Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ajahn Brahm at Google

My dear friend and honored teacher, Ajahn Brahm, spoke at Google a few weeks ago.  He is so funny there is no better day to post this than April Fools' Day.  For the best shit, literally **, watch the story starting around 31:00.

(** He actually said, "I've never ever in my whole life seen such a beautiful piece of shit.")

Help, my Internet access is too fast

Your Internet access is too fast, you need help.  I hear you.  I'm honored to be part of the team in Google to bring you the solution.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We're nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

What better way to start the new year than to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?  :)

I have exciting news to share with you, my friends.  One Billion Acts of Peace (, a campaign which I have the honor of co-chairing with Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, has just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by 6 Nobel Peace Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  One Billion Acts of Peace is a global campaign that works together with 13 Nobel Peace Laureates to try to inspire one billion acts of peace worldwide, in 5 years.

I received the news on Monday evening, my first workday of the year.  At first, I was a little shell-shocked (in a good way).  Then I was over the moon.  After that, the weight of the responsibility sunk in.  Wow.  I work with a wonderful team of more than 100 committed individuals doing amazing, Nobel-Prize-worthy work, and I get to pretend to be their leader.  I'm immensely humbled by the team.  I will try my best not to mess this one up (more than usual, I mean).

One Billion Acts of Peace needs you, my friends.  At this time, our biggest need is for corporate partners.  If you would like to consider being one of our corporate partners, we'll so love to hear from you.  You may email my fellow co-chair Dawn (who has been personally nominated 14 times for the Nobel Peace Prize, probably a world record of some sort) at dawn @

And here is the nomination letter signed by 6 Nobel Peace Laureates.  I'm told that this counts as being nominated 6 times for the Nobel Peace Prize, which I'm guessing is 6 times cooler than being nominated only once, assuming that coolness scales linearly.

(Update 2014/01/13: I've just been informed that Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams joined in the nomination, so that makes 7!)


Norwegian Nobel Committee            
December 30, 2014
Oslo, Norway

"Dear Members of the Committee;

I am very happy to be writing to you today, to nominate PeaceJam Foundation Co-Founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, and their "One Billion Acts of Peace" Campaign, for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.  And I am very pleased that five of my sister and brother Nobel Peace Laureates are joining me in making this nomination.

When I first met Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, they had what seemed to be a crazy idea.  They wanted to create a program called PeaceJam, and they wanted to ask only Nobel Peace Laureates to serve as members of their board. Everyone must have told them that they were completely crazy to try to attempt something so unprecedented.

But here we are, twenty years later, and the PeaceJam Foundation now has 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners who are members of its Board, and PeaceJam has truly become our international educational outreach program to the youth of the world -- Nobels mentoring youth to change the world.  More than one million young people, from 39 different countries, have participated in the PeaceJam program, and these young people have created over two million projects designed to solve the most pressing problems in their own communities.  PeaceJam has carried out more than 200 Peace Congresses for Youth, where budding young leaders work side by side with Nobel Peace Laureates, and it is one of the most transformational programs for young people that I have ever seen.

Now Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjeff have come up with an even more ambitious idea -- a campaign to inspire people all over the world to work together to create One Billion Acts of Peace by the end of the year 2019.  They want to inspire global citizens to create high quality projects which are designed to tackle the toughest issues facing humanity.  There are ten core focus areas for this campaign:  Advancing Women and Children; Access to Water and Natural Resources;  Education and Community Development; Global Health and Wellness; Environmental Sustainability; Conflict Resolution; Ending Racism and Hate; Human Rights for All; Alleviating Extreme Poverty; and Controlling Weapons Access and Proliferation.

They have worked with leaders in the technology industry to create a cutting edge campaign that will empower average people all over the world to become effective agents of change.  People will be able to use the latest in technology to collaborate together to solve the world's toughest problems, under the leadership and guidance of Nobel Peace Laureates.  Non profit organizations, businesses, and institutions around the world are already joining in to become a part of the campaign.  PeaceJam launched its audaciously ambitious "One Billion Acts of Peace" campaign at the Social Innovation Summit at the United Nations last summer, and they are working on such a grand scale in order to be able to truly change the course of the future for all of humanity.  Their goal is to create one of the most powerful global citizen's campaigns that the world has ever seen.

In the thirty years that have transpired since I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I have found that it is this sort of big thinking and courageous craziness that can truly make things happen.  I am nominating them and their "One Billion Acts of Peace" campaign for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, because I want to encourage this kind of audacity, and to support this effort to unleash the goodness and greatness of the people of the world.  Together, we truly can create a world where everyone has access to clean water, a decent place to live, enough to eat, a good education; and social justice and human rights -- the kind world that God wants to see for all of us.  We do indeed have the power to create this world, in our own hands.  The "One Billion Acts of Peace" campaign will bring so very many of us together, to dream this dream together, and to begin to make it so.


Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Rigoberta Menchu Tum

President Oscar Arias

Leymah Gbowee

Adolfo Perez Esquivel

Betty Williams

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It is time to abandon wisdom

Meng with the Zen Master Subul Sunim

The great Korean Zen Master Subul Sunim recently gave me this advice: "To acquire wisdom is hard, but to abandon it is even harder.  You have accumulated a lot of wisdom, and your wisdom has brought you to this point, but to advance further, you need to abandon that wisdom."

Upon hearing that, I was half unstuck.

A few days later, my dear friend, Zen teacher Soryu Forall made it more specific.  He said, "In your meditation, you have been observing yourself from a high ground.  It has gotten you this far.  It is now time to stop observing and just be in experience fully.  Fully.  Fully!"

There and then, I understood how to abandon my wisdom.

And I was unstuck.

The wise man walks to the door.  The fool walks in.

Friday, September 26, 2014

An act of peace: Making a stand against child slavery

Last Sunday, on the International Day of Peace, my dearest friends and fellow Co-chairs of One Billion Acts of Peace, Dawn and Ivan (each of whom has been nominated 8 times for the Nobel Peace Prize), challenged me to perform or commit to performing a substantial act of peace within 7 days.

I accept your challenge, Dawn and Ivan!  On 25th October 2014 (Make a Difference Day), Vivianne Harr and I will work together to launch a 30-day stand against child slavery.  We aim to raise US$25,000 to benefit Free the Slaves.  Watch out for our announcement.

[Update: I told a few friends and we already received a commitment of US$10,000 from an anonymous donor.  Yay!  Keep doing that and we will be forced to raise our donation target even before our 30-day campaign begins.  Make me do it, I dare you.]

I like to dedicate this act of peace in honor of two very inspiring people I befriended recently, Vivienne Harr and Congressman John Lewis.

Vivienne is a heroine who, at the age of eight, decided that she wanted to end child slavery worldwide and, by age ten, already raised more than US$100,000 towards that goal.  John is a widely-revered hero who spent his life upholding everybody's civil rights.  The contrast between them is beautiful.  One a young, idealistic, white lady, the other an elderly, dignified black gentleman.   It goes to show that heroes and heroines can be found everywhere, in every social segment, at every age.  Thank you, Vivienne and John, for inspiring all of us with your goodness.

I hereby challenge three of my friends to each perform (or commit to performing) an act of peace within the next 7 days: Arianna Huffington, Biz Stone and Congressman John Lewis.  Remember to also challenge three other people to each perform an act of peace!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When I grow up, I want to be worthy of being in the Buddha's shadow

Prince Siddhartha left home to seek enlightenment shortly after his son, Rahula, was born.  After six years of intense struggle, Prince Siddhartha gained full enlightenment and became the Buddha.  By the time he came home to visit his family, Rahula was already seven years old.

As the Buddha approached the palace, Rahula's mother, Princess Yasodhara, pointed to the Buddha in the distance and instructed her son, "That man is your father, go to him and ask for your inheritance."

Rahula ran towards the Buddha and then walked alongside him.  According to one interpretation of the story, it was presumably a hot day and Rahlua kept himself shaded in the Buddha's shadow.  After a while, Rahula looked up to the Buddha with a smile and said, "It is so pleasant to be in your shadow."

When I read that account, that last sentence resonated with me to my core.  It felt like the perfect metaphor for me.  All I really want to do is to be in the shadow of the Buddha.

So these days, whenever somebody asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I say that when I grow up, I want to be worthy of being in the Buddha's shadow.  That is all.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seven Lotus 七朵莲花

This song is too beautiful to be left untranslated.  Translation is done by yours truly.

Seven Lotus

In a beautiful sea, lotus flowers blossom in seven colors
The lovely Guru Rinpoche walks towards me
He asks me whether there is true love in my heart
I say that there is love in my heart like seven open lotus flowers

I long for lotus flowers opening in everybody's heart
I long for love appearing everywhere between heaven and earth
I long for fresh flowers of peace blooming everywhere in the human realm
I long for no more suffering and no more sorrow

(Guru Rinpoche's Heart Mantra) Om Ah Hung Ben za Guru Péma Siddhi Hung

I see lotus flowers opening in everybody's heart
I see love appearing everywhere between heaven and earth
I see fresh flowers of peace blooming everywhere in the human realm
I see no more suffering and no more sorrow

(Guru Rinpoche's Heart Mantra) Om Ah Hung Ben za Guru Péma Siddhi Hung




(莲花生大师心咒) Om Ah Hung Ben za Guru Péma Siddhi Hung


(莲花生大师心咒) Om Ah Hung Ben za Guru Péma Siddhi Hung

Monday, June 30, 2014

Plastic currencies

Angel and I were talking about countries with plastic currencies.

Me: Singapore has plastic bills.
Angel: AND, Canada has plastic bills.
Me: AND, plastic ducks have plastic bills.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SIY wins Axiom Business Book Award

Search Inside Yourself has just been named a Gold Medal winner at the 7th Annual Axiom Business Book Awards honoring the year's best business books and their authors and publishers.

I am deeply honored and humbled.  Thank you for all your support, my friends.

