Batu Caves, my first cave visit

Besides the good food and shopping, Batu Caves is another must visit attraction when visiting Kuala Lumpur (13 kilometres north of the city).

The Batu Caves is the most widely known Hindu Temple in Malaysia (almost like a local icon), dedicated to Lord Murugan and at every Thaipusam (which falls in late January/early February), it will be crowded with Hindu devotees carrying Kavadi and milkpots to express their devotion.

The Batu Cave Temple is also known as 10th Caves or Hill for Lord Murugan as there are six important holy shrines in India and four more in Malaysia. The three others in Malaysia are Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh, Tanneermalai Temple in Penang and Sannasimalai Temple in Malacca.

you will see this upon exiting from the train station
Lord Hanuman: Welcome to Batu Caves!

The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves ..

  • Temple Cave (Free to enter)
  • Dark Cave (Fee charge for Tour)
  • Art Gallery Cave (Fee charge for Entrance)

One of the most iconic feature of Batu Caves has to be the 42.7-metre high statue of Lord Murugan (tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world).  The statue, which cost approximately 24 million rupees, is made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from Thailand.

The Iconic Lord Murugan Statue

This area is a limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones. The limestone formations found in the caves are said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.

Feed the birds for a wonderful photo taking opportunity

There are many stalls there selling religious artifacts, food for feeding birds, drinks, indian vegetarian restaurants. So don’t worry if you’ll get thirsty or hungry there.

Majestic view of the entrance and the hill behind
272 steps to heaven

Be prepare to burn your leggy fats, pay extra caution as the steps are rather steep.

They can be rather friendly…
Devotees attending a worship session at the cave temple

You are welcome to observe the worship session, just kindly remove your footwear before entering the temple sanctuary. Note: do not disturb the sanctity by taking photos with  your flashlight on.

All i can say is.. you need to put effort if you want to achieve something. The view here is worth every step i took.

Lots of monkeys and pigeons around..

Check out the wonderful view before leaving…

As you climb up the 272 steps towards the Temple Cave, you will find a path branches off to the Dark Cave.  Follow the path and in no time you will feel the cool breeze coming out of the cave entrance.

There are registration tables where visitors can sign up for the tour.  You will also find a mini-exhibition of the bats you can find the Dark Cave.  You will most likely be able to only hear the bats flying around in the cave due to the darkness so this is the best time to see what those bats would look like upclose.

The Dark Cave is where visitors can explore the enthralling cave ecosystem with a guided educational tour.  The Dark cave is at least 100 million years old and the limestone that surrounds it was originally formed from shells and coral, from when this entire area was underwater.

The cave is also home to millions of both fruit- and insect-eating bats where their droppings (also known as guano) supports an ecosystem within the cave, with cockroaches, spiders, crickets, snakes and other creepy crawlies living off either the guano, the bats themselves or each other.

There will be a guide explaining the formations

For RM 35 (Adult), you can sign up for the Dark Cave Educational Tour – Just come in your comfortable shoes and clothing and keep yourself hydrated as the tour is about 45 minutes long and the cave can get quite hot at times (with temperature of 27º -29º Celsius and 85-90% humidity year round). Torchlight and helmet will be provided.   Do note that the Dark Cave tour is not available on Mondays; the tour is available from Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays 10.30am to 5.30pm.

Coming By Train. KTM Komuter train takes you to the caves on the Batu Caves – Port Klang line. An adult single fare is RM2.00 from KL Sentral to Batu Caves. The journey from KL Sentral to Batu Caves takes about 30 minutes and trains run on a frequency of 15 to 30 minutes.

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Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahatat

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Khmer style chedi or pagoda
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Stop and breathe
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No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path
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Side chapel and museum
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The main sanctuary

The main sanctuary at this temple, known by locals as Wat Yai, houses the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, one of Thailand’s most revered and copied Buddha images. This famous bronze statue is probably second in importance only to the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew.

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Most beautiful Buddha in Thailand

The image was cast in the late Sukhothai style, but what makes it strikingly unique is the flamelike halo around the head and torso that turns up at the bottom to become dragon-serpent heads on either side of the image. The head of this Buddha is a little wider than standard Sukhothai, giving the statue a very solid feel.

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Finding a peaceful corner in this fully congregated hall.

Despite the holiness of the temple, endless loud broadcasts asking for donations, Thai musicians, a strip of vendors hawking everything from herbs to lottery tickets, several ATM machines and hundreds of visitors all contribute to a relentlessly hectic atmosphere. Come early (ideally before 7am) if you’re looking for quiet contemplation or simply wish to take photos, and regardless of the time be sure to dress appropriately – no shorts or sleeveless tops.

Address: Ong Dam Road | Nai Mueang, Phitsanulok, Thailand

 

2016 Tzu Chi Tri Celebration of Buddha’s day, Mother’s day and Tzuchi day.

This is a major event in the Tzuchi Calendar held on the 2nd Sunday of May each year. This this year it happen to be the 50th year of the foundation in promoting peace in the world. I had the precious opportunity to participate in this year event held back in the spiritual home of Tzuchi volunteers, Jing Si Hall, or literally translated as “still thoughts hall”. Such major events are usually held at the stadium or indoor exhibition halls that can accommodate the huge congregation.

