Sunday, December 09, 2012

Physics and Buddhism, internalizing

Here I come, having nothing in mind to talk about, just want to make a post. Should I continue to update things about my life?

Let's try that.

Currently working as a Research Assistant in NUS, I'm almost finishing writing a paper of my FYP and getting to read up a lot of different stuffs related to relativistic quantum information.
Here are some of the books I've read/am reading:
Sakurai: Modern Quantum Mechanics,, one of the best books in QM.
Feymann's Lecture Volume 3, also cool, but sakurai one is cooler.
Rindler's Special, General and Cosmological Relativity, a good recap/ serious study about relativity.

It's amazing how many things you don't learn properly in undergraduate physics. Now I'm learning on my own and getting to see how much of physics I need to really keep in mind and not rely on google/ lecture notes.

For analogy, I've been reading a lot of books about Buddhism lately too, it's been like I'm getting Buddhist books faster than I can read them. It is usually the case that I attempt to understand immediately what is written in there (I read the books appropriate for my level of course, to intellectually understand their contents) and the knowledge becomes part of me. So if anybody asks me about a thing I just recently read/ studied quite rigorously I can answer with reason.

So I'm noticing that I'm starting to take the same attitude towards physics. That I'm internalizing physics inside of me. So that when people asks me about the concepts, I should be able to come out with the maths (not trained, so can't do it yet) and explain the concepts properly.

I've still a lot to catch up in Physics and therefore I'm trying-as much as I hope to- to reduce some of the time I spend in Buddhist activities and devoting them to Physics. At last, I've still not yet succeeded. Pokemon comes in the way and is to be partially blamed. But hey, at least I'm spending less time on it than on writing a book the last month or Avengers Alliance. Btw, I've just downloaded the free DC Universe Online, and it makes my head dizzy after playing it for less than an hour continuously. Maybe I'm more suited to a 2D RPG than a 3D one.

Well, maybe I should continue on my other blog if I want to talk more about Physics and Buddhism. See ya there!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Section 2: Marriage

This month I had been busy writing for a 50000 words novel for NanoWrimo.
Below is a section (chapter) in my story.
 Here are some of the links where I found my inspiration from. And the story is roughly set in half a billion years from now, in the same earth of Milky Way galaxy. Tell me what you think if you got time to enjoy the long story below! Sorry for all the grammar, English mistakes. I'll polish it later. Got to write more! Highlight for the story!

