all living in a small fishbowl, whatever we throw at the earth, is actually throwing at our small fishbowl. We are all interdependent, thus having love for us and other sentient beings means having to include loving the small fishbowl that we live in.

Metta Meditation is the training in loving-kindness, having the sincere wish for all beings to be well and happy without any expectations. During the one hour, actual Earth Hour, we had a guided Metta meditation sitting in the dark. Metta Round the World had been our supporter, spreading the idea for this event to all of it's participating organisations all around the world!

The photograph is adjusted for longer exposure so the sky seems brighter than what the naked eye sees. There is an unexpected glow from the dragon as well.
Our photographer had taken the rare opportunity of total darkness in the monastery to capture breathtaking pictures. And our participants and volunteers feedback that the event was meaningful and wishes to have it next year again!

 "The selected venue which was in an open space instead of an enclosed area is very helpful. Though it was just for a short session, it was a fruitful one; especially during the lights off when the area was in total darkness and in mute silence. I feel very closely connected to the nature. It was like I am in an empty space, the universe; calm and peaceful. Hah! I may sounds exaggerating but this is truly what I felt"
                                                                                                                       -ChengYee, Volunteer

 "Earth Hour Metta Meditation was an excellent opportunity for me to reflect upon the scarcity of Earth resources and develop mindfulness of how our way of life can have irreversible consequences on the Earth and future generations to come. I am also more grateful to Earth for providing an environment for Buddhism to flourish. 感恩!"  
                                                                                                                        -Yi Hao, Participant

At the end, we dedicated merits to the late Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, all beings, and for the successful climate conference in Paris 2015 for it is the first time that all nations in the world, including USA and China, agree to have a legally binding climate agreement.

As the issue of climate change is urgent, it is hoped that in the spirit of loving-kindness, this event will spread to more and more temples and monasteries around the world and we can help use the power of love to sustain the planet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Earth Hour Metta Meditation Still On Because It Is Not Celebratory In Nature, All The More Love Is Needed In Times Of Sadness

News of Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s death had prompted WWF Singapore to cancel their celebration of Earth Hour and just have a simple 60+ Earth Hour logo with LED candles and lights off. Many other malls followed suit. However one event is still appropriate to continue on. That is Earth Hour Metta Meditation.
Metta is an ancient Indian language word for loving-kindness, which is love without expectations. During this event, participants are invited to sit down during Earth Hour and spread this loving-kindness to the Earth and all beings on it. Because meditation is solemn in nature, it is still appropriate to have this event ongoing.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had cleaned up Singapore’s River, established Singapore as a Garden City, and established water recycling in Singapore. Many of his plans are environmentally conscious and yet Singapore is not perfect in being 100% green. We can still be more civic minded in not treating the recycling bins as rubbish bins and vice versa.
So in truly being appreciative of his foundational efforts, we should not slack in our efforts to help make Singapore more environmentally friendly. This is especially urgent since Singapore is now depending on the last landfill of the country, which is estimated to last another 30 years at the rate of rubbish generation of Singaporeans.
However, the more fundamental concern maybe the geographical one. As a low-lying island, Singapore is very vulnerable to sea level rise. Even as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea level rise by the end of this century to be about one meter, if global warming is left unchecked, you can bet that the sea level rise will go beyond one meter and much more. So Singapore of 50 years independence (and much longer history as a port city) might only have a few more centuries to live on the same land. Unless we somehow figure out how to float the entire island, or build underwater cities.
earth hour metta meditation
Earth Hour Metta Meditation is organized by Gratitude Corner (Environmental Protection Projects) of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, the largest temple in Singapore. It is supported by Metta Round the World, a project aimed at creating more loving minds in the world for peace, harmony and happiness. The event is free for all (regardless of religious inclination) to come, no registration. From 7pm onwards, the public can come to the monastery to behind the Hall of Great Compassion (the first hall from the entrance) and learn about some exhibitions and videos of environmentalism and how Buddhism can contribute to address the problem. There would be talks around 7:50pm and the meditation, guided by a Venerable (monastic) will start at 8:30pm until 9:30pm.
Meditation is another word for mind training, or mental development. In Metta Meditation, we train to be familiarized with loving without any expectations. Too often we demand some form of return from whomever we pour our efforts into, and when we do not get it, we would feel sad and demotivated to continue on the work. This is very applicable in the scene of environmental protection. Just like Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who had worked away his life for the sake of Singapore, we can take to his example and contribute what we can for the sake of a safer earth to live on.
As such, in the work to protect the environment, we cannot lack this motivation of Metta, or Great Love, loving-kindness. Despite the attitudes of others around us being not environmentally conscious, ordering meat (it does harm the environment), not recycling and so on, we can do the opposite and be environmentally friendly out of our innate love. Once we are established ourselves in being green and having Great Love, we can spread it around and influence others to do the same.
In a study done in the United States of America, they had found a significant drop in violent crime in Washington, D.C., from June 7 to July 30, 1993 due to approximately 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation programme. The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion (p < .000000002). As such, the power of the mind, especially collectively is significant to change our world.
Metta Round the World aims at gathering the people round the world (Buddhist or not) to meditate on Metta together for peace, harmony, and stability in the world. In line with that, knowing that climate change contributed to the war in Syria, it is only natural to include being green as part of the practice of loving-kindness.
If nothing else, this event teaches the participants to reflect in themselves, to develop that sense of love and compassion for the world and act accordingly. As we change, we have the power to influence others (without expectations), and thus at the end of the event, we dedicate this act towards a sustainable planet, and the memory of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, wishing him (wherever he is now) and all beings to be well and happy.
It is also worth mentioning that this year is the year in which the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference would be held in Paris. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. For the first time, China and United States, the two biggest carbon emitters of the world has agreed to work together to change climate change. So we also dedicate this act of loving-kindness to the success of this conference. Just as our leaders act on the top, we can act from the bottom to help make a better future for our next generation.
May all of us be well and happy! And not just during Earth Hour, go beyond the hour!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Right speech as the middle path between free speech and censorship in the wake of Charlie Hebdo attack

 In the past week, after the world was shocked at a bias report of media on death of less than a hundred people in France (as compared to thousands elsewhere hint: Boko Haram attack on Baga), due to religious fanatics of people claiming to be Muslims.

