I am from Singapore, 26 years old this year. Nice to meet all of you. Below is my little story on life on religion.
I join this forum due to my interest on Buddhism grew.
I was a born as in the family following the Taoism tradition.
From young till 24 years old, I was a free thinker. This is because the Chinese religion is not well handed down to my Family. My parents cannot answer me many of the Taoism practice, such as why we worship deity and gods and why do we have to follow the tradition of worshipping them
When I am around 18-20? I once considered joining my brother to be a Christian as, at that time, it seems to me that Christianity teachings makes much more sense than my family Taoism practice, but I have decided not, because I thought once being a Christian I cannot worship my parents when they pass away. I might have mistaken it, but nevertheless, that is all in the past and it is not important anymore.
At 24 years old, I flew to Taiwan with my family, the tour guide gives a very good explanation on Taoism and Buddhism, although now when I touch on the Dharma and Buddhism then I realise it is may not be accurate as it is. He explained to me that Taoism requires the hell paper money as the deity is below the heaven and they require the money for going up the ranks while Buddhism deity ranks above heaven and therefore does not requires the hell paper money. (although later than I knew prince Gautama doesn't endorse in a creator or a god). He have also give me various explanation on how to identify between temples and why do we have to follow a ranking when offering joss sticks for prayers. He was in a sense "correct" to say that we have to offer the joss stick to a Buddhist deity first before we offer the joss sticks to "heaven". He told me to ask for anything from my home deity, since you are offering joss stick, in exchange you simply ask for anything and the deity will try to help if he can.
At this point, I am not asking you to be superstitious.
After my trip, I begin to pray heavily to my Dua Pei Gong and Heaven deity that is house within my home. It was then my life turn for the better. I was determine to follow the Taoism practice after the trip. I took two promotions within 6 months and have a rise of 600 dollars while working for an IT outsourcing company under a stingy employer who gives a pay rise of less than 100 dollars to almost everyone. My attitude change for the better (but still not have refine to not able to emit any Karma) My current girlfriend use to be a friend who hate me a lot and block me on facebook. She had already unblock me before I go to Taiwan and we added each other back as friends. But suddenly she talks to me, eventually I was given a chance to go out with her again and I got a chance to be her boyfriend. My education also took a turn for the better, within a period for a year, I manage to read up to 6000 pages a year and obtain 4 certifications within a year, till now at the time of this posting I have read about 12000 pages of books and have 7 certifications under my belt. On my 3rd certification, I have manage to jump another job having a pay rise of 40% increment (so within a year I jump 1.8k in salary, 600 from my previous job promotion, 1100 for my current job), I was also the only in my team to be offer to flow to my company HQ frankfurt for business trip on business class flight for helping out on operations and conducting a workshop, the first executive that had ever flow to Frankfurt HQ in my company since the start up of my company Singapore branch. I was in a golden job where I have to work on 3 times a week 11 to 12 hour each shift, although it is graveyard shift, the culture is very relaxing and we are allow to rest during the night shift. I was not even a degree holder. I have also learn and able to apply the art of war efficiently, and manage to due with office politics through the art of war. Although I only use it to get an idea towards the person who doesn't agree with me.
At this point, please do not take my story to heart. I hope you felt happy for me. But, I wasn't happy, I wasn't successful.
While studying for certifications, I am in constant quarrel with my girlfriend, especially when my exam was near. My life was stressful, I hardly have anytime to relax. I have skip many things in life just because I want to study. I even had a quarrel with my dad and have a cut across my chest. I decided to stop playing games, because I felt games are not necessary. I even don't have the time to watch my gf favourite drama. I don't know what is missing in my life.
My brother once post this question to me. What is it most important? Knowledge, Power, Money. There are people who answer power, there are people who answer money. My brother feels that knowledge is the most important. Because knowledge can brings both power and money. That is true, but something was really missing in my life. Charoter, the chemist that invents nylon, is being treated by the company so well that the company will pay for every money he spend on food and overseas vacation, he had the knowledge and wealth in life, but he killed himself at the age of 41.
Coming from a superstitious line, I influence my girlfriend to start offering prayers to her home deity, because she is very unlucky, having her house broken in buglar, car broke down and many other things. my girlfriend one day start wearing thai amulet. Being interested and superstitious, I bought a thai amulet Jatukham and have another one for Buddha. And when my German manager saw me wearing it, he invite me to the office. He was a Christian.