[Announcement at:]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This calmness is our natural birthright

In his first sermon after his enlightenment, the Buddha identified the cause of suffering as tanha, which literally means "thirst" but is often inadequately translated as "craving" **.  Specifically, the Buddha identified 3 forms of tanha: the thirst for sense pleasure (kama-tanha), the thirst for existence (bhava-tanha), and the thirst for non-existence (vibhava-tanha). 

I chanced upon a beautiful commentary on tanha by Eknath Easwaran in his translation of The Dhammapada (he uses the Sanskrit equivalent of tanha, "trishna"): Buddhist psychology, each desire is an isolated moment of mental activity - a dharma, in the Buddhist technical vocabulary - rising up in the mind.  It can be ignored, or one can choose to yield to it.  If one yields, the next wave of desire will have greater power to compel attention, and the mental agitation it causes will be more intense.  On the other hand, if one chooses to defy a strong desire, the pain can be considerable.  “Know me to be the power called Thirst,” Trishna demands of the Buddha on the eve of his enlightenment, “and give me my due of worship. Otherwise I will squeeze you with all my might and wring out the last of your life!”  However, if one succeeds in not giving in to selfish desires as they arise, the mind gradually quiets down, leaving a longer and longer interval between waves of desire in which the mind is calm.  This calmness is our natural birthright, a state beyond the suffering entangled with desire.  All the Buddha’s teachings come round to this one practical point: to find permanent joy, we have to learn how not to yield to selfish desire.

(** It get worse.  Apparently, the Chinese translation for tanha is 愛, which literally means "love".  Whoever made THAT translation deserves to be slapped.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Search Inside Yourself in 13 Languages and Counting

As of January 2014, Search Inside Yourself is published in English and 12 other languages.  Here is the entire set, including the 5 English-language editions (the US hardcover edition, 2 UK editions and 2 international editions).

Collect the whole set!

Update (2014/01/27): Cathy from HarperCollins says, "SIY has been licensed to 24 foreign publishers so far – you should have a few more editions to add to the collection soon!"

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meeting Stan Lee

I love going on cruises.  You visit exotic places, you get to eat like a pig, and occasionally, you run into one of your heroes.

I was on a holiday cruise in December 2013.  On day 10 of the 15 days cruise, I saw Stan Lee in the dining room just a few feet away from me.  My reaction was, "OMFG!  It's Stan Lee!"  (OMFG stands for "Oh My God", for those who are wondering).  I was holding boiling hot tea with one hand and a plate of chocolate-filled dessert of some kind with the other hand (see "eat like a pig" above), plus I didn't have my camera, plus Stan seemed occupied, so I didn't approach him.  And he left.

Subsequently, I told my wife to keep a lookout for Stan Lee.  Not being a huge fan of comic book superheros herself, she asked how she would recognize him.  I said, "Easy, just look for a 91-year-old man who looks like he created Spider-Man."  No, that description didn't work, I don't know why.

Near the final day of the cruise, on a day we were all dressed up for "formal dinner", by sheer coincidence, I was walking down a flight of stairs and Stan was walking up.  And me met.  That was then I asked for a photo (by then, I made sure to always have a camera handy just in case something like this happened).  And that is why this picture was taken at the stairs.

Thank you, Stan!  And happy birthday!

(Also see: the rest of Meng's Wall,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Search Inside Yourself is a best book two years in a row

Last year (2012), Search Inside Yourself was named by San Francisco Magazine as one of the Best Bay Area Books of 2012 (link).

This year (2013), Search Inside Yourself was named by Bloomberg as one of the Best Books of 2013 (link).

I don't really know what to say, except I'm deeply honored and humbled.  Thank you.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Search Inside Yourself is #1 in Taiwan

I have just been informed that the Traditional Chinese edition of Search Inside Yourself was the #1 bestseller in Taiwan!  (It was #1 back in August, but I just found out today.)

I am really grateful to my Taiwanese editor Juliette Ting (丁慧瑋).  I know she worked really hard on this book.  She read over the draft so many times that she can probably recite it by heart by now.  I'm also grateful to the translator Hsieh Yifei (謝儀霏) and my Chinese-language advisor Dr Yang Lei (楊蕾博士), both of whom spent many hours working with me on the translation.

And, of course, I'm most grateful to my readers from Taiwan.  Thank you!

For those of you who read Traditional Chinese, here's a fuller list of people I'm grateful to for this edition (taken from the Acknowledgement section of the book):
我小時沒專心學好中文,長大後長期在美國定居,所以中文文學程度越來越差。幸好我有許多華裔朋友一直幫我,還耐心助我過目此中文版(耐心到連一次都沒有敲我的頭)。我最要感 謝的是好友楊蕾博士。其他朋友包括龔水怒、施成軍、孫青、林中智、孫果明與郭曼文。還要感謝中文版編輯丁慧瑋與譯者謝儀霏,她們常要為我特別加班,不過也沒辦法,誰叫我長得這麼帥,這麼令人難以抗拒。