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Monday, May 11, 2009

Visakha Bucha: It’s All About Love


The return of Visakha Bucha day this year is quite timely.   It provides us the much needed opportunity to stop and reflect about life.  Maybe the story behind Visakha Bucha Day will enable us to see things in perspective so that the hatred and anger we can feel in the air among different factions will eventually fade away.


Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The reason the author believes so is because, if we look into the very heart of Visakha Bucha, which is arguably the most important of Buddhist holidays, we will see that it is all about love.  Surprised? Read on and discover why Visakha Bucha should also be remembered in association with love.

First, let us ask ourselves what we know about Visakha Bucha.

Textbook interpretation

If we had gone to a school that teaches the common curriculum from the Thai Education Ministry, we would probably have been taught that Visakha Bucha falls on the full moon of the sixth lunar month and that it commemorates the dates of Lord Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinibbhana.

Such is the textbook version of the meaning of Visakha Bucha. Unfortunately for most of us, this version remains the only source of our interpretation of this most important Buddhist holiday.

But is there any other interpretation of Visakha Bucha besides knowing what date it falls on or what occasion it commemorates? Certainly.   And the key is to get to know more about the man behind the holiday.

The man behind the holiday

If we are to be honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we Thais seem to take the arrival of Lord Buddha for granted. In a religion known for its understanding of reincarnation and the law of cause and effect, isn't it a bit odd to think that the birth of Buddha is something that just happened?

Of course, we may have heard of the last 10 lives as a human being of Lord Buddha, known as jataka.   The 10th reincarnation, Phra Vessantara, is perhaps the best known.  It depicts the life of Prince Vessantara who gave away all his possessions as he was perfecting the dana parami, or the virtue of unconditional, selfless giving.

The 10 jataka depict the perfection of different virtues which in turn help purify one's karma, enabling one to reach Enlightenment.

But, as mentioned earlier, the effort to perfect the 10 Perfections did not just ''happen.''   For a karma to bear fruit, it has to start with an intention.   Therefore, there had to be a beginning somewhere where a determined decision was first made.   When was it?   And, more importantly, who was it?

The man behind the decision

Before we learned who the person was and the whole story behind it, let us first contemplate this metaphor.

Imagine you are standing at an exit of a burning house.   In fact, you already feel the intense heat of the scorching flames on your body.   The next second you realize that your hair is now on fire.   You know that all you have to do is to dash out the door with all your might and you will be saved.

Yet, you hear crying voices behind. You look back.   There, on the ground floor behind you, are people engulfed in flames, howling eerily for help.   They could not make it out by themselves either because their limbs are trapped or they could not open their eyes due to the extreme heat.   You know that, being not too far from the exit themselves, they, too, could be saved.

What would you do?

This was exactly what happened to an ascetic named Sumeth. Born during the time of another Buddha called Dipankara, Sumeth realized that life is in fact a series of sufferings, not unlike being in a burning house.   That was why he left his comfortable, worldly life to devote himself to rigorous training to try to reach the end of suffering.

One day, as he passed by one town, he heard that Dipankara Buddha was coming.   Elated, he dedicated himself to help the townsmen build a road to welcome the Buddha.   Sumeth knew well that, like many people during his time, if he got to meet the Buddha and devote himself as a disciple, he would soon become Enlightened, reaching the end of all his sufferings.

Yet, as Dipankara Buddha was approaching, the road was still unfinished, leaving a distance of around a body's length that was wet and full of mud and dirt.   Throwing himself down, Sumeth the ascetic bravely invited Dipankara Buddha and his Enlightened disciples, numbering in the thousands, to walk on his back to the other side of the road so that the mud would not soil their feet and robes.

As Dipankara Buddha was walking over Sumeth's back, he became aware of the young man's wish.   Instead of finding the easier, faster way out of the samsara by wishing for Enlightenment in that very life, Sumeth made a wish that he, too, would become a Buddha one day so that he could help as many people as Dipankara Buddha did, knowing all too well that he had to endure enormous suffering in countless lifetimes to achieve his goal.

Dipankara Buddha looked into the future with his mental powers and predicted that Sumeth would indeed one day become a Buddha like him, a sammasambuddha.   ''Freed from human existence, you will become an effective teacher, for the sake of the world,''  Dipankara Buddha told Sumeth.

The three types of Buddha

But what is the difference between a Buddha and someone who is Enlightened?   After all, didn't Prince Siddhartha became Buddha because he was Enlightened?