He told me he was interested in Buddism Dharma, and he is very interested in learning mediation and the dharma, he wanted to know what is this enlightenment and how people can end suffering, but I don't know what is Dharma, the only buddism practice I know in Singapore is people offering to different Buddhism deity in return for good luck and fortune. I couldn't help him.
But this beings to my story to search for this Dharma, and the four noble truth. I have also begin mediation within two weeks I have manage to improve to 15 mins of mediation (yay). I also being to read prince Gautama life, learning the four noble truth and finding audo and text online and being my study on Dharma. Then I realise what is missing in my life, Wisdom to happiness.
My character improve tremendously, I stop quarrelling with my girlfriend. And she begin to praise me how much I had love her this days. I didn't argue back when she was angry and unhappy. I spend all my effort in comforting her and loving her. I have also stop emitting any temper, karma. I make effort every day to greet people, and realise how small words like good morning, thank you and have a nice day can have an impact to making people happy. I realise stress is just a mental habit of the skandha, I have stop feeling stress. I still do exams, study everyday, but in no way stress is able to affect me, neither does the fear to failure does.
So is Wisdom the most important thing in life?
Something was still missing, although through learning Dharma and I have learn the Wisdom and compassion, I knew something was missing. Walking the eight foot path hold isn't as easy as just learning the theory and practising mediation. While actively practising dharma, I am not shedding my taoism roots and continue to pray to my taoism deity and the thai amulet. Because if I do not want to upset my girlfriend and my parents. One day, I held up to my thai amulet and ask for more Wisdom. A few moments later, I found this book title "something you forget along the way" given to me by my colleague on my last day of work at my previous company. It has been there for a year now and I have not even unwrap it. I decided the read the synopsis, and learn that it is written by a Buddhist Teacher. I unwrap and eagerly begin to read it.
After finishing it, then I realise what is missing, determination. When prince Gautama begin to meditate for enlightenment under the bodhi tree, he had one quality that is the most important, determination. He is determine to meditate until he is satisfy or else he will not leave the bodhi tree at all. This is exactly the quality that I was looking for. Many of the four noble truth teaching is hard to follow, and the reason why I found it hard is because I lack determination. And today I was determine, determine to change for the better, to be free of suffering and hopefully once day I can be a religious teacher to share the Wisdom of compassion to others.
My life today
I am constantly in touch with my manager on learning the Dharma, I find it easier to read text online, at the same time I found audios for him to listen to. He was a really nice manager. I have improve my relationship with my girlfriend, she is really very happy. I still continue to study, but I no longer feel any stress. I manage my time better. I am more mindful, high concentration of the things I do. I learn that greeting small text everyday to people can make someone day and make a point to do it. And happiness stays with me easily. I am not so particular about small stuff anymore, I can drop things and it cracks, I learn to accept everyone I owned will be lost and broken and I had learned to let it go, happiness is within the self; and through the dharma I understand and learn.
"Everyone wants to be praise"
"Everyone wants to be look up to"
"Everyone do not want to suffer"
"Everyone had tried ways not to suffer and have done it in the wrong way through pushing the suffering to others"
"Everyone is the same"
"Only by accepting suffering then we can feel what is happiness after the acceptance of the suffering"
"If someone treats food and you do not accept it, then nothing will happen to the food, the same applies to anger"
"After the thunderstorm, a great weather will come"
"If someone is filled with negative feelings, anger, hatred, I will held one dear as I have found a previous jewel"
"If someone is to slander, hate me, or scold me, I will see that person as a spiritual teacher"
I am sharing my past because I think it is a nice story, but it is not important and neither would I be endorsing anyone in obsessively pray to deity, and thinking about the past is of not value and we should not be attached with it. Happiness is within self and I hope you can find the happiness, compassion and love within your self. I still maintain my roots as in taoism practice but that is not important in practising to enlightenment.
Lastly, I want to say. This is a great forum and thank you for spending your time in reading my past story. I hope I can share and exchange my understanding of the dharma and wisdom with everyone. Nice to meet you all and I hope everyone have a great day.