Saturday, November 29, 2014

Vipassanā- bhāvanā

Vipassanā- bhāvanā
The Practice of Self-Introspection into the Nature of impermanence and Egoless

“Atta-dīpā viharatha, atta-saranā, anañña-sarana. Dhamma-dīpā viharatha, dhamma-saranā, anañña-sarana.”
“Each of you, make an island of yourself, make yourself your refuge; there is no other refuge.  Make truth your island, make truth your refuge, there is no other refuge.” – Mahā -Paribibbāna Suttanta, Dīgha Nikāya, 16 

Every morning, I wake up early and practice Vipassanā- bhāvanā for one hour.  The Vipassanā method taught by S.N. Goenka (Vipassana Meditation Teacher, 1924-2013,) is unique and beneficial to all who practice it.  It is the essence of the teaching of the enlightened Buddha, the actual experience of the truths of which he spoke (sutta).  This technique is to experiment reality, as it is.  It is a systematic development of insight into the impermanent (anicca), suffering, and egoless (anattā) nature of the mental-physical structure by observing sensation (vedanā) within the body.

Every morning, I begin my day by sitting on a mat with the legs crossed, and back straight.  Then I place my hands on my knee and close my eye.  This sitting position helps centered my awareness and attention inward.  By using my body as my own laboratory, I want to investigate the truth within myself.  I start observing the reality within the framework of my body by paying attention to the breath – the subtle feeling of air moving in and out of the nose naturally. From observing respiration within the limited area at the nostril, I proceed to observing sensation throughout the body without reacting to it. However, I often encounter the conditioned reactions of gross, solidified, intensified, and pleasant and unpleasant sensations (such bodily pain and pressure).  I also experience the habit pattern of my restless mind, always wandering around, from one object and subject to another, rolling in pleasure, reeling in pain, yet constantly remaining agitating like a wild animal. On this path, whatever is unknown about myself must become known. The goal of this practice is to avoid reacting to the sensation by understanding the law of impermanence (anicca) – the constantly arising (samudaya) and passing away (vaya) of the gross and subtle sensations within my body.

Every morning, the present is most important in practicing Vipassanā- bhāvanā. Here-and-now, I work patiently and continuously to break the old habit of generating new mental reaction (sankhārā).  I seek to find the answers to the questions within myself.  My struggle with the here-and-now is worthwhile and it is nonetheless a struggle and one that I will never finish. If the present is good, I don’t need to worry about the future, which is merely the product of the present, and therefore bound to be good. I accept what is – reality as reality is to me now.  I breathe in, I breathe out and I let reality happen knowing every moment never hands me the same thing twice (anicca).  The important thing is to experience the truth directly – to look within, to examine myself at the experimental level. At the end of the hour, I also practice meta-bhavana (the systematic cultivation of goodwill and compassion toward others) to share the merits gained through Vipassanā - bhavana with all beings. I wish all beings be happy, be peaceful, and be liberated.

Every morning, I want to make best use of this wonderful opportunity to experience the law of impermanence and the concept of non-self (anattā) – the actual practice of observing the truth as it is in order to come out of all miseries, and enjoy real peace, real happiness, and real harmony.

Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is NEXT between the CPP and the CNRP?

Picture Credit: AFP

What is NEXT between the CPP and the CNRP?

