Difficult life conditions and low education level don’t make a being bad or immoral

Difficult life conditions and low education level are neither something good nor bad. It doesn’t make a being good or bad.

People might easily relate crimes and criminals with those who live in difficult life conditions or have low education level.

There are people might use the difficult life conditions and low education level as an excuse to commit crimes or immoral conducts.

But, difficult life conditions and low education level don’t make anyone a bad being or a criminal, to commit crimes or immoral conducts.

Those who might have difficult life conditions or low education level, but are endowed with integrity, self-respect and self-control, they strive diligently to improve oneself and one’s life condition, through right livelihood, morally and rightfully.

There are those who might have easier life conditions and higher education level than many others are not necessarily be free from greed or won’t be committing crimes and immoral conducts. Out of greed, they would lie, cheat, steal and harm other beings. Out of pride and arrogance, there are those who believe they are more superior than other beings would discriminate and abuse other beings whom they believe are inferior than them.

One must be endowed with integrity, self-respect and self-control, so that one won’t be over-powered by greed to commit crimes or immoral conducts, disregard the living condition and education level that one has. One must be endowed with wisdom and compassion being free from ignorance and egoism, to be free from pride and arrogance, discrimination and abuse.

There’s no superiority or inferiority. All are merely composition of elements and will decompose into elements. All are impermanent and selfless.

Those who are free, are not determined by any life conditions or education levels, and they don’t need to plead any recognition or acknowledgement from any other beings, to be ‘somebody’ who needs recognition or acknowledgement.

And this is nothing to do with religion or spirituality.

May all be free.

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Seeking freedom through the knowledge of life

Why does my family has to suffer so much even though they are really good and kind-hearted people? They don’t do bad things and they have helped many people whom they know and don’t know from the past until the present. They give and give without discrimination and never expect gratefulness or rewards in return for the kindness and friendliness they shown to others, or from those who receive kindness and friendliness from them. Friends and relatives and strangers took advantage of my family’s kindness and friendliness, until they got themselves into lots of unnecessary problems and troubles where everyone in the family is affected physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

Why did my childhood best friend kill herself even though she had everything she ever wanted? She came from a wealthy family background. She was intelligent, highly educated and knowledgeable. She had a high paid job and was financially independent. She had a wide social network, friends and family in her life. She did all the activities that she liked to do and went for holidays in places that she liked to go. She also had her childhood dream came true about having her own children as the greatest achievement and happiness in life.

It’s because happiness and freedom from suffering is nothing to do with being good and kind-hearted, or do good and don’t do bad, or attaining high level of education and accumulating knowledge, or having high income and success in career, or having dreams come true and achieving whatever we want to achieve that we think it will make us happy, or give us happiness.

Education and knowledge might provide the useful information, facts and skills for people to do something in life to live and survive and interact with other beings in this world, and to build a society with all the high-tech conveniences coming from the latest technologies, engineering and inventions. They might help to improve quality of life and influence our way of life and conduct. But receiving education and accumulating knowledge as well as different types of qualifications and certifications doesn’t guarantee that the mind will be free from ignorance, confusion, corrupted thinking and selfishness, or know how to make wise decisions, or won’t behave selfishly and ignorantly, or won’t experience suffering and unhappiness.

Educated people are not necessarily be free from dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, feelings of hurt, and fear, or won’t be engaging in immoral conducts and violent behavior. There’s no guarantee that those who have been receiving education on morality will uphold morality. It’s a personal awareness and conscience with self-control and self-restraint that one would refrain oneself from engaging in immoral conducts or activities.

For example, there are laws in some countries that would punish convicted thieves by cutting off their hand(s). The risk of getting their hands cut off will not stop the thieves from committing theft, although if the thieves are caught and prosecuted under those laws, it might be physically challenging for them to commit theft again without their hands. But, there are thieves that don’t need to perform theft at the scene personally, or with their hands physically, and theft are still existing everywhere and anytime. With their hands cut off under those laws might let them experience inconvenience in everyday life in return for their actions of stealing, just like how they cause financial, physical, mental and emotional damages and inconvenience to those whom they steal from, but it doesn’t necessarily remove greed from their minds, or stop them from stealing again and again. Those who disagree with inhumane treatment or physical punishment for criminal say that people needs to receive proper education to reduce crime rate in the society. But receiving proper education on ‘Do good and don’t do bad’ doesn’t necessarily will remove ignorance, greed, desires of craving and aversion, and the urge to cheat and steal from the criminal minds. Meanwhile, all kinds of inhumane treatment and physical punishment also don’t guarantee that the criminals would be free from ignorance and won’t commit crime again and again.

