Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Sabah

Halelujah

When we arrive in the evening it’s all covered up in fog. We go to bed immediately and rest. The next morning, i open the door. This is what eye see.

   

Mount Kinabalu massive

   

Pepsi and Moringa cutelilpuppie on the lookout

   

And this is how we got here…

   

   

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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Sabah

Malaysian musings

For those of you who know me personally, it comes as no surprise; y’all know i have become a full-blooded language geek over the years. Having said that, I feel like banging the drums for Malay speak. It’s easy to learn because most Malays I have met speak English, more or less, and are willing to help. Another advantage is that they simply adopt many words and write them just the way they are pronounced.

Some examples – i won’t give translations as it’s pretty easy to figure out the meaning: Kaunter, Bas Stesen, Lori, Imigresen, Restoran, Kari, Teh, Jem, Coklat, Sup, Kompleks, Sekolah, Kolej, Buku, Insurans, Ambulans, Kastam… I remember having a great laugh with Joy when we saw ‘EPAL’ written on a computer store at Teluk Cempedak and even more so when on the waterfront of Kuching we spotted a sign promoting Aiskrim 🙂

   

Something else.

Many Malay people have a jealous eye towards Singapore and its economic development while they turn a blind eye to how restrictive societies can become when money is valued higher than happiness or equated with one another and when standard of living is mistaken as quality of life. I meet people in Malaysia who are eager to live in a modern, industrialized country. It seems they want to imitate Western countries. How can they avoid to repeat the mistakes that have been made by others throughout the last centuries?

Can you imagine a European radio-broadcasting reminder telling you to stop at red lights? That is what’s happening here. While hitchhiking through Sarawak I listen to the radio repeating three times how important it is to follow the rules and to remember the three words: “Stop.At.Red!” Forgive me for saying this, I know car accidents happen on a daily basis. I am neither condoning nor encouraging anyone to ignore red lights, of course. The main reason I choose this example is that according to my experience Malay drivers are one of the most considerate and slow car drivers I have ever met in my life. Another reason I mention this particular incident is that I am reminded of the way governments in Africa try to impose a certain behaviour or adopt a model of society that works for some role-model ‘developed country’ without having the faintest idea of how to implement change. They try to influence collective conscience (Durkheim) and obviously, they are trying to do so with a sledgehammer mentality. The gap between the government and the populace is simply too big. The majority only talks about ‘the economy is good/bad’ and how strong/weak their currency is compared to Singapore/Brunei/Europe etc.

Who would be willing and able to build bridges? It is much easier to complain about corrupt politicians on the one side and to impose draconic penalties on the other.

   
Something else.

There are several things i absolutely love about Malay people. One is the aforementioned cruising attitude. Another is the fact that they have small gestures of daily life which show their ability to give and receive freely. E.g. that they never hand over and never receive money singlehandedly. Instead, with the fingers of the other hand they touch the giving/receiving upper or lower arm. Like that, a payment always has a wholehearted appeal. Same goes for greeting a person. After a handshake the hand goes straight to the chest area indicating that you are a welcome guest in her/his heart.

Another thing that catches my attention is how easy it is to smile at other people around here. In 9.5 out of 10 times an honest, sometimes shy sometimes beaming smile is the response. At least the places I go to the people seem to be one happy bunch. Also, if something is said that could rub someone the wrong way they are not easily offended. Most of the time a joke is made out of it. Social lubrication in the form of open smiling faces really works well here. In case it doesn’t work a cigarette is offered to blow off some steam – a modern peace pipe, one might say.

Last but not least, it is the country I feel most at home in Southeast Asia. Hitherto, I have been to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia including Sarawak and Sabah. Part of it is the ease with which you can hitch a ride here. People are even willing to make a detour in order to bring you to remote places or to avoid getting you into potentially dangerous areas. They’re interested in how you live life, make appreciative comments about your style, buy you drinks, invite you to stay for a night at their crib etc.

