“Know Your Role!”

14-1-22

Getting in and out of a vehicle for me require a certain level of coordination & focus.

One day I hailed a cab along the road. When the cab driver slowed down for me, the bus driver behind us sounded the horn while I tried to get onto the cab as swiftly as possible.

In the calm cocoon of his seat, the thin & bespectacled driver with his praying mantis liked arms must have picked up my panic of not being fast enough and getting in the way of the bus.

“Miss, please take your time and get onto my cab safely,” the cab driver alerted me authoritatively even as the horn continued to blare.

As he drove on, he continued, “We all have our jobs to do. Your job is to get on my cab safely. My job is to take you to your destination safely. If the bus driver can’t wait & decides to blast his horn it is his right to do so. And maybe he’s in a bad mood. But you don’t have to let the sound make you frighten & lose your balance, and I musn’t drive recklessly because I’m irritated by the driver.”

Last week the young boys at the tuition centre asked me if I knew who The Rock was. It was their way of checking if someone of their grandmother’s generation knew anything about their interests.

“Know Your Role!” –
The Rock ( Dwayne Johnson)

To their amusement, I not only could tell them The Rock’s real name but also put on one of his signature poses. One boy chortled admiringly when I bellowed The Rock’s famous slogan , “Know Your Role!” 😂

Recalling The Rock’s, “Know Your Role,” brought back memories of the cab driver’s insightful lesson on what doing our job, fulfilling responsibilities & expressing our rights can mean.

So regardless of how long it takes or how hard it is, if it’s a path that we’ve chosen and a role we’ve taken on, we must play it out faithfully, even if someone else’s role is to specialise in derailing us by placing obstacles in our way.

Hand-dyed Eggs

12-1-22

Birthday gifts from my 78 year old mother on my 58th birthday.

My mother was 20 years old when I was born. She is now 78 years old.

This morning she dropped by to give me a red packet and 2 red eggs to wish me happy birthday. According to the lunar calendar, today is my Chinese birthday.

Besides the red eggs, my mother also gave me a plant.

I took a few pictures of the hand dyed eggs and gave thanks for my mother who is hale & hearty even as I turn 58.

So here’s to many more hand dyed eggs to come, as I wish my mother and all mothers a happy & healthy life.

This Morning’s Rainbow

4-1-22 (as seen at 7.47am)

The rainbow introduces children to colours and students to science. In turbulent times, the rainbow is a symbol of promise, hope, equality and continuation of love.

I love Singapore’s founding father’s speech where he exhorted us to follow that rainbow and find our pot of gold.

But my favourite rainbow is found in the “Song of the Windhorse” by Venerable Sangharaksita.

“I am the Windhorse!
I am thought at its clearest
Emotion at its noblest,
Energy at its most abundant.
I am Reverence. I am Friendliness.
I am JOY.
Plunging or soaring, I leave behind me
A rainbow track.”

Last night I asked the new moon to strengthen our mind so that our thoughts & emotions may have the clarity for us to act wisely & compassionately.

And the Windhorse must have heard my prayer too. 😊

Last night’s amethyst mandala offering to the new moon below the windhorse prayer flags. 🙏

Thanksgiving Lights

31-12-21

It had been raining all day and by 4pm on New Year’s Eve I was still clueless as to how my mandala display to mark the last evening of 2021 should look like. So Iike my cats I decided to take a nap.

Then I dreamt I was in a dark alley and dared not walk because the ground was wet & slimy. Just as I was about to backtrack, a friend came by and cheerfully offered me a lamp. The fire which he held in his hand danced merrily and I felt my heart warming instantly. When I woke up, I kind of knew what my mandala for New Year’s Eve should look like.

So on this final evening of 2021, I found exactly 8 butter lamp holders to match the 8 points of the “OM” bearing lotus to herald the blossoming of new beginnings.

It is my wish that as 2021 draws to a close may the challenges we have endured the past year not make us fearful or bitter, but cause greater courage, higher wisdom & deeper compassion for ourselves and all sentient beings to flower as we cross into 2022.

New Year’s Eve Mandala of 8 pointed lotus bearing Om surrounded by 8 butterlamps. 2 days later, a friend would contribute $55 to round up contribution to $800 for street animals in Nepal.

Amethyst Mandala For First New Moon of 2022

3-1-22

Shining sun and sparkling clouds emerge on the first new moon of 2022, after 3 days of bone chilling cleansing rain.

We greet the first new moon of the year with an amethyst mandala.

Amethyst from the French Alps given by a friend who travelled there in Dec 2021.

May the new moon strengthen our mind to meet all thoughts & emotions with crystal clear clarity for our highest good and that of all sentient beings.

Blessed Scarcity

29 Dec 2021

Today I offered the last spoonful of the incense powder purchased at Boudha in 2017. This concoction of herbal wonder was unceremoniously scooped and dropped into a plastic bag for a few rupees.

The last spoonful of juniper incense bought from Boudha in 2017.

Having limited mobility & lacking confidence in my online shopping capabilities have strengthened my appreciation of resources. I learn to use every thing sparingly regardless of its price or how it comes to me. For me a bottle of soya sauce from the local supermarket has the same status as a bottle of truffle oil from a specialised store. Both are precious.

