Take the first step in faith,
You don't have to see the whole staircase,
Just take the first step.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1929 - 1968
Merry Christmas to the all of you out there, and may success go along you in the year 2008 and beyond
Men Are Just Happier People-- What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth and take you seriously.. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another petrol station washroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars with your bare hands. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. No problem.
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. You can wear the same shirt to the office, wedding or funeral. Nobody will notice. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have broken heels or strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original colour. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. Like wrinkles, white hair adds character. You only have to shave your face. Hairy legs? They come with the original package. They add character.
You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one watch -- one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
No wonder men are happier.
Nine Emperor Gods Festival begins today. The road in front of Tow Boo Keong Ipoh had started to get jam-packed since morning. One side of the road became the temporary parking space for visitors and temporary stalls were build on the other side to provide space to sell the ‘ong khu’, flowers and incenses. People were bustling about with one hand carrying a bundle of incense and some others holding a stack of holy papers to be burnt. The older generation were sitting and waiting patiently in front of the performing stage for the opera show to start.
A girl and her dad walked pass the front entrance and there were three men performing some ritual acts. Mystical I thought, as I watched them walking passed the group of performers. They proceeded towards the praying area and searched for a nice spot on the first row of tables. The dad was happy to find a clear spot, not the most strategic but good enough to offer the ‘sou thou’, ‘ong khu’ and flowers to the gods. Being a Buddhist by default and receiving great influenced of Taoism since many generations ago, traditional festivals like this is hard to escape.
As a filial daughter, she helped him light up the incenses and followed him to pray to the Nine Emperor gods to seek for blessings, protection and well being. It took only a while to finish paying respect to all the gods. She took a rest at the edge of a pillar while he has his hands washed before asking for ‘chien’. She remained there for sometime while the dad went on to ‘qiu chien’. The girl appeared to have stomachache or something similar as her arms were wrapped tightly around her stomach. She became restless and perspired profusely. Crooked lines showed on her forehead. She squatted and moaned a little. Her face showed that she was in pain. Oh, life is full of sufferings.
After about 5 minutes of involuntary rapid hand and head movements, she went up to the dad to ask to leave early. Since there is only one more ‘chien’ left, she waited for another minute that seems like eternity. By the time the dad came over to her rescue, she was already sitting on the floor with her head between her knees. The dad tried to hold her up, but she was too weak. He held her up again and she fell. Again and again. A man who was praying nearby hurried to help and dragged her out of the smoky temple. The girl was feeling extremely dizzy, views blurred and almost collapsing. She didn’t know what went on until she was seated on a cold metal chair. Out of nowhere, few men came and helped to massage her to keep her consciousness. One lady who was selling towels in the stalls even offered a brand new towel to cover her from the chilly wind.
She remained subconscious and weak. Some suggested that the man massage the head, some aunty suggested massaging the shoulder. Some massaged the back. Finally she vomited brown liquid on the floor and requested for a toilet. Since she was only half conscious, few ladies held her into the toilet but only two were left inside to hold the vege-like fragile figure of hers. It is difficult to even hold up the head what more the whole body. The dad went to bring the car in despite the number of people and exhibitions there. By the time she came out, she was so weak that she couldn’t even walk. Thanks to these strong men they carried her into the car and she was finally lied down on the cushion.
The dad’s love is so great that it is incomparable to anything else. The dad must have been so worried. It is touching to feel the unconditional love showered upon his little girl. It is even more touching to be the girl. Thanks dad. I love you. May the people who helped be well and happy always. You guys have filled the world with LOVE. These good seeds you sow will soon bear their sweet fruits. Sahdu!
Dear Bros & Sis,
I will be leading a group of 16 Friends of Mahabodhi Ladakh form Malaysia, Singapore & Australia will be visiting Ladakh India from 17th August 2007 till 26th August 2007. The group will be led by Bro Charlie Chia. We have prepared a missionary itinerary for the visit to Ladakh where we intend to carry out missionary and charitable works in the mountain villages of Ladakh.
At the same time we will visit the Mahabodhi International Meditation Campus of Venerable Sanghasena, a notable and compassionate Theravada monk called Devachan where he had set up boarding schools for the girls and boys from the mountains. The school have a student population of 250 students and all education are in English. He had also set a Meditation Centre, Nunnery, Senior Care Homes, 50 bedded Karuna Hospital and lately the Jetavana Monastery. For your information, Ladakh is the only Buddhist majority district in India. The population consists mostly of Ladakhi and Tibetan refugees. It is as high as 11,000 feet above sea level.