I remember hitchhiking with Maarten. We had breakfast in Sipitang – where we had been brought by a young man who had had to drive back to his own house later on for ‘only’ (sic!) two hours – we ordered some mee soup and roti canai, and we sat down at a table with a muslim man. When we were almost finished he said that our meal is covered. We don’t need to pay, he has already taken care of that. ‘Terima kasih!’, our daily chorus.

Most certainly encounters like these serve as a great inspiration and motivation to develop generosity wherever i go. Giving, in any way whatsoever, makes you feel good, makes you feel wealthy, makes you feel happy. Try it. Come and see for yourself! Ehi passiko 🙂

   

Bhikkhus, if beings knew, as I know, the result of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would theyballow the stain of meanness to obsess them and take root in their minds. Even if it were their last morsel, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared it, if there were someone to share it with…

Itivuttaka 26

   

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Brunei, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Malaysia, Miri, Sabah, Sarawak, Sibu

Hitchhiker’s Log: From Kuching to Kota Kinabalu… and beyond

DAY 1 (Kuching – Sibu)

Maarten, the vegetarian veterinarian, and i, the fantastik filosofa, we leave Kuching at 8:30 a.m. and have seven different drivers. Among them father&son duo, primary school teacher, cybercrime detective, gambling machine repairman… they all bring bring us a bit further on our way. It is interesting to note when the way people earn a living reflects their attitude and vice versa; for example, the detective kept talking about the dangers of hitchhiking.

In general, there is hardly anyone who doesn’t remind us that Sabah is very far and we should better take the bus. We smile and answer that we like to take it slow. Slow or not, in the evening we have covered around 400km with seven lifts. In Sibu we check in at Hai Ping Inn (RM 55/double) opposite the big market hall where we have dinner (mee goreng=fried noodles) and also breakfast (bananas, papaya, oatmeal).


DAY 2 (Sibu – Batu Niah)

Daisy makes a detour for us, yippie! She passes her own home to drop us a couple kilometers out of Sibu at a highway junction in the suburbs. This makes it so much easier for us to get a ride. Terima kasih, Daisy 🙂

   

Today we get six lifts and travel about 330km. We meet people from all walks of life, among them a palm oil plantation owner and a young truck driver transporting palm oil. When the latter drops us at a junction close to Batu Niah it is getting dark already.
   
   

A young truck driver after a long shift picks us up on his way to a rest area. We have dinner and check in at TTL Motel (RM85/double) and decide to go to Niah Caves the next day.

   

   

DAY 3 (Batu Niah – Miri)

   

Starting off with sharing a watermelon from the local market and some bananas

   

We are lucky to get a ride from an elderly man in a 4WD vehicle which seems to be oversized for him, at some times. Be that as it may, he decdes to bring us all the way to Niah National Park HQ. We are forever grateful for his token of generosity. 

   
NIAH CAVES

We register and leave all luggage at the infodesk with Stefanie. Then take our time to take in the amazing rock formations and huge caves. We find excavation sites and a lot of information in both museum and along the trail. Even with all the best apparatuses it is impossible to wrap up and capture what we encounter here with all our senses!

I smell the green moss, i see the swiftlets’ nests in the ceilings, i follow the waterdrops falling from stalactites 30m above my head, i smell the air laden with the stench of bat droppings, i see insects with 20cm long antennas and ants almost as big as my pinky toe (for real!), and every now and then i taste the sweat off my upper lip and feel the t-shirt sticking to my chest and back. It truly is an all-round envelopment in raw nature experienced with all the senses.

