Monday, December 03, 2012

The Science of Kamma–Dr Wong Yin Onn

This is my note on the Dhammatalk by Dr. Wong Yin Onn on 2nd December 2012.

What did I learn from this Dhammatalk?

The concept of Kamma


In understanding Kamma, it is important to understand that there is a difference between Kamma and Vipaka. Kamma is the cause while Vipaka is the effect. We often use the word 'Kamma' loosely to mean 'fate' but it is not so. Kamma is the intention while what is happening now is the Vipaka or the effect, result or fruition of what we had intended in the past.

“If one speaks or acts with a wicked mind, pain follows one as the wheel, the off of the draught-ox” - Dhammapada Verse 1

The main cause of Kamma is in the mind. When the mind is unguarded, bodily action, speech and thought are all unguarded. When the mind is guarded, bodily action, speech and thought are all guarded.

We should remember that Kammic causality is different from physical causality studied in physics. Kammic causality is much more subtle and may not be seen immediately.

Kamma is always changing and it is so complicated until only a Buddha can completely understand it. Not even other arahants can understand the working of Kamma and how each intention, action and time intertwine to produce the result. Because it is always changing, therefore we can change our lives, our destiny.

Kamma is not fate, Kamma is the opposite of fate! Since Kamma is an intentional action, the Buddha put the emphasis on the power of free will in shaping our future.

Kamma is about tendencies and not inevitable and unchangeable consequences. We have to remember that :

  • NOT everything happens by Kamma
  • Kamma vipaka (results of kamma) in an unconjecturable subject
  • Kamma is not deterministic, thus it can be modified or transformed

There are five orders of law -

  1. physical order,
  2. genetic order,
  3. order of action and result,
  4. order of the norm
  5. order of mind or psychological causation.

Not everything that happened is due to Kamma. The Law of Kamma is only one of the 24 causal conditions (paccaya) described in Buddhist philosophy.

An example of physical order was the tsunami that happened and killed so many people in Aceh, etc. It was not caused by kamma but more by physical order that the earth moved. Because the earth is moving, therefore there will be earth movement causing earthquakes, tsunami. Although our kamma might make us live there, but the incident was not solely caused by kamma.

An example of genetic order was genetic diseases in family such as diabetes or cancer. Because we were born with the genes, then we were predisposed with tendencies to get that particular disease and not solely caused by kamma because we can take action to avoid sugar or live a healthier lifestyle to avoid getting the disease.

Buddhism teaches Natural Causation that each time we intentionally do something, we modify our consciousness, so the person we are now is very much what we have done in the immediate and distant past; what we do NOW will make the person we will be in the future. What we do every moment changes the future.

There are four kinds of Kamma: (kukkuravatika sutta)

  1. There is dark kamma with dark ripening
  2. There is bright kamma with bright ripening
  3. There is dark-and-bright kamma with dark-and-bright ripening
  4. There is kamma that is not dark nor bright with neither-dark-nor-bright ripening that conduces to the exhaustion of kamma.

Since we are not awakened yet, what we often do is a mixed of dark and bright kamma. For example, when we give kathina dana, although it is a good kamma, yet sometimes inside we do it out of greed to get something in return.

The cessation of kamma – the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma is the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

The strength of the kammic effect depends on its magnitude on the receiving party. The more severe, the greater the impact, whether positive or negative. The spiritual quality of the receiving party is also an important factor. For example, offering to a beggar is different from offering food to a Monk.

The Kammic strength is affected by kammic frequency. When a certain act is repeated frequently creating a habit, it can result in a major effect. The stronger the kamma, the higher its probability of creating an effect first.

Kamma is accumulative; good kamma leads to good conditions, bad kamma leads to unfavorable states.

Enlightenment leads to the END of kamma. We seldom think about ending kamma. We tend to rely on it instead of trying to end it. It is important to remember that we must aim to be liberated from kamma and not carry the burden of kamma anymore. Nibbana is freedom from kamma and its results.

Ending the Dhammatalk…

Thro’ many a birth in Samsara wandered I,
Seeking but not finding, the builder of this house.
Sorrowful is repeated birth.
O House-builder! you are seen.
You shall build no house again.
All your rafters are broken,
your ridge-pole is shattered.
To dissolution (Nibbana) goes my mind.
The End of Craving have I attained.
- Dhammapada (154)

May all beings be happy!

Inge Santoso, B. Com, CFP

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Key to Happiness by Duo Abhidhamma Gurus

Sayalay Susila

Happiness is thought to come from enjoying sensual pleasure through our six senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and mind. For example, we want to see beautiful things, we want to hear good music, we want to taste delicious food, and so on. These times we seek more and more enjoyment, even excessive enjoyment, excessive use of our six senses, yet it does not bring happiness. Instead of bringing happiness, we suffer because of it.

