Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Rolling Stone.

Sitting meditation may take many forms

Having traveled widely for a good part of my life I do not feel the need so much for a permanent residence nor do i care to keep pets or accumulate excessive personal belongings. I have avoided  often subconsciously making long lasting commitment with others as i often doubted myself in being able to keep them. I once practically lived in boxes and basement when I was going to college in Green bay, Wisconsin. IThe closest i came to having my own home was while living in an old farmhouse that was over a hundred years old and my landlord/owner was never around thus leaving to place to myself pretty much of the time. This farm house, if it is still around was located on Humboldt Road, about two kilometers from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. It was one of the most memorable times of my life living out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by cornfields in summer and the white of snow in winter.. 
Home is where the heart is, so it is said, but for me my heart has been all over the place and rarely does it seems like it was destined to settle down long enough. It was not because I loved to travel as much as I was pretty much forced to moved from one location to another out of necessity often against my will. But on looking back i am very glad that i had made the choice to live as i had willingly or otherwise. Today I see my past as very rich in experiences as well as much lessons learned about what it is like to be a drifter. It was both a curse and a blessing to be drifting from one location, one venue, one episode to another as life often offers many challenges that the normal person often does not know what it is like.
When one has been able to detach oneself from missing ones's loved ones, especially the children, one is practically free to weigh anchor and set sail, with no destination in mind, one set drifting for uncharted waters and where one ends a new life begins. As nothing in this life is permanent, being transient and in motion makes more sense to me than being stuck in one place for the most part of one's life. I have always maintained that the farther away one travels in the external world the deeper one travels into the inner being of oneself. A new environment, a fresh scene, new faces and characters, new routine in daily activities, all lend to a form of challenge for the mind to cope with and the intelligence to grow. 
It is said that a rolling stone gathers no moss as this may or may not be true, I feel like I have gathered a hell allot of moss along the way as evidenced by this Blogging, this never ending tale of the Cheeseburger Buddha. If memories serves me well, i can write an episode for every pit stop I had made throughout my journey in this life so far. I may not have gathered any moss, however i have sure sowed enough wild oats in my younger days wherever I hit a port. I have had many relationship that i have lost count with the opposite sex  most of which i would rather not recount. I have left many an unfinished businesses and cut off many dependencies that I may set myself free to move on. Now i am getting up there in my age I do not regret all that i have been through for better or worse; I only look at them as my 'grist for the mill', my compost for fresh crops to grow. Yes I have lived my life to the best of my ability and it may not have been all pure and simple, but it was all a part of who I have come to be.    

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Another Beginning.

From my window overlooking a part of Georgetown and the State Mosque.

I enjoy putting my thoughts in writing as it allows me to reflect upon the movement and the content of my mental faculty; my mind. I like writing it all down as it helps for me to keep a record of the course of my life and how it has changed or remain unchanged over the years. As it is I am in the process of making a major change in my life by moving in with my daughter who has rented a fully equipped apartment at the top most floor of the building overlooking a portion of the City of Georgetown as seen from the Scotland Road area or better known in Malay as the Batu Gantung area. On the opposite side the apartment  overlooks the Penang Turf Club on one side and the Kek Lok See temple at the foot of Penang Hill at the other. You can barely see the towering statue of the Goddess of Mercy or Kwan yin at the temple site. In between there is the Chinese cemetery that covers the hillside a waste of good prime land that developers must yearn to get their hands on but cannot and will not as there would be hell to pay as nothing is more sacred to the Chinese than their ancestral burial grounds.
It is peaceful and quiet up here, just the opposite of living at the Sungai Pinang house where the restaurant and catering business is a constant distraction with the never ending traffic as the background theme. There is no one to react to or answer to here other than my daughter and in essence i have what i have been asking for even if I had not planned it so consciously to happen. I have the peace and quiet and the space to do my creative work as well as my meditation practice. So as my friend at the fisherman's jetty said when i told him of my situation, "Hell, what's wrong with that? That's is the way it should be for you. Not this living with your cousins and putting up with all the noise and mental aggravations where you were at!"

A t sunset overlooking the Race track to the bottom right hand corner.