After we get back to the parking lot at the Park Headquarters, I ask two girls in a 4WD where they are going: Miri. And yes, we can join! No problem. Like that, this day turns out to be perfect yet again. Arriving in Miri we check in at Dillenia Guesthouse (RM30/dorm). Maarten and I have the entire house for ourselves 🙂

   

Considering the difference between eyes and tablet camera and the fact that we (Maarten & me) are taking in nature with all of our senses, I decide to make an exception to the rule and post no pictures of Niah Caves – it was sweaty and smelly. Sometimes we heard clicks of bats echolocating their way through the darkness. If you want to have a taste of what it looks like around the Niah Caves please refer to the photos you find in abundance online … you’ll be best served by watching these amazing high-quality pictures and i’ll be spared waiting for 5 minutes for an amateur picture to get uploaded.
   

   

DAY 4 (Miri)

   

Chill out in Miri.

   Nowhere to go.

     No one to be.

         Nothing to do.

            Nothink.

   

   

DAY 5 (Miri)

We check out Lambir Hills National Park today. When we come back it is already past 4 p.m. so we agree to spend a third night in Miri. Back at the guesthouse we meet two nice Australian women, two truly inspiring human beings. We share dinner with them and listen to each other. We talk about the state of the world, vegan living, letting go, we talk about permaculture, spirituality, time, communication, privilege… we lose track of time, and that’s always a good sign. The food is great, the mood is mellow, the vibe is groovy. We walk back to the hostel, listen to Mooji, and take rest.

   

LAMBIR FALLS

The National park is called Lambir Hills but in fact we don’t hike any hills but explore the rainforest and take a dip at several waterfalls. Yes it goes up & down and the trails are somewhat slippery at times, but it’s not real hiking what we do. More like having an afternoon walk with some take away picnic at the waterfall.

Maarten and our benefactor Eric who brought us from Miri to Lambir National Park

    

M & M @ Lambir Falls

   

Orang coklat just love to take pix with orang putih (white men). In the background, Latak Waterfall.

   

We walk another 2km and arrive at Pantu Waterfall. Here we meet three people from Brunei. We introduce ourselves and soon after that they start their return to Park Headquarters. Maarten has a short power nap at the waterfall while i dip in and save a hornet looking insect from drowning in the pool. After a couple of hours we are back at Park HQ and get a ride from the aforementioned Brunei homies. They drop us at Dillenia, our guesthouse and bid us farewell. Oh might as well stay a third night in Miri 🙂
    

   

DAY 6 (Miri – Brunei – Sipitang)

In the morning, after a workout, a shower and a big breakfast we hitch a ride to the border to Brunei.

   

Once we exit Malaysia it is quite easy to stop a car going to Bandar Seri Begawan (B.S.B.). John picks us up with his silver Proton. He is rather nervous, checks our passports (which, in the course of the day, will get stamped 10, yes, ten times) asks us several times if we have any drugs or guns (‘… no, only love and understanding…’) He wants to help but understandably he doesn’t want to get any trouble.

   

At the next border we bid farewell and are picked up immediately by a friendly family – they are heading to Limbang!

On the way there is not much to see, really.

   

BRUNEI. The biggest highlight is the the roads. They are in superb condition and could easily pass as a german Autobahn.

   

The happy family drops us at the market place in Limbang, a lovely little town at a river.

   

God knows we’re lonely souls

   

After working through a ton of mixed vegetables with plain rice at Kuali Coffeehouse (Purnama Hotel) I go over to a man on a scooter to ask for the best place to hitchhike. He gives us directions and expresses his doubts about our chances.

   

And if it looks like this baby you doin it right

   

We walk around the corner and stop there to try our luck. I enter a shop to get some cardboard and write the words “BOLEH TUMPANG” on it with a permanent marker while Maarten shows up on the road with his impermanent thumb. It takes about three or 4 minutes for my sign to be finished. At E a car stops, Maarten talks to the driver to find out that he’d go to Lawas but wants us to pay for it. Nah… Just when i start filling the final G another car pulls over. First i don’t recognise him: It’s the guy we met 10 minutes ago on his scooter! His name is Naim. He is willing to bring us to Lawas. And he apologizes that he cannot bring us any further… (u kidding me, right?) 