Living in the world of many ignorant minds that generate all kinds of stupidities in the society intentionally and unintentionally, we might feel frustrated and annoyed by many things that are not in our control to be the way that how we would like it to be. We feel angry or disturbed by some thinking and behavior that are contradicted with our thinking and belief about what is right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, appropriateness and inappropriateness.

We think we are more intelligent than other people that we can change the world or the society to be the way we think it should be. The more we try to change the world to be the way that we want it to be, the more frustrated and disappointed we become. It’s because none can change another being’s ignorant behavior. None can free another being from ignorance. Study under the greatest teacher in the world and receiving all kinds of worldly knowledge also doesn’t guarantee that one will be free from ignorance and suffering. One can only change and improve oneself, and free oneself from ignorance through one’s effort of persistent self-discipline, self-control, self-awareness, self-inquiry and self-realization.

The cause of suffering and unhappiness is ignorance. Ignorance is not knowing the truth of life existence, or who we really are. Suffering, and the freedom from suffering is unrelated to whether we think we are good or not, knowledgeable or not, well-educated or not, religious or not, spiritual or not, well-cultured or not, and believing in God existence or not.

By learning, knowing and gathering lots of information, facts and skills about this and that doesn’t mean that the mind is free from ignorance. We can be highly educated and knowledgeable about many things in the world that we live in, we can read and write and speak many different languages, we can be kind-hearted, friendly and sociable, we can be doing many good actions and not doing anything that we believe as bad actions, we can be very talented and creative, but because of ignorance, we might still be determined, disturbed and affected by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, whether it’s something that we like or dislike, agree or disagree with, and we experience suffering of unhappiness, grief, frustration, irritation, depression, discontentment, disappointment, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, feelings of hurt, guilt, regret, animosity, humiliation, insult, ill-thinking, ill-will, doubt, fear and worry.

Knowing how to build a beautiful and practically functional house doesn’t guarantee one and those who live in the house will be peaceful and happy. Knowing how to save lives through advanced medical skills and effective medicines doesn’t guarantee one and those whose lives were saved will be free from ignorance, unhappiness and suffering. Those who perform charity and those who receive charity also doesn’t mean that they will be free from feelings of hurt, anger, jealousy, discontentment, disappointment, fear and worry, and be peaceful and happy.

It doesn’t matter who we think we are, or what we are, we will experience suffering and restlessness if the mind is functioning under the influence of ignorance.

Ignorance brings along egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and all sorts of impurities which is why we experience suffering and restlessness. It is nothing to do with whether our lives, or the world, is the way that we think it should be, or not.

It doesn’t matter what kind of social status we think we have in the society, and what we know or don’t know, our minds constantly react towards all the perception of names and forms through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, based on the conditional thinking and belief in the mind under the influence of ignorance. Suffering and restlessness is the responsibility of the mind itself for being ignorant of the truth of names and forms, when it generates attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all the impermanent names and forms that it perceives, or comes in contact with.

Whenever the mind comes in contact with the objects of names and forms that it likes and agrees with, it generates clinging and craving towards them. Whenever the mind comes in contact with the objects of names and forms that it dislikes and disagrees with, it generates aversion towards them. When the craving and aversion is not being gratified – when it is getting what it doesn’t like and doesn’t want; when it doesn’t get what it likes and wants; when it is losing what it likes and wants, the mind reacts with all sorts of impurities like dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, animosity, feelings of hurt, fear, worry, and so on. The mind is suffering from its own reactions of impurities.

By learning how to free the mind from ignorance and impurities, and attaining the knowledge of life through mind purification, self-inquiry and self-realization, will lead us to unconditional peace and happiness, disregards what is the condition of our lives and the situation of the world we live in. We will have peace and be happy as we are, undetermined by the impermanent changes of names and forms, pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and different types of thinking and behavior that our minds agree or disagree with. We adjust ourselves to adapt and accommodate any life conditions and situations, and not expecting life to change into something that can accommodate all our desires of craving and aversion.

If the mind is under the influence of ignorance and egoism, and generates attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all the impermanent qualities of names and forms to be identifying as ‘I’ and ‘my life’, then even though everything might be the way that we like it to be, or nothing is the way that we don’t like it to be, our minds will still be restless and anxious if there is attachment towards what we like and don’t like, as we will have fear towards losing the things that we like and want, and we don’t want the things that we like and want to change into something that we don’t like and don’t want, even when they are not happening or don’t exist in the present moment. There is fear towards old age, sickness, separation from our loved ones, coming in contact with the ones whom we don’t like and disagree with, not getting what we want, losing what we like, getting what we don’t want, disability, and death. And everything will change and pass away, whether we like it, or not.

It is the awareness of being able to see the truth of things as it is and allowing the truth to be what it is, and being free from egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion and all sorts of impurities, that allow the mind to be in peace, disregards all the impermanent changes that are happening ceaselessly inside and outside this body and mind, which are not in the control of ‘I’ to be the way that how ‘I’ would like it to be. The body and mind depends on so many elements to be existing and functioning, they don’t belong to ‘I’, not to say all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences perceived through the senses.

