Monthly Archives: April 2007

Paticca Samuppada

The other day, someone asked me if I am a Buddhist. The reason I was asked is because Wesak Day is just around the corner.

I am a Buddhist by birth. To be more exact, I was born into the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist family who also practices some Taoist rites which is quite common in Malaysia. Later in my life, I got a bit confused with religion and did some self study on Buddhism as well as on Christianity and Islam. I figured and arrived at the conclusion that Buddhism fits me the most. I admire the intellectual and logical approach that the Buddha encouraged, one that is not based on superstitions, hearsay, blind faith, emotions and that sort. The logic and rational way of the Buddha, the Middle Path, self-reliance and the idea that one is responsible for their own actions and fate and not relying on external force and blame fate, all appealed very much to me. And I thought that the Buddha said explicitly of the non-existence of the soul and a supreme being/creator all made a lot of sense to me.

However, I cannot consider myself a true Buddhist as I do not believe (yet) one key concept of Buddhism and that is the concept of Re-Birth.

I believe that this life is all we have and we make the most out of this life, not only for ourselves but also for other people and our environment. The purpose of my being on earth and doing good is so that I create good karmas which I hope will benefit myself in this life and other people, especially people I love. For me, my karmas, whether good or bad, are created and reciprocated in this life alone. My karma will die with me. BUT, the effect of my karma will last longer than me and will outlive me. It does not, however, has any effect on me after I die.

For example, if I am an evil polluter of the environment, destroying the environment for profit, I am creating bad karmas. This bad karma has many consequences and in many dimensions. However, for me personally, I could get caught and get fined/jailed, I could be ridiculed and hated by people, or I could get lucky and nothing happens to me while I enjoy the money that I have milked out of the environment. If I die, that’s it for me. Nothing affects me anymore.

However, my bad karma will continue to outlive me. The environment can become so bad, other people may die. My family may get sued or get hated by people and thus making the life of my family members hell, etc.

The same is true for good karmas that I have created. My good deeds may not have been rewarded in this life and if I die, that’s it. I won’t get anything out of the good deeds that I have done since there is no such rebirth for me to get the benefit of my good deeds in this life. However, my good deeds may have made other people’s life better, made my family members better loved etc. My good deeds will outlive me but once I die, my karma has no effect on me personally.

So one is tempted to ask, if there is no such thing as karma and rebirth, why is it that some people are born rich and some are born poor? Why is it that some people are born healthy and some are born sick etc? How does one account for this?

To my mind right now, this is just pure chance and there need not be an explanation for it, the same as there need not be an explanation on how the universe began. There is no need for a reason. It just happened! Why can’t things just happen? The fact that we humans need an explanation for everything is a human weakness. I am not saying that this is bad. No, in fact this human trait is admirable but not all things need to have an explanation of how it began because there simply is none. Because this idea could not be comprehended, humans create the idea of a Creator and because there is really no answers to many questions that we have, we created the idea of Faith. With the Creator and Faith, we believe we have found our answers, but is this really so or is this simply an illusion and a delusion for us to give peace to our heart?

The Buddha has spoken, according to the records, on Karma and this was recorded in the Culakammavibhanga Sutta. I still have problem believing in him there.

Given that I cannot yet believe in this idea, I cannot also believe in reincarnation and rebirth and these being the tenets of Buddhism, how can I call myself a Buddhist?

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Filed under Buddhism, Philosophy, Thoughts & Commentaries

Smart Students

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Got tagged again

Last week was really a hectic week. We brought in the two leads from CITIZEN DOG and did a press conference and a screening of that movie in GSC Mid Valley and then the next day, fly to Jakarta with them and hold another screening and press conference there. The lead actress (Jeed) is just so tall and skinny and the lead actor (Jean) carries a mini guitar with him everywhere he goes. He is a member of an underground band in Bangkok and composed one of the songs in CITIZEN DOG. Wisit is supposed to be here but he has fallen quite ill and lost half his weight already.

Ok, I got tagged by YTSL again. It requires that I name six weird things about myself. This is going to be a problem because I consider myself absolutely normal and uninteresting. My life is one where I could afford nothing much and had to fight for everything with my own bare hands. Somehow, thanks to the protection from the All-Mighty and with a bit of luck, I managed to pull through and find something in this life. But these are not really interesting things because I could not really afford to be interesting.

The most interesting thing in my life is that I found my wife whom I find is the most interesting person I know. She is the most humble person I know but has stuffs in her head not many people can imagine. I really hope someday those stuffs from her head gets on paper or on screen so that people can take a peek into this absolutely magnificent and creative mind.

