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Movie Review

I was particularly free today, and so I started looking for a movie to watch. I found “The Bold, Corrupt and The Beautiful”.  I chose this movie merely because it won some kind of Golden Horse award.  When I search for it in YouTube, all I watch was a lot of members of the cast being put in front of an audience somewhere in Tokyo with an interpreter.

Wait, if the show was not in Japanese, and needs an interpreter to show audience in some kind of 记者招待会, why spend huge amount of marketing and advertisement to promote it in Japan?  Another Trailer (on YouTube) showed an old lady and a blind man narrating the stories in Taiwanese dialect (闽南语) by singing.  In part of the show, there was some 日本语 (Nihongo) while parts of it were in Cantonese.

So for no strong reason, I tell myself, I’m going to watch this.  Maybe it’s some Bold-and-Beautiful soap opera plots, maybe it is attracting people who likes a few languages combined, or maybe it has really good cinematography worth advertising in Japan — a land known for its cinematographic perfection.

I was really glad I watched it.  I could easily understand all the languages spoken inside the show.  The Japanese used were very little and very basic, and the plot was not obvious when I discovered it was a detective story.  The Chinese title is something like bloody Kuan Yin, a title that has nothing to do with the English title.

This show is about 3 women.  Maybe four if you want to consider one of the sisters who died halfway.  But the one who died get to be married (after her death) the ancient Chinese way, which I thought was unusual.  Then the other three women portrait as a mother and two daughters were actually grandma, mother and daughter!  They do that to survive in extremely complicated aristocracy in the Taiwan political arena.  There was murder (hence a detective movie), love, and rape.  Lots of manipulations of the three main characters between themselves and with the outside complicated world.

Since the title has “Kuan Yin”, one of the main characters has to recite the Heart Sutra (twice in the movie).  The movie showed her reciting part of it in Cantonese which I was extremely glad to encounter because that was my first way of memorizing that 265-characters sutra! (my initial attempt memorizing in Mandarin was futile., so I tried singing in Cantonese and it worked).  Then there was another time she has to recite the Dhāraṇī for Rebirth in the Pure Land (往生咒 ).  That was in Cantonese too and I knew that one!  But strangely, when the Chinese title came out, it was something else instead.  I knew most of that mantra were transliterated from Sanskrit, but the subtitle was something else?  It could be the subtitle writer didn’t knew what that was because it wasn’t Chinese.  But I happily went along every word she said albeit in Cantonese.  This will be the last movie I watch until I next board the plane to Asia.

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A-RU-BAI-TO

Many words/phrases in Japanese have its origin from Chinese and many have its origin in English -based words.

You may be able to guess where the origin of these Japanese words came from

Den wa

Shin nen

Tou hu   (or Tou fu)

Sensei

Rou shi  (or Lou Shi)

Kan Pai

Ji kan

Ten ki

Try typing these on Google Translate (set to translate Japanese -> Chinese) and one will get 電話、新年、豆腐、先生、老師、乾杯、時間、天気 as kanji and as Chinese simplified, one gets 电话, 新年, 豆腐, 老师, Rosai, 欢呼, 时间, 天气.  Okay, okay, not quite exactly what we expect but there are some slight change in meaning as the words transited from mainland to Japan (via Korea).

The following may not be recognizable at all, even if a Japanese sounded it out.  But try guessing and then google…(maybe you can’t google unless you knew katakana, then off course you probably studied these words and knew they were imported western words

Ma Ku Do Na Ru Do        マクドナルド

Wai NN                     ワイン

Nai Fu                         ナイフ

Kon Pyuu Ta               コンピュータ

Kon Bi Ni                      コンビニ。

Su Ka To                         スカート

Kaa Do                        カード (sometime the double a is spelled with an overline)

Ai Suku Rīmu             アイスクリーム

The answers are (in that order) MacDonald’s,  Wine,  Knife,  Computer,  Convenience Store, Skirt, Card (or credit card),  Icecream.

