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Feb 3, 2007

Amazing Vista Walk Hunt

It was quite a happening Microsoft Vista launch at Low Yat Plaza today. My friends, Sis, Bro and I were there to participate in the Amazing Vista Walk Hunt.

However, the registration sucked. There were too many people (about 675 participants altogether!) and very unsystematic. The so-called Hunt Kit was even worse. Well, perhaps my expectation was high. I expect more than just a can of carbonated drink, a wafer bar, a mineral water, a brochure and an ugly sissy black coloured Window Vista bag. Yep, not even a pen or note pad. I know this Walk Hunt is free, but this is the biggest launch by Microsoft, the richest company in the world. Not to mentioned there were only 8 winning teams out of 188 teams. With so many so-called big sponsors like Maxis, Samsung, Toshiba, Intel, Acer, etc, they could only offer so few prizes and freebies. I joined a free AXN mall challenge before and the sponsor (Brylcreem) was so generous we had lots of freebies apart from so many free games like rock climbing, baseball, terror ride, etc.

Despite the lack of system by
Time Out Solutions during the briefing, the kedekut-ness of Microsoft and the simplicity (in another word, no uuumph) of the hunt (which only took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete and the questions are less challenging), my teams enjoyed ourselves very much. We enjoyed the fact that we were able to participate together in two teams. We did so much better this time eventhough half of us are newbies. It would be impossible to answer all questions with only one team going from sector to sector.

Although majority of the participants are young people, in their teens or early 20s, the winners are mostly 'old people' (read: pro hunters) with familiar faces like The Lucky Ones and Hunters 'R' Us who won in every single hunt. I have great respect for them and I wish I knew their strategies and how long they took to be where they are now. How do they do it?

After the race, a couple of my team members and I joined the Microsoft Vista Movie Maker contest. The results will be out tomorrow at 5 p.m. Anyway, I'm pretty intimidated by the huge crowd. So I'm not going back to Low Yat Plaza tomorrow.

Feb 2, 2007

Q&A about Buddhism - part 4

Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. This is a Q&A with HH Sakya Trizin.

This is a continuation from
part 3.

Q: Is animal rebirth really possible for a human?

A: Yes, definitely. There are many stories of animals being reborn as humans as a result of good actions and of humans being reborn as animals, too, as a result of bad actions. Some animals are extremely kind, especially to their offspring, and by working very hard they can create enough causes to achieve human birth.

Q: Why is human birth so important?

A: Human birth is extremely precious because, through human life, one can achieve not only high rebirth and Nirvana, but also one can practice Dharma and get Enlightenment.

Q: Does it really help us to think a great deal about impermanence? We always know we are impermanent, and thinking about it too much might make us miserable.

A: Yes, it does help. Tsongkhapa said, “A prisoner has only one thought: When can I get out of this prison? This thought arises constantly in his mind. Your thought on impermanence should be like this; meditate on impermanence until this state of mind arises.”

Q: Are we really in the position of prisoners? We often do find things pleasant in Worldly Existence.

A: But that pleasure isn’t permanent, is it? That very pleasure can lead to disaster, can’t it? So we are happy now, but we never know what might happen in the next hour. There may be a complete disaster. Since pleasure is impermanent, since it is very uncertain, you are not actually happy because your pleasure is colored with anxiety. In fact, you are never happy because you don’t know what will come and thus anxiety is inevitable there.



In the next part, we will get to know from HH about suffering.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

adam neate - the unusual street artist



I watched the CNN news yesterday and they featured the story about an unusual street artist, Adam Neate. What differentiate him from other graffiti artists is he leaves his canvases in the streets.










Adam used recycled cardboard boxes as canvases. Most people on the streets do not bother (or perhaps I should say appreciate) his artworks until they were told that Adam's work worth ₤10,000 a piece.

Despite his new found fame, he will continue to do what he normally do (leaving his artworks on the streets).

Here's a video of him at the HYPE exhibition.

Feb 1, 2007

Q&A about Buddhism - part 3

This is a continuation from part 2.

Q: How does this help us? The practice of Buddhism will not make us less impermanent.

A: It will not make us less impermanent, but it will give us the certainty that, in our coming lives, we will have less suffering. The practice of Dharma, of religion, means – briefly speaking; avoiding non-virtuous acts; and performing virtuous acts. When you behave in this way, it is obvious that you will be happier in the future.

Q: Does it mean that, since we expect less from this life, we will also suffer less?

A: Yes, that too, but more important, by thinking about impermanence we will be moved to practice Dharma quickly. The thought of impermanence helps us to speed up our path a great deal.


Q: What are the six realms and their sufferings?