Prince Ajita grew up being the best in absolutely everything that he learned. He’s the best sharpshooter in the planet, best martial artist in all of the martial art form that he had ever learned, best in all of his studies, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, comparative religions, 140 different human languages, and 290 different alien languages, economics, business, finance, music, medical, all sorts of engineering and all sorts of sports. In the galactic wide Olympics, he had to step down in order to allow for others to win after winning gold, record breaking gold too, 10 times in a row for every event that he entered.
Using a child prodigy to describe him would be an insult to him, because he mastered all those within his first 100 years old, which in the context of the lifespan of humans then, he was still considered a toddler.
Yet, the Prince already has 3 different palaces: Vardhamaanaka, Siddhaarthaka and Candra, each for the three seasons of the year: the rainy season, the cold season and the hot season.
The palaces grew up from the ground, literally it was tree growing technology. The trees were genetically engineered so that they provided for all the internal air circulation, cooling system, water delivery, fruits growing at all sorts of places for people to eat whenever they want to, and rooms custom made and all of these were genetically written into the tree’s DNA and RNA mechanism, which is quite thick compared to the tree’s ancestors.
In addition, the tree also sucks up the trace minerals in the ground to form 7 types of gemstones within themselves. As the palaces grow too, people help to put more of the gems into the interior and exterior part of the palace. Gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian decorates the palace to make art forms that are unique due to the complexity of grow patterns from the trees.
The palaces were seven storeys tall each, three underground and four above ground, with millions of rooms in each floor, thus, they have the size of a small island. A heptagon of wall, made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl and carnelian each, supported by the additional growth of the trees from it’s extensive roots. At the gate of the palaces, is a pandal, or door arc that is covered with elaborate and beautiful decorations of the 7 gems and diamonds, platinum, emerald, ruby, sapphire, topaz, amethyst, alexandrite, aquamarine, citrine, garnet, opal, onyx, peridot, tanzanite and tourmaline.
On the roof of the palaces was specially designed leaves and branches that simulates the music from five different types of musical instruments. Some branches were hollow, and grow in the angle that catches wind to blow inside it. Inside the branch, the wind can escape through a series of holes, governed by the leaves which decides which ones opens and closes. This is the woodwind instrument.
The brass music instrument was similarly constructed, but instead of having hole along the branch, these special type of branches have internal coating of the alloy of zinc and copper, and grows in complicatedly long winded way. Along the complicated route, there were some parts which can be closed off by leaves to vary the length of the branch, thus producing the different sound effects of brass.
Stringed instruments were generated when the fibres of the trees were stretched and tuned to different tensions, and being plucked by nearby branches which rustles with the wind, but not completely following the wind, as there are some active cells in the trees which were deciding the music that is being played.
The percussion instruments were formed by hollowed out tree trunks and branches that taps on them. Some of them have very thin skin left, thus it sounds just like a drum and some of them have metals coated on them, thus sounding like a glockenspiel.
Finally, some shapes of the inner tree trunk were like the human vocal cord, thus giving voice to the whole musical scene.
The best part about this is that the type of music is controllable via a computer interface with the tree.
Inside the palaces, on the wall which is integrated with the computing imagery, 3D effects of lines of palms, lions, elephants, coaches, peacocks, swans, curlews, storks, eagles, garudas, dragons, aliens, supergods, creepers, trees, lakes, oceans, ships full of gold, silver and coral. Jambudipa and other great continents, Ketumati and other great cities, and other cloth paintings shining with the colours of the rainbow.
Everyday, showers of flowers fall upon these palaces from the trees that made them. It is literally the ideal living quarters. Of course, the trees were treated to be fire and heat resistant.
Even with all these in place, Prince Ajita never did asked for more. In fact, he was just concentrating on his studies, trainings and education, not bothering with the luxuries that he was born into and also not becoming arrogant because of that too. In his mind, the things that he learned was far greater and more valuable than the material stuffs. Yet he did not despise the material wealth that he was born into, he indulge in them whenever he feels like resting or after a day’s long of thinking and studying. Thus had he lived his childhood.
On his 123rd year, there was a galactic wide celebration that involves his father, scientist supreme of Utopia. His father was supposed to share in a wonderful story about the struggles and triumph of human spirit on this day which is called Earth Day. Curious about this celebration too and proud to see his old man standing tall, he decided to join in. This celebration is usually done at smaller scales, and once every thousand years, it becomes a planet wide celebration, every fifty thousand years, it is a galactic wide celebration, with podcasts of it to be transmitted to all corners of the galaxy.
Subrahmana started, “the story that I’ve to tell you, all of you who gathered here is a gruesome story, yet it is a story that should be passed on, to ensure that we and humanity as a whole do not ever suscumb to such dangerous tribulations and near extinction ever again.”
The atmosphere was silent, quiet, with everyone paying full attention in the supreme scientist’s words even if they had heard the story a thousand times before. Prince Ajita was iimpressed by this attitude. They were all standing or sitting on a green clearing, with a wild life sanctuary behind them a stark reminder of Earth Day.
“According to legend, long ago, all of humanity was originated from one planet, back then the planet was called Earth. Now we believe it is this very planet, where the spread of humanity to space began. However, it was not without struggle. There was a point in time, soon after the invention of the classical computer and the planet wide internet, where humanity lost a lot of it’s own kind due to mismanagement of the planet.”
“We have reasons to believe that at that era, recycling needed to be encouraged, yet a lot of lights and energy were wasted without care about the next generations.” There was a lot of gasps and disgust shown by everyone who listened to this. Prince Ajita looked around and saw that the retinue of 84000 people who accompany him were reflecting and being disgusted by the actions of humanities’ ancestors towards the planet.
“Not only do the humans of that period mismanage their only planet, their only home, they were not appreciative of their own morality, of life itself. It is said that there was a country at that time where almost every family has a hand held projectile weapon, called a gun. And accidents happens every year, up to 10000 people die, more than half by suicide.”
The people who listened to this began to shiver and shudder in horror. Prince Ajita himself can feel goosebumps crawling on his skin, he felt nothing but compassion for the people of that age. How could people be so ridiculously foolish and unappreciative of life? He wondered.
As if his father read his mind, Subrahmana continued, “according to fossil evidence, the humans of that time were much smaller than us, and the planet much more populated, at it’s peak, Earth hold 12 billion people!” Now a wave of shocked disbelief passed through everyone.
“It is because of these reasons that we believe that they have very short life spans. On the order of decades of years. But even so, computer simulations show that in supporting that population, there should not be a problem. Yet, there was also fossil evidence of the most cruel thing yet that I have yet to say. Please brace yourself.”
Everyone was already quite nauseated and just feeling sad for their ancestors, now they prepare themselves for the worst to come.
“There was fossil evidences of animal farms, where they breed animals just to kill them. The size and frequency of the farms suggest that the total number of animals that the breed to kill at one time is more than the total human population. The amount of plant needed to support such a size decreased the feeding capacity of the total human populations and thus part of the human population necessary suffer from hunger. 1 billion people have not enough food to eat, and 6 million children die from hunger every year. Let me tell you too, that their children is up to 12 years old only, not ours 300 years old.
Prince Ajita felt deeply moved by this. He is indeed still a child in Utopia’s standards, but to think of children in the past to not have lived long enough to even learn some simple Physics that he had learned, not even have the opportunity to grow up and have a chance in living happily.
The people around him were by now weeping openly, it was a celebration that always started out solemnly, up to a critical point where the good part of the story is supposed to bring their spirits up.
The prince quietly moved to under a tree, to be under its shade and away from the masses of crowd who were weeping. He found a bit of peace and sat there cross legged, there he continued to listen.
“There came a greater time of distress, after which our ancestors finally realized the folly of their ways and repented deeply. While repenting, they carved down on a piece of giant artificial diamond, what transpired. This language defied translation for 30 million years since it’s discovery, but in the last 3000 years, one brilliant linguistic managed to crack the code, written in binary, and here what it says.”
“‘We are the survivors of the bloodiest war that humankind has ever seen yet. There was a group of us, ranging from 4 to 10 years old, there was no one who could live beyond 10, due to the various types of diseases that devolved the human body to only generate a lot of short burst of energy. Energy we needed to survive. I am aged 9, witness to the bloody war happened when I was 4 one of the youngest in hiding, now with the last shred of laser technology I am engraving this memory to the largest diamond we had artificially created just for this purpose. For the purpose that future generations will not repeat our mistake. Once is enough for the whole humanity. Therefore remember your history, for those who do not is bound to repeat it.’”
“‘I am Avel, and the bloody 7 days war happened during my 4th years of age. It was half a lifetime ago, yet I remembered it clearly as yesterday. Each of us humans were genetically engineered so that we would had various kinds of superpowers. Many of those involves animalistic superpowers which might alter the appearances of ourselves. There was a virus that spreaded, most probably via sexual transmission to almost all of humanity. The virus made us see each other’s powers to be much amplified than it really is, and we saw no more of the humanity is left in the others. Everyone sees everyone else as animals, dangerous wild beast to be tamed or destroyed. And the destruction happened.’”
“‘I was fortunate however, for there is a wise leader who said to us that let’s us not kill and be killed, let us instead retreat to the last of the forest of earth. We’ll build a fort and remain guarding there, eating fruits and roots of the forest. We hid for seven days, and at the end of it,  we emerge from our hiding places to meet with seas of blood and rotting flesh. Ten billions dead bodies all over the earth, every shoreline of the sea we saw was filled with blood, deep red blood that seemed to threaten to remain there forever. It became pinkish by now, even after five years the waves can’t wash away the awful things that we did to ourselves. The remainder of us rejoiced in seeing other survivors and we all realised that it is because of our evil ways of killing that these suffering befall humankind. Let us now do good. Starting by not taking life.’”
“‘And so, we abandoned our eyepiece, which allow us to see into augmented reality and think that the real world is a game, that lead to less resistance towards killing others. Now, after five years of not killing anything. Not even animals, real animals. We seemed to be enjoying a bit of increase in lifespan and beauty. Our children seems to be maturing at a slower rate, aging slower too. One can only hope that it means they will live far beyond our limited 10 years of age, and prosper. Here ends this record which has the sole intention of asking all of our descendants not to commit the wrongs we had done and learn from the mistakes of the past, so that you do not repeat it in future.’”
The people who were listening was inspired. They stopped crying and paid full attention to what the supreme scientist was saying now. Prince Ajita, however, was already long missing and no one has yet thought to look for him.
“From there onwards, humanity has gradually increased in morality and the knowledge of science. We build...”
The prince knew of what was the development that lead to the galactic republic and perhaps this is the reason he allowed himself to be distracted by a worm that was in the leaves near the trees. Before his eyes, the worm was eating into the leaves, leaving a lot of holes and growing fat, suddenly, a praying mantis leaped onto the bug, and killed it. The mantis was slowly enjoying his fat meal when a frog jumped in and pulled the mantis into its mouth via its long tongue. Then behind the frog, came a snake, it ambushed the frog and eat it whole. Just as the snake was slithering away, an eagle from the sky sweep down and grabbed the snake in its claws, peck it and brought it back to its nest, where it slowly digested the snake.
The prince of course had learned all these before in his biology holovideo, but to see things up close and directly, he saw that while the worm was eating, the essence of the leaves were eaten. There is no inherent leaf, as the materials that made it is being digested to become part of the worm. Then the praying mantis came along and eat the worm. There is to be found no worm qualities in the praying mantis, the worm is insubstantial in itself, just like the leaves were. The frog too, it eats the praying mantis, but does not become the praying mantis itself. Now even the form the of the mantis is gone. Then the frog is transformed into parts of a snake. Making everything before it seems more and more removed from memory and reality. Had they really existed before? If so, they certainly do not exist now. And finally the snake is killed by the eagle and eaten. There is yet another level! If one thing cannot exist on its own forever, by what reasoning and property can there be a self of the thing to carry on? And if the self is the thing that is being eaten, then the self is a changing self, that is not worth clinging on to.
Having reflected thus, he calmed down and focused on his breathing. Letting go of whatever that is happening outside of him, he quickly attained to a stage where his mind has only one thing. That thing is his breath. So concentrated was he that the usual mental process of awareness and sensing of the five physical senses were shut down as his mind remains in peace and calm, focusing on his breath. Feelings of great joy and happiness arose within him, he smiled and by all means looks serene.
It is about this time that the story by Subrahmana was finished, and the multitude of the people listening started to be aware of the prince Ajita being in a deep state of concentration. Subrahmana seeing his son being in the seated position, crossed legged, came to his front and pay respects to his son, for having achieving this deep state.