What are the keys to happiness?

1. Dana. Sharing what we have, it may be material goods, time, or knowledge. We are happy from sharing when we see other people become happy. We are also happy when we give because we learn to not being attached to our property or possession. Strong attachment to property causes fear, confusion, thus hinders our happiness.
This kind of happiness is still categorized as gross happiness. There is more subtle form of happiness, such as:

2. Refrain from harming other people
When we harm others, we create unwholesome karma which creates unwholesome result.
We refrain from harming others by practicing our self-restrain by taking the precepts. We take precepts based on these two considerations:
a. out of compassion for others
b. understanding the law of karma - our own karma is the real protection and you become fearless. This feeling of fearlessness when going everywhere is also a type of happiness.

3. Metta - loving kindness, unconditional love. Loving others without any expectation.
We can practice metta meditation to develop this loving kindness. Remember to do metta meditation starting from yourself, then to your respected people, neutral people then lastly to your enemy. Do not start with your biggest enemy because it will create hatred instead of loving kindness. Start with the easiest, and only when you are getting better, then tackle the harder ones.

Every mental state creates 'rupa' in the body. Unwholesome thought creates unwholesome matter in the body and may create problems such as illness. On the other hand, wholesome thought also creates wholesome matter in the body and results in health and stamina. Wholesome thought can even radiate outside the body as evidenced by experiments done by Dr Masaru Emoto. (read books by Masaru Emoto such as Hidden Message of Water, etc)

Sayalay Susila also shared her story about sending metta to previously rude person and how she became polite and kind, then how she sent metta to ants that bit her and how except for two, three ants, all the other ants stopped biting her. She also shared the power of meditation to reduce pain because when the mind is concentrated on a single object, remember that only one thought can exist at any one time. If you are so focused on metta, then thought of pain disappears.

4. Non-attachment to our body
When we realize that our body simply consists of four elements, we can overcome attachment to our body.
When we practice four element meditation from our head to toe, we can experience these four elements (earth, water, fire and wind) and when we are in deep meditation, we can see the kalapa, like bubble forming and breaking up, arising and passing away. At that moment we realized anicca and what is constantly changing can't bring lasting happiness.
When we practice four element meditation and we can let go of our attachment to our body, we can be happy because we won't be affected by the changes of our physical body such as getting sick, old and frail.

5. Non-attachment to our mind
For example, there are three types of feelings aggregate - pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.
Our happiness often follows our feelings. When it feels pleasant, we crave for it. When it feels unpleasant, we avoid or reject it. When it feels neutral, we are often ignorant of it.
What we feel is beyond our control, feelings are beyond our control and therefore being attached to our feelings creates unhappiness.
Real happiness is not being attached to any feelings, including pleasant feelings.

Ashin Kheminda

Happiness is not a life goal but a process in life.
How can we be happy?
1. Do not bring the past with you
A lot of people are trapped in living in the past. Playing the regret games, "Why didn't I....? I should have...."
The past has gone and should not be brought back to the present.
What has happened in the past cannot hinder you from being happy, unless you let it be.

2. Do not worry about the future
What you face right now is not the problem. The problem is what you think is going to happen in the future.
How to handle worry?
a. Remember that what we worry about often does not happen. There are only a small percentage of what we worry that actually happens in life.
b. Even if what we were worried about happened, remember that it is anicca. No matter what the situation is, it will change.
c. Remember that you have been worried in the past and you were able to overcome them in the past. Have the confidence that you are going to be able to overcome it again in the future.

3. Live in the now
Do not complain and whine! When you complain and whine, you are rejecting the working of the law of kamma.
Whatever you experience in this life, you deserve it!

Ponijan Liaw

If you want to be happy, do not use the philosophy of "because"; use the philosophy of "although"
Instead of "I love you because you are pretty" (implying that I won't love you if you are not beautiful anymore), use "Although you have love handles, I still love you" (implying that if later on become slim, well it's a bonus)

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B. Com

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Small Practice of Letting Go


Last Friday when I was de-cluttering and tidying up my house, I found that one of my vases was missing. The first thought that came into my mind was someone broke the vase but did not bother to tell me. I knew that it had to have happened when I was in Jakarta.

I posted a question in our family BB group asking who knew what happened to the vase. It was not answered straight away. My mother only answered the question a day later, explaining how Edward broke it.

