Feb 14, 2007

Q&A on Buddhism - part 6

Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. This is a Q&A with HH Sakya Trizin.

This is the continuation from part 5.

Q: Love and compassion are good, but doesn't there come a point when it is better to be angry with people? Is anger ever justified?

A: Maybe, if the intension is white, even though the action is black. Even if you are angry, if it is with the thought of benefiting a being, your anger arises from compassion, and whatever arises out of compassion is good. If the root is medicinal, even if the fruit appears bad, it will be medicinal.

Q: Buddhism is often thought of as leading to negative and passive behaviour.

A: This is true if you enter and abide in Liberation. But if you enter the Great Way, instead of selfish desire for liberated quiescence, you have compassion which is the active desire for benefit of all beings.

Q: Buddhism is sometimes said to be atheistic because it holds that there is no God.

A: Buddhism does not believe in a God as the creator of the world and, in that sense, you might say it is atheistic. If however, God is something else, a divine compassion or a divine wisdom, manifest in the form of a deity, you might say that Buddhism is not atheistic but polytheistic.

I intend to make this short for easy reading. In the next post, we'll look at what is Emptiness, a term often used in Buddhism.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

Feb 12, 2007

komponen sastera in Bahasa Melayu subject

Making Malay literature (kesusasteraan Melayu) a component in the Bahasa Melayu subject may not necessarily increase the level of interest among students. Students are learning KOMSAS (komponen sastera) just for the sake of exam and do not show genuine appreciation for Malay literature. They may have read about cerita jenaka like Lebai Malang or Pak Kaduk, but try ask them if they have read about Pak Pandir, you'll be surprised that some of them may never even heard about the silly character before. Anyway, I don't suggest for Pak Pandir to be included in the syllabus though.

Sometimes I wonder if the ministry of education knows how to choose the right reading material to be used as textbooks. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps the problem lies in the children of today. They have no heart and soul for the poor or even tragic characters in their anthologies and novels. Many times when students were asked to read the novel Meniti Kaca, they will laugh about the character Mahyun, the mother of Nazar (the main character), because she had this penyakit nanar and who was later sent to Hospital Bahagia (so now you know why they laugh about it). When the mother was found dead under a coconut tree by the river, some students may even find that plot funny. Not only that, the majority of city kids can't relate to the story because the latar tempat and latar masyarakat in the novel were something they can't imagine of.

In a similar setting in Hadiah Hari Guru, a boy named Ramli was so poor he had to give ulam pucuk janggus as a present to his favourite teacher, Cikgu Fatimah. In reality, especially in this 21st century, a touching storyline using poverty and simplicity won't leave much impact on our students like the way it used to work on students in the 70s or 80s. Poverty still exists but this common kampung setting which keeps repeated in the school syllabus just won't work anymore especially in convincing the modern kids on how lucky they are. Perhaps we should have more short stories like Tina and Tangan Kanan, Kiri atau Kedua-duanya which are better readings for students because they emphasized on family values. I simply love the fact that the authors of the two short stories like to over use the teknik plot imbas kembali (flash back) and gaya bahasa hiperbola (exaggeration) respectively.

There are a lot of good puisi (whether tradisional or moden), prosa and drama in the anthologies used by students. Even the novels are good. However, it is not enough. In my humble opinion, students shouldn't just limit themselves to the textbooks. They must read more than what they were asked to do. There are a lot of good books that worth reading such as Syair Siti Zubaidah, Hikayat Malim Deman and Sayang Si Tina just to name a few. Sayang Si Tina, by Ali Majod is one of my all time favourite. The story is about a student called Tina who was involved in an accident and left her paralysed. The touching story is about the acceptance of oneself as well as the acceptance of others.

On the other hand, teachers must be creative in teaching KOMSAS in order to increase the level of interest among students. Instead of just asking students to read from the textbooks or give tonnes of notes on sinopsis, plot, gaya bahasa or nilai dan pengajaran, why not guide your students and start asking them to write their own piece of sajak, pantun or drama? I always believe that the opportunity to write and being guided will unearth someone's talent in literature.

Since most students never believe they could write a sajak (because teachers rarely ask them to do so), I'll share some tips on sajak writing in the coming post. I'll also let you see my first sajak published by Dewan Siswa when I was in Form 5.

Feb 11, 2007

3 months programme @ the International Buddhist Academy

I always have this dream to be away from the city life for a couple of months or so and fly all the way to Tibet, India or Nepal to learn Buddhist philosophy and learn Tibetan language. However, I'm still very much attached to my current life here i.e. completing my masters. While waiting for my chance in the year 2008, perhaps I should share with you this place called the International Buddhist Academy (IBA) in Kathmandu.

Perhaps you might say, hmm...another post about Buddhism from HCFoo. Well, I rarely talk or share with my friends about Buddhism until recently. Perhaps it has to do with what's happening around the world lately. For your information, when I'm blogging about Buddhism, I prefer to use the term "philosophy" instead of "religion" because I believe in sharing Buddhism related topics in a very general way that can be accepted by everyone as information and knowledge.

Back to the IBA, the academy was founded by Ven. Khenpo Appey Rinpoche (who came to Malaysia many years ago), and was inaugurated officially in 2001. In addition to providing teachings on the Buddha Dharma, the Academy also has various on-going projects, including the computerization of Tibetan scriptures, translation projects and publication.

Daily Schedule
The 2007 programme will run from June 4th to September 15th. Lessons are being conducted 6 days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. The courses are rigorous and intensive, requiring students to submit assignments, write a final exam, as well as readings of recommended books and articles to prepare for the classes. Mondays are generally left for students to explore the Kathmandu Valley, visit lamas, extend their visas and mingle with the local Tibetan community of Boudhanath. IBA will also organize guided tours of major cultural sites of the Valley.

The regular daily schedule are as follows:
07:00AM Breakfast 08:00AM Philosophy Class 09:30AM Tea break 10:00AM Tibetan language class 11:30AM Lunch Break 02:00PM Revision class 03:30PM Tea break 06:30PM Dinner

During the last week of the term, a final examination will be held to assess the student's understanding of the course material.

For more information about the teachers qualifications, the complete 2007 programme, fee structure (very reasonable), academy facilities, travel information, registration, contact information, etc go to the IBA website. There are also interesting videos about the students and the programme for streaming.
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