We make use of the existing knowledge, information, facts, skills, talents and creativity that we have to perform actions that we think and believe would be beneficial to ourselves and the society, but without attachment towards our actions and the results of our actions. We are not determined by our actions and the results of our actions to be who we are. We just do our best for what we think is the best, and allow the world to evolve in its own way and rhythm.

Freedom from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion is the real freedom of unconditional peace and happiness beyond all the impermanent qualities of names and forms.

The world is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, neither a happy place nor a suffering place. It’s how the mind reacts towards all the names and forms that it perceives through the senses that generates the ignorance of duality, personal identity and separateness. All sorts of fear and anxieties arise from duality, personal identity and separateness. It’s not because of the names and forms that we perceive or experience are being bad, or wrong, or negative, or unhappiness, that generates restlessness and suffering in us. The attachment, the identification and the desires of craving and aversion towards all the names and forms that the mind believes as good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, happiness and unhappiness, is the real cause of suffering.

Suffering exists as long as the mind is under the influence of ignorance. Suffering doesn’t exist when the mind is free from ignorance.

Freedom of the mind is beyond the freedom of thinking, actions and speech in the society, or beyond any physical and mental limitations. We might be restricted by some forms of physical and mental limitations, and are unable to think, or do, or say what we would like to think, or do, or say in our personal life, or in the society, but it doesn’t stop us to achieve freedom of unconditional peace.

There is a saying of “Do what will make us happy” circulating in the world of social media. Somehow, freedom to do whatever we like to do that we think will make us happy, is not the real freedom, as there are people who find happiness, or enjoyment, or excitement in performing actions that hurt themselves or other beings, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

May all be free.

About separateness, racism, discrimination and hatred…

Unity doesn’t come from making everyone going to the same school getting the same type of education, nor learning and speaking the same language, nor having the same economical and social status, nor having the same cultural values, religion practice, personal thinking and beliefs. It is about learning to allow and respect everyone to be different from one another, to have the different qualities of names and forms, allow everyone to be learning and speaking different languages, to have different economical and social status, cultural values, religion practice, personal thinking and beliefs.

The schools with different types of medium in our multi racial country is definitely not the cause of separateness, racism, discrimination or hatred as some people might think it is.

In the school with a specific medium that emphasizes on certain traditional cultural values, language and writing gives us the opportunity to learn about the important traditional values comes from a certain cultural background, and to be able to preserve and pass on all these cultural values, language and writing to the next generations. At the same time, we are also being taught to respect other people with different languages, cultures, religions practice and ways of living, even though we don’t know much about all these different qualities of names and forms that everyone has. And it’s not necessarily that we have to learn and practice about different types of languages, cultures, religion practice, or ways of living, for us to show respect to anyone who is different from us.

No matter how much differences there is among the different languages, cultural backgrounds or religion practices, we do have one same traditional humanity values that is beyond all the different qualities of names and forms, which is in-discriminative love, tolerance and respect, to live in peace and harmony among all beings who are different from one another.

I had my primary education in Chinese medium and secondary education in Malay medium. My elder sister had both her primary and secondary education in English medium. My two brothers had their primary and secondary education in Malay medium.

In school and outside of school, we all have friends from different religions, racial, educational and cultural backgrounds. In our Chinese family, we have mix marriages with Malays, Indians and Europeans. We have many mix parentage cousins.

If we don’t have French friends, or Thai friends, or any other different nationalities friends, it doesn’t mean that we discriminate or hate them. It is not necessarily that we have to have personal friendships with all and everyone to show that we are free from discrimination and hatred. It is no matter we have personal friendships with different types of people or not, we can be friendly and open-minded towards everyone, allowing and respecting all and everyone to be who and what they are.

Even though in Chinese medium schools, the majority of the students are Chinese, as the Chinese would like to preserve and pass on the Chinese language, writing and culture. In Tamil medium schools, the majority of the students are Indians, as the Indians would like to preserve and pass on the Indian language, writing and culture. And in Malay medium schools, the majority of the students are Malays, as the Malays would like to preserve and pass on the Malay language, writing and culture. But, this doesn’t mean that we dislike and disrespect other different languages, writings and cultures, if we don’t learn or know about them. This is not a reason for anyone to have discrimination or hatred towards other races who are different from us in this country.

For example, although we don’t know about some other countries, or their people, language and culture, but that can’t be a reason for us to feel separateness from these countries, or to discriminate and hate their people, language and culture. We don’t need to know about certain country, their history background, language, religion and culture, for us to be friendly and respect the people from that country, who are having different qualities of names and forms from us.