In conjunction with the missionary and charity work that we have planned there, here is a list of items that we intend to distribute:-
DVD's of latest shows for children
UV Resistent Sunglasses (Old and stylish sunglasses are most welcome)
Hand Held Musical Intruments (eg Guitars, harmonica, flutes etc)
Dynamo Batteryless Torchlights
Backpack bags and Luggage bags
As some of these items are very bulky and incur heavy air freight charges, we suggest that donors and well wishers contribute in the form of cash and we will procure them in India (the bulky items).
We hope each and everyone can approach your friends, colleagues and relatives for contributions and you can bank in to BGF account before 12th August 2007. the Account is as follows:-
Buddhist Gem Fellowship
Public Bank Berhad Account No. 3109670729
We hope to raise RM 50,000 to purchase all the items that have been requested.
May our aspirations and our generosity bring good merits and a safe trip.
Metta & Best regards
Chia Lui Meng, Charlie
What could be more pleasing than doing your part for charity while filling up your stomach with lots of mouth-watering yummy bites?At IMU CHARITY CARNIVAL 2007, you can do both AT THE SAME TIME!
A wide variety of food available: you name it, you get it.
Not to miss out on our delectable desserts designed to satisfy your appetite to the fullest. Among the selection includes brownies with ice-cream, cendol, ice-kacang, ice blended smoothies and many more.
First time doing dispensing….extemporaneous dispensing (Extemporaneous dispensing is the compounding of ingredients to prepare a medicine for an individual patient)…It is for the first time I feel the feeling what pharmacist in the past used to do and it is kind of funny having the fact that I am already a second year, 4thsemester pharmacy student. Anyway, leave the syllabus aside. I actually find my first time experience a fun and a fresh one having able to touch and mix and stir drugs, mixing difference ingredients and formulate it into something that is actually to be taken by real human. It is something like baking a cake with a recipe in front of u if u wanna visualize, just that this is one the ingredients are of much smaller dimensions (I wonder if it is easier and familiar for those who are good at cooking and baking, since they are used to mixing and all..ahem..hehe)…
Back to the topic, imagine the patients are going to swallow what you have prepared; how accurate u weight and measure each and every compound of the ingredients, how clean and sterile the instruments we use and how skillful we are in mixing the formulations determine the quality and condition of the drug itself when they receive and popped the medicine into their mouth. Quite challenging in a sense, but fun and adventures despite the heavy responsibilities put upon our shoulders. I like the mixing and stirring, seeing the solutions immerse in each other giving shiny silver reflections* it’s as if the liquids are dancing gleefully in the solutions. It brings out the inner joy in me despite the fact that I had to rush during my lab session and the stirring process could be quite stressful to our triceps and biceps..:P
I made three solutions today; 200ml of Potassium Citrate Mixture for the treatment of mild urinary tract infection, 100ml of Ferrous Sulphate Oral Solution 50mg/5ml as supplement for the iron-deficient anaemia and 20ml of Sodium Bicarbonate Ear Drops to remove ear wax by softening it. Kinda proud of my first three drugs freshly prepared by me..hehe.. :p
Since I only did formulations for oral solution drugs this time around, will write my other experiences with other forms of formulations next time. :)
*the reflections came about when I added syrup into the double strength chloroform water :p
This week was an extremely busy and demanding week for me. Had meetings non-stop for the whole week and I just made the record of having meetings for 15 hours non-stop in one day alone (Tuesday 26/6). Currently still in a midst of chaos and stress trying to get things work and organized; having to juggle with my heavy lectures and studies as well. Luckily yesterday get to go out for makan gathering in Hoi Peng Seafood Restaurant in SS2 with my speaking course mates. Eating a good one can really reduce stress. Thanks guys! :)
Ya, ya, i know it's kinda late and fathers' day was last Sunday, i was at a NoGAPS (National Gathering Of Pharmacy Students) camp that time and ya, life has been very busy lately.