The answer can be found in the three types of Buddha.   The first type, sammasambuddha is the rarest and requires the highest effort and the longest period of endurance.   Born when there is no dhamma teaching in the world, they become En lightened by their own effort and inherent wisdom.    A sammasambuddha then goes on to teach others how to be Enlightened like him.

The ability of a sammasambuddha to come up with the right ''curriculum'' to guide others to nirvana is an extremely rare gift.    How rare?    According to the Pali Canon, it sounds like a sammasambuddha comes by only once in an eon.    The present Buddha that we know needed as long as four asamkhya and a hundred-thousand great kalpa to complete his 10 Perfections.

To write the time unit of one asamkhya is to write the number 1 then add 140 zeros after it.   Four asamkhya equal one great kalpa.   A great kalpa is believed to equal 1.28 trillion years.   This is why we should not take the arrival of a sammasambuddha for granted.   We are very blessed to be born when there is one around to teach us.

The second type of Buddha is called a paccekabuddha.   While they can attain Enlightenment by themselves, they do not teach.   If they do, they may only teach about virtuous conduct but they cannot guide people towards Enlightenment.   They do not have the ability to do so.

The third type is called savaka-buddha, or an Enlightened disciple.   The main difference between this type of Buddha and the first two is that they could not become Enlightened by themselves.   They required the guidance or teaching of a sammasambuddha.   However, once Enlightened, they may also lead others to Enlightenment as well.   But they may not be able to reach out to all types of people as a sammasambuddha could, though.   In other words, their teaching would be most beneficial to disciples with similar psychological profiles.   A savaka-buddha is better known in Thailand as an arahant.

Sumeth the ascetic could very well attain the third type of Buddhahood right in the life time that he met Dipankara Buddha, but he chose to forego it for the benefit of more people in the future.   Becoming a sammasambuddha, while requiring much more effort and time to endure suffering, means he would be born when there is no Buddha or the teaching of dhamma.   It would be a time that he could make himself most useful to the world.

After Dipankara Buddha's entourage had passed, Sumeth immediately went to work.   He contemplated carefully the route to Buddhahood of all the previous sammasambuddha. Realising that he needed the 10 Perfections, Sumeth made a vow to himself to go for that goal in every lifetime, no matter how hard it would be, no matter how long it would take.   He would never, ever give up.

We already addressed the length of time that our current Buddha had to accumulate his 10 Perfections.   But how hard could that be?   Hasn't Buddha always been born in a blessed and comfortable environment?   Hasn't he always been born into a royal family, like most of the jataka seem to indicate?

That certainly was not the case.   Lord Buddha himself told many stories of when he was born into a humble family or even as different kinds of animals.

And it was not just a typical humble livelihood that Lord Buddha had to endure.   The path to becoming a sammasambuddha requires one to literally sacrifice everything one has, including one's life, for others.   Lord Buddha himself compared that the number of lives that he had to sacrifice to help others were more than the number of all the coconuts in the world combined.   He was using the coconut as the visual comparison of his head being severed as he gave his life for others.

It must have been love

Those selfless, ultimate, repeated sacrifices are the ''love'' part in Visakha Bucha.   If it was not love, what else can it be?   From forgoing one's Enlightenment opportunity to facing suffering in countless other reincarnations, the mind that would become our Lord Buddha held on to that love and never gave up.

Therefore, on this Visakha Bucha Day, let us not think of it merely as what it is, but why it happened.   It was because of love towards us that Lord Buddha kept accumulating the 10 Perfections so that he would be born as the man who would become Buddha.   Similarly, it was because of love towards us and all sentient beings that Lord Buddha became Enlightened.

If that love was not powerful enough, the then-Prince Siddhartha would not have tried so hard in every imaginable way to the point that he almost lost his life due to the severe demands he placed upon himself in order to attain Enlightenment.

Arguably, it is also because of love that Lord Buddha chose how he would die.   By making his dying moment a public one, Lord Buddha knew that he could impart life's most important lessons to all who were present there and to us here in the future. Lord Buddha's final lesson, arguably summing up all his teachings, was that nothing is permanent, not even the existence of a sammasambuddha.   And because of that, we should diligently practice mindfulness in everything we do so that we, too, will be able to get out of suffering.