Our parents, our ancestor’s culture, and our schools teachers (at that time) never told us or taught us to have racism, or discrimination, or hatred towards others who have different religions, races, social status, educational and cultural backgrounds from us.

Sometimes, even among the same nationality, same race, same culture, same religion, speaking the same language, or having the same education, people still have discrimination and hatred among each other. This reflects that discrimination and hatred is an issue of personal thinking and behavior (the egoism). It is not because of the existence of different types of nationalities, races, cultures, religions, languages and educations.

Even if we get everyone to be learning the same language, same culture, same religion practice, or same education system, but that doesn’t guarantee that everyone will have the same thinking, behavior, personality, values of life existence, and will be respecting and live in harmony with each other. Again, it’s about respect all the different qualities of names and forms that everyone has, and it’s not about only to have one same quality of name and form in everyone.

Once we allow and respect all the different qualities of names and forms to be existing in this world, do not try to interfere with one another different types of thinking, beliefs and behavior, nor try to change others who are different from us to be like us, then we are going beyond all the qualities of names and forms, realizing the oneness or non-separateness of attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, which is the true nature in all beings of who we really are.

My parents never went to schools, but we were taught to be kind, to love and respect one another without discrimination, and be tolerant towards others with different skin colours, race, appearances, languages spoken, thinking, beliefs, religion practice, social status, educational and cultural backgrounds. My parents gave helps to many people who needed help or assistance without any discriminations or preferences of race or religion. My parents taught us that we don’t have to look down on ourselves or anyone else, nor do we need to envy anyone else. Whenever they came in contact with beings who encountered difficulty and needed help, they gave their assistance without asking anything in return, even though they were not educated nor rich.

Our schools teachers (with different races and religions) and the text books in different mediums at schools (at that time) taught us to be tolerant and respect one another, and to learn how to live in harmony with other people within the family, the neighbourhood, the country, and the world. We were taught to help each other when in difficulties. We were never taught to feel and think that we are somehow more superior than anyone, nor be arrogant, discriminative, racist, or to have hatred towards others who are different from us.

Our teachers (at that time) didn’t teach us to discriminate or to hate anyone, not to our family members, our neighbours, our community, other schools students, other races, other religions, other cultures, or other nationalities, even though at schools, we learn about history, geography, science, mathematics, arts, morality and living skills in a specific language and writing. We have different types of competitions at our own school and inter schools, but we were also being taught about sportsmanships.

We don’t need to be able to speak specific language or to practice their culture and beliefs to show love and respect to other people who speak that particular language, and having that particular culture and beliefs. Love and respect is beyond languages, cultures and beliefs.

We might say that our thinking, beliefs and behavior can be influenced a lot by our parents, our friends, our neighbourhood, our community, our teachers, our education, our cultural values, our religion practice, our social network, our political leaders and public medias, but that only happens to those who are not free from ignorance and impurities yet, who are still identifying with the mind, the thinking, the beliefs and the egoism that attached to certain qualities of names and forms to be who we are.

If we know the truth of names and forms, if we are free from ignorance and impurities, if we let go of the identification with the mind, the thinking, the beliefs and the ego with certain qualities of names and forms, then we are who we are. We are not affected, nor influenced, nor determined by any different qualities of names and forms, ideas, thinking, beliefs, cultural and religion practice.

When we know the truth, we don’t need to identify ourselves with any qualities of names and forms. If there’s no identification with the different qualities of names and forms, there’s no separateness between us and everyone else. It doesn’t matter from the appearance, we all are having different types of qualities of names and forms.

Separateness, racism, discrimination and hatred exist in us due to individual veil of ignorance in the mind. Because of ignorance, we are over-powered and influenced by impurities in our own mind, especially fear, as well as our untrained mind is easily being manipulated and influenced by external ideas and information, social and public medias, and political influences. Fear is the foundation for separateness, racism, discrimination, hatred, jealousy, animosity, self-protection, defensiveness and offensiveness to arise in us.

If we are free from ignorance and impurities, if we know the true nature of everyone and everything, we won’t be manipulated nor influenced by any ideas, information, social and public medias, or political influences coming from anybody or any organizations, whether they are true or false, whether they are right or wrong.

Have peace in ourselves by allowing and respecting other beings to be different from us, and not trying to make other beings to be the same like us.

There is nothing wrong with everyone having different qualities of names and forms. It is okay to be different from one another. We just need to allow and respect ourselves and others to be different from one another. Beyond all the different qualities of names and forms, all beings have the same attributeless, nameless and formless nature.

If we don’t want to see discrimination, racism and hatred in our society, then stop being one. Most of the time, we don’t realize ourselves is also being discriminating when we criticize others for their cultural values, religious practice and beliefs that we disagree with and dislike. If others want to be discriminating and racist, that is their freedom of thinking, action and speech.