At Prince Ajita’s 500th year, the mark to adulthood is celebrated by great dancers and performances specially made for him and presented in his palace. All year long, there was dancing, singing, music, 3D holographic videos, video games, quiz competitions, sportsmanships, sonic-screwdriver-to-escape-the-room competition, movies, cartoons, tea, fun camps, debates, and all sorts of entertainment in the palaces that he visits, on the floors that he visits. Of course, there are also ample time for rest. In fact, there are special rooms for resting, one have the full jungle effect, without insects; another has the beach effect, on the ground floor, near the sea, well, it is a real beach; yet another simulates underground pood, deep and cozy, smooth and calm. By now, the prince had slept in about 30% of all his palaces and yet there are still places in which he had never been to.
These sleeping chambers number seven thousands in total, has umbrellas with handles made of gems, beds covered by multi coloured sheets, and well decorated with treasures from all ranges of time. Each time he entered a new chamber, there will be someone who stands ready to explain to him the significance and history of the decorations that he wishes to know. As a result, his knowledge of the entire galaxy, sometimes, even of things beyond the galaxy increases.
At each of these rooms, beautiful, fragrant, and delicious fruits are ready to be plucked and eaten anywhere. The prince eats them when he feels hungry and the rest of the fruits were to support the rest of the people in the palaces.
At each of these seven floors, there are seven thousands dancing girls who will dress up and await to dance. They accommodate to the prince’s desire and changes so fast, he is constantly amazed by their adaptability and flexibility. Once, he just finished watching the first six Star Wars movies in 7D (3 for visual, 1 for each of the other senses) and was exhausted by the effort, before he goes to bed, the dancing girls were dressed up as female jedis, and make for the gesture that smooths and calms him to sleep. The leader of the dancing girls was dressed up like Princess Leia, in bikini form, and she was gently rocking the prince’s head to sleep.
Prince Ajita smiled, after looking at the girl who was putting him to sleep, he immediately forgot about Star Wars and the associated memories with it. She was by far way more beautiful in real life than the actress in the movie. She is Candamukhi, one of a kind, unsurpassed in beauty, within the planet and even once in a galactic beauty pageant, won the top prize in all categories of love, compassion, generosity, smile, kindness, and physical characteristics, which are beauty of bones, beauty of muscles, beauty of complexion, beauty of hair and beauty of age.
As she puts the prince to sleep as she had done since they were 50 years old, the prince felt blessed to sleep in the arms of a girl not too tall, nor too short, nor too thin, nor too fat, nor too dark, nor too fair. In her exquisite beauty, she is more divine than human. Sandalwood scent that issues from her body and the scent of water lilies from her mouth made him comfortable and cozy. The glow from her body covers the area of a sphere with radius of 6 meters. As he rest his head, he found that her body is as soft as a well cleaned cotton as always.
Thus has he been put to sleep by Candamukhi half of the nights. This year, it was almost every night.
Finally, the day of his 500th birthday had arrived, and there was a special arrangements from both his father and foster father to surprise him.
As he walked into the main chamber of his palace, he found all sorts of manners of beautiful girls stand ready waiting for him, with the High Chancellor Sankha and the supreme scientist, Subrahmana. After greeting his parents, he inquire for the purpose of this rather unusual gathering.
“Why, my son, it is simply time for your 500th birthday! This whole year had been a celebration of this day, for the day that you entered into manhood. The day that you pick a wive with you.” Subrahmana hugged his son and exclaimed.
Sankha added on, “you are showing great promises in the ways of governing having passed all of the test and trainings with the best score possible, I am inclined to want to give you the title right now, but as it is, tradition dictates that before ruling a country, one has to know how to handle a family first. So don’t worry Ajita, take your own sweet time to develop a family and raise your child to his own manhood age, after that, I’ll impart this city for you to govern for 500 years, and increasing from there, you will eventually inherit the whole of Utopia, then the galaxy and it is up to you then to extend your reach to the universe at large.”
“Thank you father, so the selection of my wife will be amongst these young beautiful ladies here?” Prince Ajita inquired, secretly hoping that Candamukhi is there in the crowd.
“Yes, my dear Ajita, here are the kingdom’s treasure, that I give to you as a wedding gift. Give one to each of the girls below to see how do they react to you. If you found one whom you know you can live with and connects with your heart, then you will know who is your wife.” the High Chancellor Sankha said.
Prince Ajita nodded and sat down at the throne seat, both of his father and his mother retreated to the second floor and watched the proceedings from there. The prince breathe in and out once and smiled, gestured for the first girl to come up and say her name.
“Gabriella, my prince.”
“Here’s a necklace, Gabriella.”
“Thank you my prince.”
The next one came up, she was Diana, then Alex, Camila, Chloe, Maya, Jenniffer, Britney, Katie, Rachel, Ruby.....
The treasury was depleting, and half a day was spent before the last of the treasure goes to Shiely. The next girl caught his heart and attention.
A smile crossed his face as he recognised increased heartbeat, a bit of sweat on his hands and the smile that each of them gave each other.
“Candamukhi, I’m sorry I’ve run out of something to give you, but if you don’t mind,” Prince Ajita took out his ring and helped to put it in Candamukhi’s finger, “can you be my wife?”
Candamukhi then smiled the smile that would melt most men’s heart and said, “Yes my prince.” Then they kissed. Applause rises from all corners of the palace as everyone knew of how long they had grew up together, and how matching the pair were.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Partial list of board games I've played and the ratings.

