A few months ago, someone I know from social media passed away. She was a school teacher. She was 33. I got acquainted to Amy almost 10 years ago. We both followed each other in social media. We are both Tibetan Buddhists althoughshe belongs to the Nyingma tradition and me Gelugpa. However she had attended the Grand Puja events organised by Gaden Shartse Dro-Phen Ling a few times before, especially those conducted by Dagyab Rinpoche. She liked DagyabRinpoche's teachings.
It was only in early December 2016 from her updates in Instagram, I realised she was very sick. It was bone cancer and it was at terminal stage. I messaged her privately to send my regards. She only had one request...... She hoped to meet Dagyab Rinpoche for the last time before she dies. She told me she probably had a few more months left so she could wait until CNY period when Rinpoche would be in Singapore.
She had scheduled a visit to Taiwan to see her own guru for the last time in December 2016 but she was too weak to travel by then. She was pretty devastated her own guru also could not come Singapore in the next 6 months either.
On 6 Jan 2017, she passed away. It was faster than what she had thought "a few more months left'. Another lesson on impermanence for me.
I would like to share some excerpts of Amy's posts on her thoughts /experience when she was dying, which I feel is useful for the rest of us who are clinging to this life dearly.
"Tired again from having to deal with people's resistance to death. Why is it seen as such a terrible thing?
1. If your belief system scares you about your afterlife even though you're essentially a good person, change it.
2. If the way you live your life scares you about your afterlife, change yourself.
3. If your belief system makes you judge good people for being different from you and convinces you that they're going to a bad afterlife, you probably need to examine and change yourself and your way of thought.
4. If you fear the afterlife because you don't know what will happen, find out about it.
5. If you lack faith, find it."
"I have been a good person mostly, and I know what to expect when in the bardo (the 49 days after death), so I am not afraid of death. In fact I'm excited about it. So I don't understand why people are calling me pessimistic and scolding me when I'm ready for death. I am taking supplements and medication, and am going for treatment. I'm not suicidal. It's not my dying that is giving me anxiety, but people's behaviour."
"To me, a fear of death is silly. It's like people who insist on not visiting a country they've not been to because of media misrepresentation. Or, if they have been a rotten person, then they deserve where they are going to."
"I'm living in pain and with disability. Even if the tumours are miraculously all rid of, I will be living in fear and paranoia after it. That would be hell to me, and I honestly do not think that I deserve it. A quick death would be mercy, and it's good that I still have the time to tie up loose ends."
"Saying goodbye is hard but we all need to, eventually. And if we have been good to each other, we will meet again, as old wine in new bottles :) "
"So if you can't handle your own fears and choose to inflict them on me, please leave me alone. If you find it hard to say goodbye and can't get over yourself to treat me with kindness and respect, please leave me alone. I already have more than enough loved ones who know and respect me enough to fill my remaining days with love and joy, because that's what happens when you have lived striving to be the best person you can be to others."
"Am feeling more calm and collected now that I'm finishing up with both, so that I can go into retreat to study. Seeing all those friends from different parts of my life once again helped me to piece together who I was as a person while we reminisced about old times -- the chemo erased many good memories. I led a full life, and am loved by many around me. If I could I would want to see a longer list of friends but that would compromise on my study time, so I'm really sorry to the ones I have left out."
"This is the most perfect way to die, with me able to tie up loose ends, and have a Tibetan Buddhist death at home in my bed. I'm extremely blessed to be able to go this way. Most of all I'm excited about the next destination -- it's like I'm traveling! "
"And all this time I have the feeling that the purpose of my life is to show others how to live a meaningful life of no regrets, and more importantly, that death isn't a scary thing at all, and that one can choose to die gracefully with dignity."
"The breathlessness continues to worsen and we're controlling it with drugs. My nurse assures me that I'm barely taking enough to have any effect, so I shouldn't be hesitant to up the dosage. But the thing is the breakthrough drug (funnily, same one for pain and breathlessly for me) makes me incredibly drowsy and I'll end up sleeping lots."
"Finally got to see my palliative doctor today and it made me extremely happy to hear him say that I'm his most unique patient because I'm so ready and unafraid of death. It's an assurance that I'm on the right track doing the right thing."
All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at that time. May Amy have a good rebirth.
Today was really a rejoiceful day and it was 8th day of Losar (the Tibetan new year). During this period it is the 15 days of miracles.
At the peak of Kathmandu Valley, where Kopan Monastery stands, the reincarnation of my former teacher, 'Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup' was being enthroned. The little boy is now Tenzin Rigsel Rinpoche. Welcome back, Khenrinpoche (he will always be 'Khenrinpoche' to me). Your return has very special significance to me. Thank you for letting me know that even as you took your last breath on the last day of your previous life.
At the snowy mountains of Dharamsala, yet another teacher of mine, Thupten Tenzin Rinpoche (former Lama Omze), was being enthroned too, as the 126th Abbot of Gyuto Tantric Monastery. I'm thankful to have made the connection with you when you visited Singapore late last year, and I was truly impressed and blessed by your teachings. Hope to see you again very soon, Rinpoche.
