Monday, October 31, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The first lesson of thermodynamics I learnt is about work done. The work process is as follows:
Q---------> Delta U ---------> W
In layman terms, heat is provided as input (Q). Heat goes through a conditional and some energy exchange is going on (Delta U). As a result of the condition change, work produced in a form of output (W). The theory looks rather simple to me today. But in those days, Q, Delta U and W were very abstract. I couldn’t see heat energy, couldn’t feel energy exchange, how could work be done?
When dealing with a business contract, the process leading to contract signing is as follows:
Offer -------> Consideration -------> Acceptance
In this case, the Offer forms the input, Consideration is the condition, and Acceptance is the output. Whether in engineering, in physics or in commerce, the phenomenon is universal and may be shown as:
Input ------> Process ------->Output
In my article “a flower in the universe”, I articulated that flower does not exist by itself. There are causes and conditions which make a flower appears as a flower. Cause is the input, condition is the process, flower is the output.
This theory is universal: cause – condition – effect; offer – consideration – acceptance; Q – Delta U – W; INPUT – PROCESS – OUTPUT. While the theory is universal, real matters take different forms. No matter what form it takes, the principle still stands. Is Q-Delta U-W really that abstract and couldn’t be understood? When I distant myself and read the three letters QUW through a 3rd party’s eye, they become apparent to me. Energy takes various forms. Energy transfers from one form to another. Energy does not dissipate. Energy only transforms.
Therefore, with the presence of causes and conditions, you are what you are, what goes up will come down, dawn will come after dusk, a year in the temperate climate will go through four seasons, living things will go through a cycle of live and death, all suffering will have a way to end. The output hinges on the inputs and the processes that we all have gone through, just like a flower in the universe.
In the course of works, I deal with people of all levels. I interact with people of various characters. With the thinking of a flower in the universe, it strikes me that “I am what I am, you are what you are”. What so great about this verse? Looking back at how a person is developed and nurtured, we receive various influences at very young age. Through the external influences, we form a mental map in our mind subconsciously. Over the years, we reinforce our mental domain through a knowledge acquisition and filtering process to suit our own mental model. We all have different behaviour, we believe in different gods, we love different culture and music. We generalise them by saying that we have different chemistry. Now you see, I am what I am, you are what you are.
Professional researches show that we actually formulated our own mental models as early as seven years old. The influences we received before seven years old actually shaped our characters and possibly our future, our life. Sound scary?
Then what about the influences after the age of seven? They change our behaviour, attitude, social value and conduct. But our characters have been shaped, inborn.
I regret that I only thought of “a flower in the universe” after all these years. Otherwise I would have changed my parenting style and have done something different to my children when bringing them up. On a second thought, we are all human. I am learning to try to make myself more perfect than the day before. So past mistakes are just the outputs of causes and conditions. Why should I feel regret?
I do a stock take of what I have done to my children. Four paths have been taken:
(1) Decision making path – they learn to make decision, learn to face consequences with their own acts
(2) Affiliation path – they learn that my shoulders are still there for them to lean on, enable them to take a break and to press on. They also learn to immerse in a social circle, learn to love, to care and to share.
(3) Intense knowledge gaining path – they learn through school curriculum, internet, books, play and physical training.
(4) Life skill development path – they learn to be self-disciplined, managing time, identifying right from wrong, give and take, exploration and discovery. They develop the mental model of HOPE.
Am I giving them too much freedom to pursue the four paths? I think they have the flexibility and at this age, they can afford failure. They will learn through failure. I begin to see signs on my son especially about learning through failure. But having saying all these, they have way past the age of seven. Directly or indirectly, I contributed to the causes and conditions of their upbringing, hence what they are.
Monday, October 24, 2005
A seminar on ZEN was held at Suntec City over the last weekend. This article shares my thought of the theme “a flower in the universe” (世界一花).
A flower is in the vase. The flower is fresh, beautiful, blossom and fragrance. We appreciate it as if it exists permanently.
