Life after death, or not

No, we were not meant to be humans or animals.

According to the Teachings on Bardo. I am current helping out my Guru in editing a book on Bardo Teachings. While going through the chapters, one would feel that the journey of this life essentially helps us prepare for death and life after death.

This is a rather abstract concept and points to how we are all formless, consciousness and liberation means no longer taking rebirth. The text has mentioned that being reborn as a human being is a form of suffering. From my perspective, I totally agree with this given that suffering in this life comes in all forms depending on our environments. We actually go through the various stages of ‘bardo’ in this life. The perception of dreams, of hell, of sufferings. Yes, we do suffer even in our #firstworld conditions.

  • Our attachment to objects and people.
    • This attachment has led to many of my problems. From expecting something to be what it is from physical shape, form, appearance, feeling/emotion etc.
  • Jealousy is the root of many unhappiness.
    • Jealousy or envy of someone or what a person has which one doesn’t. I find that I am happier when I stay focused on my objectives in life.
  • Anger is definitely a suffering. Where is this anger from?
    • Angers hinders our judgement and perspective. It does not solve anything and only creates more strive.

This life is really a dream. Reading about bardo gets one thinking about what really happens when we die. We look and feel the way we are. We only know what we ourselves feel or think. How are we made up besides blood, organs and flesh? This form is considered as the human realm. However, the human realm is a ‘long bardo’, of which we are in a form and state which is interim to what we are supposed to be.

Moving to the wrong light may lead one to the wrong doors of rebirth and what we go through there can be worse than the human realm.

So how does karma help? Karma is possibly a points/merits system which is based on cause and effect. I believe in that as with every action, there will be a consequence and we are all answerable to our own actions. I believe in this princple of life which helps one decide what we stand for and how we make decisions. Compassion should be the root of all our actions. This is theory and we may act differently when placed in a situation, due to several factors including our self-preservation nature.

Well, I’m working through the last chapter of the book now. So do look out for the final book on Amazon, by Gharwang Rinpoche, our esteemed Guru. The date is to be confirmed so watch this space and we’ll keep you updated.

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Meanwhile, about death, a worldly problem may arise soon for Singapore residents. The looming truth about life and death. How do we cope with this truth and are we all ready? What will happen next?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31936674

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A year with the cats

Yes, it has been almost a year with the cats, which I’ve ‘adopted’ in the relationship. It is definitely life-changing to have two other living things with you. Especially those who only speak in certain body languages.

Who me?
Who me?

1. Off limit rooms 

We used to have our doors closed in my parents’ house not to keep out pets but to keep out other human prying eyes. Now, we have the master bedroom closed almost all the time as my partner who has lived with the cats for over 10 years, is actually allergic to cat fur.

The room is like forbidden city to the cats and they try to sneak past you when the room door is ajar. They know they are not supposed to go in and almost run out when they are caught sneaking in.

2. Dust and fur everywhere

Cats are very clean. So we all know of cats. While they keep their bodies clean, the floor is often ‘dusty’ with the fur together with the hair from my partner and my shedding head. So we now pick up after four hairy ‘folks’ in the house. My father used to sweep fastidiously and always lamented the fact that both my sister and I are worst than shedding Old English Sheepdogs.

Also, beware dark coloured clothes as the white cat who sheds a lot, leaves her mark around the couch. I’ve gone to work with a back of white fur on my clothes.

3. Designated petting times

Yes, pet me please mews happen every morning and every evening. Or when you happen to be home in the afternoons and they are awake. The demand to be petted can be annoying when it gets incessant and they just follow you around.

4. Masking taped furniture 

Beautiful furniture have been taped to prevent being scratched.

5. Playtime is better than TV

We have found ourselves amusing ourselves with the cats while watching TV. I mean, really watching the cats play while watching a programme we have on like The Mentalist (which is a great series by the way). One of the cats loves this feather thing and gets really hyper when  it’s rustled.

The other game with the laser dot. I’d bet those with pets have already tried this. We’ve seen the cat scale the scratching post like a monkey with this game.