Many irresponsible journalists immediately when into defend freedom of speech mode, saying that it's an attack on freedom of speech, causing Islamophobia to rise. Yet, there are many others who are more moderate (and wise) who recognize that freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences of speech. So far their voice has not been heard enough. People are still in very extremist mode about the incident, although the call for harmony and rational judgement is always present.

I had just read what the Pope has to say about it, and he is right. Insulting religion is going too far, as is killing in the name of religion. Well, Buddhist doesn't has a united world spiritual leader like the Catholics. So here's a voice from a Buddhist.

I believe that the Buddha has already addressed this issue of Freedom of speech vs Censorship way back in his time. Of course, come to think of it, everyone has freedom to speak what they like to speak. It's just how the law of the country and society would react to that speech that matters. In America, most likely any speech is allowed without any retribution, giving the false illusion that one can be free from responsibility of what one says. In countries that has internal security acts, like Malaysia (who recently just joined in the gang after a brief pulling out), certain speech has grave consequences, that of jail without trial. This gives an unnecessary feel of oppression and discomfort.

What did the Buddha said about speech? Once a prince was instructed by a rival religious leader to question the Buddha if he would speak words that are unendearing & disagreeable to others? If he replies yes, then he is no different from run of the mill person. If he says no, then point out an occurrence where he did said it. Thus, this would be a two-pronged question which the Buddha cannot swallow it down or spit it up.

Here we can relate to the arguments for free speech. Sometimes, hurtful things has to be said for the good of that person, so that they can change. Yet, the arguments for censorship is such that, sometimes, some speech is just too harmful that it's better to ban saying it altogether.

When the prince did approached the Buddha with the question, the reply was: "Prince, there is no categorical yes-or-no answer to that." Then the prince had said that the rival religious leader had lost there and then. After inquiring as to the cause of the prince asking that question, the Buddha asked the prince (who has his baby on his lap then) a counter question: "What do you think, prince: If this young boy, through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

"I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for the young boy."

You can refer to the picture now as to how the Buddha continued. In the same way, he would speak what he knows to be true, not false. And it has to be beneficial, not unbeneficial. And if it is unendearing & disagreeable to others, or endearing & agreeable to others, he would have the sense of proper time to say them. Why is that? Because he has a sense of compassion for living beings.
Right speech in Actio
So referring to internet journalism, it is still mostly reporting on what is true, for facts checking is one of the main pride of journalists. Yet, sadly, fake news websites are sprouting. It doesn't help that the disclaimer, which is often overlooked, says that it's a satirical site. Many people in social media has already been conned with fake news now and then.

As with regards to what is beneficial and what is not, I do not think most journalist take that into account when writing their reports. It doesn't matter so much about the thing they are reporting as how they are reporting it that would make the difference of whether it generates more fear, hatred, intolerance in the world, or does it generate more harmony, love, kindness in the world. Still many journalists does try to look into the positive aspects of things.

So, the Buddha seems ok on whether the thing to be said is unendearing & disagreeable or endearing & agreeable to others. The focus is on having the right time to say it. This might be the most challenging thing of all, because having the right time means judging the recipient's level of acceptance of what is to be said, and journalists has mainly no idea. Or is it? With the advert of the internet, the world is like a global village in closeness. So the myriad of social media, comments, blogs and independent news like this site captures the reaction of the crowd for one to judge if this article has gotten the right time to be said.

This right here is the main solution between freedom of speech and censorship: the sense of proper time to say it. If said in a wrong time, a speech that is beneficial cannot be accepted.

Right speech I believe is the middle path that's the solution between extremes of freedom of speech and censorship. Right speech acknowledges that we are free to speak, but not free from responsibility of the speech, therefore self censorship is practiced, to say what is true, beneficial, harmonious, in a kind and timely manner.

Yes, it doesn't address the problem of what the state should practice, but if you're reading this, then you can start to practice right speech. In the age of social media, where a lot of news get coverage from sharing, you are part of the journalists of the world by the choice of sharing or not sharing a particular article. Hopefully, you'll be able to practice right speech and share wisely.

To recap: share what you know to be true, to be beneficial, and have the sense of proper time to share what may or may not be endearing and agreeable.

The more people practicing this, the less extreme the world would be and maybe, just maybe we can come together in harmony and unity and start focusing and acting on seriously deathly issues for the future of our species: climate change.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Interview (2014 movie) Review

A hyped up movie which was threaten to not be released by some hackers and thus generated a lot more hyped up publicity for the movie than it otherwise would have had.

Anyway, I enjoyed the way they treated the movie. It does more to spark interest common folks to see documentaries about North Korea and want to understand what's happening there than those documentaries might have.

It does make a nice fantasy about what might happen and bring a happy ending to the world. Of course as a Buddhist, I wouldn't approve of the killings that has happened in the movie, but the way they showed it, it might have been the minimal amount of deaths possible to resolve the North Korean situation.

The movie is another way of showing just how much more powerful words are compared to action. Of course too, words without actions are just useless words, the final act of making North Korea a true democratic country is the "best" result almost everyone in the world wants.