My range is out of 5, 1 is not enjoy, 3 is ok, 5 is very good. And only for those that I've played.

20th Century (2010)

7 Wonders (English first edition)

Agricola (2007)

Alien Frontiers (English first edition, second printing) (2011)

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (English Edition) (2010)

Back to the Future: The Card Game (2010)

Ca$h 'n Gun$ (2005)

Catan: Seafarers (1997)

Citadels (2000)

Eclipse (English first edition) (2011)

Eminent Domain (2011)

Family Business (Mayfair third edition) (2008)

Get Bit! (English second edition) (2011)

Hansa Teutonica (2009)

Le Havre (2008)

Merchants & Marauders (2010)

Munchkin (2001)

Pandemic (2008)

Power Grid (2004)

Race for the Galaxy (2007)

Sentinels of the Multiverse (2011)

Small World (2009)

Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 (2009)

Troyes (Multilingual second edition) (2011)

Urban Sprawl (2011)

Wealth of Nations (2008)

Wits & Wagers (2005)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Post to the students in here

YBAMMisleading Teachings Deviate From The Right Path of Buddhism

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) recently received a correspondence from the Buddhist Society of a branch campus of a university in Kelantan, stating that members and other undergraduates are influenced by a Theravada monk, leading to transferrence of course of study, and strained relationship with the family members.

The monk started to approach the undergraduates of the said university since March this year.  Activities were carried out without the acknowledgement of the Buddhist Society of the university.  The monk even brought dozens of students to pay a visit to the temples in Thailand for few weeks.  When the semester started in September, these students, of about 30 of them, contacted the faculty and their family about their intention of transferrence from Medical Discipline to other disciplines such as Nutrition or Sport Science.  Some students could not concentrate in their study, and absent from the lectures to participate in the activities organised by the mentioned monk.  Some students even have the intention to withdraw from the university. The university started to show concern on this incident following the request of transferrence of course from these students.

Most of the affected students are the future doctors, with some of them are graduating in next one or two years, and some of them are even the JPA scholarship holders.  However, these students disregard the worries of the family members, as well as the implications of the RM 250,000 compensation that the family is going to make following their irresponsible act, had a falling out with the family, and even threatened to run away from home or to terminate the family relationship.
This monk taught the students that the patients should not receive medication for their condition, as these sicknesses are the results of their Karma.  If one receives treatment for the sickness, this will not eliminate the Karma, and he/she will continue to suffer in the future.  This monk keep stressing about the supernatural power, and telling students that he has the power to know the past, and to predict the future.  He also used the so-called subconciousness method to let students to see their pasts.  These teachings led to the Medical students not willing to, and also dare not to face the patients and corspes.  Some of them even felt the uneasiness and the horror after contacting or facing the patients and corspes.  In addition, this monk also misled the students in the views of the relationship that led to the end of the relationship of a few couples.

YBAM also received some complaints that this monk used the same tactic to approach the Buddhist and youths in the Alor Setar, Kedah.  He also has a centre for students’ gathering in the Klang Valley

In the Buddha’s teaching, we see how the Buddha, as the leader, also concerned his disciples who are sick, and provided necessary medications. The Buddha taught how to integrate ourselves into the society and to benefit the society with our contributions.  The Buddha did not teach us on the unconventional and bizzre ideas, which leads to the worries of our family and friends, or even broken relationships with them.

YBAM hence urge the Buddhist society in the varsities and the local Buddhist societies to pay extra care when dealing with the interactions between the venerables and the disciples, as to avoid the negative implications that might be caused to the students and disciples following such relationship.  Together with other Buddhist organisations, YBAM is also trying with various approaches including the Immigrations, university and family members, not to worsen the development of the incident, and to prevent this monk to bring the students to Thailand in this October again.

May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you and your family always.