6. The lure of catnip 

Oh this is bad. It is like weed for the cats. They love it so much. It must be natural and part of nature.

If I wanted the floor mopped, I would sprinkle this everywhere which needs to be ‘mopped’. The cats could lick a hole into the ground with catnip.

7. Coming home or waking up to ‘surprises’ 

Sometimes they poop on the furniture or floor. It happens more often with the black cat. He vomits after eating too quickly especially when wet food is produced and it is like a birthday.

This ‘surprise’ of poop is not fun. I’ve had the black cat poop while sitting next to me on the couch. I was thinking that there’s something which smells like poop. Of course, he slinks off after that, revealing the surprise. This happens sometimes when there are territorial issues around the litterbox when one cat is afraid of being pounced on after using the litterbox in a wardrobe with a catdoor.

8. Exfoliation session

The white cat loves cream or scents. Sometimes even without cream, I would find the white cat licking my arms and legs. It is actually a nice sensation, a little ticklish and wet but it is so sweet when they do that.

I feel like I’m being ‘cleaned’ by the cat.

We had the door to the bedroom opened one night for the cats and I found myself being ‘licked’ awake. The white cat was just sitting on top of me and licking my arm.

9. Yum, salt 

The black cat loves human food and human cups. He sneaks into your cup of water when you are not watching. We’ve found him with his head in the mug/cup when we walked away. He loves drinking water from our cups.

He also has an ‘acquired taste’ for salt. Like peanuts, pistachios and salted crackers.

10. Laptops are for cats

Working at home is never the same. The black cat loves sitting on the laptop and the mouse. I’ve found myself looking over the huge mass of black fur at the laptop screen as he insists in sitting between your two arms and between you and the laptop. His tail gets in the way of the mouse.

They both love rubbing their faces and heads against the edges of the laptop screen. When that happens, they push the screen back and you’ll often find yourself adjusting the screen every 5 minutes.

Sometimes, seeing the cats at the door when you come home can make you feel happier. They are so innocent and it is a blessing to share their lives. All in all, it is like having two weird and furry kids in the house.

Looking up the walls

We decided that we will give the house a makeover during one of the long weekends. Deciding on paint colours and which colours for which rooms and walls was a compromise. We ended up with blue, light gray and orange walls.

The massive project was across three days and it was a moment of horror when we realised that we were out of paint and the shops were closed for the holiday. Thank goodness we managed to find one rather nearby which was opened but about to close. We took a taxi and rushed to the place.

Neutrals can be tricky colours to pick. We decided to take a tone which had a tint of blush and it looked white on the palette but when we started painting, it started to look suspiciously like light purple. We both dislike light purple or purple furniture, walls and on many other things (except eggplants).

After going through the trouble of going through two or three coats, we thought maybe it will look different when we wake up and the walls are dried. Of course, that was just the tired people thinking and not wishing to head out, get different colours and paint over.

We woke the next morning and were trying not to be too disappointed that the walls were light purple indeed. We looked at it from all angles and it still appeared too purple to our liking. We decided after a few hours that we won’t be able to live with it so we headed out and got another neutral in a shade which could be described as more gray.

This was safe and so back to the grind. The process of laying the floors, moving and covering furniture, taping the edges of the walls and ceilings were practically neck twisting jobs.

At the end of the day, I think we both know that we should keep our day jobs although we feel we didn’t do a very bad job in the end.

We have not even done the walls in the Master Bedroom. The colours are still being contested.

Cheers,
Ali

Wisdom from a Guru

An entry by a Guru in his daily notes of wisdom, “Move on and just turn the page,” sounds simple.

Everyone would feel and think about different experiences when one sees the entry.

What it says exactly:

“Move On and Just Turn the Page – by Gharwang Rinpoche

I have seen many shades of ups and downs in my life. Sometimes I get what I want and even occasionally get what I never asked for. What really helps me to move on with my day to day life is to accept whatever happens, regardless of whether the outcome is good or bad.