Given that someone has thought of a creative way to topple the North Korean totalitarian regime with minimal deaths, what about other situations in the world? What about the Islamic State? What about other countries with leaders who are almost totalitarian? Or corrupt leaders? Corrupted parties? (hint: Malaysia). Maybe all the others does not matter so much because none of them has nuclear power. So perhaps the fact that this movie exist and comes out first instead of movies about the others shows a sense of practicality of people's (or just some people in the USA) mentality. Without Nukes (or Oil), you're not (that) important.

And I should rate the movie as 18-Sex, Gore, Violence, Political. Don't ask me where I watch it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On the path to enlightenment

Hey old friend,

Dear online diary with no privacy,

I just watched you're the apple of my eye. It brought some tears as I smile and recall my story.

It was one of the big major event or process in my emotional life for the last 4 (has it been so long ago?) years. Yet it's nothing I could not bear with a smile on my face.

It's nothing I could not bear because I had been through worse. I can't believe I would ever say this but I am grateful to has experienced depression about 10 years ago. Doesn't mean that I would wish to experience it again nor wish it upon anyone. It's because of the experience that I am able to understand suffering, to bear through 2 period of unemployment in less than a year without much worry, to be able to generate compassion for all those who are unenlightened, for they are liable to experience these suffering that I had been through.

That makes me want to attain stream winner and help others to do the same as soon as possible. Along this path, should I meet someone whom I had deep kammic connection with in my past life, and that the worldly condition allows us to meet regularly, May I have the strength to choose the greater happiness and not cause undue suffering to others. Remembering the suffering I had been through, my I have Great Compassion that keeps me firmly on the swift path towards enlightenment to benefit all sentient beings. Just like the Buddha who had left his wife out of love for her and all beings to search for the end of suffering, which he did helped his wife to attain it, so may this be an inspiration for me.

At the same time recalling how hard it is for two lovers to come together, I sincerely wish all my close couple friends, all those whom I know, all those in the world, to have mostly happiness in being together and have minimal suffering from their attachments.

Sometimes I used to cry why me? Why did I had to be so deep in the Dhamma that I wish to be a celibate? Tonight I do not think so any more, it's no longer a chain binding me. I am glad to have the aspiration to be celibate to practice well. I am blessed.

At some point on the way to enlightenment, as you to see suffering as just suffering, not "my suffering", then there is no more anger towards suffering, aversion to suffering is gone and there one experiences the impersonality of suffering. One can then bear whatever suffering on the path to enlightenment. These suffering are worth the suffering, because it is the suffering to end all suffering.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Devilitors, human eaters: A short story

Author: Ng Xin Zhao                                                                             Word count: 7238, about 19 pages

Part 1

The next life was as a human in born and raised in captivity. The oppressors? Aliens which landed on Earth in 1789, three years before the character you control was born and given the name HT1992334, more like a tag than a name. The year now is 1820. The twenty eight year old is facing enemies of the highest technological capabilities. Languages are still not translated, so these Aliens Overlords still do not understand the natives they had imprisoned. They didn't know that humans have feelings, emotions and are self aware, thinking beings.

Human society all over the world is in captivity. Those who roam free are free game for hunting for the Aliens. Many choose to surrender, only to be put into concentration camps to breed and die as food for the Aliens. A small resistance crops out amongst the humans living in the wild from time to time, but each time they showed themselves, they get eliminated. From their dying cries, the name of humanity for these Aliens Overlord is spread: The Devilitor.  

The Devilitors looks nothing like a devil, but it is hard to say, because there is no general consensus on what a devil looks like. Sufficient to say that Devilitors do not have horns on their head, or tails, are not red and do not have a humanoid human face. Rather, they have no heads. Their face is on their body, green in colour, and they have eyes all around their cube-ish body, making it six pairs of eyes on each face. They move around with appendages protruding out of each of the eight place where the vertices of their cube-shaped body should be. They have one hole to be used as a mouth on their face, and another hole on the opposite end for wastes to pour out. 

No human has seen how they mate before, and they have no obvious organs that can be identified as sexual organs. It seems that they have a sense of civilized sense of being polite, which is basically a handshake with four of their arms/legs. Their appendages all look and function the same, to move them around and to pick up stuffs. The appendages ends in a flexible, shape shifting, malleable organ which can change into feet, hands, or anything they can imagine really. Most common shape the humans had seen is a cage. They can harden the organ so that humans who tried to bite the cage would hurt their teeth instead of the Aliens. 

They talk in a shill high voice, almost inaudible to the human ears, but just within range, making humans cover their ears when they hear the Devilitors speaking. It appears that their hearing range is out of what the humans can produce, so to them, humans appear to not able to talk. Neither did the Devilitors took any interest in trying to understand human communication. They only saw humans as a primitive native species, on the verge of starting the process of destroying their planet by industrial pollution yet they do not have any technology to defend against the invasion of the Devilitors. 

Most humans were fed until they became so fat that it is hard to discern their arms and legs. From birth, the humans were separated from their parents put into a cage just big enough for them to reasonably grow fat to fit into, and food and water is constantly provided in a special area within reach. The entire culture, knowledge and education of humans were unable to be passed on because the babies were forcefully separated from their parents. Amongst these babies, the healthier ones were used as breeders, the less healthy ones were to be given a lot of food in the shortest time so that when they reach 30 years old, they would be ready to be cooked for food. Humans droppings were cleaned by the robots of the Devilitors and the sick and dying were not looked after, merely identified and tossed away to avoid the disease spreading to the other meats.

The Devilitors had learned to keep the humans not born in captivity far apart from each other, in the dark, and for those with a tendency to work together to escape or hatch a plan, they immersed those humans in water for a minute every other minute. It was hell. 