Naim says he goes there anyway to play tennis with some friends… but it all turns out differently. We start talking, he keeps driving, we pass borders, our conversations go way beyond the usual ‘Where are you from?’, ‘What’s your name?’, ‘What do you do for a living?’. We share stories & dreams & aspirations. We share views about education, religion, friends, travel and family and he decides to bring us a little further. He smiles and says it’s only two hours for him to drive back… (what?) It’s getting dark now. He goes on; there is no good spot here for us to hitch another ride. So he prefers to drive us another ten minutes.

We finally end up in Sipitang and agree that our meeting must be takdir (fate). Here he points out the beautiful sunset and helps us find a nice and affordable place to stay named Dhiya Esplanad (RM60/double). The least we can do is invite this saint to have dinner with us and of course, exchange contact details.

   

This is why I love to travel like that!
Encounters like these remind me how hitchhiking can be one of the best ways to connect with local people, make friends easily and come around cheaply.

   

   

DAY 7 (Sipitang – Kota Kinabalu – Kundasang)
   
   

Today a couple takes us for a ride out of town, then a family brings us a bit further. Next a woman who used to be a long-term traveller herself and is now working for the Ministry of Education is so kind and drives us to KK. At sunset we hitch a ride with a couple who get out of their way and pass their home to bring us all the way to Kampung Berungis. For this extra-route we are especially grateful because our being at this crossroads means that we have a chance to reach Kundasang. It is dark. We find a good spot where it is not dangerous to stand at the roadside. I take a flashlight and point it at my friend Maarten who has his headlamp activated and is holding our sign “BOLEH TAMPUNG”.

We are lucky!! After ten minutes a car passes us and comes back three minutes later; we get picked up by a young man called Mislan. He goes to Kundasang – our place is on the way, great! The car is a freaking fridge and the music deafeningly loud but no complaints. He brings us over 60kms straight to Halelujah Retreat Center.

It’s been a loooooong ride dude and worth it all along. Quite an adventure and super easy, innaway. It’s true what they say: Universe chimes in to help you once you set your mind on doing something. Desires fulfilled, we are tired & happy we made it. For a couple days we’re off the road again – Halelujah!

   

When we arrived yesterday evening this was all covered up in fog, looking mysterious and promising. The next morning we are very lucky because for a couple of hours the misty blanket has lifted to reveal Mount Kinabalu’s majestic peak.

  

   

A week has gone by.

   

We have travelled about 1,300km.

   

We haven’t paid a single ringgit for transportation.

   

We have made the acquaintance of at least 50 people.

   

We are humbled and inspired to emulate the generosity, hospitality and friendliness exemplified by Sarawakians and Sabahans.

   

Thank you thank you thank you.

   

Surprisingly we all fit into that minisculo vehiculo

   

A happy couple takes us much further than expected

   

In case you also think about hitchhiking in Malaysia, i highly recommend it! As two like-minded hitchhikers say, it truly is como abrir una caja de sorpresas. The less you expect the more you get. The hospitality and friendliness of the people here will render you speechless.

Before you embark on your journey though, it is a good idea to check this site which provides valuable info on hitchhiking in Malaysia.

There are some nice anecdotes and tips on Melissa’s inspiring blog here.

      

Some things turn out to be really useful as a hitchhiker:

  1. Sharing the experience with a buddy helps a lot; it is way easier to keep smiling when someone you know is nearby, and when you share travel stories time goes by faster, too
  2. Holding up a sign saying ‘Boleh tumpang’ helps
  3. Keeping in mind the next cities or towns in the direction you want to go to.
  4. Being prepared that people want to make your trip easier by dropping you off at a bus station because they are unfamiliar with the concept of hitchhiking
  5. Knowing some basic local speak, in this case Malay/Chinese will enable you to connect with your benefactors, get off the beaten tourist track and have a good laugh

