Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My vipassana meditation retreat experience

I went to a five-day forest meditation retreat under Ajahn Cagino's guidance. It has not been easy decision when I have finally signed up for the first ever long retreat as I need to be completely away from home and work. This mind is full of attachment.

This is a journey to spiritual awakening. Chained to our attachments, we perceive the world through our ideas, our thoughts , our mental constructs, taking these concepts to be the reality itself. The first three days was extremely intense as I was not used to sit for long hours and with no meals after lunch. I was aware of the boredom, hunger, defilement and cravings arises from time to time.

By the fourth day, I was able to sit longer hour with little pain. Pain is created by our mind as I have been told. We are told to investigate right here. Meditation is generally not well understood. When our mind is quiet during meditation, then we can see how things really are. Enlightenment is not something to get, it's something to realize.

I'm glad to have the chance to develop the practice to recognizing the contents of our mind. The Buddha taught us to see them just as they are. May all beings be well and happy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life Moment: Green Biker

Because the love of the earth and nature, he open vegetarian sushi kitchen and joined cycling adventure to promote the care for environment. Great inspiration indeed!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Future is Bright, The Future is Lohas

From www.lohas.com

Arianna Huffington recently said at Urban Zen NYC's Conversations on Sustainable Wellness series: "If there's one thing the world is starving for it's wisdom, and health is connected to wisdom."

We couldn’t agree with her more, as we need wise and productive change now! The world is in turmoil and, until we can come together in a healthy way, life will be even more challenging than it need be. Amidst the confusion, there is a crucial need to bring business leaders to this same understanding, as they are in a position to make lasting and effective differences. Which is the very purpose of LOHAS, aka Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.

As we are all well aware, times have changed. What we were talking about three years ago is now happening: bringing bags to the grocery store, using CFL light bulbs, driving a hybrid car – thankfully, these are all accepted as normal. We’ve got the green bit going, got recycling sorted, so now it’s about ensuring green assets are fully sustainable so that everyone participates. We need to be inspired. It may be the right thing to do but it has to be worth it to turn computers off at night or refit a whole office with recyclable materials.

LOHAS is a wonderful and innovated global phenomena bigger in Asia than even in the west. In Chinese LOHAS translates as ‘happy living’ and has spread like wildfire. The concept wraps traditional values of Asian believes, philosophy and cultural understanding in with a cool western packaging, which is very attractive to the younger generation. There are LOHAS department stores, energy bars, and restaurants, to name a few. Amazingly, director Ted Ning has conducted LOHAS tours of Boulder, Colorado, for Japanese businessmen who are fascinated to see what healthy and sustainable lifestyle looks like in a living environment. 

As change is where it’s at, the theme of this year’s forum is the Future of Possibility. “If we took a snapshot of how everyone is right now, there’s a real frantic energy,” believes Ted Ning. “Everyone seems to be on the run going everywhere and anywhere, busily trying to make things happen. Two words that reflect the world this year could be instability and uncertainty. If we look at Japan, the Middle East, the weather, everything is changing and is really uncertain and no one knows what’s going to happen next.”

Doom and gloom can be depressing, but the upside means there are many possibilities ahead. Out of the mud comes new growth, such as a beautiful lotus flower.

The Future of Possibilities is at the cutting edge. Among many speakers is brilliant futurist Jean Houston, founder of the Mystery School and author of many new thought books, talking on “Understanding the Great Mystery;” and Dan Millman, bestselling author of The Peaceful Warrior and The Four Purposes of Life, talking on “The Business of Living — on Purpose.” 

“We must find the way that speaks to our innate capacity for knowing, for being, for entering into those wisdom states that give us the intuitive knowledge of what we are and what we must do in this most important time, for what we do now will most profoundly make a difference to our future.” -- Jean Houston, from our book Be The Change

Also speaking is Chris Kilham, named by CNN ‘the Indiana Jones of Natural Medicine,’ who will tell “Tales From The Medicine Trail,” while John Peterson, founder of the Arlington Institute, will talk on “2012: The Shift We have Been Waiting For.” 

And to top it all, the former keyboardist for Santana, Freddie Ravel, will be headlining the closing in a “Tune Up for Success.”

Participants come looking for meaning and value-based purposes. That’s why LOHAS is a beacon showing how business can be profitable, even in these difficult times. Yogis and successful ‘green’ companies will be rubbing shoulders with Coca Cola, Walmart, a Russian trade association, as well as prominent Chinese and Japanese business leaders, as they share new ways of thinking and sustainable practices. 

‘Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability’ describes a marketplace focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. One in four Americans is part of this group—nearly 41 million people. They are the future of business and also the future of progressive social, environmental and economic change. 