Yes, now i have my space to shift my life into a change of pace, to put to my spiritual practice with a little more intensity and do some serious Art while i am at it. Perhaps when i can afford it i will start to do some serious cooking for my daughter and I. Yes the wa
The kiving room with all the convenience. 
y I see it, life begins at 67 and it is never too late to change if it makes a difference for the better. All the pieces are in place, all I need is to take the plunge into this new dimension of existence and create something worthwhile yet in the process. Yes, there is really no planning to my life, I am destined to live life as it presents itself one moment and one dimension at a time and it is how i live it to the fullest that matters, When I say living it to the fullest, what i mean is to take it all in and make the best of what is available at the moment in time. To handle what worse case scenario that can or will happen to the best of my ability; always learning, always understanding. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Don't Look back- it's alright.

What is it that i am really aiming for or to be more accurate, what is it that i really want? To be honest, i do not really know as it often changes in time for one thing. I have no clue as to what i really desire for myself other than the normal needs of the common man that he may live day to day in peace and comfort. I cannot claim that i do not need much but i also am not in need of too much to find the comfort and peace that is needed. Perhaps at my age my desires have watered down to the bare essentials of having just enough to make it to the end when the end comes.
I can safely say that i have tasted life, the best as well as the worse it has to offer, I have committed as much sin as i have worked towards accumulating my virtues and to date i really have no idea why or what i am aiming for if I am asked the question what is it that you want with this life. Yes i will most probably say, I want to know who I am am, just like I have always been yapping all these while, but that too is merely a concept or a thought process that really has very little to live by. Yes i wish to become enlightened, just like the Buddha or close enough, but what does it really mean , to be enlightened or awakened; I am still finding out after all these years. So, do i really want o be rich like my twin brother who practically has all if not more than enough or do i really want to be famous like my friends in the Art world. These are material needs that if i had truly wanted I could have had them by taking the necessary paths towards them at an earlier stage in my life. But I had chosen a different route and the route has no defined path, it has been a route where there is very few road signs for me to follow; I merely followed my own instinct.
If i were to read backwards all my Blog entries, I am sure I will come to the starting entry with a feeling of being riding on a roller coaster of uncertainties an inconclusive mind trails. This whole Blog is a product of this thinking m,ind that projects it delusions in  the  effort to make sense out of all the non sense that it has experienced and to justify itself of all the bad moves and errors that it has committed along the way. Often it is like the flip flopping of a broken record telling and retelling the same old tale of what the moral of the story is all about. As for what i really want for myself, if i have to answer the question, it would be to live life to the fullest, experiencing each and every moment good or bad with my whole being and stepping out of it at the end totally drunk or dead sober with no rhyme or reason to attach myself to. I simply was born and i lived and having lived i die without much regret to look back upon.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Arriving at the End.

If there ever was a time i felt most energetic and full of vigor in my life was when I spent two odd years at the Green Dragon Zen Temple at Green Gulch. This was when I decided to let go of all of my past and embrace whatever came my way albeit physical, mental or spiritual; in short I threw caution to the wind. I started off with a debilitating effect of a serious form of pleurisy condition in my chest and ended up feeling like a super man by the time I had left the Zen Center.. My recovery happened gradually over a period of three or four months where i spent days and nights in pain in a small room that was formerly used as a cattle coral. The cold and wet weather of the coastal area along the Pacific coast did little to help but i survived. I was set and determined to rebound from my fall and Green Gulch was the place to do it  especially with the Soto Zen tradition of practice. 
Upon entering the practice session I was full of pain and anger and my head was in so much turmoil that I thought I was going insane. I had no one that i can turn to except the strangers who happened to be there at the time and we soon became friends as we realized that we were in the same boat, all needing some form of healing. I admit that i was a very sick man and very frightened of what the futre held for me as I have been estranged from my family back home in Malaysia for many years.I was alone and felt loneliness like i have never felt before and there i found friends, people who arrived at the place with the intention of taking a refuge and healing in the Buddha's teachings in the form of Zen Buddhism. This was where i truly began learning all about sitting meditation and it was also at the center that i started demanding of myself towards discovering my true nature. I have always assumed myself to be a Muslim as i was converted to Islam at the age of 12 and as it is said. once a Muslim always a Muslim. 
Being a Muslim and practicing Zen Buddhism with al its rituals of bowing and prostrating to the idols on the altar in the meditation hall was a spiritual battle in itself for me. But as one of my spiritual Instructors told me during our "Dokusan' or one on one talk with the Master session. " If you want to joint the club you will have to pay the dues." And he went on to to say that, " If you imagine yourself bowing to something then you are indeed an idol worshiper, but if you are bowing to emptiness, then there should not be any problem." Hence, with this understanding I moved on to dive into Zen Buddhism in the Soto tradition of Dogen Zenji and the American Zen Tradition of Sunryu Suzuki Roshi. I had my mini Satoris along the way and might even say that i was awakened at some point to a whole new perspective in looking at life from then on.
Zen Practice was like a 'spring cleaning of the mind' whereby mental states was fully laid out and dissected and analysed , scrutinized and let go of. The primary idea was to empty the mind of all its accumulations and to bring it into complete focus in the here and now facing what is. Zazen or sitting meditation is one of the most effective method of bringing the mind to a standstill or single pointedness. It is like watching the Astro Channel and switching from one to the next until the is no more to choose from or the mind becomes tired of the choices and gives in to silence and the emptiness within. To arrive at this state is no easy matter as some would take almost a life time of sitting and facing the wall for years of end and still not accomplish it. Essentially the key factor in sitting meditation is breath and the awareness of the breathing process. Watching thoughts rise and fall with every breath helps one to have a good sense of control over one's mental state. 
The sitting posture plays a very vital role in sitting meditation and the spine is kept into a locked position to allow for a direct flow of energy from the abdomen to the top of the head without any obstruction and this too is managed through proper breathing. To allow for a comfortable locked in position of the spine it is advisable to place a pillow or Zafu underneath one's seat which helps to raise the buttocks and push the spine upwards. This also helps to place your knees anchored squarely on the mat as you sit, solid as Mount Sumeru. Achieving the most comfortable posture while sitting is half the battle won while doing sitting meditation and this should in time become effortless.
When you enjoy your sitting meditation, you have arrived at the gates of consciousness where your experience of life becomes pure and simple with all its trappings dropped. You become one with life itself like you have suddenly found Love itself with every breath you take. Sitting meditation can bring you to the edge of your consciousness where you become one with all that is around within and without of yourself. This is the state of Satori, or Samadhi, a state of complete awakened mindfulness of being who you are.   