When I first learned these many years ago, it does not come as a surprise to me that sounds of these word sounded differently for a Japanese when heard (or spoken).  It is also very common at that time in the 90’s that Hong Kong people I knew who are supposed to know English well because they are ruled by the Bristish and they claimed to be good in English, use English words commonly on the streets in their Cantonese but the sound were twisted or muddled.

But there was one Western word in Japanese there was `transported’ that I learned but could never know where it came from.  That word is

A Ru Bai To   アルバイト

I asked my teacher and she said it’s not English.  Now my daughter is learning Korean on her on.  Once I was surprised to hear her mention a Korean word that sounded similar to this ARUBAITO.  It is 아르바이트 (aleubaiteu).  And they have the same meaning!  This really convinced me that most of what the Japanese have, culture, religion, food, clothing style, many they took from Korea.  Some Japanese were brave enough to go directly to China like Kūkai (空海) and Saichō (最澄), but the journey was dangerous and the language difficult for them to learn at that time.

So when I went to research where that word come from, I learned that it was German.  It is one of those few foreign imports into everyday Japanese that is not English.  It came from the word Arbeit.  And it does not mean Part-timer or part-time job.  It simply means job.

Yeah lor, it doesn’t even sound like Arbeit in Japanese.  It must have sneaked into China then adopted by Korean (or directly into Korea), then to Japan back in those old days of Japan before Katakana  (片仮名) was invented.

不做而做

女儿早在三年级就跳班。其实她没跳班,只是她第一次正式上学上PA-Cyber(网络学校)的时候,课程太浅对他太容易了,所以就一年里把两年的功课、测验都做完。之前,她没有上过任何一间学校。

对,我女儿在九岁之前好像没上学。当然,这样做是犯法的,若不上学,在美国,父母或有关人士被捉到是要坐牢的,这不是开玩笑。所以在别人眼里,她是上“家教”(home school),
但在我的眼里,她只是整天呆在家里玩,不是唱歌,就是跳舞玩游戏。

很多家长,每每孩子到四、五岁的时候,就会关心孩子的教育。其实不只是关心啊,简直就是一桩很烦恼的大事。生长在新加坡的我,早就知道新加坡父母这一桩带孩子的烦恼,但看了赵薇( Vicki Zhao又导又演)的“虎妈猫爸”,才明了这种烦恼和操心,超越了我的理解。戏里的虎妈简直就像在夸张,但当朋友的解释和报子的报道之后,才知道现实上为孩子出种种的妙计,更夸张的也有。为孩子(就算仅仅只有一个)考试,整个家庭很多是要做种种的牺牲、委屈。比如孩子考试期间,不能看韩剧啊,或者不能买最最好的食品庆祝一下啊,因为这样会引诱考试的那个人,或令他分心。

想起来,当我小的时候,哪有这样啊?家里人,连我有没有考试,根本就不知道。就算是我’O’ level或 ‘A’ level也照样叫我为大人ran errand or buy food.或者照样大声的打麻将,或看电视。

说回我 这个唯一的小 女儿,她到现在还没有上过一般的学校,还是在 网络学校上课。她 网络班上,她最小。虽然我从来都没有看到她准备考试,或埋头读书的日子,但每一个课她都顶呱呱。所以老师有一次就问她;

“Would you like to share with the class how you study, so they can benefit?”

这一下,她可楞了。她跟她妈妈说:“我什么也没做,更没有什么study 或  study technique, 跟大伙儿share.”

我的阿嬷从未对我有太高的期望。所以我中学的成绩也就马马虎虎。我也不应该指望我的女儿太多。 因此,如果她拿到一个D或一个C,我就会很“偷笑”了。更何况,她什么事都很专一、很用心的原故,所以达到“不做而做的后果”,我就根本不用操心。跟Tiger Mom比,我的福报实在是太大了。

The Feldenkrais Method

 “If you don’t know what you are doing, you can’t do what you want,”

Wait a minute, that sounds more like a philosophy than a method for your skeletal well-being or chiropractor health.

