The difference between hell and heaven is a mindset

the sacrifice of one An old teaching tale goes like this: A young man wanted to know the difference between Heaven and Hell.

The sage led him to two rooms with observation portals, one labeled Heaven and one Hell.

Looking in at Hell he saw a banquet table filled with luscious food but the people at the table were emaciated and distressed. Their spoons had long handles to reach the food, but the handles were too long to bring the food to their mouths.

Then he looked in on Heaven. Same table full of luscious food. Same long spoons. But the people were healthy and happy and using their long-handled spoons to feed one another.

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The Zen master Shichiri Kojun and the thief

One evening, Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras when a thief entered his house with a sharp sword, demanding “money or life”.
Without any fear, Shichiri said: “Don’t disturb me! Help yourself with the money, it’s in that drawer” and he resumed his recitation.

The thief was startled by this unexpected reaction, but he proceeded with his business anyway.
While he was helping himself with the money, the master stopped and called, “Don’t take all of it. Leave some for me to pay my taxes tomorrow”.
The thief left some money behind and prepared to leave. Just before he left, the master suddenly shouted at him, “You took my money and you didn’t even thank me?! That’s not polite!”. Continue reading

Metta Prayer and other quotes of wisdom – In the memory of Mr. S.N. Goenka

I learned about Mr. S. N. Goenka when I wanted to learn the Vipassana Meditation technique. His teaching method and the meditation technique was the best I learned in my life.

About S. N. Goenka

Some background about Mr. S. N. Goenka, from the Dhamma website:

s.n goenkaAlthough Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Myanmar (Burma). While living there, he had the good fortune to come into contact with Sayagyi U Ba Khin and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for 14 years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka soon attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world came to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Over a period of almost 45 years, Mr. Goenka and the teachers appointed by him taught hundreds of thousands of people in courses in India and other countries, East and West. Today, meditation centers established under his guidance are operating in Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia.

The technique taught by S.N. Goenka goes back two and a half millennia to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma – the way to liberation – which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka’s approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has had a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.

Mr Goenka, died on 29 September 2013 (aged 89) in Mumbai, India. Continue reading

This too shall pass

This is a nice story about the impermanent nature of things in life. I first heard it during my first Vipassana Meditation retreat.

Here’s is the story by Nikhil Gangoli as found on the 1stholistic website:

oldman-with-ringA rich old man died leaving two sons. They decided to separate dividing all the properties between themselves – fifty fifty. After all the matters related to property were settled the two brothers came across a small packet carefully hidden by the father. The packet contained two rings – one was an expensive diamond ring and the other was an ordinary silver ring costing only a few rupees.

Seeing the diamond ring the elder brother developed greed and desired the ring for himself. He explained to the younger brother – This packet is obviously a family heirloom and not part of the joint family property. Our father evidently desired the diamond ring to be passed on from generation to generation and stay within the family. Being the elder brother I will take the diamond ring. You had better take the silver one.

The younger brother smiled and agreed.

The younger brother was curious as to why the father had preserved the silver ring, which had very little value. He took out the ring and examined it. One the ring was written the words – “This too will pass”. The younger brother said – “Oh this was the motto of my father – This too will pass. He replaced the ring on his finger.

Time passed. Both brothers went through the ups and downs of life. The elder brother used to get highly delighted when spring came and he was prosperous. He lost his balance and developed greed and attachment. When the good phase went away and winter approached he became highly anxious. He needed to medication and sleeping pills to be able to sleep. When that did not help he completely lost his balance. He needed visits to the psychiatrist and electric shock treatments. This was the brother with the diamond ring.

The younger brother when spring came, enjoyed it but remembered his father’s motto – This too will change. He did not get attached to his circumstances but enjoyed them while they lasted. When spring passed he said to himself – It was inevitably going to pass and now it has done so. So what? Similarly when winter approached and circumstances became bad he did not become agitated but remembered – This too will pass. Thus he was able to preserve his sense of balance through all the ups and downs of life and lived his life happily.

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No Avocado for you! Come back one year!

no avocado for you

I was in Vancouver, BC during a short weekend visit to discover and explore the city. The sun usually sets around 4:30PM this time of year.

I arrived Saturday and I checked in into my hotel room at 4PM, grabbed my umbrella and started walking around.

I wanted to walk in downtown and see much of the streets, the people and various attractions.

I tell you, the city looked vibrant and full of young people. There were lots of Asians as well. For a second I forgot I was in Canada (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

So, basically for me, the biggest “attraction” or the highlight of my exploration on Saturday night was the sheer amount of homeless people asking for money and lying on the streets.

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The Wise Bedouin and his 50 children

One evening, I had the privilege to meet and dine with Yasser Akkaoui the managing director and editor in chief of the Executive Business Magazine.

During our dinner, I asked him:

Yasser, so with all the companies you run, responsibilities and family, how do you manage your time?

Yasser replied:

Let me answer you with a story I heard once. This is how I manage my business.

What follows is the story as shared by Yasser:

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https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bedouin/images-videos
Image courtesy of Britannica online encyclopedia

Once upon a time, in a small village in the desert, a wise Bedouin was living there and was known to have fathered 50 children.

His words of wisdom made him famous throughout the other villages and even his wisdom and reputation spread to tourists that were visiting other villages.

One Western reporter was intrigued by the stories he heard about him, so he decide to visit his village and ask him a difficult question and experience his wisdom firsthand. It was not easy for the reporter to come up with such a question, but after days of reflection, he thought he figured a hard question he could ask the Bedouin.

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Where are the coins? How are they disappearing?

This is a story from my childhood, a rather funny story that I want to share with you:

street-fighter-arcadeBack when I was around 8 to 9 years old, I found a small amusement center where they had a few arcade games, and a couple billiard table.

These places were frequented by what my parents would call: “Thugs, impolite, and people with bad influence”. They did not want me to go to this place because as far as they know this place could be dangerous for a young schoolboy.

Of course, I was afraid too of bad influence but the arcade games are irresistible.

To prevent me from going, my parents will not give me money or they would ask me how I am spending my time and money.

In a sense, after school I should be back home and any other activity should be close by and my parents should know where I am at all time.

As a young kid, I had to find an excuse, a legitimate excuse to justify the time when I am able to sneak out, go to that place and play.

The other problem was that I needed money so I can go there and play!

One day, I was going through my dad’s drawer and I found a bag full of quarters. “Jackpot!”, I said to myself.

This bag had so many coins that no way my dad kept a count of them. I figured if I take a few each day, go play for one hour or so, then no one would notice.

What was my excuse regarding where I would be spending my time? I would tell my parents I have to go to the library and study with a friend. The library was just across the street from that arcade place, a perfect excuse. My friend too, wanted to play with me, so we both had good excuses.

Each time I would go with my school buddy, we would cover each other’s lies and backs. We would make sure no one saw us coming in or out from the arcade place. After all, in a small town, everybody knows everybody.

This charade went on for a while: I would steal a few coins, make excuses and go play Street Fighter, Contra and all those old arcade games that still gives me nostalgia when I think about them!

After a while, the bag of quarters eventually ran out. It took a while for my dad to notice, but when he did, he asked me: “Where did all the coins disappear?”

I was afraid but I had to tell the truth. My dad was not happy about it but he knew that if I had my own video game console then I won’t be spending money outside or go to that place at all.

Two weeks later, my dad returns home with a Nintendo NES System!

I stopped going to the Arcade games place and started playing at home. This started a new phase in my life where I become addicted to video games. I became so good at playing that my friends would lend me a game just so that they sit next to me and watch me play it from beginning to end in a matter of hours.

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