Here's a speech i wrote for a public speaking competition I had in April this year. This speech is dedicated to my dearest dad and mum (especially dad coz it's fathers' day ma..hehe). I love you mum and dad. :)
I am contestant no 10, my name is Chai Hung Jen. The topic of my speech tonight is
Brothers and sisters, imagine in the dark and narrow, long and winding roads with only one headlamp of an old bicycle shinning through 26-mile journey in the wee hours. How do you feel?
Every day, rain or shine, he never failed to pedal his way to quench his thirst for knowledge.
Years passed, he became the youngest headmaster of at times.
Adversity never exists in his vocabulary, but only opportunity. He is none other than my dearest father.
One day, my dad said this to me while I was a little child, “Jen, adversity is never and should never be an excuse to stop us from succeeding our life.” Those words kept ringing in my head since then.
I was taught to be independent since the tender age of 4.
I was taught to go to kindergarten by the school bus on my own.
I was taught to solve my own problems and make my own decisions since young.
My dad always made it a point to come home every weekend to shower us his unconditional love.
My dad is not a millionaire to provide us with endless cash, but he provides us with endless knowledge, endless care and endless love.
My dad intentionally gave me nothing because he believes that if a parent gives a child everything, this will kill a child’s hunger for success.
Only with a strong desire to succeed, one will work towards it no matter how tough the journey may be. With a strong will to succeed, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Like our famous inventor, Thomas Edison put it, “In the middle of difficulty lays opportunity.” As long as we are willing to take on the challenge, every moment can be seized as opportunity to succeed.
Helen Keller, blind and deaf at tender age, mastered Braille against all odds. She altered the world’s perceptions of the disabled. She remapped the boundaries of sight and sense.
Brothers and sisters, with my dad and Helen Keller as my mentors, I am inspired to achieve all that I am truly capable. Adversities can never be my excuses from developing my full potential. Life's battles don't always go to the stronger man, but a man who think he can."
Brothers and sisters, let us march towards our quest for success despite of adversities; let us never, never, never wallow in adversities; let us turn adversities into our stepping stones for greatness.
Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.p.s: Special thanks to my mentors Bro Stanley Cham and Bro Gavin for editing my speech. :)
On my wedding day, I carried my wife in my arms. The bridal car stopped in front of our one-room flat. My buddies insisted that I carry her out of the car in my arms. So I carried her into our home. She was then plump and shy.. I was a strong and happy bridegroom.
This was the scene ten years ago.
The following days were as simple as a cup of pure water: we had a kid; I went into business and tried to make more money. When the assets were steadily increasing, the affection between us seemed to ebb. She was a civil servant. Every morning we left home together and got home almost at the same time. Our kid was studying in a boarding school.
Our marriage life seemed to be enviably happy. But the calm life was more likely to be affected by unpredictable changes.
Dew came into my life.
It was a sunny day. I stood on a spacious balcony. Dew hugged me from behind. My heart once again was immersed in her stream of love. This was the apartment I bought for her.
Dew said, "you are the kind of man who best draws girls' eyeballs." Her words suddenly reminded me of my wife. When we were just married, my wife said, "Men like you, once successful, will be very attractive to girls."
Thinking of this, I became somewhat hesitant. I knew I had betrayed my wife.. But I couldn't help doing so.
I moved Dew's hands aside and said "you go to select some furniture, O.K.? I've got something to do in the company." Obviously she was unhappy, because I had promised to do it together with her. At the moment, the idea of divorce became clearer in my mind although it used to be something impossible to me.
However, I found it rather difficult to tell my wife about it. No matter how mildly I mentioned it to her, she would be deeply hurt.
Honestly, she was a good wife. Every evening she was busy preparing dinner. I was sitting in front of the TV. The dinner was ready soon. Then we watched TV together. Or, I was lounging before the computer, visualizing Dew's body. This was the means of my entertainment.
One day I said to her in a slightly joking way, suppose we divorce, what will you do? She stared at me for a few seconds without a word. Apparently she believed that divorce was something too far away from her. I couldn't imagine how she would react once she got to know I was serious.
When my wife went to my office, Dew had just stepped out. Almost all the staff looked at my wife with a sympathetic eye and tried to hide something while talking to her. She seemed to have got some hint. She gently smiled at my subordinates. But I read some hurt in her eyes.
Once again, Dew said to me, "He Ning, divorce her, O.K.? Then we live together."
I nodded. I knew I could not hesitate any more.
