New Moon Mandala of Gifts

29 June 2022

New Moon Mandala of Dancing Ganesha on carved soap stone surrounded by energising red, orange & ochre. 🙏

Last week a friend shared a handful of bell peppers that he bought from the market with me.

The pretty ochre, orange, red and yellow remind me of the Sun.

Two days ago, the florist added a handful of red roses to the jasmine garlands I was buying from him.

And so a new moon mandala has come into being because of the generosity of two men which manifests as casual giving.

May the New Moon renew our heart and make our burdens light, for our benefit and for the benefit of all sentient creatures.

Bell peppers & roses encircle the Lord of Wisdom, Ganesha, to help us overcome all obstacles.

Releasing our Enemies

18 May 2022

This morning while making a sage smoke offering, I looked up. A straight line of clouds had formed in the sky, as if extending the smoke from the scallop shell in my hand to the heavens.

My prayer this morning was to be free from past hurts and wrongs, that we have experienced since childhood, whether we deserve them or not, and whether we’re conscious of them or not.

Working closely with youth & young kids allow me to see that hang ups, if not managed wisely, can ruin relationships with ourselves & others.

Disappointments in warring parents can result in trust issues and constant craving for assurance.

Humiliations suffered in the classroom or family can lead to overcompensation at work, fixation for validations & hunger for vindications.

All these cravings and fixations drain us, while leading us to attach ourselves to entities, people & organisations that can cause us further damage.

So this morning at 4am, the cats meowed, the moon blasted her light on my face and together they forced me out of bed to play the Ganesha mantra to let Wisdom in. And I finally understood “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” has such a centering effect on me because it’s an invitation to release my enemies.

The cloud extends beyond the picture frame, as if facilitating my intention to let my enemies go so that I no longer become prisoner of fear & pain.

Becoming Conduits

29 April 2022

Shelter cats, Cauliflower Boy & Hoonie aka Divina, were recently treated to a day at the cat spa, courtesy of groomer turned friend, Ong Hong Kuen.

Arrival of Cauliflower Boy & Hoonie aka Divina from Metta Cats & Dogs Sanctuary to Mad About Grooming for their cat spa pampering.

Cats are by nature self cleaning until old age and other infirmities strike. Much like humans, the untidy old woman or dishevelled old man we see at bus stops or food courts must have been dashing once.

Underneath all that stains is a fluffy cotton candy chest & belly. For want of grooming skills & tools, it is still better to leave an animal unkempt than injured or bleeding.

On each shelter trip, my friend,Marcus Tan for all his adherence to principles of aesthetics, makes it a point to check on the animals that may not receive as much attention, because they’re not as cute as their younger & healthier counterparts.

Hoonie aka Divina after her first cleaning by my groomer friend Ong Hong Kuen when she visited a few months ago. This time she decided to take her to her salon where she has access to tools, warm water, blow dryer etc.

In fact, it was him who got me started on cleaning Divina’s face and untangling her knots while he held her. Unlike dogs, cats are more wary and less cooperative with fur cleaning & nail trimming.

Besides, I’m no groomer and the wrong choice of tools can lead to dire outcomes. Therefore I understand for want of skills and equipment, it is still better to have an unkempt looking animal than an injured or bleeding one.

That day at the shelter we did what we could with Divina and as Cauliflower Boy was not familiar with us, we decided to ask for professional help.

And the Universe answered swiftly.

Within a week, our professional groomer friend turned up at the shelter and took both Cauliflower Boy & Divina in her car back to her salon for some needed spa treatment. ON THE HOUSE. She would hear nothing of payment, transport charges etc.

Under her loving hands and in the calm ambience of their surroundings, both cats had an enjoyable session and a complete makeover.

Cauliflower Boy’s milky white bib returned. Once the stains came off, his fluffy belly shone like cotton candy. Divina’s ears cleared and her persian fur regained its gossamar texture.

The true nature shines after the dirt comes off.

Little did we know that all the above changes were perhaps in preparation for a miracle about to manifest.

Yesterday, we received news that Cauliflower Boy got adopted!!!

Cauliflower no more! He is has a new name called Bernie to match his real appearance.

Yes, the boy cat with the deformed ear hence the name Cauliflower, and with a low adoptability potential, has found his home!

And as if to signify a departure from his past afflictions, Cauliflower Boy’s adopter has changed his name to Bernie. ❤️

As for Divina, she will continue to receive love and generate miracles for others at the shelter until such a time a special human appears for her.

In a couple of days, the New Moon will be upon us. May our recent witnessing of how two disadvantaged cats receive new lease of life, also encourage all who read this post that renewal is as much a state of mind and a matter of intention as it is dependent on external factors.

And so may we maximise our capacity as conduits for positive transformations & renewal regardless of how bleak the situation may appear.🙏

Full Moon Medicine Meditation

18 April 2022

Full Moon Medicine Mandala. May the full moon bless all medicines & medical equipment, and the hands that use them to relieve & heal all sentient beings.

This recent full moon observation on 14 April 2022 was extra special to me. Not only it was Good Friday, but it also marked New Year for friends of Nepalese and Khmer heritage.

The confluence of the above high holidays got me on the lookout for auspicious items that would align with the idea of death & resurrection, release & renewal to dedicate a full moon mandala.

