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The Art of Happiness by His Holiness Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

This very well written book and easy to read, has so many parallels to another teacher, Saul-Paul.

Dalai Lama considers “the turning toward happiness as a valid goal and the conscious decision to seek in a systematic manner can profoundly change the rest of our lives”.

1. First step in seeking happiness is learning (p38). Learn how negative emotions and behaviour are harmful to us and how positive emotions are helpful.

Paul of Tarsus – Galations 5: 22

“The fruit of the Spirit is charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self discipline (self-control)…”

Learn about the different mental states, classify them according to whether they lead to happiness or not. (p39)

Dalai Lama considers Constructive vs Destructive emotions such as hatred, fear sense of insecurity.

Personally I think its wise to learn about different emotions especially after I underwent coaching training, I begin to realise that Ps 128 talks about fear of the Lord, when I read the Hebrew word, it translates to “awe, reverence, wonder” and not the paralysing fear we talk about.

I agree with Cutler’s point that rather than classify mental states, emotions as “greed is sin” or “hatred is sin”, Dalai Lama classifies emotions as positive or negative to whether they lead to our ultimate happiness.

If happiness is simply a matter of cultivating more positive mental states like kindness, why are so many people unhappy?

Dalai Lama’s advice is that various techniques such as developing positive motivation:

“I will use this day in a positive way. I should not waste this very day.”

“Did I use this day as I planned”

Yes, rejoice.

No, regret and critique the day.

Although Dalai Lama claim these as buddhist practices, they are not solely, and are found in Catholic/Christian texts and Chinese philosophical texts. But what Dalai Lama is excellent in doing, is use scientific research, eg neuroplasticity of mind to underpin buddhism text.

Psalm 1 talks about how your social company can influence your ways. In Chinese proverbs, the saying goes that when you immerse silk in red ink, it becomes red. When you immerse it in black ink, it becomes black.

Through training, meditation practice, we can transform our mind, says Dalai Lama.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (Paul)

How do we renew our minds? Do not be conformed to the patterns of the world and with supernatural intervention. Although it is not fully explained in the Bible, as Christian Bible is limited to 66 books. Where Christian text differs is the belief that God has given the Holy Spirit.

Usefulness of Compassion

Dalai Lama: once you accept that compassion is worthwhile, realise its deeper value, then you immediately develop an attraction towards it, a willingness to cultivate it… Once you encourage thought of compassion in your mind, then your attitude towards others chsnges automatically….. But without the attitude of compassion, if you are feeling closed, irritated or indifferent, then you can be approached by your best friend and you just feel uncomfortable.

Paul: (Charity, Lovingkindness) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13

Further reading on cultivating compassion, joy, read Theresa of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila “The Interior Castle”.

With covid 19 and the rise of loneliness and depression, Cutler’s question to Dalai Lama on whether he felt lonely seems useful to me. (p70). Unlike investigators suggestion that the strategy to overcome loneliness is to work on improving social skills such as self disclosure, picking up conversational skills, Dalai Lama’s strategy is to bypass social skills and work on cultivating compassion.

Practice: Meditation on “our dependence on others”.

Do you wonder how many people are involved in making your shirt? The salesperson who sold the farmer the tractor, the people who grew the cotton, who sewed the cloth. Virtually every aspect of my life is the result of others efforts. Before we use the word “supply chain” and logistics realise our interconnectedness.

Although I was raised in a Buddhist family, with my grandmother and aunts living in temples and monastery, Dalai Lama’s interpretation is so different from what they taught in buddhism. I can only say his text is closer to Paul of Tarsus and influenced by his personality and staying outside of Tibet.

Cutler cites intimacy as being important in maintaining good emotional health from psychoanalyst Erich Fromm that humankind’s most basic fear is the threat of being seperated from others (p 79). Experience of seperateness and rejection is the source of all anxiety in human life.

Dalai Lama’s approach and that of St Paul, hands the locus of control back to the individual. Unlike American or French definition of intimacy as passionate, sexual relationship or attachment, it is a compassion of honor, respect, tenderness towards the other person.

Having heard the Dalai Lama over the internet, I can only guess that like Milton Friedman and the great saints, he possess an ability to cause trancelike state beyond human logic. Over the internet, I had difficulty understanding him and needed the help of translators like Ripoche. This has spurred me to learn more about NLP and how I can change my communication style to lessen others suffering, and if possible to bring joy.

Practice: Meditation on Compassion

1. Visualise a person who is acutely suffering, someone who is in pain or in an unfortunate situation. Reflect on the individual’s suffering (3 min).

2. Relate to yourself thinking “that individual has the same capacity for experiencing pain, joy, happiness and suffering that I do.