   

Some phrases have helped us most to get a free ride in Sarawak and Sabah:

  • Tumpang = to have  lift
  • Boleh / Tidak boleh = Can / Cannot
  • Mana anda pergi = Where are you going?
  • Tolong = Please
  • Terima kasih (Sarawak) / Bon sikou (Sabah) = Thank you

   

You are bound to learn more phrases as you go. It’s such an easy and fun-to-learn language! Find out more about that (and other Malaysian qualities & quirks) in the next post. If you want to be notified, consider following my blog… someone told me it’s sexy 😉
 

   


       

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    Dhamma investigation, Kuching, Malaysia, Sarawak

    You are not your face  :-P

    Mischievous lil’ monkey is up to something

       


    To save the world, break the mirror!

    ​Since in her last fabulous post my queen/ travelmate/ girlfriend/ yogīni/ spiritual advisor Joy wrote about how she perceives me as a mirror I am reminded that i have not looked into one to check my body/face for weeks. So the philosophical me says hi and explores the relationship between full body awareness and absence of mirrors.

    Mirrors can contribute both to our well-being and to our ill-being. Not having seen how my face looks for others i am prone to get a different perspective on who/what i am. For instance, I fail to notice a bad hair day or a pimple above my eyebrow, and a piece of pakchoi between my teeth slips my attention as well. That’s what I have my beloved queen/ travelmate/… for. She points these things out to me. And she does so in a loving way. She helps me get rid of what part of the lunch got stuck in my beard. What would i do without her?

    Talking about the beard. Let’s face it. There is no concern about my hair because the ‘self for others’ has vanished. I remember Fidel Castro makes a point in Oliver Stone’s documentary ‘Comandante’ that he saves at least 15minutes every single day by not shaving 😉 Time is precious. Better not waste it in the bathroom. Only the essentials: soap the body, rinse with water, brush the teeth. That’s it. No big fuss about looks. It’s liberating. It feels wonderful because important needs are fulfilled: independence, clarity, and ease. Independence because i am no longer in a state of slavery, trying to make my face look attractive to others. Clarity because it is so obvious that skin-deep beauty is not what makes others want to spend time with me anyhow. Ease because how i feel inside the body becomes more apparent.

    If only people knew the advantages of living without a mirror or at least not looking into a mirror every day! I am certain they would be happier and less worried. They would not identify so much with the mask they’re wearing. Eventually, consequentially the world would be a much less artificial place to live in. It would be a place where masks (latin: persona) would not be mistaken for real and we could live life in a much more natural way. Nowadays, ‘natural’ is a trademark to render consumer goods more attractive instead of what it ought to be: a way of life.

       
    Lost Arts

    Since Joy mentioned in another post of her marvellous blog the art of looking, the filosofa in me awakens yet again to say salaam aleikum, peace be with you.

    I am thinking about Lost Arts. Joy remembers how pictures were taken with old-fashioned cameras. The number of pictures per film roll was limited and development of the photos took time.

    If you grow up nowadays you are probably equipped with  a cellie before you go to school. Taking pix is what you do. Check 1,2 and if you like it – spread, if not – delete. A matter of seconds. Children do not know about this process film rolls had to go through to develop.

    Another lost art might be the one of becoming familiar with oneself. Please forgive me if this sounds rude but the only thing most of us are familiar are our likes & dislikes. It starts at school when we fill in our classmate’s friendship book. I am… My favourite colour is… I like… But to be completely immersed, totally focused sothat we lose all sense of ‘me’? Taking pictures can have that effect if you are a professional photographer, and if you are, I’d be delighted to read about your experiences of flow during your work. If you’re not professional, what makes you unprofessional – is it just because you are not earning your livelihood with taking photos or you haven’t found a niche yet? Again, let me be blunt: if this is your only criterion you are giving money far too much credit in your life.