Can't wait to see both my teachers real soon, somewhere....
Had a nice Hokkien popiah and Teochew porridge party over the weekend.
Mom cooked this Teochew mee kia (white noodles) which is naturally salted hence no need to add condiments. And my concoction of sambal belachan with tiny chopped lime skin.
Hokkien styled popiah consists of many types of veggies and not the usual radish (mang guang). I helped mom fry each type separately. There were cabbage, carrot, chives, long beans, short beans, coriander, fried chopped tau kwa and strips of pork belly. Again no need any condiments as the combination of all the ingredients made the popiah tasty enough.
The final product all mixed! There was so much that I had to split them into 2 batches.
Our beautiful spread... ready to wrap the popiah! Other ingredients include strips of fried eggs, small steamed prawns, boiled beansprouts,peanut powder, black sweet sauce, lettuce, garlic paste and chilli paste.
Wrapping my popiah with prawns, lettuce, egg with sweet sauce and chilli and pound garlic and peanut powder.
So beautiful like wrapped salad. So tasty and shiok! Each person can usually eat 2-3 popiah at one go. My father used to be able to eat about 4 huge bursting popiah he wraps himself. Now he can only manage one popiah at one go. Last time, he would eat his popiah with peeled crunchy garlic, exactly the way my late grandfather used to eat his popiah.
Then we finished off our little popiah party devouring plain porridge with these typical sides, the way Teochews like it.
I'm half Hokkien and half Teochew, by the way. Happy to be able to enjoy Hokkien popiah which reminds me of my late paternal grandma and the Teochew porridge reminds of my maternal grandma who came to join us.
Here she is, my beautiful 93 years old grandma. ❤️
Recently my eyes have been feeling dry that they are difficult to open, as if there are millions of miniscule dirt particles stuck inside. If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, the eyes would be hard to pry open. I had to apply lubricant eye drops frequently. I wonder if I should get them treated or if this is due to age.
I am born with a lazy eye. I've never broach on this before as I assume it is obvious to people. I discovered this when I was a child, maybe 6,7 years old. One day when I came back from school I was sitting on the floor in front of the mirror. Then I realised my eyes looked weird. I remember I was feeling sad and kept asking myself why I did not have normal perfect eyes like others. I asked myself why I did not have big beautiful eyes like others. I guess this made me a little self conscious of my looks. If I was not pretty conventionally, my eyes made me felt even worse. So I lived the rest of my childhood feeling inadequate, shy and 'not pretty'. I feel sad whenever anyone comments on my looks, even though no one has ever mentioned about my eyes. No one was that unkind. It didn't get to the point of me being depressed or anything drastic. But it remains just a bane in my subconscious mind. Haha.
Over the years, I've come to accept that that's the way I look. I've not talk to anyone about this and see no point in doing so. There's nothing I can do about how I'm born with. My eye sight is good without having to wear glasses. On hindsight, if I had been to the doctor when I was a kid and had it treated I might have improved my eyes and thus my looks. But with our family background then, we probably could not have afforded it anyway. And in these days of medical advances, cosmetic surgery can probably help. However I don't think I'll ever do it.
As long as I can see and my eyes are not blind, I think I should count my blessings. Those who love me accept how I look. Those who care about me, love me beyond looks. I'll still continue taking selfies, the 'not pretty' me with loved ones and friends. Creating beautiful memories is more important than how unbeautiful I look physically. I guess we are beautiful in our own ways.
Happy Chinese New Year, the Rooster has arrived! COCKADOODLEDOOOOO!!
Yes all monkey business has ended, let's hope everybody will not start talking cock! 😜
Our reunion dinner a few days earlier than the actual CNY Eve, as always.
reunion dinner at home, we had Auspicious Yusheng, Treasure Pot with
Abalone (peng cai), Prosperity Pig's Trotter, Happiness Sea Cucumber
with Broccoli & Chestnuts, Fortune Deep Fried Chicken with Almonds,
and Harmony Radish Pork Bone Soup! So yummy! (OK, I gave the dishes
their auspicious names).
Spruced up the house for a bit before guests arrive on the first day. Love my new layout for the living room.
Bumped into the God of Wealth! Huat ahh!!
It has been a rainy Chinese new year. Let's hope the rest of the year will not be stormy. But hey, without the storm you won't get to see the rainbow 🌈😄
Chinatown is spectacular as usual during CNY.... welcoming the Rooster in its glory and splendour.
BTW my niece turned sweet 18 a couple of weeks ago and we sprung a surprise party for her. So fun! Love you always, girl!
I thought it is significant to show my bed, as memories of CNY 2017. My sanctuary, haha!
That's all for now, folks! Have a great year ahead!
Is it a little late to round up 2016? Anyway not going to.
It was a sombering 2016. It has not been an easy Monkey year but I thank my loved ones for being so understanding with me, my bosses for being kind and magnanimous to me, and to all who matters to me for believing in me. Most importantly I'm grateful to my Gurus and Sangha community and Dharma friends for teaching me what's the most important in Life. I may not grasp it all still, but I'll try. Good bye 2016! 👋
This by Lang Leav quite fits the bill I guess. Looking forward to 2017.