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 2

My life stories – Part 2
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I went to an English medium preschool kindergarten for one year before I entered a Chinese medium primary school for six years. I met and mixed with other children who were same age as me and from multi races. I made some good friends and learned about life from these friendships.

Whether I was born this way, or I was brainwashed and taught to be like this, there is something that I always strongly believe in – truthfulness and honesty. I was always very careful about not committing any wrong or immoral doings. If I realized I did something that I believed was wrong, I would admit my wrong doings and ask for forgiveness immediately. Though during the two years when I was disturbed by unhappiness, anger and hatred, I had intentionally hurt other people through my thoughts, actions and speech, especially to my parents.

Sometimes I forgot to do my homework, I went to inform the teacher that I hadn’t done my homework and gave my palm to the teacher to discipline me with a stroke of caning. When the marked exam paper came back to us, I would go to the teacher and asked for remarking and to deduct the extra points if I found out that the teacher mistakenly gave me more points than it should be. We don’t take what doesn’t belong to us. This might be referred as “stupid honesty” by some people, but it’s a great virtue in the teachings of Buddhism and Yoga.

If I found something left unattended in the school compound, I would bring it to the teacher. When the cashiers in the shops carelessly gave me extra change, I would give it back to them so that they wouldn’t get into trouble for losing money from the cash machine. I wouldn’t take anything that doesn’t belong to me. I wouldn’t accept any gifts or receive help from anyone, unless I knew the person who wanted to give me something or help me was pure and sincere.

I was very self-independent and self-initiative. I didn’t need my parents to wake me up in the morning to prepare myself to go to school. I was always punctual and be responsible for myself and all my duties. I always kept my promises that I made to other people. I would show up on time after I had arranged a date to meet up with my friends, even if the date was months later. I would do what I said I wanted to do for myself or for others. That’s why I don’t simply make promises to anybody unless I know I can do it.

My primary school’s class teacher was aware of the truthfulness and honesty in me. One day, she granted me an honour for being honest – In front of all the classmates, she stood up for me and guaranteed that I am an honest and truthful person who won’t tell lies or steal anything, to defend my innocence because of a little incident that happened in our classroom that day.

Someone in the class had been stealing things from most of the classmates from time to time. Things had been missing from our bags or desks. My colour pencils and water bottle also went missing.

One day, my classmate who sat in front of me told our teacher that his exercise book was missing. And so, our teacher called upon everyone and asked whoever took his exercise book to come forward and return the book. He or she would be excused and be forgiven. But there was nobody stepped forward or said anything. The entire class was never been so quiet. Then the teacher asked everyone to search their bags to see if there might be a chance that the exercise book was in one of our bags. I didn’t know what happened, but surprisingly, I found the exercise book in my bag.

Without any fear or guilt I told the teacher and everyone that the exercise book was in my bag and I honestly didn’t know why it was in my bag. I might have put it in my bag accidentally, or someone might had put it into my bag unintentionally or intentionally. For me, it really didn’t matter because I knew I didn’t take it or steal it. But then everyone had the same reaction of thinking that I must be the thief who had stolen the exercise book. The entire class went from silent to noisy. Everyone was pointing their fingers at me and whispering to each other, as if I was guilty for stealing the book. But because I was always being truthful, honest and straightforward, my teacher immediately stood up for me and defend my innocence. She asked everyone to believe in me that I was innocent and I was an honest and truthful person that I wouldn’t tell any lies or steal anything, and she would guarantee that. And so, everyone stopped judging me, but respected me for being a truthful and honest person from that moment.

Since then, my belief about being truthful and honest became stronger than before. By observing truthfulness and honesty will gain such trustworthy and respect from everyone. If somebody who was jealous of me tried to accuse me for something that I wasn’t responsible for, or if someone questioned about my honesty, the people who knew me would believe in me and stood up for me. That’s the power of truthfulness and honesty.

For the first three years in the primary school, I was very bad at Mandarin, but I was good at Malay and English. This was because I had went to an English medium kindergarten. I was good at mathematics and science too. I always paid attention in the class and would asked the teacher immediately after class if there was anything that I missed out or didn’t understand. I seldom study after school, but I could get good results for the examinations.

I was never being close to my two brothers and my sister. We seldom played together when I was growing up. I guess one of the reasons was because there were many years difference between me and them. It’s also because they went to English and Malay medium’s school. They didn’t know Chinese at all. And so, they couldn’t help me in my homework and study as all my subjects were in Chinese. Anyway, I didn’t need anyone to help me in my homework and study. I never needed to go for extra tuition classes like most of my classmates.