This is a method brought up by a friend who “shared” an article in the New York Times and I read.

Feldenkrais teachers do not give formulas for a proper way of behaving; rather, they rely on their patients’ ability to self-discover and self-correct.

Now this is some kind of philosophy I tell my students everyday in my work.  I can teach and I can lecture.  You can come and see me and read lots of books/answer manuals, but if you’re not on any road to self-discovery and self help (or self correct) by way of practice, you have wasted all your “learning time”.

Some things as common as bending, turning, getting up from a chair, even walking, we pay very little attention and let our habits lead the way.  With great knowledge in Physics and constant engagement into chiropractor health or skeletal structures, one begins to understand why certain people get back pain, why certain people don’t, even why certain people think better and get less tired doing the same thing.  It has something to do with how one carries oneself “moving”, “staying still”, “sitting”, “bending down”.  It seems like nobody can ignore the effect of gravity.  Its effect will continuously act on you and your skeletons, even if you don’t believe in the science.  It turns out, it’s not just Newton’s law  that continues to do its work whether you believe it or not, but ll other truths, continues its due course, while your ignorance self and think you can defy all these with your so-called “luck” or any kind of “lucky charm”.  Some have this “it only happens to other people, not me”, hence you see smokers who continues to puff away thinking the pictures of the cancerous lungs will only happen to other people.

On a deeper note, that is exactly what the dharma is all about.  It is sometimes called reality for people who think it is just “theories” or “superstition”.  It is alright to be skeptical.  But the proper will will always be respectful and take time to test it out, and verify (or disprove) it.  Failure to do these, will often result in dire consequences.

做人,要看破啦

阿公在世的时候,我还不到十五岁,但阿公的俚語好多,70年代的我在繁荣滚滚的新加坡,哪儿会听得懂阿公的俚語呢?但现在人过中年了,到底“看破”是教我要看破红尘呢?还是叫我把万事都放下?

几年前,我成了佛弟子,这些俚語回头看,真是有意识,而且跟佛学很相应。

“你人再好,沒有錢,總會有人把你看扁。”

看扁就看扁嘛,我根本就不在乎。 佛学修行的人,不用人喜歡你,也不管有人討厭你。
“不是每個人都會喜歡你,有人羨慕你,也有人討厭你,有人嫉妒你,也有人看不起你。在這個社會沒有錢你什麼都不是,有錢你是爺 沒錢你是狗。”

诶,很有意识,原来众生活得就是为这些鷄毛蒜皮的小事。多布施,多修忍辱,也不就把九十巴仙以上的烦恼都解决了吗?众生为了求财色名食(睡),多种了贪嗔痴带来的恶业,多不值得呀!

学佛的也该多多慈悲,救救(或度一度)有缘的众生,让他们也认识观音的自在,不要总是被境转,而且受了苦还是不愿意放下。其实不用佛法,阿公的“看破”就已经足够应付这些小事。

社么才是“大事”呢?学佛的,世俗社么都是小事,唯有“念佛”成佛是最最重要的事。时时刻刻,关注呼吸,不要着急未来,不要在乎过去,更不要为啥事起烦恼。这样多逍遥、多自在啊。

Late Bloomer

I have former students who told me they do not appreciate Linear Algebra until way after my class or in their career as engineers.  I have an aunt who does not know the difference in the pronunciation of “soup” and “soap”, until she became an adult.  Very often, to “see’ something and finally “get it” requires all the correct ” 因缘”.  Thich Nhat Hanh called it “Dependent co-arising” or simple “inter-being”.

When the water is not yet boiled and you put in the food, you will not achieve a good result

Top chef are usually perfectionist who’d tell you the right time and the right moment is crucial.  Even if you have all the right ingredients.  That is usally the ifference between a good chef and a bad one.

Einstein was the same way.  If you google, you will easily find articles or blogs that Einstein was a late bloomer.  He started speaking really late.  At a young age he was bad at Math (that might be hard to believe for some people).  He hated all the Math classes by top mathematicians like Minkowski and Carl Gaiser.  As a student, he also avoided Hurwitz and mostly skipped his classes at the Zürich Polytechnic.  In fact, someone tried to teach him how to swim but to not avail.