A: As I said before, no matter where you are in Worldly Existence, you are suffering. Suffering is of three kinds: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the suffering of conditioned existence. The suffering of suffering is when you have a headache or something like that. It is simply suffering which everyone accepts and thinks of as suffering. Then the suffering of change is the suffering undergone through perception of change. You are with friends today but you have to depart; when you go, you meet enemies. Nothing stays, and seeing this, we experience the suffering of change. The suffering of conditioned existence means the unsatisfactoriness of worldly activity. We do many things in the world but are never really satisfied. There are always more things to be done, which we cannot do and this frustration is suffering.

The lowest of the six realms are the Hell-realms, of excessive heat and cold, and the 'neighbouring hells' which are also states of great suffering, and which last for incredible periods of time. The cause of these states of suffering is hatred. Then there is the realm of hungry spirits who are tantalized by food and drink they cannot swallow. This is the result of desire and stinginess. The animal realm is well known to us and birth there is caused by ignorance. The human realm, too, we know. The fifth realm is of the demi-gods who are constantly engaged in war with the gods, out of jealousy and who will thus naturally suffer in their next lives. The gods seem very comfortable. They enjoy great pleasures and immensely long lives, but sooner or later experience old age and death. As they have done nothing but enjoy themselves, they will not have created the merit to achieve high rebirth and will fall into states of great suffering. The three lower worlds' beings experience the suffering of suffering exclusively; humans experience all three, but chiefly the first two, while the gods suffer mainly the last two.

The last of the Four Recollections is of Karma, the law of Cause and Effect. In the Buddhist view, everything we have today and everything we do has a cause in the past. In fact it is said that if you want to know what you did in the past, you should look at your present situation; whether you are rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, this is the result of past actions, as the future, whether happy or otherwise depends on what you do today. Everything you do today will produce a result in the future. If a tree's root is medicinal, the flowers, the leaves, the bark and everything that grows on the tree, will be medicinal, and like this, an act that grows out of the opposite of desire, aversion and ignorance will produce happiness. If the root of the tree is poisonous, then everything that grows on the tree will be poison, just as acts of desire, aversion and ignorance produce suffering.

In the next part, I will extract a simpler Q&A about the importance of human rebirth. We'll also look at whether we should think a great deal about impermanence.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

TARA - Congrats JoeZab!

Some people don't think Joe Jer & Zabrina deserve to win The Amazing Race Asia (TARA) 1 compare to Andrew & Syeon or even Sandy Francesca.

Well, I have to say that the girls are able to keep their composure and played it smart. You can be winning all the other legs but if you are not cool (and smart) in the final race, chances are you are going to give away the #1 spot to someone who does. And this makes JoeZab the winner of TARA. They played it smart while Andrew&Syeon and SanFran struggled to find their way out of Kuching to Santubong. Instead of hiring a taxi (they were given USD150 at the beginning of the race) like what JoeZab did, Andrew&Syeon stucked with their Lonely Planet guide.

Anyway, kudos to the all-girl Malaysian team!

Jan 31, 2007

celebrity tutors wanted

If you read the Education pullout on Sunday Star last week, you definitely won't missed the article entitled Wanted: Sexy Tutors.

Tuition business in Hong Kong is very competitive. Almost every tuition centre able to predict what questions will be asked in exams. Hence, the head of Modern Education, Ken Ng said that to differentiate themselves from other competitors, they sell sex appeal (of course along with teaching ability and knowledge).

Well, Ken Ng is not really a good looking tutor himself. But chances are you won't missed the dashing former model, Frankie Tam, who teaches Computer and Information Technology. This guy, a celebrity in Hong Kong, has a very impressive resume both academically and professionally.



Our local tuition business is equally competitive. I don't mind if the business owners here use the same marketing tactics (or gimmicks) to attract students as long as they provide quality education. I would love to see the emergence of some fresh celebrity tutors instead of the boring Sunny Yee.

Amazing Vista Walk Hunt

The people at Crystal Edge did a very good job in sending out reminders to participants of the Amazing Vista Walk Hunt. Not only I received a reminder email but each of my team members actually received a double text messages to remind us about the event on Saturday.

I actually split up my existing hunter friends so that we can have a better strategy with two teams. We sucked in the previous hunts. We don't have expectation to win but just to gain some experience, have more right rather than wrong answers and most of all, hoping for some good freebies to take home with (dear organizer, you know what to do!).

My team no is lucky 23, comprising my Sis, Bro, a friend and of course, yours truly. So, anyone of you joining the hunt, see you guys there.

Jan 30, 2007

Q&A about Buddhism - part 2

A continuation from yesterday's interview with HH Sakya Trizin.

Q: Your Holiness, how should we practice?

A: At the beginning of all Buddhist practice come two very important things: meditation of the Four Recollections and taking Refuge.

The Four Recollections are of the difficulty of getting human rebirth, of the impermanence of all Samsaric things, of the sufferings of Worldly Existence and of the law of Karma, which means of Cause-and-Result.