I also had very good image memory to remember what I had read. I didn’t need to revise what the teachers taught us in school everyday. I just needed to go to sleep early on the night before the exam, and got up at three in the morning. I browsed through the text book while listening to some music. I would remember page by page of what I had read and could answer the questions exactly like a print out from the book. Though I never bothered about the results and placing in the class, I often had very good results from the examinations. Maybe it was because my parents never pressured us and we didn’t feel that we needed to compete with other people or among our siblings. I never felt that I needed to be good enough so that I would receive love and attention from my parents. My parents never tried to bribe us with things or presents to encourage us to get good results in school examinations. They just told us to do our best. Even though my parents never pressured me to achieve good results, I was self-initiated to do well most of the time, not that I needed to prove to my parents or myself, but naturally, I just did well because I wanted to. My parents loved us the same even though my brothers weren’t very smart and always failed in most of the subjects in school examinations. I am really glad we have such parents.

On one of the celebration days where everyone cooked and ate glutinous rice dumpling, my family had came together to tease me. The lesson was we shouldn’t eat too much glutinous rice dumpling at one time no matter how delicious they are, as eating too much glutinous rice is indigestible and will cause drowsiness. When I came back from school that afternoon, I ate a few of the dumplings my mother made for the family and they were really delicious. Not long after eating, I felt really drowsy and I went for a nap which turned into a deep sleep for a few hours.

Then my mother came to my room to wake me up and told me that it was time to go to school. I was still in a very drowsy condition. I was blur-blur. I didn’t know what was going on and I believed what my mother said to me. I turned to look at the clock, it was six something. Usually the school bus came around that time in the morning to pick me up. At that moment, I heard the bus went passed our house.

I panicked. I was never late for anything. I quickly jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, ran back to my room and changed into my school uniform, took my school bag and ran out to the gate, and stood there waiting for the school bus to come back for me. I remembered that I was telling myself, “I haven’t done all my homework yet!”

When I was running to the bathroom which was located at the back of our house, I passed by the living hall and the kitchen. I saw my brother was in the living hall pumping the kerosene lamp for the house. Our house didn’t have electricity supply yet at that time. Meanwhile, my mother was cooking in the kitchen. Usually they wouldn’t be awake and do all these things in the early morning. When I ran out to the gate I also saw some children were talking and playing around. Usually nobody would be playing and making noise in the early hours. It all didn’t make sense, but I didn’t suspect anything because I was panicking about being late for school. I still hadn’t a clue what was going on. I was so blurred by the drowsiness and so naive to believe what my mother said to me – “It’s time to go to school.”

I was standing in front of the gate in my school uniform with my school bag.

A few moments later, everyone started to look at me and laughed. My mother came out from the house, grabbed me with her strong arms and carried me back into the house while telling me the truth that it was evening time, not morning! It was dinner time. That’s why there were children playing out there! That’s why my mother was cooking and my brother was pumping the kerosene lamp to light up the house! And the school bus that I heard was sending school children back home.

Until now we still remember what happened that day and we would laugh about it.

I was an outgoing girl who liked to ride my bicycle and went everywhere. I danced most of the time, climbed up the trees, and played with boys and fought with them playing “kung fu fighting”. I played football, basketball, baseball, badminton, flying kites and catching butterflies. I also played rope jumping, hide and seek, slippers throwing, hopscotch, ‘five stones’, and etc. I liked to hang out on the sand hills and the wood factory on top the hill opposite our house. Sometimes I hung out at my friend’s house. I was the leader of the gang of our friends in the village. Among of them were two sisters named Ya Li and Ya Fang. They lived further inside the village closer to the Klang river. There was a Sikh family who had a small cowshed near the river. They bred some cows for fresh milk and sold it in a big milk can placed on top of a bicycle going around the village. I liked to organize games like playing court case, where each of us played a character in the court. We also liked to sing in the school bus. Because of my energetic activities, I had several scars on my knees coming from falling onto the ground while playing and fell off the bicycle many times.

One day, I went to my friend’s house to sleep over. I brought my own pillow and bolster with me. I walked to her house which was about 200 meters away from our house. I was seven years old then. I was so embarrassed that day because I had peed on her bed in the middle of the night. I apologized to her parents the next morning. Everyone knew about it and teased me for that incident and laughed about it for some time. Though this childhood good friend of mine whose name was Lye Wan didn’t go to the school that I went to, she and I had spent so much time together as we grew up together in Kampung Pinang. We lost contact for more than 23 years after the village was gone. One day, she found me on Facebook in 2009.

I befriended a few other kids who were living in the same village, but not from the same school or taking the same school bus. I was good friend with a girl named Shi Huey who was five years younger than me whose house was right behind our house. She always came over to my house to play with me. She fell down on our terrace and lost two of her front teeth on my twelfth birthday’s party. I also knew a girl named Sally who was one year older than me. She came from a Catholic family. I spent lots of time hanging out with her for many years. She became a hairdresser and had her own hair salon near Old Klang Road. I even rented a room in her hair salon to set up my first aerobics dance studio when I was eighteen years old.