3. Allow your natural response to arise, natural feeling of compassion to that person.

4. Think how strongly you wish for that person to be free from suffering.

Comment:

I have difficulty releasing forgiveness. However, starting with thought of how the person is suffering releases me from having negative feelings to that person. In truth, we all have suffering. Difficult to believe that Bill Gates has suffering. That he causes others to suffer is easier to believe.

The difference is the starting point of what we believe and our thought pattern which sets us free.

I was at the library reading large photo books, Mutt but forgot to capture photo of the book.

Instead, I was mesmerised by sunset from the view of riverfront and managed to take a video. Today I decided to upload onto Youtube so you can enjoy. Did you know that previously this space was occupied by $2 Daiso and the view was sealed.

Coming to the library, well almost everyday and discovering pleasure of public space.

Why am I not coming everyday?

Where are you going?

Going nowhere during quarantine? How about travelling inward.

Mindful of each breath. Mindful of each step. Mindful of each thought.

Today we have so many technologies, the mobile phone, whatsapp, zoom. But do we really connect? We forget that our mind and body are connected. “Our body is here but our mind is somewhere else. We easily get caught up in our work, our plans, our anxieties. Our breadth is the bridge connecting our body and our mind.”

Meditation can be taken out of the retreat and into the kitchen and the office. Thich ask “How can we practice in a way that removes the barrier between practice and non-practice.”

A friend does walking meditation between business appointments, walking mindfully between buildings and as a result his meetings are often pleasant and successful.

Meditations do not need to be around a mandala or even in a maze. They can be part of our daily life.

May I

May You

May They

May All Beings

“How to See”, “How to Walk”, “How to Connect”, Series by Thich Nhat Hanh

Yesterday I conducted a coaching demonstration.

I struggled.

Striped bare.

Wintry cold.

Naked.

Thank you for the feedback

Oysters cry

Cliched Caterpillars die

Wrapped in White

I wiped away tears of humiliation

I am an island

For whom the bell tolls

Today I celebrate my weakness

In my weakness

I will be made strong.

I can see no way out but through

For whom the bell tolls?

It tolls for me.

Dont feel sorry for me.

At Tajimaya during Restaurant Week

Tip: Best cure for feeling sorry is to celebrate. And feed off another’s creativity. Shout out to the young chef who cooked tis meal. Notice the handcrafted mushroom from radish.

Today I visited the art exhibition Soul of Ink: Lim Tzepeng at 100.

Did you know that Singapore artist Lim Tzepeng started his career as a farmer, then teacher, principal before turning to full time painting at 60 yrs old when he retired.

Initially he mostly did calligraphy and we bought a few pieces of his work 10 yrs ago when he was relatively unknown.

Lim inspires me as one who constantly reinvents himself. As the curator Low Sze Wee describe him, Lim “continues to seek progress and breakthroughs with the spirit of a young man”.

Happy Birthday Mr Lim.

Soul of Ink: Lim Tze Peng at 100 is open to the public at The Arts House from 15 to 30 June 2021, 11am to 6pm.

Admission is free but registration is required.

Photo credits: himself

#limtzepeng #art #creative #portfoliocareer #retire #retyre

Yesterday my neighbours T&D gave me a box of Alphonso mangoes which they acquired from Little India- Tekka Market ahead of India’s lockdown. Good thinking.

I was the lucky beneficiary as they know I like the lovely fragrance of Alphonso. But I declined saying I will only take one or two as they spoil easily. Not to be deterred, the resourceful T gave me suggestions of pressing them to juice, making lassi – Indian yogurt drink.

I decided that I shall cut one immediately. To my surprise, I realised that the firm Alphonsoes are already ripe. Unlike Thai mangoes which are sour when firm, Alphonsoes are sweet when ripe.

I have been keeping them past their shelf life, no wonder the previous box had to be thrown away.

Recently, someone, on hearing that I was taking another certification reflected. You dont need another course. Its time to just do it.

Why do we hoard? We hoard to store for a rainy day. Some items are perishable, and cannot be hoarded. They spoil or past their prime. We say No to chocolate cake. I dont like chocolate, its too heaty for my body. Extra calories with no enjoyment. I say no to alcahol and cigarettes. I say no to risky behaviour that I will regret at leisure. I say no to losing my temper.

I say yes to …

What am I saying yes to…

Do it. As Nike yells!

Now! My self-coach is yelling.

Now.

Thank you T & D for your message in the mangoes!

#mango #now #TIME #procrastinate #validate

Today, I read with great sadness of the passing of Prince Philip.

Not a British citizen, my source was the Wikipedia, instead of the BBC or the tabloids, which are more balanced accounts.

How could a man, used to commanding ships, known to drive his officers hard, accept being recognised mainly as a consort “amoeba”, supporter of his wife, ie working in her family business, as the royal family is known. His wife is the boss.