For the breeders, the females were exposed to thirty males for three days before she is taken out to see that the nine months pregnancy will not result in abortion. Immediately after the birth of a child, the baby is taken away, the milk of the female is sucked as she cried and wailed for her child, and then she is put back to expose with the males who raped her for another three days, and the cycle repeats. After a while, the Devilitors even bind the hands, feet, and put in a tongue stopper to prevent suicide. Apparently there were breeders who tried to kill themselves elsewhere. The suicide prevention measures became standard across the planet. As not much males are needed for breeding, most males which were born were immediately classified as food. 

Only a small subset of humans are kept and used as experimental subjects, where the Devilitors tests out genetic engineering, viruses, bacteria, all sorts of diseases and nanotechnology on humans. The humans in there lived a more hellish life compared to the humans meant to be food. Some were mutilated beyond recognition. Some has so many disease on them at the same time, the label for them run for pages long. 

The best possible place for a human to be born is in the labs of the brain scientists of the Devilitors. Half of the humans born there had their skulls cut open and brain analyzed while they are still conscious and alive. The other half is trained to do simple things that the Devilitors can do, or the simple native human sport that the Devilitors like to see: caged fight. There is a small subgroup of humans assigned to this Devilitor named Fresssssiecal, who's research project is to investigate if humans is intelligent enough to learn Devilitor's speech. 

For this purpose, Fresssssiecal decided to surgically replace the human babies' ears so that the Devilitors speech would not hurt their ears. Then she put the babies in one of her hands in a cage to bring about her, to be mixed inside the Devilitors culture and speech. The character that the game gives the user control of is one of these babies. Subject no. DS 0000003 short name, DS 3. 

As DS 3 look around and hear the speech of the Devilitors, he learned some basic speech. It was hard, but within three years, the vocal cord of DS 3 had grown to adjust itself to produce the shrill high pitch frequency of the Devilitors. This accomplishment made Fresssssiecal's day. She/He or It then published a paper on their internet and got the whole Devilitors community excited for the possibility of having additional human entertainment or finally able to understand if the humans were intelligent species, and not just a violent and delicious one. 

In the game, the user is able to control what limited response DS 3 can produce with the goal of convincing Fresssssiecal that humans were intelligent. For the ease of the user, all communications were translated to english, and the elongation of pronunciation is taken away too. 

Fresiecal flashed a picture of a naked human on the screen. She asked DS 3 what was on the picture. There was three choices: humans, point at yourself, or point at Fresiecal. The user choose to point at yourself. Fresiecal noted in her research journal: the subject seems to know and able to identify its own species. Then the user input the command to point at Fresiecal, and say human. Now Fresiecal's interests piqued up, she said a sentence where only some of the words is understood by DS3, "Now you little boy, you _____ mean to ____ me that you _____ other human ____ as I ____ my ______ people?" 

The option for the user are: "Yes", "No", "Nod head", "Show love by smiling". The user selected "Yes." , followed immediately by "Show love by smiling", then inputted him own input of being sad and having the head looking down.

Fresiecal's expression changed from curious to horrified. It seems that she is finally realizing that humans maybe sentient beings with feelings and self awareness too. She knew this is a hypothesis by decades of observation on humans. However, many experts believed that human's behaviour in zoos are evidences of their brutishness. They hunt and kill other animals there or else flee from others and huddle together with their own species only instead of interacting harmoniously with all other animals. Now this is proof of humans being just like them, the Cubiods. Those thoughts of Fresiecal appeared as a cinematic in the game.

The user is now given a limited time to input a something that would convince Fresiecal to take further action with DS 3. The user inputted, "say: I want all humans to be set free from the cages, we are civilized beings, treat us as you would treat your kind." 

The input was analyzed and several words were not able to be expressed because the DS 3 has not yet learned how to speak it yet, so the message came out like broken English:  I, all humans to be, from the cages, we are, us as you would your. 

Fresiecal was genuinely surprised by now, and interested. She reported in her journal, "_____ seems ______ on _____. Needs further _____, will continue to teach the ____ DS 3 more words so that a full ______ can be _____ of. For now I'm _____ that he is _____ that he _____ to be ____ from the cage. I shall _____ to see if he runs when I ____ my cage ____, if not then I shall _____ that ______."

The cage bar was lowered, the user has now full control of DS 3's movement. From the missing message he understood from Fresiecal, he commanded DS 3 to sit down. Fresiecal seems impressed. 

"I shall take the _____ with me as a ___ to ___ it ____ to my ______, they would _______ words for DS 3 to ____ if he is with me all the ____."

DS 3 was offered to step onto Fresiecal's top face. The user moved DS 3 to sit on the top. Then Fresiecal continued about her activities testing other humans before going back her home. The user is now given the opportunity to poke and destroy the top eyes of Fresiecal, but he refuses. 

The user was smiling, satisfied that the game had became so much more interesting and difficult at the same time.

Part 2

It's been another five years, by now, DS 3 had almost full access to the language of the Devilitors.

Yet, Fresiecal noticed that the hardest time for DS 3 was still the meal time with her family. The Devilitors consume their meals which consists of a lot of variety of food. From vegetables, fruits native to Earth, and even strange plants introduced and bio-engineered to Earth's condition to animals like chicken, cows, and humans. In fact humans are one of the main dishes at almost every meal. This is due to the delicious taste of humans, kinda like veal, a bit like red beef. After cooking it turns gray. Just describing the taste to DS 3 is enough to make him want to vomit. As Fresiecal did not want her head to be filled with human filth, she decided to test his mathematical and thinking skills.