Tzuchi Chapter @ Elias rd
Fourth Service of the day

Other than participating in the Celebration Service, i also served as a media control guy in one of the event stations, the Tea-serving-station. Basically, all i had to do is set up the slides and mic, control the music volume, play music at appropriate timings and etc.

 

Other stations include the 50th anniversary exhibition

The station aims to promote filial piety and encourage one to express their love and concern to their elders thru the act of serving tea to their parents, grandparents, elder. I witness many children hugging their parents, some crying, some awkward but you can see deep down they are quite touched by the atmosphere and act of filial piety. Thankful that i had the opportunity to witness and assist in making such a wonderful event possible.

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Lastly, i gave away my Tzuching uniform to youth volunteers in Sri Lanka who could not afford to purchase it. I take it as a sincere prayer and blessing for the person who recieve it, hopefully he or she will be able to strive on the Bodhisattva path.

and of course not forgetting a group shot with some of the volunteers to end the day!

Peace out!

Vesak Day 2015

Christmas is the season of giving, the celebration of the birth of a Savior. Deepavali celebrates light over darkness, righteousness over evilness. What is the universal message of Vesak day?

The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind. On this day, we celebrate and remember the birth, passing and final enlightenment of the historical Buddha, also known as Gotama Buddha. Vesak also reminds us that everyone has the potential to rise above and gain enlightenment.

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Flowers for the occasion

Before committing myself to Tzuchi, Vesak day would be spent going on a island wide temple tour with Cheryl. My mornings will be at Mangala Vihara (Theravada) joining the congregation in Buddha Puja at 1030hr.

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Photo taken from MV facebook

Managla Vihara is a Theravada Buddhist Temple founded by the Peranakan community and the Sinhalese Sangha. In fact the piece of land was donated by Mdm Chew Quee Neo, daughter of Chew Joo Chiat, two famous Peranakan in Singapore. MV is a close knitted community with generations of families graduating from their Sunday Dhamma school. MV is situated along 30 Jalan Eunos. 

And then dropping by Shinnyo En Temple(Japanese denomination) to offer a sweet tea bath to Prince Siddhartha.

One of the main activities of the festival is the “bathing Buddha” ritual. Legend records that when Prince Siddhartha was born, there were extraordinary and auspicious signs heralding his birth.

They describe the sky as being clear with brilliant sunshine, flowers blooming and birds singing. Dragons also appeared in the sky spurting two streams of purified water (one cool and one warm), that gently cascaded down to bathe him.

At his birth, seven lotus flowers sprung up beneath his feet as he walked – pointing one hand to the sky and ground he said “in the heaven above and the earth below, I vow to liberate all who suffer in these three realms”.

Since then, Buddhists all over the world celebrate the Buddha’s birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of baby Prince Siddhartha. This ritual highlights a universal message of “Let’s cleanse our inner dirt’ of greed, hatred and ignorance so as to allow the generosity, love and wisdom within us to shine forth!”

Quoted from: KMSPKS Vesak Celebration

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Photo Taken from Shinnyo En Singapore Facebook

Shinnyo en Singapore

Last stop of the day will be having some fun at Buddhist fellowship(non sectarian) carnival which ends at 1630hr.

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Photo taken from BF Facebook

Buddhist Fellowship in its early days was named Buddhist Graduate Fellowship, a group catering to intellectuals from the local universities. BF is one of the earliest pioneers in practicing nonsectarian Buddhism. I was active in the youth group some years back… before BF relocated from Poh Ern Shih to Yeo’s bldg. 

Tzuchi celebrated Vesak day together with the rest of the TC chapters around the world on the 2nd Sunday of May yearly. However, this year TC Singapore also organised a Buddhist Film Sharing Session on the public holiday. I will share the link of the movie on a separate post…

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Everyone has the potential to do good, avoid evil and purify their minds.
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Our local chapter was open to Buddhist devotees on Vesak day to bath the Buddha – an act to symbolise purifying of their minds.

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On this great day our Holy Prince of Peace, From sorrow’s chain has found release:
Self is no more, banished the clouds of night, Upon mankind hath shined the light.

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Tzuchi Singapore is located beside a Canal along Elias rd, Pasir Ris.

Recently, PUB completed the redevelopment of Sungei Api Api. During the opening ceremony, TC adopted this part of the waterway, joining in the effort of maintaining our garden city..

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Buddhist Youth in Singapore started a online campaign to spread the universal message of Vesak Day.

Have a blessed Vesak day! May your aspirations be fulfilled 😀

Who suffers who knows

From Piya Tan

Who suffers who knows

Remember that time when we try to tell someone how painful things are for us? But we are dismissively told, “It’s all right!…” Clearly the other person does not hear our cries, nor feel our pain. Try telling someone who is drowning: “It’s all right, don’t drown…”

All right, so we are not really drowning. A problem is somehow solved in the past tense. When we look back, such pains are just a memory, and then we can tell ourselves, “It’s really all right,” because it has passed, and we have learned something from it.

