Life is short, work out your own salvation

Buddha only shows the way...

Life is short. A drone plane may arrive over your house tomorrow. With America controlling the destiny of the world, and warmongers controlling America's destiny, nobody's neighbourhood is safe any more. Yesterday Belgrade and Baghdad were bombed to rubbles, tomorrow perhaps Beijing or Beirut, and soon thereafter, it may be your backyard and mine.

Besides Bush, Osama and Saddam Hussein, add one more piece of bad news – killer bugs. We used to think only the AIDS virus can kill. Well, AIDS have killed millions and sub-Sahara Africa may soon be depopulated because of AIDS. But it isn't the only killer bug. There is the Ebola virus in the central Congo, and the SARS flu virus. You can get SARS just by being near an infected person and die from it within weeks.

After the Talibans had blown up the two giant Buddha statues in the mountain wall of Afghanistan and after the Americans have blown the Talibans out of Afghanistan, I feel I am living in the Latter Days of the Law, the third period in humankind where practices of love and compassion have given way to practices of untold barbarity, mass destruction and epidemic death.

In an unsafe world, we could choose one of three worldly pursuits: material pursuits (good-paying job, comfortable house, shiny Japanese car, golf club membership), pleasure pursuits (unbridled sex and unbridled consumption) or religious pursuit (worshipping implacable gods of Middle East origins). All three pursuits are vain and lead only to an endless cycle of suffering.

A thoughtful person, instead, should choose a fourth alternative: working out his or her personal salvation along an unambiguous, attainable path. Such a Path has been proposed by the Buddha 3,000 years ago. It is as valid, practical and do-able today as it was in the Deer Park of Benares when the Lord first preached the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path that leads to Nirvana.

There's nothing esoteric or mysterious about the Buddha's Path and teachings, the Dharma. They are practical and methodical. You start by making a vow – a sincere, solemn pledge – to live a wholesome, compassionate life in word, thought and action. Next, you study the Buddha's instructions, as outlined in the Sutras, and learn the practise of meditation. In meditation, you focus your mind on the concepts of suffering, the effects and consequence of karma, rebirth, the inherent emptiness of self, and other truths.

This Web site is a collection of excerpts from the Dhammapada, other sayings and discourses of Buddha, related writings and poems to encourage, explain and motivate the seeker on this Noble Path. There are also beautiful Buddha images for devotion.

Life is short. I am going on this Noble Path because I want to change my destiny. I am doing it now. Death is certain, and always comes at a most inconvenient time.

Be your own lamp & refuge

On his final day on Earth, the Buddha gives this encouragement to Ananda, his faithful disciple:

“You must be your own lamp and refuge. Take refuge in nothing outside yourself. Hold firm to the Truth as a lamp and a refuge, and do not look for anything as refuge besides yourself.

“A monk becomes his own lamp and refuge by continually looking on his body, feelings, perceptions, moods and ideas in such a manner that he conquers the cravings and depressions of ordinary men, and is always strenuous, self-possessed and collected in mind.

“Whoever among my disciples does this, either now or when I am dead, if he is anxious to learn, will reach the summit.” – 2003

Note: Buddhist names and terms can be spelt using either the Pali or Sanskrit pronunciation. So, the Law and teachings are referred to as Dharma (Sanskrit) or Dhamma (Pali), and the final liberation is Nirvana (Sanskrit) or Nibbana (Pali). It doesn’t matter which spelling is used. On this Web site, I’ve pulled in teaching material from both Theravada (Pali) and Mahayana (Sanskrit and Chinese) sources.


Kwonminshan temple complex