This blog post is in response to the news above and directed towards the 30+ students who were involved. If anyone can direct them to this I would be very grateful. 

So, hi guys and gals, calm down, I know what might be going through your mind now. I know because I was there, during my teenage years, just before SPM. Oh really you ask? Read on and find out. I'm not a mind-reader, so sorry if my claim is not true after all and didn't help you.

It's true that I did not think of wanting to skip SPM, or STPM or University or even getting a 3 year bond even after getting a strong and close affinity with Buddhism, wanting to become a monk, and attain enlightenment in this very lifetime. This is kinda the effect you'll experience if you go too deep into Theravada teachings too fast, which I believe you guys had from the description above.

Hang on a minute, you ask, I said "too deep", "too fast"? But isn't the teachings of the Buddha the best thing there is in the world? The only thing worth to do in this life is to practise and attain enlightenment? How can there be such a thing as too much Dharma? 

Ah, I would reply, but then what Dharma are you talking about? Learning about the Dharma is not the same as realising it. 
A man is not versed in Dhamma because he speaks much. He who, after hearinga little Dhamma, realizes its truth directly and is not heedless of it, is trulyversed in the Dhamma. -Dhammapada 259
Your actions of wanting to leave the lay-life or university courses without regard for the wishes, social and financial considerations reflects that there is no realisation of both compassion and wisdom. 
Calm down, stop rejecting this statement, it's not a blame, it's just a statement for you to reflect upon. Is it true? Is it really true? Is it the full truth? Calm down and ask yourself. You know the gist: meditate, calm down and throw the question inside of you, wait for the answer to come naturally, unbidden. 

Done that? Calmed down a bit more? Then reflect upon this: Too deep: most of the teachings of the Buddha is directed towards the monks, and they are made so that the monks are constantly reminded not to waste time, but to reflect that death might come anytime, that nothing in this world is worth attaching to. Therefore the only logical, rational, and sane thing to do is to renounce and meditate all the way. Yet, the Buddha also teached for the lay people. He knows that there are some who are not ready to go forth yet. 

You might be ready. You might want to do so now. Yet, it doesn't mean it's the middle way for you.

Each person has their own middle way, 
When I started learning Buddhism on my own, reading the books without joining in a Buddhist Society or having Kalyana-mitta or a teacher to guide me, I had gone so deep and so fast into the theoretical ultimate reality and accepted what I see as obvious truths, that I decided to have "monk" in my email. And thus thinking this is how an enlightened being should view the world (impermanence, suffering, non-self) , this is what an enlighten being would not have think of (greed, hatred, delusion), thus deluded myself into a serious state of depression every moment I discovered myself to deviate from perfection.
That put me out of touch with Buddhism for a while in order to regain my sanity.
It took me years later on to realise “All things in Moderation. Including Moderation.” The way to Enlightenment is not the extreme way that gets you there faster. It is not a intermediate goal to achieve and get rid off so that I can get on with life. It is rather to realise that life itself is impermanent (still don't realise it, just putting it here to say I don't realise it). Now, from my involvement in Tertiary level Buddhist Societies, I am going back into Buddhism, gently, calmly, (sorry I still won't use slowly), practising it step by step with my Kalyana-mitta here and teachers to guide me.-
It's not easy to have the condition to go forth, but it is possible to learn and practise even while we keep our jobs, having a full layperson's life. 

Too fast: are you able to practise mindfulness at every moment in life yet? Have you been to a meditation retreat yet? Or before that have you been to a meditation course yet? Or more a more basic question: do you know what is right mindfulness? It took me years (it's still less than a decade ago that I started to seriously learn Buddhism) and many baby steps, with lots of references from one tradition to another and lots of testing to see what is mindfulness, and yet sometimes I forget what is it too. Buddhism is a gradual path, it's taking baby steps, one at a time to go into the Dharma. That's where we learn not only the meditation part, but also the right thoughts: loving-kindness, compassion, then renunciation. 

Loving-kindness to our parents, our teachers, to your future patients, to wish them well and happy. Compassion, for our parents, our teachers, our fellow Buddhist Community, your future patients, to wish all to be free from suffering. For our parents to be free from financial suffering, for our teachers, to be free from suffering of loss of talented students, for our Buddhist Community to be free from the suffering of bad reputation of Buddhism that this untimely fleeing will bring, and your future patients, to be free from bodily suffering. Compassion is not merely the wish, it's also the ability to remove suffering from these people. Renunciation, to let go of the strong sense of urgency you feel in you, because with wisdom, you see that it's not the right time yet. Even the Dharma is a raft, not to be attached to and certainly not to be a cause of suffering for ourselves and our loved ones. 

I, like you wish to become enlightened as soon as possible, yet, the time is not right yet for me to go forth, so I keep on practising, keep on attending Buddhist activities as a layperson (keeping my main job as priority first, yours is studying), and keep on learning and striving, baby steps. I can still gain enlightenment even as I practise while being a layperson. (Doesn't mean I've not inclined to go forth given the right conditions) There are surprisingly a lot of things to learn as a layperson. Like Physics and Buddhism:, the different traditions of Buddhism, the social, cultural, aspect of Buddhism, the various types of meditation, the various cool activities like Dharma Camps, Buddhist quiz competition, about love and relationships, and about how to present and teach the Dharma. 

Even the Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant are not omniscience, they would not know how to teach to the masses of different background unless they had knowledge and experience of it first. Like me, I had some experiences with going too deep, too fast, therefore (if you're still reading and kinda calmed down by my words and see your "error" by now) I can help guide you. Of course there's nothing wrong with wanting to know more Dharma, but everything in moderation, realise it, and you'll realise, even moderation in moderation. 

Make sure your parents, teachers, friends have the right impression of the Dharma by internalizing it, by setting a good example, by being a good Buddhist role model, there upon, they would be more willing and open to your idea of renunciation of worldly life, and to Buddhism in general. The best way of spreading the Dharma is to be a living example of the benefits of the Dharma. Not the knowledge, but the realisation. It might take you a while yet to realise these, but give it time, and meanwhile continue your studies. 