After cutting the deal on 22 July 2014, the Cambodian People Party (CPP) with 68 seats and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) with 55 seats lawmakers sat together for the first time in the National Assembly on 8 August 2014.  The center of that deal for the CNRP is the complete overhaul of the existing CPP controlled National Election Committee, which will require amending the constitution. As for the CPP, Prime Minister Hun Sen has regained full legitimacy – both morally and legally – in running the government. Many pertinent questions remain unanswered: Will this hastening agreement last or just simply a knotted tying for political convenience?  Can both political parties work together for the good of the people and put national interest first and foremost?  Can the CPP tolerate a strong opposition party at the National Assembly? Can the CPP handle critical debates in the parliament to push for better transparency and responsibilities to implement rule of law, to promote inclusiveness and to improve the courts? Will this new and first bipartisan political system work for the benefit of the nation? It is too early to tell but it is obvious that the ruling party has much more experiences and is better prepared and wily seasoned on dealing with those issues. Furthermore, the CPP has the ultimate power to legitimize almost all their activities, for example during the political deadlock, government security officials beat and arrested demonstrators at will, and at least seven innocent people were shot dead. This demonstrates that Cambodians do not live under the rule of law, but under the rule of power. For the CNRP, it is imperative for their members to stay united and to avoid internal conflicts, which is easier said than done once power arrangements within the party will not be evenly distributed. If they want to continue to gain the support of the masses, they must be passionate to push for positive changes, to insist for real reforms, to promote human rights and democracy because in Cambodia freedom is not free, truth must be fought for and justice must be demanded. Yet, the future of Cambodia depends on both parties to work cohesively and productively (checks and balances) together to deliver lasting results such as ending corruption and the culture of impunity, eliminating land grabs, stopping all illegal loggings, implementing pro poor growth, and applying the rule of law to all.  On the other hand, Cambodians must learn to put their difference aside and unite during this challenging time as the ruling and the opposition party focus on finding the common grounds. What Cambodians really need most are solutions not empty promises as before.   

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Boiling Point

 Photos Courtesy of  Reuters and AFP

The Boiling Point: The Deadly Clash on 3rd January 2014

"Cambodia stands at a crossroads, change is coming to Cambodia faster than many anticipated." ~ Surya Subedy, U.N. Human Rights Envoy to Cambodia  

Cambodia has made familiar headlines again not seen since the deadly crackdown on protests in 1998. The country is going through tremendous social and political upheaval since the last national elections on July 2013.  On 3rd January 2014, most Cambodians and people around the world were shocked and shaken by the images and the video clips of the savagery of the brutal force by military police against striking garment workers, who just exercised their rights to demand a living wage of $160 on Veng Sreng Street in the capital city of Phnom-Penh.  The strike turned fatal as the military police used AK-47 assault rifles to fire life bullets directly into the crowds of rocks, slingshots, and Molotov cocktails throwing protesters killing at least five dead and injured more than forty and most of them with gunshot wounds.  Twenty-three other strikers, activists, and union representatives were also arrested by soldiers during a protest and held in a Kompong Cham maximum-security prison at this writing. 

The next day, a large group of military police accompanied by a group of men dressed in plain clothes with a red ribbon around their arms wielding sticks, batons, metal pipes and axes stormed and drove the peaceful protestors Phnom-Penh’s Freedom Park, which had served as the Cambodian National Rescue Party’s base for the last three months.  

In Cambodia many people have been deprived of civil rights and liberties. Following this crack down, the government issued a statement explaining that the constitutional freedom to assemble in the city would be banned indefinitely “until security and public order is guaranteed."   This suspension of Cambodian Constitutional Rights is unlawful according Articles 37 and 41.  At a press conference at the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Phnom-Penh to wrap up his six days fact-finding mission, U.N. Human Rights envoy Surya Subedy condemned the use of lethal force against the protesters and added that "the ban on demonstration should be lifted." 

Cambodia has reached a boiling point where the ruling party had decided to use armed forces with AK-47 assault rifles to crackdown on the social and political demands of the citizens.  The impact of this deadly clash has grave consequences in terms of human security.  In a democratic society, the authorities cannot ignore the demands of the citizens.   The government needs to embrace a constructive and cooperative resolution by discarding the excessive use of violence to address workers’ demands and to deal with political dissent.  Ensuring social order and the continued peace is in the best interest of all people.  Given the current levels of tension, the ruling party must abandon confrontational rhetoric and exercising restraint towards protestors to build stability and prosperity.  Political reconciliation norms through dialogue, compromise, and a legislature that enjoys by all are keys to solve this deadlock.  Good cannot come from force or fear.  The alternative is unimaginable.