Truthful Thursday

29 Oct 2020

Years back through an English assignment, a young boy revealed that he came from a single parent household. His father had been incarcerated for various offences.

“Are you sure you want to read your story to the class?“ I asked him to consider some of the more specific details he had written.

The boy who identified strongly with American gymnast, Simone Biles’ childhood said he wanted to go ahead. The class was very quiet after listening to him.

When everyone had left the room, the 13 year old boy smiled gently. His eyes glowed softly as he said quietly, “Now I don’t have to lie about my mother’s divorce and make up stories about my father anymore. And people can stop asking about my father during PTM (parent-teacher meeting).”

He also revealed that his father used to burn him with lighted cigarettes. The mother’s shame did not allow her abused child to speak ill of his abuser.It was their neighbour who called the police.

The boy and I agreed that because he could share the truth of his background, he wouldn’t have to be constantly on the lookout for people finding out.

After that episode, he put in extra effort in his writing, and often came up with new words to express his thoughts. Free from the fetters of shame and secrets, the boy’s mind flourished with new energy and he found his voice.

It was as if fragments of his fractured psyche were coming together. One of the words he “die die also must write” in all his essays and reflections regardless of its appropriateness and context is “beatific.”

And beatific means “rapturous joy” and “divine bliss”, his rewards for having the courage to make peace with the good and bad bits of his life.

To this day I remember the shine in the eyes of Beatific Boy as he was relieved of the baggage of lies.

May we adults try to live responsibly & truthfully to the best of our ability, so as not to burden children with our broken dreams, unfinished business and unceasing neuroses.

The Birth of Clarity

6 Oct 2020

Incense offering to the Sunrise at Nagarkot (Dec 2017)

I took 2 hardboiled eggs from the breakfast buffet and slipped them into the pocket of my winter top.

We were travelling down the hills of Nargakot to stay one night at the Airport Hotel in Kathmandu. It was 2017 and Nepal’s election year. All roads would be close to vehicles on the day we were flying back to Singapore.

I kept the eggs in case I came across a hungry dog or cat, or even a child. It can be traumatic for some of us to meet a hungry animal and have nothing to give. But instead of feeling sorry and helpless, I decided to fortify myself with food. Eggs in their shells proved to be most hygienic and practical in a situation like this.

Down the valley, the hotel check-in went smoothly. Then I rested while my travel mates headed out to Patan for some last minute exploration.

We would meet for dinner.

Dinner was still some time away when I woke up from my nap in the Nepalese winter.

The eggs I brought with me in the morning had become my sustenance till dinner time.

As I sat by the window gazing out at Tribhuvan Airport in the setting sun, it became clear to me that “what we do unto others, we do unto ourselves.”

Thus have I experienced that the giver is also the receiver.

World Animal Day 2020 Prayer Flag Blessings

5 Oct 2020

Handprinted Boudha Stupa on handcrafted lokta paper.

Yesterday 4 Oct was World Animal Day. In the morning I dedicated prayers for more kindness and care to animals. I offered flower & light to St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology & Animals.

In the afternoon I had the good fortune of presenting a set of new prayer flags to a friend who loves his adopted cats dearly.

Shortly after he got home, my friend unrolled the prayer flags. His cat, Sage, showed great interest in them.

After my friend had raised the prayer flags, Sage continued to show her fascination with the carriers of blessings.

Years ago, I took a picture of my dog contemplating the inscription bearing squares of blue, white, red, green and yellow, like this lovely ginger girl did on yesterday evening

This morning, much to my amazement, the same picture I was hoping to locate popped up on my FB memories.

My dog, Shoya, contemplating the prayer flags 6 years ago.

Sage Leaves & Prayer Flags

29 Sep 2020 (2 days to Full Moon)

Today we visited an animal shelter for cats & dogs.

I’m beginning to see life as a series of crossings all sentient beings have to make. Some crossings are very hard. Besides providing food and care for animals, we might help them cross from sickness and fear to more auspicious states through our prayers and personal rituals.

So I brought sage leaves and prayer flags with me to the shelter in hope that they might be of service.

After wiping down the cats, I came to the end of the shelter corridor where a stupa stood on a metal trolley.

Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. I took this shot in Dec 2019 on our last day there.

A stupa is sanskrit for a dome structure used for buddhist meditation or for holding sacred texts and relics. Stupas vary in size. Some are small enough to be placed on dashboards.

I think the stupa at Boudha in Kathmandu, Nepal, is probably the largest on the planet. Walking around it can cultivate wisdom and compassion. The stupa that needed cleaning today was about half my height.

As I was removing dust from the stupa with a wet cloth, a large orange cat suddenly hopped onto the trolley top. He began weaving around the stupa as if he was making a circumambulation with his body!

When I managed to peel him off the stupa, he wrapped his paws around my neck and started purring and rubbing his face against mine affectionately.

The stupa at the shelter.

I lit a sprig of sage leaves and passed their white plumes of aromatic smoke over and around the stupa after the cleaning was done.

Then holding the burning sage, I walked down the length of the corridor and paused at each animal enclosure.

The cats were fascinated. Many came towards me and lingered at the wire mesh to be closer to the smoke blessings.

Even their 17 year old dog snoozing at the doorway got up and joined us.

At the section that housed the dogs, we were barked at. Then as their eyes followed the smoke and their ears picked up the prayers, many calmed down.

A girl dog with gentle eyes wagged her tail merrily at us and wouldn’t let us out of her sight.

As I prayed for the animals to be healthy and happy, and to be released from all causes of difficulties in life, I realised I was essentially praying for myself.

Towards late afternoon, my friend raised the prayer flags over the entrance to bless everyone.