When I found out that the vase was missing, I did not really feel angry or upset, I was merely curious about what happened to it. However, my family thought that I would be angry and disappointed, so they were afraid to tell me the truth about what happened. My mother was so afraid that I would get upset, so when she found out the vase was broken, she immediately asked her staff to go to Kasongan, Jogja to order exactly the same vase to replace it. She even ordered a pair of vases and had the broken vase repaired and made sure the vases would be delivered by Monday.

When my mother told me the whole story this evening, how even my dad was afraid to answer my question, I was smiling and laughing. I told her that she should have just told me the truth. If she told me what happened the day the vase broke, I would have told her not to bother to order a new vase. Since she ordered already, now I have to think where to put these three vases because I only have space for one vase HAHAHA

Out of this incident, I actually felt happy because my mother praised me for being not easily disappointed or upset. She admitted that she incorrectly assumed that I would react negatively to the news because I used to be like that. Well, I have changed.

I do not know how I will feel if Edward breaks more expensive stuff in the future, perhaps I will feel angry or upset, perhaps I will feel nothing, but I know that whatever feeling comes up, I will always have a choice. Out of all the choices, there is always a choice to let go and be happy.

Learn and Grow

Inge Santoso, B. Com

Friday, April 27, 2012

Celebrating the1000th Day of Meditation


Today I celebrated my 1000th day of meditation.

Since the first time I started to learn meditation from Mr. Merta Ada and his assistant, Mr. Putu Dana on August 02, 2009 until today, I have been meditating every single day for 1000 consecutive days! 1000 days in a row!

It is definitely not a small feat! I am feeling proud of myself for achieving it.

How am I different from 1000 days ago?

  1. I feel that I am more in control of my emotion. After practicing meditation, I become more aware of my emotions. For example, I used to get angry and annoyed easily, but now I start to notice when the feeling of anger arises and there is a pause where I can decide whether I want to continue getting angry or not. Instead of getting angry, I can choose to let it go. I do not say that I don’t have negative feelings anymore, but when negative feelings arise, I have the freedom of choice whether to dwell on it or not.
  2. I feel more poised in facing problems and challenges. Instead of getting side-tracked by negative emotions when facing problems in life, I can remain calm and focus on finding solutions to the problems.
  3. My self-confidence increases by becoming a more disciplined person. Doing meditation every day for 1000 days in a row helps me to show and prove to myself that I can be a more disciplined person. I used to get bored and quit easily when establishing a new habit.
  4. I become more open and accepting towards changes in life. In meditation, I practice to observe sensations in my body and become aware how sensations arise and eventually falling away. As I become more aware of the changes in my own body, I also start to understand changes in life. Life is anicca.
  5. I feel more compassionate towards other people. I can empathize with people better. Sometimes I can actually feel how others are feeling in that moment.
  6. My ability to focus and concentrate increases. It really helps me in learning new things. I can learn faster and have deeper understanding.
  7. I become more sensitive to vibration around me. Sometimes I feel my senses are heightened and I can sense subtle sensations through sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch.
  8. I used to get migraine headache quite often, but now it rarely happens. I also notice that I do not get sick so easily. I get to notice the symptom early, thus seldom let it go out of hand.
  9. Somehow I feel that I am luckier. I feel that I tend to get what I want easier than before. I’ve also won a lot of door prizes lately.   

How did I manage to achieve this?

  1. Decide and commit to it. I know that when I let myself skip one day, then I have a tendency to skip more days. I made a commitment to myself, I would meditate no matter what the circumstances might be.
  2. Keep track. I keep track of my meditation practice using an excel worksheet detailing progress and time. Within 1000 days of meditation, I logged in 73,000 minutes. Tracking helps to motivate me because as the number gets bigger, I certainly do not want to skip meditation and start from 0 again. 
  3. Start small and build from there. At the beginning I could only sit for about 30 minutes, but now I can sit for 60-90 minutes. The longest I sat for meditation was 3 hours.
  4. Just sit and get started. The hardest part is usually just getting started. When I feel lazy, I tell myself to sit just for 15 minutes, but I usually end up doing at least 30 minutes.  
  5. Celebrate progress and success! Acknowledging my own success motivates me and getting acknowledgment from other people drives it further.
  6. Have a support system. Having a group of people who are very supportive helps a lot. They help you to be more accountable. I want to thank you members of Bali Usada Cempaka Group, family and friends for being such great supporters!

Where do I want to go from here? Meditation is a journey. I feel I still have a long way to go. I just want to enjoy this journey, one sitting at a time.

The meditation journey continues….

May all beings be happy!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com

foto bersama grand hill

PMA: Thank you for teaching and sharing with us the wonders and beauty of meditation.

P Putu: Thank you for the commitment and support for all these times. Thank you for the beautiful photos too.

Juniar: Thank you for being a great friend in this journey. We started this journey together and I hope we can continue for as long as we can.