As days go by, it withers, turns brown, and soon it dies and be thrown away.
Our mind grasps at the flower from its own side, not realising that “flower” is a living thing. Moreover, the name “flower” is just a noun or a representation that people have given to a certain phenomenon with certain characteristics. People with other languages would call it by other names (e.g. Fleur, Fiore, 花, 꽃, femenino.)
What is the true story of the flower? It is not that “I’m a flower. I’ve always been here and always will be here.” It doesn’t exist in this way always.
In reality, the flower is impermanent, dependent on various causes and conditions to exist, and is not existing in and of itself. The flower comes into existence in dependence upon a seed, soil, moisture and sunlight. Its existence is also dependent on its parts: stem, petals, leaves, cell and atoms that make it up.
By absorbing the energy and the essence from the universe (吸取日月精华), and under a balanced condition of ying-yang (阴阳), the flower exists. It appears to be a real, solid, permanent and independent flower. When we decompose a flower and begin to search for a flower, it could not be found. But this does not mean that there is no flower at all. The flower is only decomposed.
There is a flower – an impermanent collection of parts that comes into existence in dependence on causes and conditions.
In the same way, all things appear to be permanently, inherently, independently existent. But on closer examination, they actually exist in a different way.
After all these elaborations, what are we deriving at? Why should we be concerned about the existence of a flower?
There is this tendency to perceive, believe in and grasp at things as truly existing or inherently existing. Fear, worry, frustration, dissatisfaction, loneliness, grief, pain, and all the other myriad problems and sufferings of mind and body that we experience are caused by this thinking. The self-grasp ignorance leads us to see things as truly or inherently existence. With this thinking, we tend to neglect the surroundings, the “emptiness” of the universe and the true nature of things. We forget the “illusory”.
We want, in fact we have the potential, to enjoy ever-lasting peace, bliss, wisdom and freedom from all suffering. We all want to reach the state of enlightenment. But we are unable to attain this as long as our mind is caught up in ignorance, and does not understand the true nature of things.
A simple analogy is a rainbow. Due to certain conditions in the atmosphere and the play of sunlight and moisture, a rainbow appears in the sky. Although it looks so real, it is insubstantial, momentary. It completely dependants on causes and conditions.
Although most things last longer than a rainbow, the way they exist is similar. They only vary with each others as a matter of degrees. They arise due to the coming together, the integration of different causes and conditions. Like rainbow, they are illusory, empty of permanent, independent, substantial existence.
Can we free ourselves from self-grasp ignorance? Laozi (老子) had already thought of DAO (道) more than 2500 years ago. DAO is about the origin of universe, which is beyond the earth we live in. DAO elevated his body and mind. He lived eternally with the universe.
Similarly, more than 2500 years ago Buddha was enlightened and able to share his deep thinking of the process of nature: Dukkha (affliction) -->Samudaya (arising)--> Nirodha (containment) -->Marga (ways).
Keeping in mind of illusory without grasping at anyone or anything as truuly existing, there is a fascinating discovery: We are all transitional. We are all exist impermenently. Eventually, a dust returns as dust, a soil returns as soil (尘归尘，土归土). Once returns to the origin, eternality arises.
A flower in the universe is not just about a flower in the universe. Don’t you agree?
Monday, October 17, 2005
Have you ever seen limestone passages sculpted by water up close? Have you drifted in silent darkness beneath the luminous blue-green shimmer of thousands of glowworms?
It was a fascinating experience---萤火虫的世界。
念天地之悠悠，独仓然而泪下，那种感觉也品尝了。从Mount Cook 在暮色中飞驰，夜越深越沉，直抵Queenstown。一路穿过重重山路，两旁是雪山，黑戚戚，路茫茫，山路弯弯，不见车前月，不见满天星斗。前不见古人，后不见来者。这就是荒野。
这段路上不见萤火虫，不然就能走入梦幻世界了。So, have you drifted in silent darkness beneath the luminous blue-green shimmer of thousands of glowworms?
It is a fascinating experience that shouldn't miss.