Lord Buddha's love in today's context

Today, as we celebrate his life, let us look at him the way we have never looked at him before--as a flesh-and-blood human, a son, a husband and a father who had unconditional love for all.   Lord Buddha once said that his love for his son, Rahul, and his nemesis, Devadatta, is the same.   He wished that both of them could be free of all suffering.

Could we use this important day, then, to ''upgrade'' our minds in such a way that we could give love and compassion to all, even to those who do not always agree with us?    Can we look them in the eyes and wish that they, too, be free of suffering?

After all, we are but fellow sufferers in this endless samsara. This very life we live in is indeed such a tiny time span compared to the eons we have been born and reborn again in this cycle of suffering.   Instead of filling this time span with hatred and anger towards one another, shouldn't we spend time trying to help each other to the best of our ability so that we all would be released from suffering together?

Eons ago, a man at the exit of a burning house, the samsara, looked back and saw us trapped inside, howling for help. Ignoring his own safety and well-being, the man dashed back to reach out to save us.   Naturally, if we don't extend our hands to reach his, we would not be saved and probably face a slow, torturous death.   The ball is now in our court.  That man did try his best and he did save many already.   It is up to us, really, whether we want to stay in the burning house forever or be free, so that we, too, will be able to reach back and help others.

The road to becoming a sammasambuddha was not a bed of roses.   It was a true labour of love right from the beginning to the very end, eons later.   Therefore, let love and compassion reign this Visakha Bucha Day.   Not only because it is the most suitable homage we can pay to the man behind it all, but also because of the fact that the path to the end of all suffering of every human and sentient being starts with love.

Towards Peace: Learning from History

Miyajima Torii by Matt Watts


As long as the whole of mankind is not yet Enlightened, history will continue to repeat itself.

By this, the author meant to say that, in every corner of the world, now and then, there will always be turmoil and unrest of some kind.

History is there to be learned.  And because it looks like the current unease in town is not going to evaporate overnight, let us find moments in history that might benefit us.

From unrest to peace and prosperity

Where in the world can we find a lesson of a society ridden with skirmishes, occasional social unrest, and political power play, yet which managed to pull itself together and emerged peaceful and strong as one single nation?

There could be many answers to this question, depending on each person's interest and/or expertise.  Naturally for this author, the picture of feudal Japan comes to mind.

For almost 700 years out of its nearly 2,000 years of civilization, Japan was under warrior rule.  While some historians might argue that most of that period Japan was blessed with relative peace as opposed to constant warfare, it is also undeniable that local skirmishes occasionally exploded and power play has always been in the picture.

When suffering is a blessing

The factor that made Japan a great country is the quality of her people.  Sometimes, the author thinks that the many natural disasters that Japan experienced throughout history were in fact blessings in disguise.  Through suffering and the need to survive, the Japanese learned the value of unity.  They learned first hand that only by coming together in times of crisis, can the whole society prevail.  Being highly social-minded, we should note, is among the forefront characteristics of the Japanese people.

Rather than undermining their morale, common suffering has strengthened the Japanese sense of belonging.  Even during the time when war became full-blown like during the Warring States Period between the 15th and 17th centuries, the country as a whole still managed to prosper.  To be precise, the characteristics of war during that period seemed, to the author at least, more like that of a modern professional sports league.

Considerate warriors

This is especially true for the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, when wars were strictly warriors' business and were fought away from town, usually in a specifically assigned area. The warriors' consideration was deliberate as they did not want to disturb the daily life of the common people.  With this "arena" clearly assigned, the atmosphere was almost like the "home team" fighting with the visiting team in the home stadium.

Except for a few major battles, skirmishes tended to be short and with minimal casualties.  It was not uncommon to have just a test of martial skills between leading warriors of the warring parties.  Sometimes warlords brought along an enormous number of troops just to intimidate their enemy so that both parties could go to the negotiating table without anyone "losing face."  As a result, military camps seemed almost like an outing and a military campaign seemed more like an extended fishing and hunting trip.

Needless to say, the generals and provincial lords that earned the most respect and became legends were those with great strategic thinking and negotiation skills who could solve conflicts without casualties.

Zen comes to the rescue

And yet, it is undeniable that a warrior's life is full of physical and mental sufferings.  However, records show that the warrior class did not seem to be that bothered or discouraged by such a tough life they were living.  Their unabashed courage and selfless sacrifice earned them the respect of the whole nation and soon became the country's role models.  How did these men train themselves so that they could live with those sufferings bravely?