Generally speaking, it is very difficult to be born as a human being. We think that there are many human beings, but if we compare our numbers to those of other beings we realize how few we are. (For instance, in each of our own bodies there are millions of germs, microbes, viruses ad so on). So statistically the chances of attaining a human life are very poor. In any case, there are many places of rebirth, which are of no use to a being, as he will be unable to meet with the Buddha’s teachings in them. There are eight unfavorable places of birth: the realms of hell, of hungry ghosts and of animals, of barbarians, places where religious teaching is incorrect, where there is no Buddha, certain God realms and the realm of dumb people. Yet even if we get a human rebirth, there are ten necessary pre-conditions: it is necessary to be born in a place to which the Buddha has come, a place in which the Buddha actually taught the religion, a place where the teaching is still alive, where the teachers are kind enough to teach, and where there are still Buddhist followers such as monks and lay followers. There are also five external circumstances required of oneself: one must not have committed any of the five limitless downfalls, as this would create great obstruction.

This difficulty is explained in other ways, also. The cause of human rebirth is the performance of virtuous acts and keeping correct moral conduct, and since very few people are aware of this, human birth is rare by its cause. By nature, it is much easier to be born elsewhere. The difficulty is illustrated by an example: imagine a blind tortoise living in the ocean. Floating on the surface of the ocean is a yoke. The tortoise comes to the surface only once a century, yet he stands a better chance of putting his neck in that yoke than we do of being born in human form.

The recollection is of impermanence: the Buddha said, “The three realms of existence are like a cloud in autumn: the birth and death of beings is like a dancer’s movement; a being’s life is like a waterfall, like a flash of lightning in the sky; it never stops even for a single moment and, once it starts, it goes inevitably to its conclusion.” Everything is changing: outside the seasons change; spring gives way to summer, to autumn and winter. Children grow into adults, adults become old; hair turns from black to white, the skin shrivels and life fades. Isn’t that so? Everything changes constantly. There is not one single place where one can escape impermanence. Since everything changes constantly, one never knows when the end will come. One may be in perfect health today and yet die tomorrow. We know two things of death: it is certain to come and we have no idea when it will come. It could come at any moment and there are many things, internal and external, that can cause it. Thus, if you want to practice Buddhism, you must realize that it is necessary to start immediately. You can never be sure of a tomorrow in which to do anything.


In the next part, HH will answer on how the practice of Buddhism will help us.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

ugly groovy froggy

Read it from Offline Geek about Roxik's dancing figure. So, I drew mine. Introducing the the ugly Groovy Froggy!

Jan 29, 2007

Q&A about Buddhism - part 1

Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. The Q&A published here is based on the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana".

I have a very good book called "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by Singapore Buddha Sasana Society which featured an interview with His Holiness Sakya Trizin along with many other short articles. Instead of circulating the book (which might get lost along the way), I believe I should just share it in the blogsphere.

The Q&A with HH Sakya Trizin is my favourite part of the book. I find it helpful especially for you guys out there who are new to Buddhism.

Q: Your Holiness, why should we practice Buddhist teaching?

A: I would like to answer this by describing the three types of persons who practice Buddhism. Generally speaking, from the smallest insect on up to the most intelligent human being, there is agreement: all want happiness and all wish to avoid suffering. The majority of human beings do not understand what the cause of suffering is, or what the cause of happiness, but in the teachings of Buddhism and in their practice, you will find the answers to these questions.

Q: What are the causes of suffering and happiness?

A: The Ratnavali of Nagarjuna says, “Every action arising from desire, aversion and ignorance produces suffering: every action arising from the absence of desire, aversion and ignorance produces happiness.”

Now, as I said, there are three kinds of people. Like all other beings, the lowest person wants happiness and wants neither suffering nor rebirth in the lower realms of existence, so he practices Buddhism to create the causes of rebirth in the human realm or in the heavenly realms of the gods. He does not have the power or the courage to leave Worldly Existence completely. He only wants the best parts of Worldly Existence, he wants to avoid he worst parts, and that is why he practices the Buddhist religion: in order to get a higher rebirth.

Now the middling sort of people understands that the whole of Worldly Existence, no matter where one is born, is suffering by its nature, just as fire is hot by its nature. He wants to get out of it altogether and attain Nirvana, the state that is entirely away from suffering.

The highest person realizes that, just as he himself does not want to suffer, and does want happiness, so also do all living beings have the same fears and wishes. He knows that, since we have been born again and again from beginningless time in Worldly Existence, there is not a single sentient being who has not been our mother and father at one time or another. Since we are that close to all sentient beings, the best person is one who practices Buddhism in order to remove all these countless beings from suffering.


In the next posting, we will continue to get to know how we can practice Buddhism.
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