When my wife served the last dish, I held her hand. I've got something to tell you, I said. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes. Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the serious topic calmly.
She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why? I'm serious. I avoided her question. This so-called answer made her angry.. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, "you are not a man!"
That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer, because my heart had gone to Dew.
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. I felt a pain in my heart. The woman who had been living ten years with me would become a stranger one day. But I could not take back what I had said.
Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer.
Late that night, I came back home after entertaining my clients. I saw her writing something at the table. I fall asleep fast. When I woke up, I found she was still there. I turned over and was asleep again.
She brought up her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but I was supposed to give her one month s time before divorce, and in the month's time we must live as normal a life as possible. Her reason was simple: our son would finish his summer vacation a month later and she didn't want him to see our marriage was broken.
She passed me the agreement she drafted, and then asked me, He Ning, "do you still remember how I entered our bridal room on the wedding day?" This question suddenly brought back all those wonderful memories to me. I nodded and said, I remember. "You carried me in your arms, she continued, so, I have a requirement, that is, you carry me out in your arms on the day when we divorce. From now to the end of this month, you must carry me out from the bedroom to the door every morning."
I accepted with a smile. I knew she missed those sweet days and wished to end her marriage romantically.
I told Dew about my wife s divorce conditions. She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she does, she has to face the result of divorce, she said scornfully. Her words more or less made me feel uncomfortable.
My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. We even treated each other as a stranger. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly, Let us start from today, don't tell our son. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for a bus, I drove to the office.
On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. We were so close that I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this intimate woman carefully for a long time. I found she was not young any more. There were some fine wrinkles on her face.
On the third day, she whispered to me, "The outside garden is being demolished. Be careful when you pass there."
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I seemed to feel that we were still an intimate couple and I was holding my sweetheart in my arms. The visualization of Dew became vague.
On the fifth and sixth day, she kept reminding me something, such as, where she put the ironed shirts, I should be careful while cooking, etc. I nodded. The sense of intimacy was even stronger. I didn't tell Dew about this.
I felt it was easier to carry her. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger. I said to her, It seems not difficult to carry you now. She was picking her dresses. I was waiting to carry her out. She tried quite a few but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I smiled. But I suddenly realized that it was because she was thinner that I could carry her more easily, not because I was stronger. I knew she had buried all the bitterness in her heart. Again, I felt a sense of pain.. Subconsciously I reached out a hand to touch her head.
Our son came in at the moment. "Dad, it's time to carry mum out." He said. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had been an essential part of his life. She gestured our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face because I was afraid I would change my mind at the last minute. I held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly, as if we came back to our wedding day. But her much lighter weight made me sad.
On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. She said, "actually I hope you will hold me in your arms until we are old."
I held her tightly and said, "both you and I didn't notice that our life lacked intimacy."
I jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my decision. I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door. I said to her, "Sorry, Dew, I won't divorce. I'm serious."
She looked at me, astonished. The she touched my forehead.
"You got no fever.." She said.
I moved her hand off my head. "Sorry, Dew, I said, I can only say sorry to you, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of life, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I understand that since I carried her into the home, she gave birth to our child, I am supposed to hold her until I am old. So I have to say sorry to you."
Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove to the office.
When I passed the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet for my wife which was her favorite. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, "I'll carry you out every morning until we are old."
It was the usual Monday morning round in the psychiatric ward
and the medical assistance was reporting incidences of violence involving patients in the ward. Managing violence has been part and parcel of my training in Psychiatry. The public tends to strongly associate mental patients with violence. However, my experience suggests to me that there is much more violence in the world, beyond the psychiatric ward. Criminological studies have actually supported my observation that rates of violent and criminal behavior are similar in the mentally ill and non-mentally ill people. So, I inevitably have to open up my mind to a bigger picture of violence, a disease of pandemic scale.
What is violence? Violence takes many forms and is understood differently in different countries and among different cultures. There is no universally accepted definition of violence but the following is a working definition accepted by World Health Organization (WHO), that encompasses a broad range of understanding:
*"Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. "** *
There main categories of violence are identified from a public health point of view:
1. Self-inflicted violence: *This refers to intentional and harmful behavior directed at oneself e.g. self mutilation, attempted suicide or completed suicide.
2. Interpersonal violence: *This is violence among individuals e.g. violence against women, child abuse, bullying, sexual harassment and criminally-linked violence such as assault, rape and homicide.