"Hey, let's play a short game here. I'll need you to answer simple maths on how many of you humans that we keep for consumption. Humans are killed each day for the consumption of the Cubiods. I'll give you some facts, there are about one million of us on Earth much less than your kind, but almost 80% of us eat a human per day. You can assume that the average human population of 1000 breeders would produce 1000 babies every nine months. How many breeders do we need?"

The user has to input the answer to the correct order of magnitude within five minutes. Sick as the calculation is, the user came out with the answer. 

"216000 breeders."

"Very good, DS 3. Here have some... oh that would be forced cannibalism, but do you want some?" 

DS 3, controlled by the user put both hands to his mouth. 

"I'll take that as a No." Fresiecal said. "Ok now, as a follow up question, how many humans do we keep on any given day to ensure constant supply of food? Assuming we eat you guys when you turn 30 years old. That's the optimal fatness and tenderness, too old and you guys can't be bitten off easily."

The user did some quick maths again. 

"About 9 billion."

"Good, now have some vegetables. This should not be offensive to you. Now, it was not an easy job to make that number grow from your mere one billion figure just 30 years ago. For some time, we had shortage of human meat and the prices shot up. It was considered a delicacy back then, too expensive for the poorer of us folks to afford."

"I guess that is partly what drives the desire up for human flesh." Fresiecal was putting another mouthful of human limbs into her mouth and chew it with the sharp teeth within it. "It's the image that it is rare, a delicacy and sweet, a style of being luxurious you can think."

The user inputted his question:

"Do all 20% of you guys don't eat humans because they are poor?"

"Oh no, we operate on the basis of communism. Goods are equally distributed to us. This is one of the latest changes in our monetary concepts. At first while building up Earth for changing the landscape to suit our needs, we operate on capitalism to distribute goods where they are needed the most. Now that we had settled down on Earth, there is nothing much to do anymore. Everyone is equal in this new utopia that we had created, so we share human food with all. The next step after this is to export humans to other planets in the world. However, our current supply of humans is still growing to produce more surpluses so that we can export them. Research is still being done to decide if we should do it while you guys are dead or growing on the spaceship."

"Why then do some of you do not eat humans meat?"

"Oh, it is for the same reason some of you humans do not eat animals. Out of compassion they say. Mind you, my work with you had influenced these bunch of non-humans eaters to rise up. Some of them even promoted themselves beyond not eating humans, but also not eating all animals. A few crazy people restricted themselves to just fruits, believing that plants have feelings and life too. Stupid people aren't they? Missing out on the joys of life. But I suppose from your point of view, they must look like a savior for your kind."

"You Cubiods care about us humans?"

"Hey, don't you know by now? If the general population of Cubiods had seen how humans are killed for them to eat, they would be non-human eaters too. It is just unfortunate that your impact is still so small. Mainly because most of the Cubiods have not had humans pet yet."

"You have me as a pet and you still eat humans."

"Oh, don't worry, I would never eat you, you're almost part of my family now. What I eat is other humans, those who are so fat, that they would die if no robots feed them, or if they get fed, they would explode of overeating."

"Is that not being inconsistent?"

"Oh interesting, you know the word and how to use it. Inconsistent. Hmmm.... I suppose I had to say so. However, the general consensus now is that despite all the test we run on you, you are just one sample, we cannot conclude yet that humans possesses the same capacity as a Cubiod to feel love and the same capacity to have your intelligence to help you to create technologies that we have. I guess I should know better, yet it is very hard to not follow the crowd. I forget sometimes that you are on my head and your kind had to die for each humans I eat. I guess I'm sorry." Fresiecal took another bite on the human on her plate.

"You said you are sorry, yet you kept on eating."

"Why not? This one is already dead. Besides, I told you, I'm not ready to become one of those non-human eaters yet. The taste is so good, you'll have to try to know why. So I suppose you'll never know why because you'll never eat your kind."

DS 3 and indeed the user is very disturbed by this attitude of Fresiecal. 

"Hey, don't just blame me, before we came, you humans eat animals too, some clearly intelligent ones like pigs which are more intelligent than dogs you guys regularly eat them. Even cows which help you in your farms and give you milk you do not spare them. Blame it on your parents and ancestors. If they can eat meat, then there's no reason for us Cubiods to give up human meat."

After the meal, Fresiecal brought DS 3 to a human fighting tournament. It was like the ancient Romes, or modern day boxing ring. With monitors showing the bare handed fight up close and full of gore. The main rule for the fight is to the death. And secondary rule, never needed to be applied before was that whichever winner who refuses to kill the loser will be killed, and the loser gets to go another round. Within one night, about ten humans will get killed. 

DS 3 looked away when he saw the brutishness of these humans, using their hands to grab the opponent's genitals or to poke the opponents eyes or other soft spot, often, biting comes into play. Like common animals, the humans bite each other's extremities off. Ears, nose, and even genitals are not spared, male or female. 

The stage on which they fight on is so stained in blood that without cleaning the stage, one might thought that it is painted black, with a pinch of red. 

DS 3 also heard many remarks from the wild crowd. 

"Ya, get him, go you human skum. Fight like the wild animal you are!"

"Stupid researchers have no idea what they are talking about, I mean just look at this, can creatures which has genuine intelligence and feelings be so brutish? Haha, don't make me laugh. If you ask me, that Fresiecal was scamming all of us, trying to get us to be non-humans eaters. Ah, I bet you my house that she is one herself."

Fresiecal was tempted to just go up to the person and eat a human dish right in front of him, but she held her cool. There was no point talking here, she does not even act consistently based on her findings, why should she expect anyone else to?

"Would you believe it? Now they sell human skin wallets! Some ignorant people didn't know that we phased out money three years ago already."

