Thursday, 27 March 2008

Special day

No mud. No lotus.
Today is the continuation day for Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, which literally means universal worthy. He is the guardian of law and always placed on the right of Shakyamuni, while Manjushri Bodhisattva, the guardian of wisdom, is on the left.

Bodhi means enlightenment and Sattva means sentient and conscious. Therefore, Bodhisattva refers to the sentient being of great wisdom and enlightenment. Bodhisattva's vow is the pursuit of Buddhahood and the salvation of others and of all. He is devoid of egoism and devoted to help the others. The way and discipline of Bodhisattva is to benefit the self and the others, leading to Buddhahood.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Nat has taken the Bodhisattva vows in Dharamsala under His Holiness's blessing. Another close friend of mine, Koh, has also taken the vows while he attended the winter retreat late last year at Plum Village of France under the ven Thich Nhat Hanh.

I feel blessed while being with Nat and Koh. They are truly like the lotus in the mud. The lotus is born out of mud, yet it is clean and beautiful. So out of the dirty mud arises the symbol of purity itself. Things in our daily life are only "dirty" or "clean" because we perceive them to be that way. We do not have to erect a wall between them. 

Coincidentally, 3 of us are also born on friday, the day the Buddha was born. I have specially made two stone buddhas in contemplation pose as a dharma gift to them. The stone buddhas, carved out in a really minimal way,  can only tell of its buddha presence if we feel it inside us. We only need to purify our minds so that our perceptions become pure and unmitigated by defilements such as attachment to the self. Buddhahood is truly everywhere.

On the Dalai Lama's official site, I found one of my favourite quotes by Shanti Deva, "For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain. Until then may I too abide to dispel the misery of the world. "

May we turn the muddy world into a pond of clean water, with lotuses blossoming everywhere.

Lotus shot with intentional camera shakes, Siam reap, Cambodia.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Lesson en route

The old man and the sea
On the seashore of Alexandria, I noticed an old man fishing in silence. He had probably sat there for hours but judging from his leisurely manner, he didn't seem to mind at all sitting till dusk.

I squatted down with my camera, he saw me from afar but not even bothered to stop me. I was trying hard not to invade his privacy. The passers-by walked past him in twos or threes. He was not distracted at all and still indulged himself in his own world.

He was truly present in the here and now, between himself and his fishing rod.

I recalled a zen koan of a young novice asking his master: "What is zen?" The master simply replied: "When you eat, eat. When you sleep, sleep."

I smiled at the old man when I walked past him. He didn't return with a smile but I was thankful for the lesson he taught me.

Old man and the sea, Alexandria, Egypt.

Asia today

Back with a revenge
Last friday on CNN's breaking news, Lhasa is erupted in deadly violence as Chinese security forces used gunfire to quell the unrest after 3 days of protests by hundreds of monks in Lhasa, India and else where around the world that marked the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

I was shocked to see the world's highest city littered with cars and motorbikes set ablaze. Black smoke billowed in the background not far from the Jokhang temple where the riot started. Barely a year ago I was with Jick walking around Barkor street and saying prayers.

My close friend, Nat, now in Dharamsala atttending the annual spring teachings, has probably witnessed the brutal truth the Tibetans have to accept when news of Lhasa riots spread across the Himalaya region.

Last October in Yangon city, the Burmese junta also crushed on the unarmed protest led by monks and many were killed as they marched in the street. A peaceful demonstration has turned uglily into a bloody massacre.

The non-violence approach adopted by Buddhist monks is always met with violent suppression by the opposed party. It was worrying to think if the monks resort to violence to fight for their freedom, there will be even more uprisings like these in near future.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has already appealed to the Chinese leadership not to use force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through sincere dialogues.

I can only hope the Chinese will drop their weapons, and come up with a win-win solution for both the Tibetans and themselves.

Violence can never curb violence. Only loving kindness and compassion can.

Angkor Wat under a stormy sky, Siam reap.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

My thai life 5















The King and his jazzy friends in 1963.

My thai life 4












Khaosan road at night, Bangkok.

My thai life 3












JCB日本卡和VISA卡更會打食客的主意,在塔妮亞路一間叫「 幸」的日本館子,招牌上大打免費廣告,每逢傍晚時分,裡頭都坐滿了著西裝的日本闊佬。Cheers啤酒也首次進入泰國市場,如法炮制做了一個拋磚引玉的立體廣告,深得人心,叫好又叫座。

Cheers啤酒「蟹肉冬粉篇」是在訴說一對情侶上餐館吃飯,菜端上來,男的赫然發現只有一隻蟹箝,只好吞下口水讓給女的,吃著吃著又猛然發現另一隻蟹箝(在泰國很少見,因蟹肉昂貴),樂得他高聲歡呼,在座的每一位也為他一齊喝采。結尾文案:「生活中的小事,也可值得大大喝彩。」Beer cheers取其品牌之意,大大激起了消費者的食慾。此立體廣告還曾榮獲2006年香港Media Asian Awards銅獎。


Frog legs as a delicacy, Aranyaprathet, bordering Cambodia.