I guess most of the world is still reeling and recovering from the shock of Donald Trump becoming the most powerful man in the most powerful country in the world. My first reaction when I read the news was, "this world is crazy!".
Then someone posted,"This is a nation that has grown up on day time trash talk TV. Why would we expect anything different? Suddenly it's all become very clear. Those seeds were planted long ago".
Were these seeds planted long ago? Maybe. In Buddhism, we believe in the law of causality (cause and effect). You reap what you sow. Everything is dependent on one another. It is the collective karma of acountry and its people which create the karma for the type of leader who will lead them.
Other recent pieces of news I heard were also shock after shock, surprise after surprise. It is a strange phenomena, a strange period of changing times. And perhaps it is no coincidence that today 14 Nov 2016 happens to be the Supermoon. This full moon will be not only the closest and brightest supermoon of 2016 but also the largest since 1948 (68 years ago). What we do to Planet Earth, we receivein return, its triggeringeffects and energies, the good and bad.
Things which we thought was status quo wasn't. Things which we least expected happened. Business partners become competitors. Close friends become enemies. Enemies become buddies. Lovers become strangers. Things which were so dear to us become just.... an object overnight. Memories which we thought were beautiful become like something stuck in the throat. Things that we view with so much love and excitement are now just indifference.
However, on the other hand, at the same time, whatever we view as terrible, has inadventently become, well, better. This morning when I woke up, I felt an overwhelming sense of calmness sweeping over me. I guess it is not a bad feeling after all, experiencing some calm and happiness despite being in prickly situations. The journey never ends, it's a continuing process, from good to bad, from worst to betteretc..
me, the only one good thing we get out of this Donald Trump episode is.... it
made me realise that anything everything is possible. Yes, there is HOPE! Perhaps it will egg me
on to achieve what the society or I once thought to be utterly impossible. Maybe this notion is not so crazy after all.
So, were these seeds planted long ago? Definitely.
Everything can change in a split second, everything is changing at every moment. How dearly we pay to learn the lesson of impermanence.
It's strange. Although I've not been blogging regularly anymore, I still get emails from readers. Recently there was Libby who chanced upon my blog and read my earlier post "有你的祝福, 没有过不去的苦" and introduced herself as a Buddhist and semi vegetarian and hoped to connect with me.
Just a couple of days ago I received an email from a lady named Veronica who wanted to meet up with me. She said she is new in Tibetan Buddhism and wanted to learn from me over lunch.
On the same day the past Sunday, which was the last day of our grand puja event, a devotee named Lynn approached me at my booth. She said she found my blog and has been reading it. I'm so touched. I've seen her before on and off during special events but didn't know she is my reader. This is my selfie with her. Thanks for introducing yourself Lynn!
There was another devotee who introduced herself as Miss Lam, also approached my booth to make donations and to say hi. She said she is my reader too. Wow I'm beyond speechless and touched they still remember my little low profile blog here. I'll try to blog more, hehe...
Over the years since I started my blog more than 10 years ago, I have made friends with my blog readers and fellow bloggers, especially Dharma friends, who have become friends.
Over the weekend, I spent a meaningful morning visiting the residents of a community hospital with a group of volunteers and choir Mudita from Amitabha Buddhist Centre. The purpose was to celebrate and spread some Mid-Autumn Festival cheer to them. We chit chatted with the residents while the singers went around every section of each ward singing songs and mantras continuously to the residents for 3 hours.
When I passed by one of the isolation rooms, I recognised a man inside. Two years ago, my father had a fall and was admitted to this community hospital and he stayed 2-3 weeks for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. During that time, this man who is a long term resident staying in the isolation room was still mobile. Whenever I visited my father, I remember the man was walking around the ward making a fuss here and there. Today he could not move anymore. He was just lying there with tubes connected to him.
At the chronic unit ward, I was trying to talk to an old lady whom the nurse called Mama Bear. She could not move and her hands are twisted. They told us as most of the patients in this ward are not able to move and some could not see, so they are unable to respond or interact with us. However they can still hear us. So it is good to try to talk to them. I saw her chart and realised she is a Hokkien, so I spoke to her in Hokkien. Her eyes were closed but tears were flowing down. I did not know what else to say except to let her listen to music and mantras playing from my mobile phone.
all who are suffering physically and mentally be at peace, no matter
what circumstances they face. My deepest respect and appreciation to all
the admirable health care professionals and care providers.
It was a wonderful, thought-provoking and humbling experience for me. I recorded videos of the songs which the singers sang to the residents (so that I could replay the songs to whoever needs it in future). Whenever I replay the songs now or see the photos we took, I cannot help but to control my tears.I seriously believe that music can sooth and comfort one's soul/heart. How wonderful it would be that during one's weakest moments, to have someone to comfort them, to stand up for them, or even just having someone's presence, is enough.
Here is one song 让爱传出去 which I recorded. Love the meaningful lyrics.