Friday, April 29, 2011

Four reliances

Rely on the message of the teacher, not on his personality;
Rely on the meaning, not just on the words;
Rely on the real meaning, not on the provisional one;
Rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgmental mind.

From the Buddha as quoted in the book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


"It's like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction--everyone second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it's really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and the excitement at about a million miles an hour."

From The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Lucky number

Here is a conversation between mother and her daughter on "lucky number:

Daughter: I don't like school.
Mother: Why not? What is wrong?
Daughter: I don't like Gym class. I don't like recess. I don't like anything.
Mother: O.K. What else you don't like?
Daughter: I don't like my classroom. I don't like room 17.
Mother: Why not?
Daughter: 17 is not my lucky number.
Mother (with a perplexed look on her face): How do you know that 17 is not your lucky number?
Daughter: My fortune cookie told me. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What is the value of a teacher?

As a teacher, I often wonder if what we do in classroom matters to student lives years after graduation. Recently, I read a touching story in the New York Times from a writer who praises a few teachers from her high school days. These teachers went out of their ways to shape her life. Here is the link to the story.

Here are an inspiration thought from the story:

"If we want to understand how much teachers are worth, we should remember how much we were formed by our own schooldays. Good teaching helps make productive and fully realized adults — a result that won’t show up in each semester’s test scores and statistics."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Horns and Cape (Collaborative version)

I have posted two versions of this story earlier, one is a concise version and another is an extended version. In this post, I am going to put out another version that extends from the extended version. This time, the extension comes from a very very dear friend.

Here again "Horns and Cape, the collaborative version"

One day, a creature woke up with two (ugly) horns growing on its head. Why in the world did someone do this to me?, the creature wondered. I was given two ugly horns on my head and the tribe leader said I can no longer live here. "Go find a new habitat." That is the command given to me.

Broken hearted, confused, depressed, the creature had no choice but to do what it was told (all in the while with two shiny ugly horns on its head.) The creature aimlessly walked, walked, and walked until it came across another promising habitat. It talked to the caretaker and the first thing the caretaker said is: "Why in the world did you have those two ugly horns on your head?" Although the creature wishes that nobody would notice the two ugly horns, the creature was compelled to be honest and answer the question. It said "I was told that I have not contributed enough to the tribe and I have not carried independent tribe building activities." "But look, I listed all the wonderful things I have done at that tribe ... look please and you will see that I am a good creature and worthy bringing in to your tribe."

Despite the begs and pleas, the caretaker finally said "No, I don't think I can. With those two ugly horns on your head, we will not be able to take you in." The creature sank deeper into its sorrow and helplessness. What if I cannot find a new habitat? What will happen to me?

Months have passed .... One day, the creature fell asleep under a big banyan tree. This time, it woke up with a beautiful cape with magical power growing on its back. The creature thought to itself... "Wow, I have been given magical power. I hope everybody can see it."

It looks around to see if there are other creatures around so it can show off its wonderful cape. Unfortunately, no one was around. So, it decided to take a walk. It came across one old creature resting near a big rock. The creature excitedly approached the old creature and asked: "Do you see the wonderful cape I have on my back?" The old creature replied "What cape? I only see your two shiny ugly horns on your head."

A creature is confused ... Has it become an ugly creature that nobody wants to welcome? OR Has it become a great creature with magical power to change the world?

What should it think of itself now?

The story continued ...

The caped creature roamed far and wide, crossing land and sea to find a habitat that could see the magical cape. One day, finally willing to risk sharing itself with another being, the creature approached the caretaker of a lovely, green habitat. “Look how I have contributed to the tribe that I came from. See my cape that gives me magical powers. And, please, I beg of you, do not mind my horns,” the creature said.

The caretaker looked at the creature with compassion and understanding and responded, “What you call horns are scars that every creature endures. Some creatures have horns; others have humps; still others have beards. In this land, we look upon such scars as building character—in much the same way that your cape builds character. Neither one is who you are, but they both contribute to who you will become. I sense great beauty and great potential inside you. I welcome you to leave your cape behind, and join us in this habitat.”

The creature has a choice to make. . . To believe in the power of the horns and the cape or to believe in its own power to forgive, to trust, and to shine?


"Great journey begins with one bold step"

David Brooks, the New York Times

Sunday, April 3, 2011


All of us give ourselves various descriptors as ways to form our own identity. It is also important to say that there is another set of descriptors that others prescribe to us. Again, over the years, as we cannot help ponder on those descriptors, we, sometimes, incorporate them as part of our identity or who we are. Some of these descriptors may have positive connotations while others may have negative connotations. The detrimental consequence to people especially young people is what if we choose to believe the negative things that other people have used to describe us!