Ok, so much for this sentimental stuffs. Here are the six things about myself that I consider weird.

1. If I am interested in some things, I spend a lot of effort and money in getting to know that thing better. I will go over the internet, ask people, buy lots of books etc. At first I did not think that this is weird because I assume every person will do that for things that interests them. Apparently, this is not generally so. In the process, of course, I burnt holes in my pocket.

2. I like to smell books. I just love the smell when I flip through books. I got this thing when I was studying last time. I somehow imagined that the smell will make my brain remember what I have read before. So, it is somehow revision by way of smell. It became a habit and now I smell books.

3. I always imagine my own funeral and sometimes the imagination gets so real, it became scary. These imagination sometimes comes with its own soundtrack too.

4. When I was a teenager, I blast Beethoven’s 9th Symphony into my ears when I get angry. I practically hold the two speakers and put it right next to my ears and put it on full blast.

5. While I was in the military band during my school days, we had always to stay overnight in school for the next day’s function. There was once when we heard the sound of chains just right outside the classroom where we slept. Not enough of chain sounds, we heard bangings on the door and the walls just outside. This is my nearest encounter with the other world. My school used to be the Japanese army camp during the second world war and apparently many people were killed there.

6. I thought walking through the Catacombs of Paris was quite weird.

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Tagged

I’ve been tagged by YTSL via her blog. So here goes:

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

I am a big Stephen Chow fan and I have watched most of him films over 10 times. If I were to choose one, then perhaps it will be THE FLIRTING SCHOLAR.

2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

I really can’t recall but my strongest impression was to have watched Lubinghua over 5 times in the cinema that can seat easily 500-700 people but for each of the session, only 4-5 people were watching the movie. I watched that movie while I was still in Form 4 (16 years old).

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Stephen Chow.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

No one in particular. Jim Carrey, perhaps.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

The whole swan poem and barbeque chicken wing song sequence in FLIRTING SCHOLAR. And I quote from various Stephen Chow movies in my daily conversations with like-minded people ;-)

5(a). Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

The Phantom of the Opera. But am loosing them now… :(

6. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Same as above.

7. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

My Neighbor Totoro. (I would love to choose this movie but YTSL has already chosen it!!!). Well, maybe now, TOKYO STORY by Yasujiro Ozu.

8. Name a movie that you own.

I wonder what does own mean here. If it means owning a copy of the homevideo, I do own about 600 of them now but that is the only type of owning I can afford. From those, to choose one, perhaps the APU TRILOGY by Satyajit Ray.

9. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Nicholas Tse. I think he is good.

10. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Nope.

11. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.

CLAIR’S KNEE

12. Ever walked out of a movie?

Nope. But wanted to once but couldn’t because it was a screening with the Director and stars….

13. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Lubinghua

14. Popcorn?

For light movies only but subject to popcorn quality.

15. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

Average about 2 times a week.

16. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

MR. BEAN’S HOLIDAY which I thought was superb.

17. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

No special preferred genre (except horror which I cannot watch) but I am a sucker for Romance.

18. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

I have no idea. I have definitely watched some movies while I was 5-6 years old but have no idea what it was.

19. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

NO PROBLEM – a local Malay movie. Was literally sick for a few days after watching it and I could not escape from the cinema.

20. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

BLUE VELVET.

21. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

I avoid horror movies if I can. The twins in THE SHINING freaks me out.

22. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

Many but the latest one that got my bottoms off was KUNGFU HUSTLE.

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Hexagrams


Ken

True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward.

Tui

True joy, therefore, rests on firmness and strength within, manifesting itself outwardly as yielding and gentle.

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Tan Chui Mui Shorts

Following many of Chui Mui’s successes with LOVE CONQUERS ALL at the festivals, her reputation as an up and coming Malaysia filmaker is hard to deny. Not many people likes LOVE CONQUERS ALL but I do find it an admirable effort.

I know I am a bit slow but I finally managed to watch three of her shorts, SOUTH OF SOUTH, A TREE IN TANJUNG MALIM and COMPANY OF MUSHROOMS.

I must say that I am completely 100% bowled over by COMPANY OF MUSHROOMS! What really could happen when four guys sit down and start drinking and talking nonsense, from porn movies to prostitutes to their wives, girlfriends? Well, apparently a lot can happen and how the conversation became more and more serious, where old histories and messed up personal lives surfaces into the conversation, sometimes even threatening their friendship, is really a joy to watch, especially Yuhang’s character which is especially pathetic but of which we watch with much pity.

I strongly recommend this short even if you didn’t like LOVE CONQUERS ALL. It’s a gem.

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