"I think it's used to store other things, my dear, like human pets themselves. Why it almost completely fit them right in."

"Be careful not to squeeze too tightly, those humans are fragile, you don't want their ugly red blood to spoil your beautiful green skin."

DS 3 whispered to Fresiecal, "I do not think that such Cubiods who lack basic empathy can ever become a non-human eater. Maybe I should be grateful that you are at least neutral towards it. However, why did you bring us here?"

"Tonight is going to be the first time in history that a human is going hand to hand with a Cubiod." Fresiecal told DS 3.

"How is that possible? Cubiods are at least three meters on each side, certainly much bigger and heavier than any human. It would be an unfair match." DS 3 protested.

"Not if you see that." Fresiecal pointed towards the human on the ring. He was ripped with muscles, scars all over his body, but no recent wound. He must be about two meters tall with hands so big that they could crush any humans if he gets to wrap his hands around them. 

"They say he was the undefeated champion for three months straight and no other humans can withstand him in battle. So the rules changed, today, he is going to battle a Cubiod, bare hands to bare hands."

DS 3's interest build up. Part of him hoped that the human would win, possibly giving the rest of the pet and captive humans a tiny hope that they can escape this life of slavery. Another part of him knew that even if this one wins, they will kill him. No other humans can repeat the feat again and it would be very hard if not impossible to assemble an army of those. 

As the battle is about to begin, the user gained temporary control of the human fighting in the ring. The battle is to the death, bare handed, and there are no other rules. 

The user strike out hard, hard and desperate. He jumped up directly towards the Cubiod, aiming his fingers towards the eyes of the front face. Plump. With that sound and a shriek so horrible that even the deafen ears of the human fighter can still hear it, the Cubiod was blinded on one side. He tried to use his six arms to cover the place where his eyes were, however, by this time, the human had jumped clear of the Cubiod's reach. The eyes were still on his hands. 

The user then repeated this formula for two other faces, each time getting easier from the last because more and more side of the Cubiod is being blinded. The scare tactics of showing the Cubiod his previous eyes worked too. Not one minute later, the Cubiod has slumped onto the floor, with his arms thrashing about in a fury of rage. 

Graphic as it is, the user steel himself, aimed and threw the eyes of the Cubiod directly into his mouth. They entered. The Cubiod froze for a dreadful second realizing what is now inside his jaw. No one thought that they could see a Cubiod more in rage than just now, but they were obviously wrong. This time, the Cubiod jumped about in a random manner, no longer caring where his human opponent is or if the Cubiod is hurting others. He became an animal ensnared. 

It was not too long later that the Cubiod wandered off the ring and starting to seriously hurt other Cubiods inside the audience area. The user lost control of the human fighter who then escaped during the chaos. 

Back in the body of DS 3, he can feel that Fresiecal was standing up and leaving. 

"It seems that it is not only that humans are brutish, but Cubiods ourselves are capable of animalistic acts. This is fascinating, or at least it would be if it had not involved danger to us and possibly making that Cubiod blind in three sides." Fresiecal's upper eyes looked at DS 3. "Maybe it is not too hard to argue for a case for non-human diet for Cubiods. We can imagine if some advanced alien race would come and conquer Cubiod colonies. Certainly the parallel argument would get through to them."

"I certainly do hope so." That was all DS 3 could manage as he wondered what would become of the human fighter that bested a Cubiod. He briefly considered if it was worth raising an army of those fighters. Then he concluded that it would take too many human lives to produce just one great fighter. Besides, if that kind of desperation is needed to win. There is no real freedom in the end, our humanity would be lost.

Part 3

"Fine fine, we will visit the place you have been suggesting all these while." Fresiecal finally gave in to DS 3's request. 

They entered the human slaughter farm. The workers there all gave Fresiecal a strange look. She was curious why until she realized that they might have never seen a fit human like DS 3 before. To them, only fat humans are permitted to exist. She made a point to pet DS 3, making it clear to them that this is not food nor escaped human, but her legal pet. 

One worker approached Fresiecal. "What brings you here, scientist?"

"I've a scientific curiosity on what else do we Cubiods do to these humans other than having them as pet and scientific studies. More importantly, my pet told me that I should see this for myself."

The worker gave a strange look to DS 3 and then to Fresiecal. "Fine, but don't interfere in our work. We are behind schedule as it is."

"Could you show me where to go then?"

"No time, sorry, but you can start from the cages." 

Fresiecal walked to the direction that was pointed to her. The cage that contained the humans were disgusting, many of them have feces and dried urine on them. The food was constantly fed into the humans. Some of them who were full had cones stuck into their mouth and food stuff inside it. Fresiecal was horrified. She grabbed the nearest worker nearby and asked, "Why do you guys need to force feed these humans like these?"

"Those were the ones who refused to eat and would rather starve than be fat and killed. We had to do this for fast results."

"Wouldn't they suffer indigestion?"

"Oh, they would suffer more than that. As far as I can tell, their troat hurts after one such force feeding that rarely do you see them needing it again. But this one." the worker held up a human by the neck and balanced his fat body between two of the worker's arms "This one had been force feed for 30 times now, I'm starting to suspect that he is no longer voluntarily starving himself, but rather his throat hurts so much that it is no longer possible for him to eat naturally. I would ask them to have this one killed early now. Can't wait until two more years."

"Ya, imagine that we will have to have less humans around if only we can have them killed at an earlier age, perhaps around 18. That seems a good enough age to me." Another worker chimed in. 

"Don't worry about it, there are you scientist type finding out growth hormones aren't they? I heard that once these things go out, they'll be growing so fat so fast that we'll have to kill them in 10 years or else they'll burst from overeating." The first worker replied.

