Monday, March 29, 2010

Venerable Gyurme’s Course

After the meditation course on semester 2, the second half of the semester is filled by the Dharma Course by Venerable Tenzin Gyurme. He is a Singaporean who learned the Vajrayana tradition and now with the Amitabha Buddhist Centre. Having studied in NUS too, he is a very friendly and understanding teacher to us. During the four sessions that we learned the Dharma, we had learned that true practising Buddhist need not be just in the meditation. It is in the daily mind and thoughts!

Then using logic and reason, we explored the requirements for past and future lives! And from the simple observation of karma or how couse and effect works, we discussed the codependant origination and it is used as an argument agaisnt the existance of a Creator God. Lastly, the meaning of suffering, which is not to inspire pessimism, but to inspire energy and determination for practise is discussed and expounded. The step by step build up of the facts are presented from logical conclusion of empirical observations in our lives certainly helped us increase our faith!

Lastly I would like to thank everyone who had helped out in the setting up of the room, joining in the discussions and Venerable Gyurme for his enlightening teachings.

By Ng Xin Zhao, Deputy Dharma Director of NUSBS

Monday, March 22, 2010

Discovering Buddhism

This semester, great changes have been made to Discovering Buddhism. From its usual Monday nights, it has been shifted to Thursday night and two special courses have developed: Freeing your Heart and Buddhist Psychology. They each last for 4 sessions and each session is 90 minutes long. The course is conducted by Bro. Piya, a former monk for 20 years and currently working on translating the sutras.

In Freeing the Heart, we learn how to let go of anger and lust and to identify the defence mechanism that the mind uses against mental attacks. While in Buddhist Psychology, the interaction between western Psychology and Buddhism is studied and knowledge from both sides is shared in order to deepen the understanding of the mind. Both courses are non-religious explorations and sources for much food for thought. Participants are given a “textbook” to read so that they can self-study on their own and also share with others.

The one of the basis of Dharma is great learning, and Discovering Buddhism provides the best opportunity for that purpose. Many thanks to Bro. Piya and Soe Lin Myat for organising the course and deepening our understanding of the Dharma. As Bro Piya says: may all strive to attain to enlightment in this very life!

By Ng Xin Zhao, Deputy Dharma Director of NUSBS

Medical Dharma Circle

Every Monday without fail (except for public holidays), the group of people that makes up Medical Dharma Circle comes together and shares the Dharma. Despite the name, this event is open to all students, regardless of faculty. Standing strong for over 30 years now, MDC is the one constant in NUSBS since the beginning. Therefore there are treasure houses of seniors who always come down for a few hours every week.

From 6:30 pm, meditation is on, then at 7pm, the puja will start and then the speaker for the week which includes Venerables, seniors, and even juniors will share the Dharma for about 1 hour. I’ve been invited to share for three times since I joined in last semester! After the share sharing, we are treated dinner by the seniors, in the spirit that we will come back and treat the juniors after we graduate. This ensures a strong continuity and fellowship building. I’m grateful to MDC and Kaikok for organising the sessions, and to the seniors for the delightful and fulfilling dinners. May MDC continue to be a shining light upon all who needs it.

By Ng Xin Zhao, Deputy Dharma Director of NUSBS

Dharma Circle

The main weekly activity for NUSBS falls on Friday nights with Soe Lin Myat, the Dharma Director as the organiser. Every week, a different speaker is invited to talk on various topics that spark interest and life into the 2554 year old Dharma. Amongst the speakers are lay alumni, Venerable monks like Ven. Bodhi, Ven. Cittara, Ven. Dhammika, Ven. Dharmarattana, and Ven. Chun Nian, even students like our former president, Jacinta and yours humbly. There are movie screenings, talks, presentations followed by discussions. One time, we even went out of campus to Cheng Beng Buddhist Society to listen to Ven. Hui Men!

Dharma Circle is the event where the most social exchange happens, especially after the event ends, you’ll see almost everyone staying back and chatter, introducing and welcoming new members, old friends catching up, the management committee having discussions on future events, all these while eating some snacks!

The most important thing that all of us bring back is the straightening of our right views, which is the first and most important step in the Noble 8 fold path. Thus we are propelled towards enlightment. May all the efforts by the Dharma subcom and Management committee that organize every Dharma Circle contribute to the spiritual well being of all who attend. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

By Ng Xin Zhao, Deputy Dharma Director of NUSBS


For two semesters on Wednesday nights, Bante Cittara from Mangala Vihara has come to NUS to teach Basic Meditation skills to the students and staffs of NUS. We learned mindfulness on the breath meditation, walking meditation, loving-kindness meditation, the 5 hindrances of meditation, and the supportive meditations. All these meditation is to help one relax, be mindful and develop concentration and insight. Meditating for 5-10 minutes before sleeping and after waking up everyday can eventually train oneself to observe anger when it is arising, thus able to stop it in time, be more stress free during the day and easily falling asleep at night. It’s no wonder that Bante Cittara always advices us to meditate everyday and to train up our mindfulness and concentration. Looking at all these benefits, it is no wonder that over 30 people sign up for the course every semester!