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Right and wrong is just a sickness of my mind.

I was once a Zen student living at a Zen Buddhist Monastery at a place called Green Gulch Farm aka. Green Dragon Zen Temple, located on Star Route One along the coastal road towards Muir Beach in Marin County, California. It was one of the most memorable times of my life that saw me through some very hard times as well as moments of brilliant lightness of being. I was brought back to life after suffering a very painful illness called Pleurisy where after a Yoga practice accident my lungs were filled with liquid and i had a very hard time breathing. Although it felt like it, i knew that it was not my time to die just yet back then , but i suffered tremendous amount of pain in my chest for a month or so surviving on pain killers and my own guts to survive I willed myself to self heal and transcend my pains. This happened at Green Gulch Farm where with the help and support of the Zen Buddhist community there i fully recovered.
What bought me to this past moment in my life? I was watching and listening to Mooji giving his Satsang at Rishikesh in India at an abandoned Ashram that once was the original Ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Transcendental Meditation Guru known World Wide in the sixties. In the video i noticed as in most of Mooji's Satsang Videos, there were mostly Europeans or perhaps Americans in the audience and very few locals. The veneration they give the Guruji as they call him is becoming more and more idolize and ritualistic that at times it has a negative effect on my perception of Mooji. So i ask why this is so. Why do i feel like i do when i watch a bunch of Europeans, (Whits) salivating over a spiritual teacher. Does Mooji has such a strong impact upon these 'truth seekers' to the point of idolatry. Is this going to be another fall of a spiritual leader who is riding the wave of fame and perhaps even fortune while delivering the words of healing spirituality. Only time will tell, time and how this whole Guru worship scene plays out itself.
At 'The Farm' as we used to call the Zen center at GG, there were similar groups of students who would lick the robes of their favorite teachers and nothing wrong can be done by these teachers. I have a naturally bad tendency towards these kind of situations where i would do all that is within my scheming mind to destroy such a development. It was my 'bad', I was never good at boot licking and hate to see anyone taking advantage of their position of authority in exploiting the weaker minds. I realized that in spiritual practice or learning it is the content and not the container that is of prime importance, however, I was not mindful enough to accept any wrongdoings where spiritual practice is concern and speaking of wrong doings I also realized back then that i was one of the worse Zen Student there perhaps ever was at GG Zen center. I was practically booted out of the Monastery after almost two years of residency, for being a 'disrupter', among other unspoken accusations. But my instructor on telling me this also winked his huge eyes from behind his thick glasses and said, " The temple gates is always open for you when you feel the need to return.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What good does it do?