The answer is Zen.  Constant mindfulness practice, especially mindfulness of death, helped change these men into transformational leaders. Also, thanks to their extensive travelling, the samurai helped make Zen popular among the common people as the latter were eager to learn the secrets of such legendary characteristics.

We mentioned earlier that one notable characteristic of the Japanese is their high social consciousness, as seen in their willingness to sacrifice themselves, doing constructive things in line of their respective duty for the benefit of society.

The ability to discern what is good for society is just one of the many benefits that mindfulness practice can offer.  Even at the beginner's level, mindfulness practice already enables one to see that, in reality, there is no "self."  Therefore, when the feudal Japanese did something for their society, their selflessness was sincere.  They knew what selflessness was.

Hope for Thailand

When we see how far the Japanese have come as a unified country, we should not lose hope in the current situation in Thailand.  Let us turn each crisis into opportunity.  In Buddhism, suffering is the breeding ground for wisdom and sustainable peace.  But such wisdom and peace does not just "happen."  It needs to be cultivated and nurtured.  The tool, the only tool, to create this much-needed peace is mindfulness practice, the vipassana meditation.

Come on, Thailand, we are a Buddhist country, like feudal Japan was.  The proven solution to any trouble, social or otherwise, has always been here.  The feudal Japanese came together to build a peaceful and great country out of sheer loyalty, discipline, hard work and love for their compatriots.  If our rice-eating, Buddhist-influenced Asian neighbor could do it, so can we.

Let us not wait until disaster strikes before we realize the impermanent nature of life and only then start to feel compassion for each other.  If the samurai class were still around, they will definitely tell us that it is our duty to the country to be mindful and to cultivate sustainable peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Be a Samurai during Songkran


Warm in the Cold by Marser

The Songkran holiday is kicking off tomorrow.   As the year's longest-period official holiday, Songkran deserves all the hype it is getting.

For white collars in particular, Songkran is definitely something to look forward to.   When the economy was better, middle-class Thais tended to use it to fly out of the country, feeling grateful they could escape the scorching heat even for a little while.

This year, given the current economic downturn, more Thais are opting to stay at home.   The economy is having an effect on our mood as well.   People are a bit edgy. A  t the very least, we have become grumpy folks.

This brings us to the importance of staying cool during this summer holiday.   It is no secret that we humans find it harder to control our temper when the weather is maddeningly hot, global-warmingly hot.   It does not help either that the town is a little bit more crowded than every year in the past.   Longer queues and overcrowded restaurants, anyone?

So, watch out, dear readers.   With the above reasons, patience is going to be limited and tempers are going to fly this Songkran.   And we didn't even take into consideration the heated political atmosphere that is lurking in the background yet.

Songkran and samurai

As separate concepts, Songkran and samurai do not seem to produce any mental association.   But, believe it or not, almost 300 years ago in 1714, a caring samurai teacher named Daidoji Yuzan wrote a book that sounds as if he had the image of Thais celebrating Songkran in mind!

Titled Bushido for Beginners, the book is basically a manual for young, aspiring samurais.   Like us in the 21st century, life could be a struggle for the 18th century's Japanese warrior class.   In Tokugawa Japan, although the samurai class has been put on top of the social hierarchy, they ranked last economically, well below farmers, artisans and merchants.

Tokugawa Japan was also known as a peaceful period.   The samurai, therefore, faced another unprecedented distress. Their practical status as warriors had been lost.   They were busy redefining their raison d'etre, searching for their self-esteem. Basically, they had been transformed from a revered military class into a struggling civil servant class.

Seeing the plight of the young warriors, Daidoji Yuzan came up with that book.   At first glance, it seems to be a general career guide on "how to be a good samurai."   Reading between the lines, however, one can see that Yuzan wrote the book out of his love and concern for the younger generation.   His instructions, if dutifully followed, will lead the young men to a sustainably peaceful life.   He was coaching them how to "live smart." His real motive, therefore, was to help them out of suffering.

Consider that the world is now experiencing universal suffering, may be it is a good idea to look at Yuzan's timeless advice.

Be aware of death even at New Year

First, let's imagine the usual Songkran image: parties everywhere and reckless people roaming.   Year after year, statistics for road accidents during the holidays clearly show that alcohol is the number one culprit.   Yet, regrettably, the lobbyists still can not secure us a law prohibiting alcohol consumption while in a vehicle!   It is as if the authorities are trying to promote more deaths during the holidays!   But, seriously, do you think any revelers believe that they might die during the festivities?