A doctor is doubly blessed in practising. First, (s)he is able to do good deeds by saving their patients, the morality aspect is strong. Second, he is able to see suffering right in the face everyday. A good reminder and practise to be able to see the first Noble truth while tell us to understand suffering. If you are suffering now from all these situation, see and understand this suffering, what is the cause of it? (attachment to the knowledge of Dharma?) what is the way to the end of it? (letting go of mere knowledge, see the moon behind the finger) What is the middle path in your situation?

So be glad to be a doctor. Be not afraid to see corpses (there is a certain meditation on corpses, but should be balanced with metta meditation), be not afraid to save people's lives like the Buddha who take cares of the sick. 
"He who attends on the sick attends on me," -Buddha
If you need medical guidance, here's a group for your reference and guidance in Singapore: Medical Dharma Circle. 
It has not gone unnoticed that the Buddhist aim of eliminating suffering coincides with the objectives of medicine (Duncan et al, 1981; Soni, 1976). The Buddhist emphasis on compassion finds natural expression in the care of the sick, and according to the Vinaya the Buddha himself stated "Whoever, O monks, would nurse me, he should nurse the sick" (Zysk, 1991:41). Buddhist clergy and laity have been involved with the care of the sick for over two thousand years. The Indian Buddhist emperor Asoka states in his second Rock Edict that provision has been made everywhere in his kingdom for medical treatment for both men and animals, and that medicinal herbs suitable for both have been imported and planted. -
Join your local Buddhist Society, get to know Kalyana Mitra (Spiritual friends), because 
Then Ananda came to the Lord (Buddha) and said: "Half of the holy life is friendship, association and intimacy with the spiritual." "Say not so! It is the whole of the holy life, not half, this friendship, this association, this intimacy with the spiritual."
-Samyutta Nikaya V:2
And here, I have to stop. One final word, be sure not to defame Buddhism as it might deny many the opportunity and open mindedness to learn, to practise, to realise and to share. Do that by being the lay Buddhist Role Model: and follow the gradual path of Thank you for reading. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

One Mile Above (aka KORA) - Review

Watched this last, with MDC people, after the show Xin qin said it's not so buddhistic, which I replied, you can put the analogy of it to the strive for enlightenment.

The quest started from love, from a younger brother's love towards the older brother that he wanted to travel to Lhasa. This is the Bodhisattva's love towards all beings that he undertook the journey to Buddhahood, it's the love of all of us towards all beings, that we journey towards arahantship or enlightenment in this very life. The motivation for the journey.

Then the main character, Shuhao had a row with his girlfriend just to start this journey, signifying the renunciation of the worldly life.

As he enters China, he got conned and ripped offed thousands of yuan. Which he only found out later on as he met a good friend. This kinda tells us to investigate, do not simply believe any religious teacher, but to find out what is it that they teach, etc... as accordance with the Kalama Sutta.

Then he follows this good friend (who turned out is heading for Lhasa too) and asked if he could tag along for the journey. The agreement didn't came immediately, the experienced teacher tested him out a bit, seeing his resolve to bike there. Then the friendship develops.

Throughout the way, the good friend keeps on talking more while he remain unusually silent most of the time. This eventually caused the downfall of his good friend. The test for sincerity came about when they waited for the clouds to disappear so that they can see the ice-covered mountains. This is saying that the intention of Shuhao is not sincere enough, he does yet know what's he is in for.

One of the major possible stumbling block is when they rested at a village early in the day. They found a house of a widow who's supporting kids and elderly, and by virtue of Tibetan's kindness, they allowed him to stay with them. In the house, a kid told him that his mother took a liking for him. And there was even a chance for him to stay in the same room as her. He politely and almost looked reluctantly rejected the advance and with a not-so-light heart continue on his journey. He knew he could had just give it all up, stay and live there. This is the obstacle that sometimes in the journey, we might get sidetracked to want to settle down with a partner. There is of course nothing bad in that, just that it makes it harder for the journey to be completed.

Then came the accident of his good friend. At the hospital bedside, he lamented that maybe he should not had started this journey. Then he saw the ice-covered mountain. He knew that there is the risk involved and it's very real. One has to keep mindfulness, energy, concentration, wisdom and faith at all times to be able to continue on the journey safely. Yet he still has the intention of wanting to do it. He is now sincere as he chooses with wisdom.

Hmm... I may not recall the sequences of these later event accurately. But here goes: then came the road that zig-zagged, he biked down the road, (instead of walking down), and fell off many times. His bike took quite some damage from that. There can be many ways of interpreting this, but I think it's more of patience, if he has just walked down, he could has saved the trouble. Or maybe it means we should slow down a bit and deal with obstacles as they come, and not rush through it blindly.

Then, his bike's tire got ripped, and it rained. Soaking wet and cold at that attitude, he almost gave up and slept dangerously in the middle of the road, whereby a driver almost hit him and came down to punch him. This is the usual, things will go bad, very bad before it gets good. And if you don't care for your own safety, others will beat sense into you.

And then he went and got attacked by a pack of dogs/wolves. They ate his meal pack and he managed to get away. This is the outside hindrances.

Next, he went into town and tried to get his bike repaired. This is a recognition, that we should stop and examine ourselves, if our morality etc... is broken, we abandon the wrong/ unskillful way and adopt the skillful way.

Then he was having food poisoning. Fortunately, he got saved by kind hearted people. This is kinda like internal hindrances, or bodily illness as an external hindrance.

Along the way, he goes and goes on, rejecting an occasional car that drove by, keeping to achieving his goal his own way. This might mean that no one can do the effort of training for enlightenment other than ourselves. No one can and no one may.

The scene where he found a Tibetan pilgrim doing 3 steps one bow, was the discovery of faith, the Dharma. It is the awe that faith can inspire, so much so that the effort of doing that exercise which is obviously harder than a bike can be done. He also learns to interact with the people around him in their own language, seeing and experiencing.

Along the way, he goes and goes on, rejecting an occasional car that drove by, keeping to achieving his goal his own way. This might mean that no one can do the effort of training for enlightenment other than ourselves. No one can and no one may.