 “Oh, and my father tried to teach him how to swim, but it didn’t work. He couldn’t float.”

said Betty Leedom, a girl (now probably an old lady or maybe even dead) who grew up on North Tulane Street in Princeton and Einstein tutored her in algebra and geometry privately.

Everything requires the right ingredient, the right things and the right timing.  Once a person is in pain (say from stomach problem), then telling them how they should be eating right is not going help them in any way.  When they are too happy partying, that is also not the right time to “lecture” them on proper food and moderate eating.  So when is the right time?  杨宁老师 said “众生迷惑 , 唯有用善巧方便  来 叫醒他们。”

Two Bikkhus who may have crossed my path

Robert Jackman served in the Korean war in the Navy.   Then after that he finished his Master of Arts degree from UC Berkeley in 1963, he decided to serve in the Peace Corps in Sabah between 1964 and 1966.  Near the end of his service as a Peace Corp Member, he went to Singapore for his break.  Sitting in a sidewalk cafe, he saw a monk walking by and he said to himself “That looks interesting.”

IMG_1942.jpg

At the end of his service in the Peace Corp, he became a samanera in a northeastern Thailand town.  The following year his became a disciple of the famous Ajahn Chah.

When in Asia I saw Buddhist monks all the time.  But when I was in my forties, I saw while walking on a bridge in Singapore two seemingly new Theravada monks.  My first instinct was to kneel down but I wasn’t sure if that is what people do in Thailand and so instead I stand to the side and in total respect I simply bowed.  I would not say I have the same feeling as Mr. Jackman when he saw the monk in Singapore.  Mr Jackman is now a very famous Ajahn Luang Por (father, venerable, teacher).  I wished Mr. Jackman actually was very near to me when he was at the cafe in Singapore in 1966.  Or better still, he actually touched my head while I was being carried.  But those thoughts are what Chinese Buddhists called “Da Wan Xiang”–打妄想.

 

Teo Bo Kang, 張保康 was born in Wolf Mountain, JiangSu, China, in 1931.  By 1943 (and records say he was 14 year-old that time), he was bought to this place to become a Sa Mi 沙彌 (samanera I think), because somebody thought his 生辰八字 was suitable to be a monk.  His life became better because his parents were very, very poor and at that time in that place, that was one way people made their children’s life better.  In 1949 he was forced to disrobe due to the war to serve the Army under Chiang Kai Shek.  Only in 1960 was he able to return to monkhood but by that time he with the army had already moved to Taiwan.  In 1969 he was forced to go to Rissho  (立正) University to do a PhD as very few Mahayanist Buddhist monks have high degree.  When he returned to Taiwan with a PhD, he was told there was no position for him in Taiwan and he had to go to the US to spread the Dharma in the so-called Buddhist Association of the US.   In 1977 his Shifu (in Taiwan) passed away and he had to go back to Taiwan for a funeral, but when he returned from the funeral, to the US, he was out of job again because his place had been filled.  So he became a homeless person with no jobs and no position in New York.  Here is what he said in his own words:

“我就是在逆境中走过来的人。诸位现在看到的都是我风光的一面,没见到我在美国纽约做流浪汉的时候,没见到我被人落井下石,当成落水狗一样的时候。我这一生,可说是在挫折中走过来,是在被重重的打击之中、阻扰之中走出来的,但是当初那些困扰我的人,其实都是帮助我的人。

因此,我很感恩我的生命历程中,能够有这么多帮助我的人。”

 

I remember walking Canal Street New York City in the year of 1990 with my brother, I may have seen a Buddhist monk sitting on the street begging. Could that be this famous Taiwanese monk?  I wished I have given some money to him because my contribution will be “wu liang wu bian” 无量无边 limitless.  Then again, by 1990, he may have established himself and is no more a 流浪汉.  So again 我又 打妄想 了。