Posts

Dark Tales

Image
While out on a wedding dinner, a colleague asked if I've watched Story of Yanxi Palace 延禧攻略 Yán Xǐ Gōng Lüè currently playing on TV. That's the most viewed Chinese language drama of 2018 from China. Being not a very avid fan of Chinese series from mainland China, about the only face I'm familiar with regarding the series is HK TVB Star Charmaine Sheh. Then, I heard again about the series from Mau Wei and decided to give it a try. Not bad, the series; very good indeed. In fact, the cinematography, sets, costumes are excellent and it's a breath of fresh air to see the main star , Wu Jinyan, a lessor known actress, I heard, tackling the role of feisty Wei Yingluo who fights against the odds to solve her sister's murder and work her way up the ladder to become the emperor's consort. I suppose at the moment, I'm not ready to watch a demure heroine but really,  while watching the seventh episode online, my other niece commented that she doesn't like dark tale…

Why Meditate?

Image
What a pleasant surprise!  I met my ex-colleague one morning just at the doorstep! He had come over to see my niece and when I opened the door, I was confronted by a bald man with a familiar face. Well, my ex-colleague had just shaved his head, having returned from being a novice monk for a week in Nandaka Monastery in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. He had  been meditating and had shared his experience with nimitta. Nimitta is Pali for signs; signs to identify an experience in meditation which willhelp to assess the success or failure of the corresponding concentration attainments. In theVisuddhimagga, under Mindfulness of Breathing, it is stated the nimitta appears in different form to different people; some like a light touch like cotton or silk cotton or a draught; others like a star or a cluster of gems or a cluster of pearls, etc. My ex-colleague said that it felt pleasant when the nimitta appeared. Now, I wonder if that's the reason for meditating.

Pollution

Image
Using joss sticks in prayers by followers of Buddhism and Chinese folk religions is often met with disdain. Especially in the latter case where joss papers are also burn; never mind that the burning may be done in a furnace-like enclosure, people almost always complain about pollution. That's not about it all. In modern times, when monks may chant through the microphones and broadcast their chanting loud and clear via the loudspeakers to fellow devotees especially during Vesak,  even Kathina; non-devotees would to their chagrin, find it impossible to nap and focus on their work. Nobody has yet to complain about the noise pollution it produces but in a totally different case in India, it has been cited by some that the use of loudspeakers could, and in fact, had been used to create communal tension, and incite a riot in Nandurbar, Maharashtra state in 1999. Whoever invented the loudspeaker, I wonder; and whatever is/are his or her motive/s...


A Malay Dish

Image
Nasi lemuni. Ah, I love this Malay dish. Found normally in northern Malaysia; in Perak, Penang, Kedah, the dish is almost like the more popular nasi lemak, only healthier because instead of coconut milk, the juice of the purplish, black leaves of the lemuni plant is used in its preparation, giving the rice its distinctive black colour. Like nasi lemak, it is served with anchovies, eggs and cucumber, salted fish too;  and has a plus point because the juice of the lemuni leaves is said to keep one young! That aside, the last nasi lemuni I had wasn't that good. The rice was sodden, just like the rice in King Pasenadi's 10th dream, I suppose. The king's dream of rice boiling in a pot, part cooked, part sodden and part hard and raw was interpreted thus: It was said there would be no rain, and the rain that fall would not fall on tilled and sown land. Crops would be spoiled by heavy rainpour and droughts. Sages, brahmins, guardian dieties , spirits would also become unrighteous.…

Curing Early Pychological Wounds

Image
In an online article in Lion's Roar
What Meditation Can’t Cure?, Debra Flics stated that meditation wasn’t designed to heal early psychological wounds. Early psychological wounds, I suppose, refer to the damage incurred on the mind early in life which could be due to overwhelming stress caused by severe distressing event. Among other things, Buddhist meditation aims to develop sati (mindfulness), samadhi (concentration), abhijñā (supramundane powers), samatha (tranquility), and vipassanā (insight). I suppose then, to meditate, one needs a strong mind to begin with. Failing that, a strong mind should first be cultivated. Buddhist meditation techniques should be wide and varied. When talking about meditation objects itself, I remember reading that Buddha prescribed different objects for different people. Then of course, what better way of healing psychological wounds than with Metta meditation. Lion's Roar, by the way, is an award winning Buddhist magazine launched by Chögyam Tru…

Statues to Remind

Image
Leaving Kuan Yin Tong, I was pleasantly surprised to find another cave temple a stone throw away. Walking across an ugly metal bridge, I entered the compound of yet another Buddhist cave temple , the Da Seng Ngan Temple, said to be over a century year old. The temple compound was well kept; clean, beautifully decorated with flower shrubs and rows and rows of  standing Buddha statues. The tallest, 28 ft, stands proudly against Bukit Rapat as a backdrop.During the days before the advent of Internet, I remember reading in the local daily that an old abandoned Chinese temple had been discovered in Ipoh. I suspect this is the temple. Those days, there was this popular American TV series hosted by StarTrek star, the late Leornard Nimoy, InSearch of. Da Seng Ngan would not make it to the series, if you'd ask me. The temple wasn't lost yet at that time. It was in 1974 when a flash flood struck and submerged the temple with mud. It laid abandoned for over 30 years, forgotten later may …

Goddess to Soothe

Image
Once, I took a bus to a hotel in Ipoh. Dragging my luggage behind me, I threw a glance in the distance and there across the road was Gunung Rapat and at its foot, I caught sight of what I figured was one of Ipoh's lesser known cave temples. Ipoh has about 30 cave temples, Taoist and Buddhist and the one I visited, Perak Kwan Yin Tong is Buddhist.  The cave temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy; so, it's not surprising to find so many statues of the goddess here. The Goddess of Mercy isvenerated by both Buddhists and followers of Chinese folk religions; her name being invoked by millions in time of fear, need and despair. It is said that the goddess is a male in India and Tibet  but in China, a female. Frankly speaking, I don't understand this aspect of Buddhism, the existence of goddess and all that; but I suppose if like Virgin Mary,  a being can bring solace to tired souls, why not?Take a walk at Perak Kwan Yin Tong !