Then he got the knowledge that his journey will end soon, this is the streamwinner stage. He strove even harder to get to the top. At the top of the mountain, he stood and surveyed the journey that he has been though, the things that he thrown away (even as one crosses the other shore, he should cast the raft of the Dharma aside, dwelling without attachment).

Then finally at the goal, Lhasa, he relaxed and looked Lhasa in the eye. He is still himself. But he has changed. He is able to get into the crowd, dancing with them, having no concept of a separate self.

Ok, some of this is a bit overrated, but this is quite cool.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Money Money Money (Financial management, Buddhist Point of View and Investments)

Oh right now, this will be based on a visit to Singapore Buddhist Mission Youth Saturday's sharing, featuring Ven. Bodhi and seniors' (some of which are working already) experiences.

So on last Saturday, 15th September, just before the talk on Altruism by Mathieu Ricard and his teacher, I went to the sharing. Ven. Bodhi gave each of us a piece of handout, based on Chapter 10 of the Shrewd Breadwinner, a life that's well founded by Ven. P.A. Payutto.
Look for Chapter 10, it's all in there.

There are 3 levels, first of seeking and safeguarding wealth, second of allocating wealth, third of using wealth.
Ven. Bodhi discussion is that the 4 portions in the allocating wealth part, is not 4 equal portion and that the 2 portion for investment is one for soft (spiritual, skills, edication, help, goodwill etc..) investment and the other hard (material investments) investments. This is logical as it is not really possible to earn a living based on 1/4 of your income used on yourself in Singapore.

Then the investment part must come as even if you put your money in the bank, inflation will cause the value of the money to drop, if the interest from the bank is lower than inflation. So putting it in insurance, etc... would help.

Ze Ming shared that insurance, bonds, stocks, properties, etc are just instruments not investments, the difference between investments, gambling and speculations is in the psychology, blindly putting your money in something is gambling, having a gut feeling etc.. is speculation, research a lot and see long enough, you're an investing.

That's all for now. Thanks!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My recent weekends

This coming weekend will be spend in Malaysia.

My recent weekends were spend this way:

18-19th Aug: SPS Newbie Orientation Camp, I was the game master, for two of the most fun games in the camp (in my opinion) and got to know quite a lot of the newbies.

11-12th Aug: Helped in LDW for Saturday morning, afternoon at Buddhist Fellowship with Chriswini Tanaka and Jasper Ang, night celebrating The Return of Thuan Beng and Mukthar, Sunday morning gone treetop walk, afternoon at Tergar Singapore in Tai Pei Buddhist Centre, night relax, play and time for facebook and me.

The ones before that was non-working period, so not so remarkable. 

More remarkable is that the next weekend, 1st-2nd Sep, I will be joining "Joy of Living" by Tergar Singapore, missing out both Tzu Chi one-day camp (which I went twice already) and NUSBS MC handover day (which I had 3 already). 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Graduation done list.

Here's the list that I've done from the previous one.

  1. Found a place to live.
    • Minh had kindly offered me a place to live in Clementi, as his roommate. Recently I've cleaned the room with him and the place is very near NUS and cheap! Good deal for the next 3 years!
  2. Found a job.
  3. Play
    • Marvel: Avengers Alliance is my main game now: Level 127
    • Pokemon trading should be done within a few days: not done.
    • Movies: Watched MIB 3, Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises.
    • Finish up Fringe: Not yet, starting Young Justice.
    • Presenting the Brain Band: done a bit, should use it more.
    • Boardgame: Mainly playing Cashflow now.
    • Computer games: Not really interested.
  4. Tie up loose ends
    • Finish up some more work on my Honours Project: not done
    • Write that report for the Summer Research: not done
    • Go through all the stars in my gmail: not done
    • Check for the after graduation stuffs, for international students, Loan, Grant, Work Pass, progress
  5. Religion
    • As usual, get to attend all that I can attend, and in fact bring more people in via Temple Explorers Singapore!
      • NUSBS Meditation Retreat,
      • Tzu Chi: Near to joining as member,
      • MDC: going to be treating them soon... as my first paycheck comes.
      • Awaken Challenge
      • Weekend visits to temples with cousin and friends: precursor to temple explorers.
      • Other Buddhist Societies events...
  6. Plan for graduation trip
    • My graduation trip was back home, with NUSBS friends, tiring, hmmm... but haven written about it yet.
That's all for now.

Habitual tendencies

Do you have the feeling of being lazy?

It's not easy to live a human life. An unbalanced life will lead to accumulation of some problems or another that develops into a crisis which we deal with and then life gets back to be a little bit more balanced.

And then something unexpected happens. And here we go again.

I'm feeling a bit lazy to live a balanced human life. The middle way, the noble 8 foldpath that I follow should be my guide. Yet, as usual, it is hard to keep up all three aspects of morality, concentration and wisdom.

I go for a lot of temple tours, yet habitual tendencies tend to take over very fast. For example, I'm supposed to be sleeping now. So that I can get up early for work tomorrow. I'm still used to the student lifestyle.

Becareful of how you choose to live your life, for it sets habitual tendencies that require a lot of effort to change. I miss the old life of a student very much, but it is not a suitable lifestyle for me anymore. Gotta have to let go, and live a more balanced life.

Will I be able to bring meditation into my daily practice? I do hope so. The realm of youth is not to be wasted playing and pursuing stuffs that are impermanent. Let me be able to guide myself to have the energy and condition for meditation practice everyday.

Multiverse Part 2: Science Fiction

Refer to Multiverse Part 1,

But all this assumes another thing: that all choices that can be made must be made. It is reasonable to think that given infinite time or resources (universes), all quantum probabilities that can happen, will happen. And yet is free will determined by quantum probabilities? This is the question. Is free will truly free?

The real question is: is there something that is possible for you to do, but you would never in all the universes do it? No matter what happens.

It's hard to think of something like that. In the end, it depends on the idea that is the mind subject to the laws of probability?

Hmm... it seems that I need to refine my ideas about the 9 different kinds of multiverse according to The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene.

Meanwhile, we take what works: Morality, free will and conditioned cause and effect.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Money or Interest?