However, the reality was eversince Emmanuel the Cat was diagnosed with diabetes a month ago, I’ve been preoccupied with syringes, insulin vial & blood glucose tracking.

As someone with a nervous disposition, I was at first terrified of handling the sharp needles and getting the dosage wrong for Emmanuel. This was apart from having to locate the injection site without making the cat suspicious & without injecting myself accidentally.

Emmanuel has been listening to Medicine Buddha mantra & receiving insulin shots twice daily.

It got to a point where my anxiety levels were tied to the fluctuations in Emmanuel’s blood glucose readings.

Doubts filled my waking hours and even in my sleep. Did I really insert the needle correctly? Did the insulin go under his skin? Did I over feed him?

Yesterday I had a mental breakthrough of sorts. I realised I can and should medicate my 15-year old cat to the best of my ability & means, but the medical outcomes are not mine to decide.

That acceptance also liberates me as a caregiver from the fear of not doing enough or not doing it right. Such fears when left unchecked, can turn mean & morph into accusations against the patient for not trying hard enough to get well.

And this morning, as if to show his approval of my approach to his medical issue, Emmanuel turned around to lick my hand as soon as I pushed the plunger to deliver the insulin under his skin. 🙏

Permission to Purchase Less

22-3-22

On the first full moon of the Year of the Tiger, a new supermarket opened one unit away from the tuition centre where I work.

Heritage Supermarket Opened on the first Full Moon of the Year of the Tiger.

Heritage, as the supermarket is named, is a paradise of instant massala tea of my favourite brand, spices that evoke memories of my first & only Indian neighbour from my childhood, and lentils of every colour and size.

But most of all, this little supermarket unlike its larger competitors, allows customers to buy their potatos, tomatoes, onions etc in small quantities.

The Heritage cashier plucked a sprig of curry leaves from a bunch of fresh ones to add to the items I bought.

Big grocery stores pre-pack perishable goods to prevent customers from damaging them. This practice also drives sale and gets rid of stocks fast. However, pre-packing of fixed quantities can also cause customers to buy more than they need and eat more than they should, while leading to food wastage when expiry dates dawn.

It is perhaps not enough to harp on food wastage while others starve, and expect our relationship with food to improve when packing & unit measurement practices to justify costs to consumers are not taken into account.

Also food wastage for me is a kind of disrespect shown to natural resources & the human labour behind their cultivation.

Whenever I’m required to buy 6 carrots instead of 2 at bigger supermarkets, the cash strapped person who can really only afford to pay for 2 comes to mind.

Thus I’m grateful to all the little supermarkets and provision shops that allow me to buy just what I need. In return, I will handle their produce with care and promise not to quibble over prices.

May Goddess Laskhmi bestow great prosperity on the proprietors of Heritage and small businesses, so that nobody goes hungry and nothing is wasted.

A small slow cooker I bought last year and the opening of Heritage this year have revive my interest in lentil soup making.

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. 🙏

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.

Full Moon Mandala of Lapis Lazuli, Sodalite & Mother of Pearl

20 Oct 2021

Abalone shells salvaged from kitchen trash become receptacles of light

Like the shell’s iridescence remains unaffected by its outward cragginess, may the full moon lend us her light so that the benefits of deeds performed in honesty and with wisdom will continue to shimmer long after the performers are gone. 🙏

Lapis Lazuli mala was gifted by a former student. I bought 2 sodalite hearts in Harmony Gems some time back. One has travelled to Jordan and then Zambia, and the other is in Singapore with me.
With love from Zambia. (11-10-21)
While thinking of whether I should use blue for this full moon mandala, my friend sent me a picture of her garden altar and the sodalite heart I gave her.
Then 7 days before the full moon, an invitation to a former student’s art studio confirmed my intention. (13-10-21)

Rabbit Lantern for Mid-Autumn

20 Sep 2021

The rabbit lantern of my childhood is alive & well. Pic source: shanghai.com

Of all the lanterns that were bought for me in my childhood, I remember the rabbit lantern best for the following reasons:

Firstly, my dad bought it. Secondly I was born in the year of the hare. Thirdly, its frame was wrapped in shredded white crepe paper to simulate fur. Fourthly, and most importantly, the whole lantern was set ablaze as soon as the candle that was meant to light it from within tilted, causing fire to meet paper.

Did the wire holding the candle in place not do its job? Or was my dad too clumsy in the lighting ceremony?

You can imagine the shock & pain of a 5 year old seeing her beloved rabbit lantern which she had been hugging all afternoon going up in flames and turning into ashes in seconds.

Me at the age where a paper lantern rabbit was my whole world. (1960s)

I was inconsolable. My young dad was traumatised.

In the mid-autumn festivals that followed, he would buy only battery operated lanterns for my brother and I. And no more crepe paper rabbits!

This evening I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lantern design that I loved half a century ago still exists!

The current model now has wheels, presumably for greater stability to minimise accidents like mine.

Come tomorrow night, I’m sure somewhere in some homes celebrating mid-autumn, paper lanterns will still catch fire and go up in flames.

There will be tears over the destruction & loss of a much loved and perhaps even irreplaceable design, but that shall not keep us from seeking solutions to continue the celebration.

Mid-autumn full moon in Taipei (2019)