I would like to thank the loyal Dharma subcom and Management Committee for helping out during the course, NUSBS for providing the opportunity to organise the event, Bante Cittara and Philip who drives him here, and all the attendees. May this course be a stepping stone towards the enlightment of all beings!

By Ng Xin Zhao, Deputy Dharma Director of NUSBS

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Different parts of me

As we go through our daily life, we take on different roles, this post is to record down what roles I am taking now.

Bookworm: Avid book reading fan would be a nicer way to put it. I read fiction, non-fiction, many stuffs, as long as I'm a NUS student, I should make use of the library services. Currently reading: Shadows of the Mind by Roger Penrose.

Roommate: As a roommate, I really talk little with my roommate. I go to room for these functions: sleep, meditate, put my stuffs, prepare to shower, read and wash clothes. Currently sleeping time: 10pm-8am..... quite long.

Malaysian: Just the occasional joining in MSL activities. Most of the people I initially know from there are in SPS anyway... so not much point going there anymore. Malaysian... kinda prevents me from taking A*Star's extremely nice scholarship (that requires one to eventually become a Singaporean). Also prevents me from joining in Rovers and ODAC cause a lot of their activities are in Malaysia, Singapore price. Long time didn't sing the Negaraku already... compared to the weekly (or daily in Malacca High) singing back in school. Anything I spend here, I rarely convert it to Malaysian Ringgit in my mind too. Just kinda glad I'm in Singapore.

USP-ian: As a USP person, I rarely go to the place called Chatterbox, however, I do take their modules (Current module: Understanding Irony) and also gone to a trip called Buddhism in Asia: Thailand and Taiwan with them. Joining in their Freshmen Orientation Project, as a Group Leader.

SPS-ian: I'm more of a SPSian, more than anything else. In terms of putting my laptop in SPS all the time and spending most of my time there, and most of my closest friends are there. (oh sorry here, I'm in the room now). I'm becoming a Junior Mentor here, and it's going to be nicer and nicer.

Geek: My definition of geek here is someone who likes superheroes, comic books, manga, seeing cartoons, and doing... you know dorky stuffs. Ok, my geekiness has been confined to Big Bang Theory, Wizards of Wavery Place and OnePiece, three 20minutes per week, but not every week. Oh and gaming, don't forget gaming. I've deleted most of my computer video games already and recently am playing board games, Dominion, Through the Ages, Cash and Guns, Agricola, and various others....... so cooolllll games that USP and Boardgame Interest group has, ussually on Tuesdays night.

Stressed out person: Not so much at all. I've been trying to live a stress free life for these few weeks, and I think by the long time I didn't blog in March, I'm doing it well.

NUSBSMC: Been doing the job... quite well I think, there're ups and downs in this job. Currently, down. Even if the jobs are done well, and there're just a few more left, I'm kinda dreading having to do it all over again next year.......

Medical Dharma Circle: I've been joining in this wonderful group of Buddhist which has considerable history behind it and I really enjoy the Monday nights that I'm with them. I've been speaker for the sessions 2 times already so far.

CQT: I've just joined this group of physicist from this semester onwards, for my UROP, still in the process of finding out stuffs and reviewing. I'm taking it wayyy to slow. They are a kind group of people too, we've gone for an outing to a reserviour in Singapore, didn't imagined Singapore has jungle tracks in there and a hanging bridge that is veeeeeeerrrrry high, I walk through it! yay. And I got a free treat of 3D movies from them too last night, on Alice in Wonderland and How to train your dragon, both very good movies! Oh and our group is going to celebrate birthdays by dinner!

Physics: The most common activity I do, other than the modules, is to go for tea every Friday. Or every Friday that I'm free. Oh and also momentum, where I'm the co-editor is published and given to all physics majors! yay!

Nam Wah Pai: Taking over my weekends is the Nam Wah Pai, Chinese Kung Fu that is established in Singapore. Saturday 2-5p.m. and Sunday 6-8:30p.m. the Sunday one is for the training for a Competition that I'm joining in the free sparring.

Family: Other than the occasional online contacts, I've kinda alone (ok with friends) here, and (sadly or not) not ever homesick in the whole of 2 years here. I've visited a lot of relatives here and heavily make use of my uncle's hospitality during one of the holidays. And I kinda look forward to cousin reunion. Dunno when.....

And of course
Blogger: I've spend some considerable amount of time in Blogging. kinda. Just check out this blog.......