3. Organized violence: *This is violent behavior of social or political groups motivated by specific political, economic or social objectives. War may be considered the most highly organized type of violence. Other examples include racial or religious conflicts.
Sad to say, there is not a single day these days whereby violence is not reported in the media. Since violence is now rampant, the United Nations have proclaimed the period 2001-2010 as the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World". As defined by the United Nations,
"Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations"*
In response to calling for peace, the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) is organizing a "Say NO to Violence Campaign" from 5th-15th May, 2007 in conjunction with the Wesak Day celebration and "Hari & Minggu Belia 2007". Thank God, religious freedom is practiced in this country and this is a significant contribution to the peace that we have been enjoying all this while. It's great to hear that the government is making concerted effort to promote peace in our beloved country. This is a very wise move as peace is a crucial prerequisite for nation building. We should give our full support to this and future peace promoting activities.
*"Together, we must build and develop for the future a culture of peace based on non-violence, dialogue, and mutual respect and social justice. This is neither easy nor a quick task. Nevertheless, it is possible and at a time of rising waves of new forms of conflict and violence, it is absolutely necessary."*
-The Dalai Lama-
(Nobel Price for Peace winner, 1989)
What are the factors that contribute to violence? Factors that are thought to contribute to the development of violent behavior include:
- Drug and alcohol use
- Access to firearms and weapons
- Having witnessed or victimized by interpersonal violence
- Lack of parental affection and support
- Physical punishment and child abuse
- Family history of criminal behavior
- Poor communication skills
- Poverty, urbanization and overcrowding
- Rapid economic development with unemployment
- Unequal power relations between men and women or different ethnic groups
For peace and non-violence to prevail, the United Nations have suggested these strategies:
- Foster a culture of peace through education
- Promote sustainable economic and social development
- Promote respect for all human rights
- Ensure equality between women and men
- Foster democratic participation
- Advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity
- Support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge
- Promote international peace and security
Violence prevention efforts that address factors at all levels will be the most successful. However, I hereby would like to highlight peace and non-violence education program at school level as this has several advantages. Firstly, it's easier to start educating people while they are young before the personality is fully developed. Secondly, it can reach out to many people as the program can be easily incorporated into the existing school curriculum. Thirdly, there have been a lot of scientific studies to support the efficacy of school-based peace and non-violence education program.
The school-based educational intervention should include knowledge and skills in these areas:
- Assertive and non-violent communication
- Anger and stress management
- Conflict resolution
- Problem solving & decision making
- Mediation intervention
- Making friends and socializing
- Dealing with peer pressure
- Crime prevention and law-related education
- Religious and ethnic education
Since we spend a big portion of our life communicating with people around us, let me share with you in more detail on assertive and non-violent communication. Assertive and non-violent communication is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings and needs clearly, honestly, directly and at the same time considering the needs and feelings of others. The principles are as follows:
1. Honestly and clearly express your thoughts or feelings in a non-hostile way e.g. "John, I'm very upset and worried when you didn't call up after you missed our appointment yesterday". It's important to be specific and direct in expressing ourselves.
2. Be firm but friendly in your tone of voice and non-verbal language e.g. look up, have direct eye contact, smile and use opened postures. Be courteous, don't be defensive and never quarrel or fight.
3. Allow the other person to express himself or herself. Acknowledge the person's feelings or conditions e.g. "I understand that you had something emergency and I'm sorry to hear that........
4. Make your request clear, precise and in a positive manner (ask the person to do something rather than stop doing something) e.g. "I would be grateful if you could give me a call the next time whenever you miss our appointment. Is that ok with you?" Be diplomatic and willing to negotiate on the request.
5. Thank and compliment the person for agreeing to you request. You can also tell the person how happy you are because of the successful negotiation e.g. "Thank you very much for been so understanding. It means a lot to me and I'm very happy about that".
For further information on how to effectively and creatively run school-based peace education program, you can refer to UNESCO's compilation of "Best Practices" from various countries all over the world (* http://www.unesco.
org/education/). With this, I will end my little essay over here and may all of you be suffused with abundance of peace all the time. nved/index. html*
1. WHO information series on school health – Violence Prevention: An important element of a health-promoting school.
2. UNESCO - Best Practices of conflict resolution in and out-of-school.