Boudha Stupa on the full moon day of Dec 2017. I took this picture without making any special effort and it turned out so beautiful. Each time I look at it I feel Buddha smiling at me.

Today’s incense from Nepal is the last of its lot that I personally bought.

Despite its age, it seems to have gained potency as its wafting fragrance triggers many pleasant thoughts & memories.

As I watched Fire transform the juniper into healing aromas through the dancing smoke, I sent wishes of goodwill to all sentient beings. Among which was just as we aspire to abundance, may we also be able to accept scarcity for its hidden blessings.

Incense from a little shop facing the Boudha Stupa. I gave some away and kept a couple of packets for my own use. Yesterday was the last spoonful from this lot bought in 2017.

There are no mistakes

21.12.21

Sometime in September I decided to dedicate prayers of healing to all sentient beings, instead of letting anxieties consume me when reading updates on Covid-19.

The string of blue lapis lazuli beads which tracks my prayers came from a former student who had bought the mala online “by mistake” a few years back.

My practice soon got me interested in books related to the Medicine Buddha.

Since 2011, I’ve called my trips to Nepal , “Medicine Journeys,” in honour of the modest collection of relief supplies we could carry to help people who are helping street animals there.

This November while scanning the book shelves at a friend’s place, my gaze landed on the last row where a book title, “In Search of the Medicine Buddha – A Himalayan Journey,” called out to me.

In chapter 1 of the book, I was greeted by a picture of the Boudha Stupa! And the first sentence went, “The Great Stupa of Boudhanath rises like a wish-fulfilling jewel in the eastern Kathmandu Valley.” 🙏

Following that, names & landmarks leapt off the pages at me as if to give me hugs! Asan Tol, Langtang, Terai, Swayamambu, Buranilkantha (Budanilkantha) Rhododendron, Bakhtapur and many familiar words assured me that I haven’t lost touch with the country.

A raw cut rose quartz given to me recently resembles the outline of Nepal.

Like my former student who gave me his lapis lazuli mala, some kind of “mistake” was at play in the purchase of this book as well.

Seeing my interest, my friend decided to let me have his book in exchange for a donation to be decided by me to an animal shelter of my choice. So on the full moon day that just passed I did just that in his name.

As we mark the Solstice today and give thanks for what has turned out right for us, may we also be able to accept wishes unfulfilled, because sometimes what we consider a mistake could turn out to be a great help to others.

Solstice Sunset 21-12-21

Feeding the Heart

16 Dec 2021

Before opening the cans of cat food, I make a short prayer of good health & freedom from illness for the shelter animals at the Metta Cats & Dogs Sanctuary.

The mundane “click” of a can opening is magic to the cats’ ears. Very quickly, a choir of meows will accompany me as my food trolley approaches.

The younger cats even scale the wire mesh of their enclosure to try to meet me at eye level. The older ones pace at the door, waiting for their gourmet lunch.

This sweet being just wants to head bum you. (Metta Cats and Dog Sanctuary, Singapore)

I think the feline song & dance food ritual also blesses the people who donate food to shelter animals.

As I lock the safety gate behind me and unlock the inner gate to enter each enclosure with food offerings, eyes of labradorite, amber gold, citrine yellow and green agate follow me.

This citrine-eyed beauty just wants to sit close to you. She doesn’t need you to feed or pat her. (Metta Cats and Dogs Sanctuary, Singapore)

When plates of food are placed before them, many cats do not immediately start eating. Instead they will walk around their plates gingerly to sniff & study the content before feeding.

The nervous ones have to be coaxed before they will eat, much like how we will encourage a shy child at the orphanage or a lonely grandpa in a nursing home during meal times.

In every 3-4 cats, there will be at least one begging to be picked up and cuddled before he or she will get on with the business of filling the stomach.

It is hard to look away when a cat stands on her hind legs, places her paw on your knee and looks you in the eye. She needs more than food.

So even when you don’t wish to keep the others waiting, and you’re physically aching from all that bending, you’ll still pick this one up & hug her close to feed her heart.

A Dog’s Influence

8 Dec 2021

The son of my former neighbour who lived one unit below us in our old block used to stop by our door to pat Shoya on his way home from school.

Shoya wagging his tail at my parents’ home as my mom prepares for prayers to the earth god on chinese new year eve.

Now as a young working adult, after having finished his polytechnic studies, and served in the army, he recently adopted a dog from a local shelter.

Handsome dog, Nugget, reminds his adopter of Shoya.

He told me his nearly 8 year old adoptee reminded him of Shoya. They had met when he was volunteering. He wanted to give the shelter boy a taste of home like how Shoya found a home with me.

When he was still in primary school, this young man would ask me all sorts of questions about dog breed, ownership, licensing rules etc

Today is the 7th year of Shoya’s passing in 2014.

Recently I saw the young man gently guiding his handsome dog to step into the lift with him.

Looking back it humbles me to know that just by sitting quietly at the threshold to welcome a boy who passed by, Shoya was sowing the seed of a home for a future dog in need.
❤️🙏

Shoya and I at our old block. I hope one day we will meet again. He passed on in Dec 2014 when I was in Thailand. I didn’t have a chance to say “Goodbye”. In hindsight I think maybe he didn’t want to say goodbye.