We learnt that the shelter caregiver’s late mom had been wanting to get a set of prayer flags for their shelter since they moved here. But the daily upkeep of the place and looking after animals left them with little time or energy to go looking for prayer flags.

My friend initiated this shelter visit about 2 weeks ago. The sage leaves were given to me recently. The prayer flags were gifts from years ago. I learnt that today is the feast day of the archangels.

All these seemingly random occurrences have come together to facilitate my intentions to support animals and their caregivers. And it brings me comfort to know that the prayer flags put up today will be fluttering under the light of the mid-autumn full moon in a day’s time.

Newly raised prayer flags for the shelter.

Andy, my Wounded Healer.

24 Sep 2020

Andy with the bandages that show what it takes for him to move around.

I first met Andy, the cream coloured paraplegic canine at Street Dog Care in the Boudha neighborhood on a full moon day in Dec 2016.

I remember how he let out nary a whimper as Junu applied medicines on his leg sores that had been rubbed raw by the abrasive contact between his skin and the metallic part of his wheels.

Andy on the full moon of Dec 2016 at the former centre.

His wounds reminded me of the ones I got on the back of my leg from scrapping the metallic caliper that I wore in my childhood.

Much to my delight, we saw Andy again in 2017 and 2018 when we visited Nepal.

Back in Singapore, I would look out for my hero in wheels whenever the centre uploaded videos of their in-house residents.

The last time I touched Andy in Dec 2018.

When we visited their newly located centre in 2018, I remembered Andy making a bee line for hugs. He was very determined to monopolise all the cuddles. El assured me that nobody would dare bully my dear Andy because he was fully capable of defending himself on two legs.

Last night I received news of Andy’s passing. I knew that day might come sooner for him than for his healthier companions, but still.

While searching for a favourite photo of me and Andy to light a butter lamp, I chanced upon another photo that had been missing for so long that I thought I would never find it. It was a photo of a student and I in my younger days on a happy occasion.

Long lost photo found through Andy.

Even in his passing, the little dog had helped me locate a long lost picture to remind me to keep smiling. ♥️🙏

May all the affection & care that precious Andy boy received from Street Dog Care in this lifetime facilitate his passage onto an auspicious realm. 🌈🐾

Circumambulating the Big Box (of Compassion)

22 Sept 2020

Ollie gives the mooncakes a final QC before the send off.

I was sending a parcel of mooncakes that might cheer up a friend who hadn’t been home to Singapore for some time.

The courier company was located in the Big Box Mall which was now deserted as many businesses had closed and vacated.

The island wide safe entry requirements had closed off a number of exits and entrances in the cavernous building. Coupled with a lack of signages, and with the premises boarded all around, I couldn’t tell which was the correct drop off that would lead me to the courier office.

My Grab ride was only $ 7. And for that little sum, the Grab driver drove me around the circumference of Big Box compound 3 times, and once up into the multi-story car park, hoping to find someone who could direct us to the correct door so that I wouldn’t have to walk too much.

“No, no, no! We have to find the right entrance,” he insisted, his hands clutching the steering wheel firmly.

Boudha Stupa of Compassion & Wisdom in on 8 Dec 2018.

While we were circumambulating the expo-like compound in his car, he told me about the ridiculous lengths he had to cover during his recent medical visit because the usual access routes in the hospital were blocked off for safe entry/ exit purposes.

He didn’t want the same thing to happen to me.

When I pointed out a possible drop off, he kept asking incredulously,”Are you sure?”

Actually I wasn’t sure, but I felt it wasn’t fair of me to use up his time and energy like that.

I had to practically assure him that I would be alright, before he would let me alight. And for a brief moment, I thought I saw him calibrating in his mind if he could defy the rules and drive beyond the barricades just to ease my journey.

May my friend who asked for these mooncakes and gave me the chance to experience such uncommon compassion of a Grab driver be protected in all her journeys overseas.

And may the Grab driver be restored to good health. 🙏

Consecrating a TV Set

7 Sept 2020

7 days ago, a new TV set arrived to replace the one that had been broken since 2017.

It had taken me nearly 3 years to get a new a TV set. The hesitation was due to a character flaw that I noticed about myself.

About 3 years ago, when the old TV was still working, I found myself being overly critical of whatever I watched. I judged the actors for their looks and acting skills, the journalists for their pronunciations and so on. One day a voice in my head told me to stop committing speech sins.

So when the 14-year-old Toshiba TV broke down in 2017, I made a vow not to get a replacement till I could control my mouth.

Without a TV, I got used to watching less and listening more on my iphone. I would have mantras playing all morning. I would watch talks and interviews instead of shows etc.

In fact I got so used to not watching TV that I even toyed with the idea of putting a tanka or a spiritual painting in the space that was customised for a wall mounted TV. But the renovation cost of repurposing that space would cost more.

7 days ago when the technician asked me to test the new LG TV he had set up & programmed for me, a voice in my head said,”Play Tara mantra.” So I did just that.

So now I not only have a new TV but changing digital tankas and sacred arts to look at each time I tune to listen to mantras.

Flowers from Children Happy Teachers’ Day!

4 Sept 2020

Flowers not only beautify our life, but remind us to always bloom our best.

The first bouquet in my adult life was from a bunch of kids who accepted me as their teacher when I was just 23. What did I know about learning then?

Today, a bouquet of sunflowers from one of the students in the group that gave me my first bouquet arrived. ♥️🙏

A while later, a sunflower in the form of a dessert also came.

And my 76 year old mom got to enjoy the sunflower konyaku jelly with me.

I’ve like sunflowers since I was a young woman. And I’m very honoured that in my greying years, the kids have sent them to remind me to keep shining.

So here’s wishing all my friends, all the light and sweetness of life as embodied in these gifts from lovely adults who were once kids. ♥️🙏