So, what am I trying to proof with all these so called practices and spiritual quests for answers that have been everyone's mind since the dawn of time? Am I simply wasting my precious time living this moments day to day hoping to make some kind of out of this world self discovery that would revolutionize the human perception of itself on a collective scale or am I merely killing time. I have no idea myself as to what i hope to gain with all these having spent years in writing everything that comes to mind on practically a daily basis like a diary as though I am being pressured to do so by some unseen force from within me. If i am being paid for every entry i have made in to this Blog, i would by now have a comfortable income made. Unfortunately this is not to be so and every hour i spent on this computer is on my own time and expense which sadly enough creates a sense of guilt every time i dwell on the economics of the matter.
When I dropped by to say hello to my twin brother while i was visiting the East Coast last week, I was accompanied by my close friend Mohammad Rafi who played the roll of the go between as my twin and i hardly said a word to each other throughout our visit. The negative experience of my last visit to his home still lingered on making me felt so very uncomfortable to be in the presence of both my brother and his wife. My small mind kept asking, what the hell are you doing here? Like what are you trying to prove. You do not like the guy, but have no guts to let him know this to his face and yet you make the effort to pay him a call simply because he is your brother. Not only is he your brother, he is your twin, born on the same day out of the same womb. So how come there is such animosity between you that is thicker than bad blood between an Israeli and a Palestinian!? Such is, what can i say except that this in itself is one of the very reasons why I am writing and spending a good amount of my time trying to disentangle the tangle of my past. 
For what good it does, I feel a whole lot lighter than I used to with regard to my immediate family especially my two elder brothers the ones still alive. It is not an important issue anymore as far as I am concern, i visit them as it is my duty as a younger brother to do so in the eyes of my sisters and their children. Islam demands that one keeps a close tie with all family members and not break the bonds of bloodline; I was fulfilling my Muslim duty, like it or not. No sense in looking back anymore where my past is concern as i am very sure that I will end up uncovering more worms than gold in the process. There are some issues that is best left buried in the ground as there is really no solution to the negative effect they generate and nothing good really can be expected out of dwelling in them. The rights of passage between brothers has gone beyond respect and understanding between us, there is only judgement and accusations left hanging in the air. So, with deep regret I bow my way out of this unfortunate situation in my life, i say my final farewell to both of my brothers here and now.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Still trying to Wake up!

 So when you have been able to detach yourself as much as possible from the external infringements, what do you expect to happen that is worthwhile all that practice you have put into this achievement? Nada!, nothing! These is nothing to expect from whatever that you have thus far arrived at in your quest towards your liberation, your final cut from the phenomenal realm of existence that you find yourself in. You are still stuck in it like everyone else, you still are groping in the dark for that light switch that would enlighten your inner being from this realm of illusions. But all is not lost, you still have a good handle on your self determination and self expression that will keep you from fading off into oblivion where all the mediocrity ends up after having spent their allotted time on this earth.
You at the very least have learned the difference between  what is genuine and what is fake, when to strive on and when to brake; you have seen your inner face. You have come to realize that this body is not you and neither is the mind and therefore you are free to manifest as you please without any kind of expectation in return for there is none to return to. All is just moments in time expressed by the mind through the physical form and this will keep on manifesting until it is time for you to give up the physical form and the mental accumulations. Liberation is not something that will happen to you but has always been a part of you, but you have not been awaken to it for having fallen asleep in this realm of Maya, where not all that you see,touch, smell. taste or feel is what it truly is. 
How you live this life having opened up you wisdom eye and waking up to the reality that is not what you had expected is a matter of how deep a conviction you have towards your goal of self liberation. What are you trying to be free of? Why do you need to be free from this life as it is? Does death liberates you from your delusions? These are simple basic questions that a seeker asked when he or she sets out to find all that can be discovered of his or her own being-ness. The question of ,Who am I? still hangs before one's vision reminding of the original intention of this whole journey right from the day of its inception. Along the way you have floundered and fallen by the roadside or taken a deviation from the chosen path as protest of out of frustration and even despair. But you rise and you forge on along without looking back for there is not a thing to look back into; you are driven on your journey and the wheels are turning ever faster and gathering momentum as you go along heading towards that kingdom called Nirvana.
Still you look and listen to the cries of the world around you knowing fully well that there is little that you can do for what is out there but very much you can still work on with what you can achieve within. So live life if you must with all the dignity and the pride of a lion and walk this earth like a Thatagatha, the awakened Adhi Buddha, for that is truly who you are and who you aught to strive to become if you are not truly awaken to it; Become a Buddha! Pluck the Lotus of life without wetting your fingers, kindly bend to ease the burden of others along the path, pour out your spring of Compassion wherever you be and rejoice in who you truly are without counting your merits. There is not a thing to expect and nothing to gain, become at peace with this phenomenal realm but know that you are not influenced or attached to it.
If not here, where? If not Now, When? Can you let go of that which is tying you down, nailing your feet to the floor? Can you remove that which is standing in your path, can you become fluid like water and find your way through it all that obstructs your progress. Wake up! Stay Awake! 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reflections of Friendship that has lasted.