Yet, I am filled with admiration, that the most outstanding of all his duties, making speeches etc, the one I give him credit for was that of being a guide to his wife and his grandsons.

What his life taught me is, a title, being King, but a bad one is nothing to lust for. Being clear about your roles and not be offended by what tabloids claim, even untruthful comments that he interfered or gave people unwanted advice into their love lives. (He did not.)

Despite the hardships of his early life, how as a baby he was smuggled out of Greece in a fruitbox when his family was exiled due to the Greco-Turkish war. Being seperated from his family, (his mother was sent to an asylum), Prince Philip, by today’s definition, had a challenging childhood. Yet, I’m surprised at how he managed his “gremlins/shadows” rather than “meltdowns”. Perhaps it also speaks of the tolerance of Queen Elizabeth and her clear sense of duty.

He had a clear soldier’s mission. I surprised myself today by my admission that I would put Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip in my list of heroes.

Steadfastness is a virtue I intend to cultivate. Carve your own role.

What’s a virtue you have, despite challenges?

I have been told that visualisation and relaxing is very important. To encourage more coaches and group facilitators to try, Ive posted my script here. If you can attribute my post as a source, feel free to use it. Share your experience in comments below. My inspiration was the book of Ezkiel 47.

Start to feel comfortable. Sit comfortably. Take a nice breath in, and as you exhale, feel the muscles on your face and jaw relax. Now let your breadth take you down to your legs, feet and toes. Check that there is nothing blocking, in front of you.

Picture yourself in a peaceful park. It can be somewhere you’ve been before or from your imagination. Picture yourself there. You feel the gentle sunshine on your face. You feel the calm of the space around you. You hear gentle running water. As you do so, you come to a river, with running fresh water. Its a beautiful crystal clear river.

(i) Ankle deep

You walk into the water. It is ankle deep. Feel the coolness of the water without getting wet. Refreshing. Now, take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. You feel the sunshine gently caressing your face, the wind enveloping you, a feeling of warmth/ kisses from the gentle sun. Calm space, gentle running water.

Something catches your toes. It is a pebble, it is smooth and oval shaped. The pebble represent stress or worry in your life. You place the stone in your hands and throw it back into the water. Notice how the pebble hits the water and creates a ripple effect. You let it go, and notice how the ripples become still. How does it feels like? Take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. Let the pebble and stress drop to the bottom of the river. You start to explore, and find your place.

(ii) Waist Deep

Take another step deeper into the water, you feel your feet firmly on the ground. The water is waist deep. Movement is more difficult. Take a deep breathe in and a deep breathe out. You notice your thoughts. Others have returned to the ankle depth level where there is more fun and freedom. You notice leaves on the water. You pin your thoughts on the leaves let them go. There are beautiful fishes in the water. You want to discover more. You struggle. As you struggle, your muscles become stronger like a butterfly’s wings trying to emerge from the chrysalis.

(iii) Over your head

You’re now one step deeper in the river. The water is over your head. “The water here is beyond your control – it’s all
around you. You don’t fight against it – you calmly go with the flow. Breathe in breathe out. You let go of the firm ground. You notice your thoughts coming and letting go. Where is the river taking me? You notice the beautiful fruit trees on the riverbank. Fishes in the clean river, colored stones at the bottom. The old has gone, and the new has come.

You are letting the river carry you to a new place, going with the flow. Notice your thoughts and letting go. Breathe in and breathe out. Place your right hand on your belly, feel it rise and fall. Feel your feet on the ground, and being present at this moment. You have arrived. Prepare to open your eyes at the sound of the bell. Breathe in, breathe out.

Check in:

  1. How was the visualisation experience?
  2. What are your thoughts? What did you discover?
  3. One thing that’s better today?

NB: What is this river? This river can be lovingkindness, peace, hope for a better future. Often we’re full of stress, anxiety about what we cannot control, given the negative news around us. Just like we need to resist the temptation to rescue a butterfly trying to emerge from a chrysalis, as its muscles get stronger in the struggle.

Go slow.

#river #visualisation #Ezkiel47 #script #coach #coaching

Im a hoarder. After being inspired by Netflix series: Marie Kondo, The Minimalists and Home edit, I decided to clear my closets.

Today I chanced upon a glass teapot I bought 4 mths ago and made myself a pot of lemongrass/screwpine tea.

And realised that in my cupboard, I had 24 different types of tea. The canisters of most were already rusty, so I cant give them away. But it was shocking that I could make myself a different cup each day. Yet, I drink Arabica coffee every morning, when I had so many choices in my home pantry.

Why am I not taking the pause to edit and enjoy the resources I have ?

Are there resources in your closet which you are not aware?