We will be at this exciting event as we have been for the past few years, for you never know who you will meet —last year we found business cards made from elephant pooh while Ed overdosed on delicious organic chocolate! 

The LOHAS Forum is June 22-24th in Boulder, Colorado. It provides a cross section of thoughtful and progressive executives, and is known for fantastic networking with decision makers who are involved in LOHAS business. There will also be a special regional event on May 12th in Minneapolis, MN

What can you do to make life more healthy or sustainable in your world? 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fifth Malaysian Organic and Natural Products Exhibition

Courtesy of Cetdem and The Star Online

The Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) and Slow Food Klang Valley Convivium with the support of Department of Agriculture and the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall are organising the 5th Malaysian Organic and Natural Products Exhibition from Sept 18–20 at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, No 1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur

Entrance to the three-day exhibition and forum is free. The exhibition is open to the public from 10am to 8pm.
For information on the exhibition and public forum, contact Cetdem at 03-7875 7767; 016 6414883 or email of@cetdem.org.my.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Characteristics of Lohasian/ Cultural Creatives

Reference from Wikipedia

Ray and Anderson created a questionnaire to identify Cultural Creatives in Western society. The below characteristics were identified as qualities of a Cultural Creative. Agreement with 10 or more indicates status as a Cultural Creative.

  • love of nature and deep caring about its preservation, and its natural balance.
  • strong awareness of the planet-wide issues (i.e. global warming, poverty, overpopulation, etc.) and a desire to see more action on them
  • being active themselves as well (e.g. cradle2cradle principle)
  • willingness to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money went to improving the environment
  • heavy emphasis on the importance of developing and maintaining relationships
  • heavy emphasis on the importance of helping others and developing their unique gifts
  • volunteer with one or more good causes
  • intense interest in spiritual and psychological development
  • see spirituality as an important aspect of life, but worry about religious fundamentalism
  • desire equity for women/men in business, life and politics
  • concern and support of the wellbeing (oa. freedom) of all women and children
  • want politics and government to spend more money on education, community programs and the support of a more ecologically sustainable future
  • are unhappy with the left and right in politics
  • optimism towards the future
  • want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life
  • are concerned with big business and the means they use to generate profits, including destroying the environment and exploiting poorer countries
  • unlikely to overspend or be in heavy debt
  • dislike the emphasis of modern cultures on "making it" and "success", on consuming and making money
  • like people, places and things that are different or exotic

Monday, August 16, 2010

Busting the organic myth

Courtesy  of The Star Online
While there’s little doubt that organic food makes a healthier diet, it has attained a stigma of its own and many shy away believing that it is not worth its salt.
AT the mention of “organic food” what are the other words that come to mind? If you are thinking “bland”, “tasteless”, “expensive” or “sick”, you’re not alone. Many others will be thinking along the same line.
This seems to be the general opinion of organic food now but a couple of years ago, the perception was generally positive. Dozens of “organic” restaurants were opened and though they were serving brown rice and wheatgrass juice (which must have seemed foreign to a population accustomed to nasi lemak and teh tarik), people were curiously receptive.
Creative: Sherene Soong and Wong Kai Yuen, the husbandand- wife team behind the EcoGreen Organic outfit.
It also helped that several big-name celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow were openly touting the benefits of their respective organic and macrobiotics diet.
However, after the initial buzz, many of these restaurants have since closed and we’re left wondering why. Wasn’t there enough demand to sustain them? Are Malaysians really sticklers for their Hokkien mee? Or is organic fare simply not good enough to appeal to our taste buds?
Furthermore, there are many myths surrounding organic food that are hardly going to help jack up its popularity. But does organic food deserve its reputation as “rabbit food”, as one friend puts it?
One myth is that organic food is expensive. This, unfortunately, is true and a visit to a supermarket with a section for organic food will reveal just how much. To give an idea, organic broccoli costs RM20 per kg, which is RM1.10 more than conventional broccoli. This difference is negligible but in other instances, it can easily cost a few hundred percent more. Organic potatoes, for example, cost RM10.90 per kg while non-organic ones cost only RM2.90. In a restaurant, the higher ingredient cost will definitely be transferred to the fare that is served.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), certified organic food is more expensive because of several reasons. These include limited supply and higher production costs due to greater labour inputs and post-harvest handling. Additionally, the price of organic food also includes costs involved in organic farming, which takes the environment and animal welfare into bigger consideration.
This relates to what Sherene Soong and Wong Kai Yuen, the husband-and-wife team behind the EcoGreen Organic outfit, refer to as “value”.
“People who go for industrially produced food is baited by the concept of cheap. Sure, they may eat more but are they getting enough nutrition for their well-being?” Wong asks.
Although he concedes that organic food is not within the reach of the poor, he believes it is within reach of average families.
“Looking at the amount people spend on smoking, or even on entertainment, I don’t feel that spending an additional RM200 to provide the family with better quality food is too much,” says Wong.
Another enduring myth about organic food is that it is only for sick people.