Venna: Thank you for making me go to Bali Usada Tapa Brata and learn meditation for the first time. Thank you for the continuous support so I can go to Tapa Bratas without feeling worry about work.

Yenche: Thank you for being my personal Shiva…destroying the past and transforming me for a better future.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Love – A Delicious Poison

It has been years…since I fell in love

Have I forgotten how it feels like?

The delight, excitement, happiness…when I am with you

The longing, anxiety, restlessness…when I am away from you

Just being there with you…No words need to be spoken, yet I know how you feel

When our eyes meet…I see the whole world inside you

Our hearts beat together in harmony…through space…through time

Not even distance can keep us apart, not even in my sleep I feel alone…

Every fibre of my being vibrates with yours



this feeling of love…like a delicious poison

intoxicating me with delights while it lasts

shattering my world when it is gone


this feeling of love…a poison I gladly drink

to make my life worth living


written by: NOT AGONISES

Monday, March 05, 2012

Three People, Three Decades, Three Kinds of Tea – A Whole New Mind

cups of tea

Three days, three unique people, born in three different decades, having three kinds of tea, sharing thoughts and creating a whole new mind - That summed up what happened to us.


Two friends of mine,

One 10 years younger, one 10 years older

One right brainer, one left brainer

One loves arts, one loves numbers

Where am I? Somewhere in the middle!

We are similar yet different, we are different yet similar.

That’s why it was so interesting!


It seemed that whatever we discussed or did, we could either empathize, or learn from each other. I felt that by getting to know more about them, from their stories and experience, I learned even more about myself. I hope that through the sharing, our horizon expanded, our feelings enriched, and our mind transformed.

I savored those moments when time seemed to stand still, yet it had flown like the wind…being present and still in the rush of ravaging river. 

May the bond of our friendship last through the ages…until you are 80 years old, I am 90 years old and you are at your 100th year.

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com

written in response to “Tea with two masters” by Yenche

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Going Up The Mountain, Nissan Juke or Joke?

juke inge

Two weeks ago, my friends came from Jakarta to Solo for a short trip. Since one of them has never been to Tawangmangu before, so we stayed in Tawangmangu that weekend. We had a great time having a heart-to-heart sharing about life. It was an enlightening experience for me.

On Monday, before we went back to Solo, I offered to take them for a drive to Cemara Sewu on my Nissan Juke. I just got this car a few months ago and I hadn’t had the chance to try in on steep mountain road. I was curious to see how this good looking car would perform going up the mountain. I was pretty confident that I would be able to take my friends to see beautiful sceneries on top of Cemara Sewu.

After loading our luggage on the car, I took my friends for a scenic drive up the mountain. At the beginning the car rode smoothly, but when we got to the point where the road was very steep and long, no matter how deep I stepped on the accelerator, the Juke could not move forward. I put the car on power mode and pressed the gas pedal to the ground, but the car only moved forward in inches. After a few meters going on like this, we decided to turn back.

In my mind, I was furious. How could this new Nissan Juke not go up Cemara Sewu? It was embarrassing!

When I got back, I complained about this to my Dad. He told my uncle who was very knowledgeable about car to check it out.

Yesterday, my uncle and the mechanic from Nissan took the car for a test drive to Tawangmangu. When they arrived in Karanganyar, they tried to put the car into test and drove it faster. Although it was only a gentle slope, the car just would not run as fast as it should be. They stopped on the side of the road to check. There was no problem with the engine, so they checked the accelerator. When they saw the position of the accelerator, they finally figured it out why the car would not run faster. The accelerator was hindered by the double carpets! When they removed one of the carpets, the accelerator could be pressed down to the ground and the car just ran like the wind!

The carpet was the culprit!

When they told me about this, I was laughing out loud. I could imagine my uncle’s facial expression when they found the culprit! It was so funny!

What can I learn from this?

A trivial thing may cause a big problem, and a big problem may be solved with a simple solution.

In life we are often confronted with problems big or small. When we are faced with big problem, we often assume that we need complicated solutions to solve it…well, not necessarily! Sometimes a simple solution is all we need if we can find the true nature of our problem.

Finally, I need not go to Nissan to complain that their Juke is a joke!

Just like the song by Bee Gees “I Started a Joke”…Oh if I’d only seen that the joke was on me!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy chinese new year 2012

This year is the year of water dragon. Since I do not have a photo of a water dragon, I use this photo of red dragonfly perching on a lotus bud. I took this photo in August 2008 at Amanjiwo Hotel, near Borobudur, Indonesia.

Happy Chinese New Year!

May this year bring you good health, luck, prosperity and happiness!

Learn and Grow!

Inge Santoso, B. Com