There was a Punjabi girl named Sonny who lived opposite my house had picked up Cantonese from being friend with me. We spent lots of time together cycling in and around the village. Sometimes I went to her house for Punjabi meal and she also came to our house for Chinese meal.

I was good friend with a brother and sister named Ah Sang and Ah Fong who were a few years younger than me. They lived next door to our house and we have the same surname. Our surname ‘Lai’ was not a common surname. In the Chinese tradition, those who have the same surname will treat each other like brother and sister even though they might not related to each other. They always came over to our house and we liked to climb up the big cherry tree in our garden. I even organized a ‘bank saving account’ game. I was the banker and a few of my friends would save some coins with me every day. I kept a note book and wrote down the amount of money that they gave me, or took out. Sometimes we would use the total savings to buy some snacks and shared among ourselves. Those were such happy days.

All these childhood happy days disappeared when my family suffered from financial problem for some reasons related to my sister and her late husband, which made me very angry and unhappy for more than two years. Anyway, he died from a horrific work accident years later.

During the financial difficult moments in our family, I had shut myself off from everybody. I was full of anger and hatred and I was very depressed. I didn’t want to talk to my family for a long time. I locked myself in the bedroom and danced every night for a few hours to release my unhappiness. I developed a very special affection for small insects during that time and would prefer to talk to little insects especially bugs, than talking to people. I went out in the middle of the night and sat on the hilltop by myself watching the stars in the sky. I was not afraid of anything.

It is true that a person who is full of anger and hatred will not be afraid of anything, not even God, Devil, or Hell. When a person has intense anger and hatred in the heart, he or she doesn’t believe in anything at all. And so, what is hell and what is God are meaningless to this person. I prayed to Devil when I was very angry and I cursed everything and everyone, including my parents, my family, the people on the street, the sun, the moon, the stars, and God, even though all these things, people and the universe has nothing to do with my unhappiness. I was so unhappy, angry and full of hatred.

My second elder brother was three years older than me. He was also disturbed by our family financial problems and became very cold and rebellious. He couldn’t forgive our parents and our sister and her late husband for many years. I left school a year before the secondary school final year, which was a pity, but I never regret about it because in the end, wisdom and peace and happiness are not coming from school education, but it’s coming from within ourselves through life experiences and self-realization. No doubt that school education is very important to learn how to read and write and communicate, to learn about different languages, cultures, religions, sports, morality, geography, history, mathematics, science and professional skills for living, but how many schools teach us how to be happy and have peace, or teach us how to transcend suffering and be free from unhappiness, ignorance, anger, hatred, greed, fear and worry?

We may have read a lot of books, have many talented skills, speak many languages, know about many things, have been to many places in the world, and have many friends, but it doesn’t guarantee that we will be free from suffering of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, doubts, fear and worry, and will have peace and be happy in life.

I was lucky to be able to transform myself and came out from misery that had kept me in two years of darkness. I started to talk to my parents again and showed love and care for them. But my brother was continuing to be very unhappy for many years. Only until recently he forgave my family and started to care for my parents again just a couple of years before my mother died, which was good for him and my parents. Or else, he would regret for the rest of his life, if he hadn’t forgave my parents before my mother died, and she wouldn’t have peace as well.

Though I wasn’t a sociable person at school I made a few true and sincere friends after spending six years together in the same class at the primary school. We continued to be friends and kept in touch with each other once in a while after we finished primary school. Sadly, one of them killed herself in 2004 just before I went to India for the Yoga Teachers Training Course. Her sudden death gave me a great reflection about life, suffering and happiness.

She was born into a broken family. Her father was a wealthy businessman. Her parents were forced to get married as her mother was pregnant with her at young aged. They were separated when my friend was just a few months old and both of them had formed another family after their divorce. Both her parents abandoned her. Her grandmother took her in and looked after her. She was very grateful for that and she loved her grandmother very much, which was also the reason why her depression became more serious when her grandmother passed away. She was one of the top graduates of higher education. She worked as a marketing manager in a big advertising company, and smoked at least 2 packets of cigarettes a day.

Her first marriage lasted for one year. She married to the man whom she thought she knew very well after being best friend for 10 years. The husband was well-educated and had a high income nine to five office job, just like some other well-educated men.