My thai life 2





泰人行善,通常是為了積福德,而且是為了來世而積,就像航空公司飛行獎勵計劃裡的里程促銷一樣,累積得愈多愈好,這種根深蒂固的觀念,促成慈善事業如雨後春筍般蓬勃發展。而僧桶也自然成了熱門貨,甚至 7-ELEVEN 及 Tesco 也爭相販賣,可見市場之大,盈利之豐,無人可抵擋。


幾年前在素可泰的農村有一個窮老婦,中了六千萬銖的彩票,而他竟把全部獎金捐出去建寺廟,引起眾人議論紛紛。記者還特地去採訪他,只見他清描淡寫地說: 「今世都窮了半輩子,老了錢多也沒用,不如拿來行善,來世我才能享盡榮華富貴。」此軼事對於泰人行善的心境描寫得淋漓盡致。

國際慈善機構 Recycle 年推出一系列再生循環平面廣告,不僅活用了佛法的輪迴論,還在2006年坎城廣告展上報捷,廣告巧妙地以鋁罐為前世﹑鋁鍋為 今世﹑賓士為來世,道出行善得善報的連鎖效應。另外兩篇則以廁紙,百科全書﹑美鈔及玻璃杯,桌燈﹑教堂彩窗,配合文案:今世行善,來世會更好。雖然不致頓悟,卻也不失警惕。

泰國的 Sylvania 燈管,索性就地取材,做了一個深入民心的立體廣告「壁虎篇」。是敘述一位農婦在洗澡,忽然聽見有人叫她,回頭一望,原來是一隻大壁 虎,是她過世的前夫投胎轉世的。結尾文案:「來世不想落得如此下場,今世請布施 Sylvania 燈管,包你世世代代一片光明。」此立體廣告曾榮獲 2004 Adman Thailand銀獎。

Wat Pho with the world's largest reclining buddha.

My thai life 1




多年的同志文化,在90年代初開始在各個領域開枝散葉,除了酒廳、舞廳、餐廳、卡拉OK、桑拿館、男秀、按摩院和旅行社之外,蓄勢待發的還有以同志為對象 的情趣旅館,老外同志泰語速成班,甚至在泰國中部剛建成一個同志村,雅名為花城,裡頭住著清一色的「酷兒族」。泰國的同志場所來勢洶洶,聲名遠播全球各地,其中首推沙通泰路的巴比倫桑拿館,乃歐美同志旅泰必來的「解放」之處。

聽說最近新加坡也紛紛大搞同志文化,勢必想和曼谷力爭亞洲酷都 Queer Capital 的美譽,而座落於席隆路2巷的 DJ STATION,可是同志夜店中的佼佼者,也是國際大本營。各國各色的英雄英雌皆匯聚於此,夜夜人心悸動,促成情慾橫流的風氣。


Axe 男性體香露推出的平面廣告,剛好正中下懷。創意執行源於電子遊戲,卻又暗佈格局,刺激感官,幽默中不乏性感,在2005年紐約廣告節中奪金。
另一當地品牌 SYLVANIA,索性將同志暗戀的心態,原汁原味地呈現在電視螢幕上,「暗戀篇」娓娓道出,一般男同志畏懼表達情感的窘境,一位英俊的男顧 客來買 SYLVANIA 燈管,店主一聽立即轉喜為憂,吞吞吐吐說不出話來,後來終於提起勇氣,向男顧客示愛,原來燈管持久耐用,店主唯恐要隔好一段日子方 能再和男顧客見面,進而早點吐露心中的情感。

Print ad for Axe body spray.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Tea break

Cafe hopping !

Very few places in the world has a good culture of cafe hopping. The well known ones have a long tradition and been popular among tea connoisseurs. Its people know how to make a cup of good tea and when challenged, will turn things around with a twist.

The English, being a tea lover, has revolutionized our work day with the 4 o'clock break. They even have a label of tea named after their country!

The French makes tea business a flourishing trade. You can see lots of them along Saint Germain street. A small cup at Cafe de Flore will easily cost you up to 8 euros.

The Indian and the Nepali drink tea round the clock. "Chai" is something essential in a typical meal. Not a single day passes without a fragrant cup of the yellow liquid.

The Sri Lankan doesn't just take tea. They smell tea too right in front of their houses in Kandy.

The Japanese turns tea into a longevity product and makes the world go crazy with green tea. The tea ceremony also links zen buddhism deeply into their lives.

The Tibetan makes really oily and salty yak butter tea. After gulping down a cup you will feel like already taking a big meal.

The Chinese even has a sutra written to celebrate the goodness of tea. Many of its poetic works and literature are inspired by the sheer thought of tea too.

The Vietnamese somehow has turned cafes into a different hangout place with disco music blasting from all corners once you walk inside.

Flower tea at a cafe called "休", Seoul.