Fresiecal grew more and more sick at the jokes these Cubiods are making. DS 3 shivered all the time, both equal amount of anger and fear. 

"I dunno about that, I study only the behavior and psychology part of humans, not their biology or pharmacy." With that, Fresiecal walked on, following the second worker who had grabbed a human into the second room beyond.

"We don't let them see this place before they are of age, you see, humans are cowards. They see their companions being killed, they do not wish to eat and can go berserk within the cages. A few examples of these we can isolate and discipline, but a whole cage full of humans like these, we had to kill them all and serve some young human dishes."

"There are younger human dishes?"

"Oh yes, like those of age 10, they are some of the specialties. We don't provide much of them through, we want to keep it a secret delicacy, only known to the super rich. The global demand for human meat does not make child meat sustainable. Now they are plans to go galactic trade of human meat. I think once they introduced the growth hormones, there would be enough space in our factories to supply for that. Some of us are even asked to prepare to be transferred over to other planets with humans to start a farm there. I signed up already. They haven't came up with the list of planets though."

The worker put the human down on the dirty table, it seems full of organs here and there. 
"Anyway, first thing you want to do to prepare human meat is to get rid of the extremities. There's this machine" He pulled out a scary looking machine and put it around the human's legs and arm. The human was still conscious, obviously in fear and looking at DS 3 with human pleas. Neither of them knew human language but from the eyes from the human below, DS 3 knew that he did not want to go through whatever it is that the machine will do to him. 

"The machine will grab the fingernails of the human and pull them out." The worker then showed how it worked. The scream from the human was bloodcurdling. DS 3 felt sick to the bottom of his heart. 

Fresiecal has to close her eyes, all six sides of them and felt weak for a moment. 

"Oh, your first time? No wonder, I only got used to this after the hundred one I did it to. You see, if you have to do this thousands of times everyday, you can't afford to let the screams slow you down. I'm slowing it down for your sake, if you know what I mean."  The worker gave Fresiecal a wink.

Fresiecal tried very hard not to show disgust to the worker. After all she still needed him to give her the grand tour on what happens next. 

With blood still leaking out of the twenty places of the human where the nails used to be, the human is rolled over to the machine that slits their throat.

"Why didn't you guys kill them first before you take their nails out?" 

"Oh, it's just that it's easier and faster to have the human put their own hands and legs in rather than to have to do it for them when they are dead. Besides, the death struggle is nothing you want to handle."

The human was hanged upside down and moved along the conveyor. Fresiecal followed the human to the saw that was adjusted to the level of the neck of the humans. With one quick saw, blood sprayed out of the human's throat. They didn't care about whether the human was still alive or not, just that the struggle was terrible to watch. With hands flailing around and blood spraying from both the neck and the fingers, it was a terrible sight. There was a canvas below the human now. The room was filled with machines taking out canvas to be placed below the human that collects their blood. 

"What's with those canvas?"

"Oh, there's this crazy artist for the human right's groups. They want to capture the last struggle of humans and think that blood spraying on the white canvas would show it. Silly if you ask me. People buy those stuffs over human buffet meals. Cubiods should just accept the natural order of things. We are stronger, smarter, technologically more advanced than humans, thus we deserve to eat them. Besides, they do this to the native animals over here for thousands of years before we even arrived. There's no moral issue for them to be subjected to the same rules if you ask me."

Fresiecal was starting to doubt that moral justification of eating humans. This place is horrible. How can the Cubiods who pride themselves in civilized living can live with this? Ignorance that's how. The ignorance of not having visited the slaughter house before. She supposed that it was the same with humans. Ignorance and desensitization. 

The human was still struggling after three minutes. He must be drowning in his blood already, but because he was hung upside down, the blood goes out of his mouth instead of into his lungs. So in a sense he is still breathing, although each breath produces a despicable sound in DS 3's ears. Fresiecal only noticed it after DS 3 covered his ears and shouted for the human to make it stop. She glanced back at the fat human wobbling back and forth on the strap.

It was time for the deboning machine. The human was still alive when he entered it. "The deboning machine, we use sound waves to crush every single last one of the bones in the human, including his teeth. However the machine doesn't do nails, that's why we had to remove them first."

"How come they are still alive?"

"Oh, most died on the way there, but it is the rare few like this that made it to the machine. It must feel like hell inside there. You know I once put my arm inside by accident and it really felt that the machine is making my hand shape shift reflecting the waves it carries. For these humans, the bones are hard structure for them and it would dissolve into liquids that pour out of them inside the machine."

They saw the human finally exiting the machine from the other side. He looked pretty nastily dead. His face was of pure horror, with no more bone structure to support the body, the face was sunk in. The brains, tongue, eyes was the only support for the face. The lungs, heart and stomach was visible without the ribcage.

The fluid of the human was flushed out by heat. The remaining blood was collected away.

"Those are for the vampire project some scientist are working on. Genetic engineering the humans to their folklore legend seems like a great idea to diversify the human zoo. I can't wait to see what they had next. Have you seen the werewolf human? I heard that they had perfected the shape shifting part but just could not get how to synchronize the transformation with the moon." The worker was still following Fresiecal. 

The human then was cleaned, wrapped in neat packages and sent out to the supermarkets.

Fresiecal left the slaughter house, having more of her share of horror sights for life. 

"You know what DS 3? You're right. You can consider me as a non-human eater from now on, until the end of my life."

DS 3 could only hugged himself. "I don't think that's enough."

"What? You want to expose all these to the world? You want to go convince the public, our ruler to outlaw human meat?"

DS 3 walked towards Fresiecal's top eyes, looked into it with a dead serious face. "I cannot do anything else as my kind suffers like this everyday. As long as the demand has not reached out to the stars. I have a chance to stop this once and for all here."