       

    Putting things in perspective

       

    As Pico Iyer states in a TEDx talk about the Art of Stillness it is really about how you perceive that makes the difference between a wonderful and an awful experience. I agree.

       

    Immersion

    Being totally immersed in a sunset, for example, there is no one there to say ‘I like it. I want it. I want to keep it.’ If you are fully present, there is only delight at the sight of it. Ayya Khema eloquently describes what happens “once the sunset is over and the delight has vanished… the ‘me’ returns, and with it the idea that ‘I’ should go looking for other sunsets because they bring such pleasure.” If you are mindful of what’s going on in your inner life you will be able to notice: It is not the quality of the sunset but “in fact it is the quality of our own immersion… that brings us delight.”

       

    Don’t look out there. Let it come to you. Everything is right here.

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    Dhamma investigation, Kuching, Malaysia, Sarawak

    Check your sources, don’t follow blindly *_*

    Sīmā Hall at Tusita Hermitage, Kuching, Sarawak

     

    While joining the community at Tusita Hermitage I was feasting on the Buddha’s teachings as they were passed on to us in the suttas, e.g. the Khuddaka Nikāya. Having listened deeply, I find it hard to believe that this has really happened the way it is told. And the suttas are actually intended to serve as inspiration to practice diligently. Instead, they make me more sceptical because of the myriad instances in which the Buddha is depicted as infallible; every single one of his premonitions comes true; anyone who disrespects him is bound to be reborn in hell (e.g. Devadatta), or immediately robbed and beaten up because he erroneously thought he can outsmart the unsurpassable, holy, fully self-awakened one (e.g. Udāna 8.7).

    Idealisation and idolatry doesn’t strengthen my confidence. On the contrary: hymns, myths & folklore around the life of the historic Buddha remind me of the repetitiveness of the Bhagavad-Gita or the Qur’an where every second line includes some hype about superhuman qualities, potencies and powers.

    ‘What has this got to do with life?’, I ask myself. When indignation has calmed down a notch I am able to see more clearly.

    Firstly, it hints to the power of faith. Whatever I believe colours my perception. How strong is my faith (skr. saddhā) in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha? How firmly do i hold on to my views and opinions about what is the Path and what is not the Path? Do i take everything in dhamma books at face value or not? Am i skilled in the language of my own heart so i can let go of my foible of reading yet another dhamma book?

    Secondly, it serves the purpose of acknowledgement. Knowing that in the course of many centuries layers of lore and legend have been put on top of the original message – isn’t that in itself a valuable insight? Go figure. People do that. Exegesis, interpretation, censorship. It is part and parcel of human history.

    Thirdly, it certainly shows me what league i wanna play in.

    Fourthly, it points to my (in)capability to take hardcore teachings with a grain of salt. Can i act upon the spirit of the letter of the Buddha’s teachings? In other words, do i take the necessary steps to cultivate a mind that reads between the lines and is firmly rooted in practical application? Or do i keep my mind busy instead by grappling with and grasping at the phrasing and finding fault in it, and as a consequence not taking any decisive step towards clarity finding out what truly works for me and what does not?
    Didn’t the Buddha himself as a historic figure invite everyone to come and see: “Ehi passiko”? At least that’s what was propagated in the industrialized world when the Kalama Sutta was rediscovered and, to a certain degree, hyped because it corresponded to the prevalent egalitarian, liberal, protestant mind-set. What follows is an excerpt of the famous Kalama Sutta (u find the translation incl. interpretation of the entire sutta here).
    “It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.