One way to ensure you’re purchasing genuine organic food is to look out for certifications.
Au Tai Hon, co-owner of Yogitree restaurant in The Gardens shopping mall, Kuala Lumpur, was mildly amused as to how this perception came about.
“One hundred to 150 years ago, this ‘organic’ method was how things were done. Food was fresh and procured locally; it was natural.”
Then, he rues, came the industrialisation and commercialisation of food, which affected a change in palates.
“Chain restaurants and instant food trained us to expect things that are fast, convenient, cheap and artificially flavoured.
“We want chickens that are ready for consumption in one month, rather than the three or four that is naturally required,” says Au.
With this line of reasoning, he makes a strong case that organic food and restaurants serving them are how things were supposed to be before food went into the domain of corporations.
Thus, the perception surrounding organic food – that it belongs in the realm of alternative lifestyle – ought to change, he stresses.
“It is for everybody, not just the sick,” he says.
There are some who feel that paying a premium for organic food allows unscrupulous parties to profit by labelling a non-organic product as organic. Herein comes the perception that “some of them are fake”.
Macrobiotics for Life author and proprietor of Woods Macrobiotics, on organic restaurant in Bangsar, June Ka Lim admits that this is a concern but points out that the main culprits are chemical flavourings that are sold as healthy flavourings, coloured food and the presence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Guaranteed organic: Yogitree serves homemade ice cream at RM8 per scoop.
To avoid being deceived, EcoGreen’s Wong suggests two strategies. One is to look out for certification. This includes the local certification standard called the Malaysian Organic Scheme (SOM) under the purview of the Agriculture Department. Other known certifications include Australia’s NASAA and Italy’s ICEA.
Another approach would be to build consumer-producer relationships, Wong says.
Speaking as a restaurant owner, he explains: “Although it’s not always possible, in terms of proximity, consumers or patrons should get to know the restaurant and the people who run it. This way, you get to know their personalities and characters, enabling you to make an informed decision if this person is someone who would sell you inferior goods.”
Calling this the “cultural approach”, Wong believes that it’s easy enough to investigate a producer’s reputation and credentials.
“There are no certifications for restaurants and most of the time, no one really knows what happens in a kitchen anyway. Even conventional certifications for farms are not infallible,” he adds.
One reason often cited for the closing down of organic restaurants is lack of demand. But Woods’ Ka Lim dismisses this, saying that from her experience as a pioneer in the organic food industry, the market is growing at a steady rate of at least 20% a year.
The reason a lot of new organic restaurants close down, she explains, is because most newcomers jump onto the bandwagon without any experience or in-depth knowledge on organic or healthy cooking.
“The menu is not creative enough and food is not well-combined for a nutritional balance, with most of the ideas copied from here and there,” she says. “Some of our dishes have been copied elsewhere but they failed to turn out well because different ingredients were used.”
Yogitree’s Au, on the other hand, opines that a lot of these organic restaurants were probably not received well because they were too vegetarian-based.
The pesto and Portobello mushroom with organic pasta is also tossed with rocket and pine nuts
“Of course, a sustainable bottom line is important and this can be achieved not by targeting a particular market, which can be small, but to gear the restaurant towards entertaining,” he says.
There is a market for organic food, and this is evident by the availability of organic food in supermarkets, he stresses.
“There used to be a limited selection but some supermarkets stock whole sections with organic products now.”
To the average food-loving Malaysian who is willing to drive a few hundred kilometres for a taste of the best char kuay teow or assam laksa, the idea that organic food is tasteless and bland could be one of the most important factors to give it a miss.
EcoGreen’s Soong, who is also the restaurant’s head chef, smiles knowingly when she hears this. “Here, we manage to surprise.
“Creativity is key,” she states.
As an example, she says she creams her curry gravy with nuts and oats instead of santan and it provides a similar richness in taste and texture.
Yogitree’s Au says that organic and natural food cannot go wrong in the taste department because it is fresh.
The best meal he has ever had, he relates, was at the house of a padi farmer in Kedah. There, he had chicken curry that was light yet wholesome but without the “heavy taste” that is found in the city.
That, he says, is “unforgettable”.