Fresiecal looked back at DS 3. The human that she had grown to love and care for. It had become to the point that whatever he wishes, if she could not provide it for him, she would be unable to sleep well. 

Finally, she gave the acknowledgment. "I'll do whatever it takes then. I'll get you to a world wide council meeting on behalf of your species to ours. Come, we need to start preparing your arguments."

The user was horrified at the gameplay. The user choose not to act at all when the choice is up during the game to take over the job of the workers and prepare the humans for food. The user skipped the action and just let the game become a mini movie. It was the most disgusting thing the user had seen. And the user know that it's a thinly vealed metaphor for humans eating animals. It was still utterly disgusting. 

Part 4

"And that is the reason all Cubiods should be non-human eaters." DS 3 finished his presentation in front of the Grand Council of the Cubiods.

"Hmm...your presentation seems solid. Unfortunately, you overestimated our power." The High Councilor said. 

"You could broadcast this to the world, you've recorded it right?" DS 3 said.

"Yes, yes we have, but since I am not yet ready to make such a sacrifice myself, I know that there will be significant resistance to your idea if this is published world wide."

"Well, do you want to be a non-human eater?"

"Reluctant as I am, I do wish so. If only if there is a way....ah yes, of course there is one way all along. One dangerous way."

"Please tell me."

The High Counselor looked around the other counselors in the room. All of them gave him a sign with their hands that indicates approval. "We have a traditional law in dealing with other sentient species. Only as a representative of another species can you bargain with us. In the bargain, you can ask for anything, and we will set you to a similar task. If you succeed in that task, the whole Cubiod population all over the universe will have to honor the agreement set out here. For that reason, the task we ask of you will be many times more difficult than what you ask of us individually even if it is similar task."

"I hereby represent the human species to bargain with the Cubiod."

"Acknowledged, this event is now simultaneously broadcasted to all Cubiods on the planet. State your request."

"I request that all Cubiods stop eating humans, close down the human farm and start treating humans with the same respect as another sentient intelligent being."

"The reasons for doing so are being transmitted too. In the meantime, we shall collect suggestions for the task and the council shall select the most appropriate one."

"As they collect the task request, I should inform you of our technological capabilities." It was an old Cubiod in the council. His skin was sagged and wrinkle.

"We are capable of time travel. It is a natural result of faster than light travel. Paradoxes are resolved by having parallel universes created whenever we travel to the past. We have the capabilities to explore parallel universes."

"Everytime you travel faster than light, you are going to another universe instead of being in the same one?" DS 3 asked.

"Yes indeed, I can see now why you humans are intelligent. It has come to our attention that there is this future possible world where Cubiods did not conquer humans and humans developed their technology towards space travel."

"We can do that?"

"Yes, apparently. However, these humans have the same morality issue you just gave us a lecture about. They eat sentient beings which are less powerful than them despite knowing that these sentient beings have feelings and some are even moderately intelligent. Take for example, the pig that most human eat is more intelligent than the average dog, which humans keep as pets."

"The request has been finished, the council has decided." The voice of the High Councilor boomed. "The old Councilor here did not just share this story for fun. He know that the only task that is worthy of this bargain would be this all along."

DS 3 braced himself.

"We will send you to the human in this world, in the year 1970 according to your human calender reconning. If you can convince all humans to be vegetarian, you will have fulfilled the task, and we Cubiod will honor the bargain. There is no time limit for this task. And also there is no limitation of how many times you have to try. There are near infinite number of universes with slight variation for us to send you to. We will monitor your progress. You will fail the task if you die before it is completed, then the bargain is off. You can now accept or decline it, I should warn you that should you decline it, the bargain is off."

The user is then given the option to accept or to decline the task. The user selected to accept it.

DS 3 gladly accepted the task. Then the transport is readied and DS 3 is blasted off to the Earth in 1970 where humans has space age technology, but still practices barbaric mass killing of animals to eat them.

The user at this point tried various techniques to propagate veganism. It was a very hard fight as awareness of climate change has not even reached the mass public yet. The progress was too slow. The user then tried to poison the animals in captivity, releasing mad cow diseases, swine flu for the pigs and many other diseases. However, DS 3 had underestimated the human's capacity to restock farm animals so much faster than the disease can spread. Within a few years, the disease strategy was a dead end.

Education has produced a small number of ethical vegan which kept on fighting. However as DS 3 worked for decades after decades, the user felt that it might be better to just kill of all humans. That way a lot more animal's lives can be saved. The user initiated a human biological attack, releasing viruses after viruses to all humans, having it dormant within humans for a decade, before activating the mutagen within it. The virus became deadly within days, with fatalities rate reaching a hundred percent within a month. There was not enough time for the best scientist to find a cure. All humans except for DS 3 has been wiped out. DS 3 was smart enough to use his DNA as an template for the viruses so that he is immune to them all. 

The Cubiods then summoned DS 3 back and told him that that did not count as fulfilling the task. "If that counts as completing the task, it would be like killing all Cubiods to save humans. It is an unacceptable solution as we need both species to make a bargain. Try again."

DS 3 got sent back to another world in 1970 and this time, he focused on producing quality education and evangelical vegans. To avoid allegations of insanity, DS 3 has to hide his true origins. At about the year 2000, the game was over as DS 3 died of old age. 

The user saw a screen which came up:
Sorry you had failed in this game. The game is currently saved. The alternative ending of being successful will unlock only if there is 30% of real life vegans of all users of Ahhb. Current progress is 10%. You can help contribute by practicing vegetarian yourself, but do it only if you believe in the reasons behind it, not because you are pressurized to do it from others. Thank you. Your next life would begin tomorrow.