Not long after they were married, she then realized her newly-wed husband was like a complete stranger to her. She started to discover many things that she didn’t know about him. She was so shocked with the truth of his real personality and was deeply disappointed with their relationship and marriage. She didn’t know that he was such an irresponsible man until they lived together sharing a life under the same roof. She found out that her husband was addicted to gambling seriously. She knew he gambled occasionally just like all the other Chinese community, but she thought that was just one of the leisure activities that most Chinese like to engage with. He liked to go to Genting Highlands Casino for gambling. Unfortunately, he lost a lot of money and started to borrow money from the loan sharks money lender. He lost all the money borrowed from the loan sharks and didn’t have the money to pay back the loan. He secretly went to her father and borrowed a lot of money from him. He lied to her father about why he needed to borrow so much money and convinced him not to let her know about it. He took all the money borrowed from her father to Genting Highlands again for more gambling hoping to win back what he had lost, but instead, he lost everything he had. He couldn’t pay back the loan sharks and was in debt with the father-in-law. And so, what he did? He ran away without telling her and went missing for many months without any contact from him.

What worst was, he didn’t just run away. He also took all her savings in cash which she kept in the house. She didn’t want to keep money in the banks. She said she didn’t trust the bank. She taught she could trust her husband, but she was wrong.

She only found out the truth about her husband when the loan sharks came to her house looking for the husband, and threatened her to pay back the money borrowed by her husband who had ran away shamelessly. She also found out about the husband had borrowed lots of money from her father. She was completely heartbroken.

Meanwhile she found out that she was pregnant, which the husband had no idea about it. She was supposed to be very happy for having to be pregnant because she always wanted to have her own children ever since she was a young girl. She strongly believed that a woman’s life wouldn’t be complete until she had her own children to form a perfect family. She was very worried for her unborn child to have such an irresponsible, selfish and shameless father. She made a very heart-breaking decision. She went for an abortion out of great anger and disappointment. She felt guilty for that afterwards and had regretted it for the rest of her life. She filed a divorce after her husband’s disappearance for many months. He showed up one day to sign the divorce paper, but seeing him again was like putting salt onto the existing wounds.

Few years later she met another well-educated man also with a decent high income job. She fell in love and got married again. Not long after they were married, she got pregnant not once, but twice. She was very happy to have her own children that she always dreamt of. She was determined to quit smoking while she was pregnant for the sake of the baby’s health. She continued her two boxes of cigarettes every day as soon as she stopped breast feeding.

She suffered post natal depression after the first baby. She recovered, but not for long. She wanted another baby to fulfill her wish to have a few children to complete her perfect happy family life. She was pregnant again two years later and gave birth to another baby boy. We went to her house to visit her and the baby. She didn’t talk about her problems. She seemed happy with her wishes came true and was very loving towards her new born baby boy. Her husband seemed like a good gentleman.

A few months later, one of our classmates called me in great distressed and told me that she had passed away about a month ago. The three of us used to hang out together frequently before her second marriage and the two pregnancies. We didn’t know what had happened to her or how she died. Nobody knew anything about her sudden death, not any of our classmates. The husband didn’t inform anyone of us about her death and the funeral. I had called her and texted her many times before and after her death, but there was no reply. Then only I knew why she hadn’t returned my calls and messages. Because she was dead. We couldn’t keep in the dark and wanted to find out what had happened to her.

My friend called her husband. The husband didn’t want to tell her anything about her death, but just said that the two boys were living with his parents in Penang. We were looking for an answer. Finally, we found our answer from an old newspaper dated November 9th, 2004. It was really heart-breaking and painful for us to read the article about her death. The article was about how she had jumped from her 15th floor apartment’s balcony and fell to her death instantly in the morning about 10.30 a.m. on November 8th, 2004. The neighbours told the reporters that they always heard arguments from her apartment about money issues.

We knew about her death in December 2004, and I went to India in early January 2005. I was very sad about her death, but I was more determined to find out the truth about suffering and the path of liberation from suffering. She had chosen what she wanted to do with her life. I respect her decision.

That was the past. I continued my journey in search for real peace and happiness.

Thanks to the Dhamma, Madonna and everyone who had inspired and helped me to come out from miseries. Thanks to my parents who didn’t question me for my bad behaviour and they didn’t abandon me and were very patient with me, and continued to love me and care for me, gave me their supports to pursue my dreams in dancing, and for me to have the opportunity to teach aerobics classes for making a living to support myself and my parents.

My mother was the driver who sent me everywhere to teach aerobics classes. She waited in the car park until I finished teaching and then sent me back home because I didn’t learn how to drive yet, not until I was thirty three years old. I had fear of crossing the road and fear of driving in the past because I was involved in a few car accidents as a passenger when I was a child. It would take me very long time to cross over the road. I would wait until there was completely no cars in sight to cross the road. But now it’s a different story. I love and enjoy driving very much. I’m free from fear. After I learned how to drive and bought a small car to travel in and around Kuala Lumpur, I managed to teach a lot more aerobics classes which led to a higher income that allowed me to have a little bit of savings for myself after giving money to support my parents’ living every month.

And thanks to myself, who had uplifted and loved myself and saved myself out of the ocean of ignorance and suffering.

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