Or, when we tell another person about our problem, this person says, “Oh, I had a bigger problem than yours…” and so we become the captive audience, unheard, but having to hear another round of painful episode pasted over our own pains like some cold “koyok” (medicated plaster) that smarts and reddens our tender skin.

A true friend, a spiritual friend, is one who carefully tries to listen to us. Such a person may be one in a hundred or maybe even rarer. Once, when our family was really in bad financial difficulty that drove me to voice our need at the end of a public Dharma talk attended by about a hundred people.

“Our family really needs help this month: we are unable to pay our rent!” At the end of the talk, no one came forward to even console us. Except for one kind woman: she gently handed me a small donation, with a soft smile. Later I heard, she became a nun.

It is more painful to be told “It’s all right” when it is not; or to hear another’s problem when ours is hanging over our head; or to be unheeded even when we cry out for help. People only seem to be kind and helpful when they hear that we are struck down with a deadly disease or, better, dying, or best, dead.

The good things we say of the dead at their funerals are better practised when they were undead. Funerals and deaths often make hypocrites of the best of us. Oh, it’s all right, our turn will come. Some of those people who have hated us when we lived would say the kindest things as our mortal remains, returning to the elements.

The lesson is clear surely. Our problems are never really as bad as those of others, espe­cially when we know the Dharma. The Buddha does not turn away anyone who comes to him for help. He heals the sick, uplifts the poor, ennobles the foolish, sets right the un­hing­ed, and awakens even drunks and serial killers. We might not have the Buddha’s powers, but we know him by his example, wisdom and compassion.

Our spiritual strength lies in seeing, that is, understanding what we should not do, what we should do, and to do it. This is, in fact, the essence of the three trainings of moral virtue, mental culti­vation and wisdom. Let us now spend a quiet moment reflect­ing on this before read­ing on.

If we think that our problems are the worst, or that we are suffering more than anyone else, we are being false to ourselves. How many people have we really known, and how much suffering has really overwhelmed us?

It is amazing to see how a humble elder rummaging through the refuse bins to collect discarded cans, just for a few dollars a day. He talks to no one, and needs no chatting. He seems happily deep in his routine: he does not seem to be suffering. And we, we are only concerned that he does not mess up our street!

To those who think we are romanticizing the misfortune of others, we could well reply we are trying to see the goodness in the humble ways of those who have less but are more in their courage to do what good that needs to be done for themselves.

My love for the Dharma has over the years gently woken me to the fact that the suffer­ings of others are always worse than ours. The reason is simple: yes, we once suffered like others, too. But we suffered greater because of our ignorance and craving.

Insofar as we are able to see the sufferings of others as being worse than ours, we can say that, to that extent, we are wiser. If we respond to them, then, we are more charita­ble. There is a lot to learn from suffering: it means that we should move on. It means that some good­ness in us and in others has yet be touched.

No matter how much we hear of the sufferings of others, we can never really know them. We can never really know others even through their joys (much as we think we do). We might hear all that another has to say of themselves (if this were ever possible), but we still can never fully know them. The reason is simple: we do not even really know our own selves.

At best, we can only hear the unfinished tales of others. Our mistakes can be disastrous when we try to freeze these flowing formative moments of another, and frame them into a colourless still-life portrait hanging on the wall-nail of our cold comfort. We are never ready or able to hear a person’s full story, and yet we are ever ready to summarily judge them at a moment’s notice. What does that make us?

The ways of compassion are simple, yet deceptively simple. We need to know people, we need to live with them, love them. The Buddha’s teachings are mostly reminders that being true and loving is the best way to heal. The simple truth of joyful reality ennobles us for­ever.

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer and religious thinker, legendary for his love of goodness but dislike for the church, tells us the story of the Three Questions. The thought came to a certain king that he would never fail if he knew three things. These three things were
·   What is the best time to do something?
·   Who is the most important person?
·   What is the most important thing to do at all times?

Many educated people tried to answer the king’s questions, but they all came up with different answers. The king decided that he needed to ask a wise hermit in a nearby forest. The hermit would however only see common folk, so the king disguised himself as a peasant and left his guards behind, so that he alone went to see the hermit.

The hermit was digging flower-beds when the king arrived. The king asked his questions, but the hermit went on digging hard. The king offered to dig for him for a while. After digging for some time, the king again asked his questions.

Before the hermit could answer, a man emerged from the woods. He was bleeding from a terrible stomach wound. The king tended to him, and they stayed the night in the her­mit’s hut.

The next day, the wounded man was doing better, but was surprised at the help he was given. The man confessed that he knew who the king was. For, the king had executed his brother and seized his property. He had come to kill the king, but the guards wound­ed him in the stomach.

The man pledged allegiance to the king, and went on his way. The king asked the hermit again for his answers. The hermit replied that the questions had just been answered.
The most important time is now. The present is the only time we have.
The most important person is the one we are with.
The most important thing to do is some good with that person.

Yes, we have heard this one, too; now is the time to live it. The Buddha sits patiently wait­ing for us to humanly appear before him.

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Piya Tan ©2012 120824