Ethical Shopping (My First Purchase After A Year-long Book Detox)

During my gap year/spiritual journey in 2011-2012, I found the dharma talks given by Ching Kung master (a Chinese Buddhist monk) so enriching that I didn’t feel like reading anything secular, except for teaching purpose (like the poems and short stories covered in the syllabus of HKDSE English Literature).

During that period of time, it was kind of a guilty pleasure for me to buy this book called Bonjour, Happiness. To be honest, I didn’t even need this book, as I considered myself quite qualified as a French in most aspects of my lifestyle. If it doesn’t cover anything that I don’t know already, why did I buy it?

Well, I spent half an afternoon reading in an air-conditioned, well-lit and spacious bookstore, so it would be morally wrong to walk out of it without leaving anything behind aside from a few strings of hair from the mindless brushing and twirling while reading… I am kidding!

The true reason was, I wanted to be an ethical buyer. As a minimalist, I believe I bear a certain degree of responsibility in supporting the ideas of finding happiness in a less materialistic approach as preached by the author Jamie Cat Callan.

Before that, I hadn’t really picked up a book and walked to the counter for nearly a year. There was only this one time when I wandered around a nearby district and discovered an underground used bookstore with over ten cats lying and jumping around.

I don’t want this place, the home of those cats, to close down but I know it probably will someday as people are less inclined to paperbacks. I want to help with the rent, even by just a few pennies. Besides the boss kindly directed me how to get to my destination. In return I bought a few used books there.

Another example of ethical shopping was I bought a packet of baking soda for $10 at a bakery supply store when I could get the exact same box for $9.5 at a chained supermarket. To which store my money goes to matters because each dollar speaks for what I support. I wanted to support a local store which specialised in baking so I opted to spend my money there.

Compared to this guy here in Hong Kong who started his one-man campaign of not buying things from corporation chain stores for a year, I am only doing so little.

I hope by sharing how little we can do to implement the notion of ethical shopping that more people will join the league and make this world a kinder place.

📿修行 📿雙親是真修者最好的老師

淨空法師說,不需要飛去印度參見甚麼大師,雙親就是真修者最好的老師。

回想起來,假如吾年少時有遵從父母的每個叮囑,一定少走很多彎路。

奈何反叛的吾偏要挑父母的缺點,認為他們不是完人,沒資格教訓我。

所謂「人微言輕」,同一番說話,出自不同地位的人,效果不盡然一樣。

若傳道者言行不一,那些鼓勵的說話,只會收到「先管好自己吧」的反饋。

一般人被凡人罵是不聽勸的,得換成聖人才受教。

但,父母有缺點,是父母的事情,怎知道父母沒有在自省,沒在改過?四下無人時吾也會自省,難保別人也有自省的時候,只不過無法跟別人24小時共處而不知。

📿修行 📿沒有脾氣是修行功夫的指標

大家都聽過信眾向白龍王求福,白龍王叫他們修好脾氣的故事吧。

之所以會發脾氣,不過因為太投入「我」這個角色,分享不到「他」的感受。

明白一個人的心態卻接受不了他的行為,談不上真的明白。

一如大人雖然明白小寶寶叫喊是因為身體不舒服,但半夜被哭聲吵醒一樣會發脾氣。

能站在別人的處境去做反應,才算真正放下了自我。

📿修行 📿肉眼

肉眼受制於物理。儘管科技容許我們透過電子錄像追溯過去,或收看遠在他方的畫面,we can only view one thing at a time。

世上有很多肉眼看不到的東西確確實實地存在著,說「我看不到,所以它不存在」實在自大了,一個凡夫能看見的東西有多少?

住在灣仔的上班族,只看到早上和晚上的灣仔。午後,老年人在電車上聽收音機,在修頓球場打盹,主婦提著大小包趕回家煮飯的畫面,他能一一飽覽嗎?不能,他的辦公室在中環,他分不了身。在這片土地發生的事,他沒能力親眼目睹,但那些事情確實在發生。

如果我們只願意信服肉眼所看到的,我們看到的是非常有限。

📿修行 📿自命清高

末學第一次自修佛法時 ,有一個很大的毛病:自命清高。

看不起那些浸淫在紫醉金迷的人,看不起那些日夜造業的人。

這種分別心,要不得。

佛陀教我們用慈悲心對待一切眾生,怎可抱持厭惡之心呢?