       

    Buddhists in the West, particularly those with a Protestant background, have received the discovery of the Kalama Sutta with wide open arms. While Consensus Buddhism fosters mindfulness and meditation, Traditional Buddhism, on the other hand, advocates obedience and faith. In this context, it might be useful to read David Chapman’s blog about Consensus Buddhism – as with everything that’s said and written about Buddhism these days, remember the author’s intention, always double-check, use common sense and question apodictic statements. Stay alert.
    Coming back to the question: “What has this got to do with my life?” Given the fact that ambition (greed) and individualisation (isolation) runs rampant in the consumerist culture (distraction) I consciously choose to adopt a way of life that encourages me to be kind and nice and selfless. This must have consequences for my career path. It’s impossible to get to the top like that. To live up to one’s true self, and thus, neither pretending to be a hardcore version of myself (difficult in times of social media) nor presenting a softer version of myself (difficult in relationships) means to walk a tightrope, indeed.

    A middle way be found between helping yourself and helping others. Friends should be supported, yes, and still equanimity should prevail, knowing that they have brought their current lot on themselves by their own actions of body, speech and mind. Nobody said it would be easy to be a Buddhist, especially not with an agenda lurking in the background urging you to be a ‘good’ Buddhist – or at least one of the good ones in general. (… link here to a controversial issue…)

    As you might have guessed, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think it is conducive to dhamma practice to have an idea of what I’m practicing compared to what others are practicing, all of us calling ourselves Buddhists, to some extent. Feel free to share here how you deal with the discrepancy of ‘Conservative Buddhism’ and ‘Consensus Buddhism’ in your life. Do you think in these terms at all? Is it relevant for you? If so, how? If not, why not? Do you read the original scriptures (Sutta, Vinaya, Abhidhamma)? If so, what is your reaction? If not, why don’t you give it a try?

     

    Let us pay homage to the pineapple!

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    Bukit Mertajam, Dhamma investigation, Malaysia, Sharing

    Vitamin D

    ​Time goes by quickly. Looking back it’s hard to believe how much has happened in three months! Most of it is stored somewhere in some hidden corner of my mind… oh wait a sec – there are no corners in my mind!

       

    Street corner in Penang. The Dhamma Path is bound to lead to the Road of Nirwana. All you have to do is STOP.

    Having some tea tarik in the evening. Why teh tarik? Cuz they ‘pull’ the can while pouring to let air in – for a bubbly surface and a kilo of gula/sugar. Please enjoy. While munching some roti pisang/banana with the tea some cows suddenly appear out of nowhere walking the streets of Penang. I can’t help it, i just love this place 🙂

       

    Cows Against The Stream (CATS)

       

    I am staying at Nandaka Vihara Meditation for a couple of days. It’s at Bukit Mertajam, about one hour east of Penang. A perfect place to relax and recharge batteries.
       

    Frangipani Frangipani

    To recharge batteries, yes. And also to get some original Vitamin D (Dhamma). Throughout the last years i suffered from an overdose of Vitamin B (Buddhism). Naturally, as there are so many people around saying ‘this is what the Buddha really taught’ it is hard not to get confused about what is and what is not the path to liberation. 

    Ven. Dhammavuddho kindly gave me a disc when i stayed at Vihara Buddha Gotama in Temoh. It is about 8GB full with readings and commentary of the Tripitaka, i.e. the Pali canon. More on my perception of these talks and the suttas themselves in a later post.
        

    Come and see 🙏

       

    Every day lay people come to donate breakfast and lunch. On Sunday there are particularly many people here at Nandaka Vihara. The Jivita Clinic opens its doors. Families arrive with donations (food, robes, medicine, supplements etc.) and take the five precepts. This is an essential part of the monastic life. Without the lay supporters the monks would have to walk to Bukit Mertajam and beg for alms food there or hire a van & driver to go to a town further away (like it is done at VBG, Temoh)

       

    This is probably going to be a kuti one day

    There is still a lot of construction work going on… stupa in the lake, library octagon hall, another meditation hall etc. Finished presumably 2025

       

    Every Sunday medical care is provided for free on the compound of Nandaka Vihara by the JIVITA Clinic.