In addition, I must confess that nothing is really as easy as we may wish. Sometimes, we may wish for something in particular but end up having to settle for something else.

Over the years, I realised that few factors in life can make all the difference.

  • Firstly, to be guided by compassionate teachers.
  • Secondly, in order to avoid the same mistakes, always learn from your past experiences.
  • Thirdly, make sure that you do not let your assumption decide your path.
  • Finally, one should build up self-confidence to carry on with one’s daily life without being dictated by emotions and especially arrogance and pride.

Have a wonderful day.”

Reflecting on that entry, I feel that I do often find myself in ruts due to the reluctance of getting myself out. It is always all in the mind and seeing things from a different perspective or approach can really make a difference. Assumptions and notions often lead to expectations and outcomes which may not be what we’ve hoped for. The expectation of an outcome is generally a cause of unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

So by accepting whatever comes, after putting in the right effort and being kind, compassionate and honest in whatever we do, will help one get through any downs and not to hold on to the ups. Easy as it sounds, it is tough in practice.

Practising this on a daily basis of watching thoughts and emotions is a mind exercise and one which can truly help, if i remember to do it. Move on, don’t dwell and just be/do better.

Ali

The longest February

It is amazing how many things have happened within a short month of February (and it isn’t even a leap year).

As if a long holiday over Chinese New Year wasn’t enough, I feel like I need a break. Already.

I’m writing this on the last day of February and I’m thinking, yes, let’s move on to March. February has been a roller coaster on many fronts. Yes, there were triumphs and there were ruts. Closing a series of deals towards the last week of February and making leeway in partnerships were the key highlights.

There are many things which needs to be done. First things first, is to get myself out of a rut and some solitude. Getting away for a while sounds like a perfect idea at the moment. If it wasn’t for work, I would book myself on a flight right at this moment (I do have Google opened right now on a search for cheap flights from Singapore to Chiangmai or even Medan.)

Would I press a reset button if there was one in life? Or would it be too much of a hassle to go back and start all over again.There are many choices we have made in this life. How many changes is enough?

 

Online shopping with ZALORA: Instant gratification at value

When online shopping first became popular in Singapore, I was probably in my early twenties. Blog shops were popular back then when almost every entrepreneurial teen or young adult sold apparel online. Blog shops back then and probably now as well, do not provide a varied range between shops. You’ll find similar items in another shop.

Today, they are a dime a dozen and some even transitioning into a hybrid physical store + online. While one may wish for the surprise and adventure of shopping online, bad surprises are of course one of the cons which an online shopper would have to deal with.

However, just a couple of years back, I’ve discovered ZALORA. It is a haven for online shoppers who wish to have a reliable and almost instant service. What I like about them is the almost instant delivery and ‘low floor’ rate for free delivery. Ie. S$40.

ZALORA has recently launched their pop-up store at ION Orchard and I believe that was a test for a hybrid store. Although it does have its perks having a physical presence, its online store proposition is strong with same-day (almost) delivery. You’ll get your product(s) within 1-3 working days within Singapore. I thought that was as ‘instant’ one could get for normal delivery service. Shopping on ZALORA can be addictive with the multitude of brands and products available at affordable prices. It’s user platform is easy to navigate.

There are a few house brands and interesting brands which I’ve found on ZALORA such as Koumi Koumi shoes, Velvet shoes and bags, dresses by Inner Circle and others. You’ll find good buys for shoes on ZALORA and apparel at good value. They’ve an increasing range of brands under them and also includes MARKETPLACE, which is a platform for consolidated boutiques in Singapore which are looking to include an additional sales channel for their brand.

While I’m raving about ZALORA, you may try it yourself and use my code, ZBAP00Q, for a 15% discount at checkout for your purchase.

This was a top I’ve just purchased from ZALORA. Black, sheer panel by Something Borrowed at a discounted price.

Something Borrowed black panel sheer top

#Necklace not included. Necklace is from Tiffany & Co. 

Do note that the top in the photo is rather sheer and you’ll have to wear an inner shirt for work.