Hashim, Master Boat builder of Pulau Duyung. He is also an expert sailor, a member of the Monsoon Cup Team for the Sultan of Terengganu. I have known him and his family for over twenty odd years now and it seems like life has not changed much for him despite his expertise in the traditional boat industry.

Only my friend Rafi, an ex-seaman with the Malaysian Maritime office knows Hashim's weaknesses! But that is his opinion and as far as i am concern i sit and watch and listen. Rafi is one of my closest friend ever since I returned to this country with my family sometime in 1998. He was originally from Penang but was married to a local and settled down in Terengganu for good.

These pictures were taken a few days back when I visited Terengganu as my elder sister was  admitted into the Hospital there. It is like a deja vu these pictures as they reminded me of my last visit here almost a year ago, we did the same routine. It seems like not much has chnaged in their lives except that we are all of us getting older and perhaps less wiser.

These are the men who has been a part of my life giving it some spice and meaning at times when i needed it. Throughout this Blog you will come across sniped of this part of my life spent among my friends on the East Coast in the State of Terengganu. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I will meet you there....

"When you see the Buddha on the road, kill Him!" A Zen saying that implies the spirit of non attachment that is the essence of any form of spiritual practice. Islam prohibits any form of graven images in the Mosques and even the Muslim Homes. The depiction of the Prophet of Allah in any art or painting is prohibited for the same similar reason of avoiding any from of attachment towards the forms that is projected by the human mind. The images of the Buddha has today become an idol of veneration and even of worship in many parts of the Buddhist World; this is very much contrary to the teachings of Gautama. 
The  Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra or the Great Wisdom Beyond Wisdom, Heart Sutra of the Buddha's teaching primarily expounds the nature of form and emptiness in this realm of phenomena of the Trikayas of the Buddha.

"Success in Spirituality Means Cultivating the Father-Son-Holy Ghost of Christianity, "Three Pure Ones" of Taoism, dharmakaya-sambhogakaya-nirmanakaya of Buddhism, and Hinduism's Brahman-Vishnu-Shiva Triumvirate. They all Refer to Mastering Fundamental Essence, Appearance and Function."

In this day and age of endless manifestations of forms and images that bombards our senses, we are drowned in our own inability to sieve and shield ourselves from the illusions that our mind is subjected to on a daily basis. The masters of old have laid down numerous ways of facing down this mental formations and distractions and inherent within just every religious faith are means whereby one is taught how to allow all these manifestations to bounce off one's personal consciousness. The need for silence and serenity is paramount to every religious as well as spiritual practice, this need for the attainment towards equanimity within oneself is the prop that allows for deep self realization. One has to be like the leaf of the lotus that repels water while existing in water.

In the immortal words of the Buddha, a line that has embedded into my psyche ever since i came by it. " May we exist with the purity of a lotus in muddy waters!" This image as painted by the Shakyamuni Buddha is the essence of how Buddhism helps to elevate man from this life of bondage and suffering. The Buddha is said to have later been reborn as a Lotus Born, Padmasambhava who propagated the Vajrayana Buddhism primarily in Northern India and the Himalayas countries.

In Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism, in addition to worshiping Shakyamuni Buddha, they also worship Padmasambhava. It is said that Padmasambhava is the reincarnation of Shakyamuni Buddha, born eight years after the Buddha's passing. The Buddha was born of the womb and there were many things he could not teach as the founder of the orthodox teachings. Therefore, to found the esoteric teachings, he returned born of a lotus transformation. -

Esoteric Buddhism such as practiced in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition is not dissimilar from that of Sufism of Islam, or Chan- Zen Buddhism of China and Japan. The essence of these schools is Agnosticism, -a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.  

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing 
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” 
― Jalaluddin Rumi