自命清高,皆因信不過自己的定力,怕跟那種人來往會有染著,所以刻意遠離。

這樣心胸會變得狹窄。

要明白,這個世間本來就是六道之一,是還未覺悟者的住處,這裡的眾生未看破是很正常的。

人人皆是佛,只是早晚問題,不必為他人而煩惱,只看自己的修行。

其實看到不如法之事,不過因為自己不夠清淨。若自己的榜樣做得夠好, 身邊的人也會開始改變吧。

Writing Diary Can’t Save You (a 2012 blogpost)

This is a blogpost I wrote on 15/16th September, 2012. It’s titled “Writing Diary Can’t Save You”. Back then, I was using the standard style of diary writing and I didn’t really experience journal writing. Therefore, my diaries were mostly scribbled out of either anger or fearfulness. I seldom went through the entries in order to find any repeated theme or keyword in them, which was a therapeutic technique introduced in the book The New Diary. For the record, I don’t write in such traditional style of diary anymore. and I have to strongly disagree with what I wrote in this four-year old online entry. Over the past three to four years, I have been implementing the principles introduced by a Japanese author Nobuyuki Okuno (奧野宣之). I discovered just now how similar some of his ideas were to those in The New Diary, which I recently reread. (Click the link for my book review.) I am sharing this blogpost with you all just to show how my perception of whether diary writing should be considered a therapy has changed. Hope this is useful or at least inspiring in some ways. 

 

Went to a bookstore yesterday to check if a certain new book from an acclaimed writer was in stock. While it was not, I stumbled upon another book, quite a thick one actually for a subcultural topic — diary writing. As a diary keeper for over ten years until last year when I decided to quit the habit of recycling my negative emotions in forms of words and self-pitying by shredding all my diaries, I was intrigued and quickly gleaned from the book the seven new approaches of diary writing before leaving to catch the shuttle bus. Though I had enough cash, the sanity in me reminded me of how diaries had got me in bad loops in life, so I didn’t buy the book.

I still kept track of my thoughts but it was more like a inventory of my Buddhist practice than one that is filled with complaints and doubts in life. I fear that diary keeping will do nothing other than to shake my new found belief. To avoid that, I restrict diary writing to reflections upon my inappropriateness which may violate the rules that I have sworn to keep for my religion, such as holding onto certain desires.

Desires aren’t real. But they still have their effect if one is not conscious enough to notice their effect, or when one follow its effect willingly. I am not sure which one has a stronger force: my decade old habit or my willfulness but my repressed desire to express in form of writing has drawn me to this book (The New Diary). This person is quite daring to write a book like this. Who keeps diaries these days? I have read plenty of books on illustrators’ journals or bankers’ schedules, but diaries? How many copies did s/he expect to sell? Well, I don’t know, but there are certainly enough to have it translated from English to Chinese.

To find out more about this intriguing book, I have done a google search online. It has nothing to do with sour grapes, but I do think some points made by the author are exaggerating, which is quite normal for practical books alike and it does fit the 20:80 theory by putting 80% of his ideas in 20% of his book. The book speaks in the voice of all those “bestselling” “writers’”, pushing their words and hard selling them. Yea, we all know keeping a diary is therapeutic, so are many other things. Chocolate makes our belly fat and shopping makes our wallet thin. Our own words are toxic in some way when the positive effect reaches its plateau. It’s just like the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns.

No disease can be cured unless it is uprooted. If you don’t want to be overweight, eat less and exercise more. Likewise, if you don’t want to be miserable, complain less and say thanks more. I appreciate the effort and the gratitude the author dedicated to unfolding the myths of diary writing, but having kept diaries for almost a dozen years, I feel obliged to let hopefuls know that a journal may work just as much as an antidepressant. You can try it, but don’t expect it to save your life.

It is not exactly the reality when people say that keeping a diary help you as an emotional outlet. Those people giving such irresponsible advice should have interviewed me, a diary keeper for at least ten years, because I know the truth. We don’t write and relax. We write and replay. Even if the page is to be discarded the moment you are done, there are tracks of thoughts in your mind that take times to be flattened out. If one scratches constantly, the marks will stay there. To leave this unhealthy cycle, I stopped blackmailing myself with my own words.