Received an email a while back and now I'm posting this. 

Good evening,

How are you doing? Alvin Poh Leong Ann here... My apology for the late reply and for all the trouble caused. Yes, I do have a rough idea of it now. Recently I was away very often. I had attended several orientations organized by the Engineering Faculty and the NUS MSL. I’m glad I have read your blog. It gave a better insight of the Physics programme in NUS.

As mentioned earlier, I intended to further my studies in Physics however I’m offered to study Electrical Engineering instead. I would like to inquire, are there many differences between them? Are there more research and academic enhancement programmes such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS) and Special Programme in Science (SPS) for students who opt to do a Science degree? I have read about the SPS. Is it a recommended programme for research students? Engineering students wouldn’t be able to join, right?  I come to realize the Summer Programmes for NUS Science Students include many research orientated places in the prestigious university around the world, isn’t it?

I’m offered to do EE with a scholarship. I’m uncertain whether the switching of courses is allowed. I do understand that taking a double major is different. However, do you think is advisable? I inquired about it through a senior during my orientation. He did mention in such cases, students will have to overload each semester with more modules.

My main interest lies in the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics. When I was young, I aspire to be part of CERN research team despite the fact that it is quite farfetched. Anyhow, I’m uncertain of how to even get there. Being in EE, do I lack a lot academically? Will it be a disadvantage for me? It is most appealing to me that the Centre of Quantum Technology is affiliated to NUS. However, does it only involve Physics students in NUS?

Besides, are you graduating soon? Will you be doing your graduate studies? Will you be around in NUS?

I’m glad to meet you. Recent years not many students from Malacca High School are studying in NUS. You have been very helpful. Thank you very much!

Have a nice day! =)
My reply:

 Cool. Good that you've known MSL.

First off I would like to say that even Engineering Science studies nothing close to what we pure science students do, much less Electrical Engineering. From what limited experiences I had in USP about EE is that it mainly focuses on manipulation of electrical fields, wiring, etc...go google it. It's a bit boring to me. And nowhere close to the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics. So a double major is not a replacement for a pure major in Physics.

Only thing that you might get closer to Physics is to do the France Double Degree Program. It's extremely prestigious and hard. Full of pure maths and then physics and you'll have to learn them in France. It's open to Physics, Maths and Engin students. You'll spend your Saturdays studying with these people, and mainly become a study machine. For 1 and a half year from sem 2 onwards. Then 2 years in France and back for masters. But I'm not sure if you're going to study the same thing as a pure Physics student over there.

Secondly, SPS is not something to overlook here. It's only for Science students, it's tough, it's designed for research students and although I haven't described it fully in my blog yet, it's the main thing in Uni that I am glad to have and never regretted. In fact, I'm in SPS room writing to you right now. Summer Programmes, ya, lots of cool places to go to. See my Imperial experiences. I do believe there's a similar programme for Engin students, focusing on Engin stuffs. Go find out.

Third, Scholarship. Now the money factor comes in.
If you're an idealist, you'll switch to Science, no matter what it cost and will follow your passion to the end.
If you're a realist, then here's the deal: if you're so desperate for Physics as to want to turn down this Scholarship, you'll have to have loans. Assuming you'll already have Tuition Grant, so locked in Singapore for 3 year after graduating. Tuition Fee Loan, Study Loan, Student Assistant Loan. Amongst the 3 of them, you'll cover the tuition fees, Accommodation and might need a bit of money for food and others. (I don't buy books or printer, so I save from there.) The occasional Summer trips, Global Programmes, Summer Programmes, you'll either have to find the ones that gives you net money (i.e. you work there), or you'll have to ask from your parents. (about $900 for most of them, once a year.) Or you can just do a part time job. It's not that hard to work and study at the same time. There's demo lab, and SPS Mentor (year 3 and 4 only), and Physics lab (year 4 only), and others. Or summer internship etc....
And most of all, after graduating, the interest will start to count and you'll have to pay all the loans back. To make it comfortable, you'll have to pay more than 3 years. That's what I'm in now. But it's ok for me, I'll just continue paying it using my PhD. Scholarship, when I get it. You'll be poorer than most of your peers, but if you're pursuing further studies... then there's not much difference anyway, you'll stay poor until you graduate from PhD.
Overall, this is not a small factor to discount. It's your life: compromise your passion for money, or money for passion. Your choice. Your parents and family will prefer if you chose the first one. My style is the second one.
Fourth, there's no way in NUS, even in Engineering Science that you'll get a good exposure to the field of energy, particle and nuclear physics if you choose Engin. Ok you can always self study or take the France thing. Ok, just ask my friends over there. You can take mostly Physics over there, including things like energy, mostly about nuclear, environment friendly energy and management stuff. But it's not guaranteed that you'll get into a School. It's hard to get in and it's harder than SPS. And you've to be super intelligent with good CAP in your first sem to get invited to the programme. And super hardworking for the next 1 and a half years.

Fifth, to get to CERN, they need technicians and physicists too. So as an EE you can go there too! Just visit their website, build up your profile, etc, apply there....Just that you might have to do maintenance stuffs more than the real Science. But there's no guarantee that you'll make a better Physicists too, cause research is not really as cool as in Iron Man 2. To do what Tony Stark can do, go Engin. Research in CERN mostly involves analyzing whole chunks of data, not as exciting as they show in the movies. In EE, you know you can't do theoretical Physics then (see the unless above). But if you do theoretical Physics, you don't need to go to CERN, you can do it anywhere. CQT works with people from Computer Science too, to get a different perspective. If you go for Physics major, you'll most likely end up here, at least for a short while. I'm going to be here for 3 years.

That's about all. I really can't decide for you, so I hope I made this email not too bias either way. You'll have to decide for yourself and try not to get influenced by the tone of the email but rather consider the facts and make the choice that your heart tells you to make. Or your logical mind. You see, I'm still mixing up the tones here.

I later found out that his Scholarship allows him to change the faculty if he wants, but he prefers Engin, and not a fan of too many maths he sees in Physics. So he's doing Engin now. 

But anyway, food for thought. What's your choice? More Money or Interest?