Now, consider the opening sentence of Yuzan's book, "The man who would be a warrior considers it his most basic intention to keep death always in mind, day and night, from the first meal on New Year's Day right through the evening of last day of the year."

As Songkran is the Thai New Year, it would not hurt to remember Yuzan's advice and try thinking about death a little bit.   When one constantly keeps death in mind, Yuzan argued, both loyalty and filial piety are realised and a myriad of evils and disasters are avoided.

Songkran is supposed to be the time one goes to spend time with one's extended family to show respect and filial piety to the family elders.   If we keep death in mind, both ours and theirs, chances are that we would be gentle in our words, kind in our deeds, and mindful in our thoughts.

In his poetic language, Yuzan went on to describe a person's life as fleeting, not unlike the dew in the evening or the frost in the morning.   Being resolved that this might be the last day that we may live, Yuzan explained, one would naturally attend to one's parents with the thoughts that this may be for the last time, and one's concern for them would be sincere.

Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to be able to pour the blessing waters on the hands of your parents and/or grandparents this year, remember that it could be the last time. This way, your Songkran moment would be memorable.

When one forgets death, Yuzan continued, one's mind would lack prudence.   Arguments will be started over insensitive speech, and controversies will flare up concerning matters that could have been finished simply by ignoring them.   In an example quite similar to the scene at Songkran, Yuzan further reminded us to consider what could happen when one walks recklessly in the midst of crowds on temple visiting trips, bumping into strange fools and getting into unexpected fights.

The samurai's dos and don'ts

Because of that possible scenario, Yuzan suggested the young samurai shouldn't go to high-risk places even when invited.   If travelling during the festive season is unavoidable, Yuzan recommended that one plans one's route carefully in advance to stay clear of possible troubles.

At parties, Yuzan pointed out, smart warriors would eat and drink in moderation and train themselves to prudently keep sexual indulgence at a distance.   When having to engage in a conversation, laudable samurai would also keep their words to the minimum.   The most important thing is to diligently watch one's thoughts and words.

The popularity of Yuzan's book is a testament that his advice works.   Being mindful at New Year's is never out of date, for now or for the 18th century samurai!

May you all have a mindful and memorable Songkran holiday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ghost Stories

Life as a mindfulness practitioner is fun.   Now and then your friends who happen to run into an unusual situation would seek your advice.   One day, the author received a phone call from KL where a friend, let us call him Romeo, was visiting on a business trip.

"Umm, I need a little favour," Romeo started.

"I've got a colleague here.   She is a Chinese Malaysian and also a Buddhist.   Recently, she feels that there is a ghost in her house.   She feels someone is watching her all the time, especially at night.   She also said that sometimes things got knocked over around her house," Romeo explained.

"To solve the problem, she invited some Chinese specialists to pray on the compound. It did not work. This spooky experience disturbs her a lot and she is losing sleep over it. Can you help?" Romeo asked.

To tell you the truth, dear readers, of all the requests the author has received so far, this is most extraordinary.   If you were the author, what would you do?

As it turned out, Romeo did not give enough time for the author to decide what to do.   He quickly concluded, "Her name is KC. Now, you talk to her."   With that, he handed his mobile phone to his colleague.
Right.   The things we do to help our friends.   But that is exactly what friends are for, isn't it? You offer a free ghost-busting service for your friend's colleague!

Having no time to properly form a thorough answer, the first suggestion the author gave to KC was a spontaneous one.  Assuming there actually are sentient beings in her house, the author told KC to first give them Loving-Kindness.

Loving-Kindness meditation

Loving-Kindness or Metta meditation is probably the easiest type of meditation for everyone.   All we have to cultivate is our sincere compassion for other beings.   Many meditation teachers would let the yogi meditation practitioners, start with giving loving kindness to themselves.

To do so, one need not recite any actual Pali (for Theravada) or Sanskrit (for Mahayana) chant.   Simply repeat in your mother tongue, "May I be happy, peaceful and free from suffering," over and over again.   Some yogi believe that it helps if you do this Loving-Kindness exercise while sitting in a meditation posture, with your eyes closed. Some yogi found it helpful to also watch their breathing while repeating the Loving-Kindness phrase.