    Bhante Vijita in the Jivita Clinic, having his pulse checked by Mr. Tan

    Reason enough to take a closer look at the Jivita Clinic (on the website it’s still called Aroga Clinic). There are several doctors offering acupuncture, cupping, homeopathic treatment, TCM, and western medicine.

    Being a Certified Ohashiatsu Consultant, I am certainly curious about the practical application of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and about Mr. Tan Choh Ling, the acupuncturist.

    David, Lee Hong and Bhante Vijita

    I tell David that i never had an acuPuncture session before… He asks me: ‘Do you want to try it out?’ Sure I do. Name and age are registered and about 15 mins after that I get my first acupuncture needle set ever. Four in the right shoulder, one in the arm, then three in the neck… and now that we’re at it, a cupping and cracking (postural alignment) session as well. 

       

    It’s Sunday. For me this means ‘lazy day’ – I do not permit the timetable to snatch away my peace. It serves to remind me of what i am here for.

    Lucky me gets a lift to Bukit Mertajam so I can buy a bus ticket to KL.

    The plane to Kuching leaves Tuesday morning.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Enjoy your day! At all times remember, my friend: There are so many reasons to be happy!

       

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    Dhamma investigation, Malaysia, Perhentian Island, Sharing

    ¿Quo Vadis?

    The question comes up again & again when travelling, especially if you don’t have a plan. No need to be on a journey, though, to fall into the traveller’s time trap. All it takes is identification with certain trains of thought. Thoughts about ‘whats next?’, jumping into both near and distant future scenarios. Do the next diving course? Work on a farm? Help with landscaping at a rainforest camp? Support a turtle project? Play tourist and visit National Parks? Meditate at the nearby monastery? Sometimes there are too many options… of course, a classical FWP. Certainly, part of it has to do with FOMO.

    Like everybody else I have to anticipate actions and consequences time and again. This, in turn, can create stress by leading me ever onwards and trying to cover all eventualities. In the end, the mind can become like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest.

     

    monkey stops at perhenti and says hello to fish

    Maybe you know that, too… I am enjoying a delicious meal, having a stroll through town, going for a hike, a refreshing sunrise swim, or coming across an extraordinary experience during formal dhamma practice. Next, desire comes in to wreck the show. I get attached to it. It becomes shallow: ‘Not enough…’ I tend to be irritated and hope for something better. Meanwhile, I might feel tempted to light a cigarette, maybe. Who wants to remain aware of dissatisfaction, right? Then i stop and take a deep breath. Am I not acting like a baby?

    Wanting something or other and becoming highly agitated if i don’t get it. The objects of desire may vary. The habit pattern of looking for pleasure stays the same. What’s wrong with pleasure, you might ask. Nothing – as long as there is no conviction that this is where happiness can be found.

    For example. Did it ever occur to you that a hard nipple and a cigarette filter have approximately the same size and form? Ever noticed that this fact could be closely connected to your habit of sucking on a paper roll filled with dried leaves? Ever noticed how you’re brainwashed into believing you are an adventurous independent grown-up tough guy riding a motorbike across the desert? Oh no, you see now, you’re just a baby sucking on a substitute tittie. Please forgive me if i sound blunt about this.

    Realise this.

    The more I try to be someone special by all that swimming-against… the more I react like everybody else. Exploring inner & outer nature I realise how utterly human I am. It is a humbling experience to notice what kind of habits I have been forming throughout my life. Times like these it’s important to remember:

    Let me not revive the past

    Nor on the future build my hopes

    The past has been left behind

    The future has not been reached…

    Bhaddekaratta Sutta

    I just watched a video I’d like to share with you. Click here to listen to Guy Winch talk about emotional first aid.  Truly, the ways in which human beings can hurt themselves (and others, too) are manifold. Of course, so are the ways in which we can help and support one another and make our lives more beautiful.

     

    If all goes well, I will be in Sarawak tomorrow. Which means the answer is for now ‘orientem’ – east.

     

    Kitchen team of Penang Hill East (February 2017)

     

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