We can of course do Loving Kindness meditation in any posture, even when we walk.   What is important is to put sincere, utmost effort in giving yourself that Loving Kindness.

Once your mind starts to calm down, move on to give the same Loving-Kindness to those that we respect and love.   For Thais, the author would like to humbly suggest that we start with HM the King.   This is a fail-proof method for us Thai practitioners.   For when HM the King is the meditation focus point, you would notice that your mind and your body are easily overwhelmed with piti or joy.

Next, use that feel-good, joyous experience to continue to give Loving-Kindness to your parents, teachers, friends, etc.   At the end, your mind would be ready to give Loving-Kindness to each and every being in the universe, let alone those residing in your house.

Because you can give

Knowing that Loving-Kindness would only work if the person feels at peace with himself/herself, the author went on to give encouragement to KC by explaining that, in Buddhist teaching, those beings would only visit the person who has enough boon (merit) to share.   And precisely because of that, the author congratulated her for being a wholesome person, most likely blessed with a kind heart that loves to give, dhana, and live a virtuous life according to the five precepts, sila.

KC was pleasantly surprised.   She never thought of herself that way before.   Realising that she indeed is a kind person who has done a lot of good deeds, her mind was at peace.

Yet, the author knew that KC might still harbour some fears regarding those beings in her home, assuming there actually are some.   We humans tend to have fear of the unknown, you see.   Therefore, the author thought it would help to point out to KC that, more often than not, beings from other planes usually come to ask for merit and blessings from their blood relatives.   Therefore, they could be someone you have known, someone in your family.   It could be her beloved grandmother or great-great grandfather.

And this is the beauty of a Chinese family.   On top of the Chinese wholesome livelihood is the loving bond among the family and the respect for the elders.   The author then told KC to send her Loving-Kindness to those beings as if she would to a beloved family member.   In addition to giving Loving-Kindness, the author told her that she can also go make merit or do charity work and dedicate the boon to them. KC was delighted.

A Zen ghost story

KC's story reminds the author of a famous Zen "ghost story."   It is about a man who once had a beautiful and loving wife who one day became sick and died young.   Before she passed away, she made him promise that he would no longer seek a new love of his life, otherwise she would come to haunt him.

After she died, the man dutifully kept his promise.   Several months passed by and, as karma would have it, he fell in love again and got engaged to a new lady.   The night of the engagement, the ghost of his wife did really come to haunt him.   The ghost lamented that he is a bad husband, not keeping his promise, etc.   Naturally, the man was really scared.

Being haunted by the ghost every night, the man finally went to see a Zen master.   "Indeed the ghost is very intelligent," the master said, "She knew everything that happened between you and the new girl.   What you can do now is to praise her intelligence when she comes again.   But give her a deal.   Tell her that you have one question to ask.  If she indeed knows everything about you, then she would be able to answer.   If she could not, she has to let you go so that you can begin a new life."

That night, without fail, the ghost re-appeared.   After hearing the challenge, the ghost took the bait.   She insisted that she knows everything that happens to him.   The man then scooped up beans from a bag and demanded to know the number of beans in his hand.   At that very moment, the ghost disappeared and never came to bother the man again.

What we learn from this Zen ghost story is that, sometimes, the "ghost" in our life could be just an illusion of our own mind, our own conscience or our own imagination.   The reason that it is so real is because we are already very scared.   Being scared by our own thoughts is a sign of mindlessness.   In this Zen story, the master simply gave the man an appropriate tool to trigger his own mindfulness to work for him at the time that he needed it most.

At the moment of this writing, KC does not have a visit from invisible beings in her home anymore.   In fact, she even had a very good sleep the night we had that phone conversation.   So, even we cannot conclusively decide at this moment yet whether in fact there were invisible beings in KC's home or not, one thing is clear: fear starts first in one's own mind.   When we give a strong immunity to our mind by mindfulness practice, we will be less likely to get haunted by our own illusions or imagination.

With mindfulness/Zen, you will be able to see things as they really are.   With mindfulness/Zen, you will be at peace with yourself and you will have enough merit to dedicate to other beings, ghosts or otherwise.   Our lesson for this week is, therefore, do not wait until you actually run into a ghost in your house before you think about being generous (dhana), living a wholesome life (sila), and learning meditation (bhavana).

See you in two weeks' time.   Until then, let us always have that Loving-Kindness feeling to all beings in our heart.   It may come in handy, you know. Just ask KC.