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Sifu did not suffer for herself, she suffered for us.  One who does not know how to swim could not be a life saver.  One who had not suffered deeply could not authoritatively offer advice on how to seek liberation through suffering.  Yeung Sifu was a Bodhisattva even in her previous life and she will be one in the next.  But she didn’t just teach us Dharma by teaching us how to refine our deeds, she taught us by example on how to truly refine our mind.  She taught us equanimity even when confronted by the worst circumstances.  Let’s not let her suffering go to waste.  She is gone now but her teaching will always be with us.

師父的苦不是為她自己而受的,她是為我們而受的,不會游水的人不可能做救生員,不受:過苦而去教人從苦中求解脱是没有說服力的,師父前世是修行人,下世也是修行人,但師父的教訓是要我們知道修行不只是修行為,修是修心,行是心行,口念身拜心不行,如幻如化, 我們不可以讓師父受的苦白受,要記住她的行,要記住她如何從惡境中求無麈,她的人走了,她的教訓永遠存在,「覺知正念衍陽師,心無罣礙觀自在」
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One of the female Abbots of our temple, Yin Yeung Sifu, had died two days ago, at the young age of 57.  She was a force of good and we all missed her.  He death inspired me to write the following, a topic that has been working through my head since I attended a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat back in October.  There is just too much hate in this world.

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Meditation is a very personal experience and it is difficult to explain the benefits since unlike gym, they are not immediately obvious.  This is especially a problem for struggling entrepreneurs since they live such a busy schedule.  Ironically they are also the ones who would be rewarded the most since they so desperately need structured downtime.  So the trick is to set aside non-productive time.  During plane take-off and landing is a wonderful window for meditation.  So is the time getting yourself to sleep.  If there is enough room in your bed, try the spread eagle (aka dead man) position.  Relax enough that you can feel the lumps on your back.  Try to breath as lightly as possible.  During inhale, focus on the scent and the freshness of the air .  During exhale, try to image the weight of your body being spread evenly and slowly across the top of the mattress.  Once you get good at this, the biggest challenge would be that you would want to use this quiet time for heavy duty thinking.  Try not to do that.  Instead keep bringing yourself back to present and observing your breath and your body.  Let yourself fall to sleep and if you wake up in the middle of the night, try to put yourself back to sleep again by going through the same procedure.  

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Mindfulness meditation is both a technique and a philosophy.  It comes from the Sanskrit word, Anapanasati.  Ana and Pana means inhalation and exhalation, respectively.  Together it describes the Zen meditation technique of either counting or just observing your breath.  Sati, on the other hand, has a much deeper meaning.  In both Chinese and Japanese, Sati is Nian (念) but in English, it is loosely translated as mindfulness, awareness and introspection.  Often time, mindfulness is simply described as living the moment or paying attention to the present.  People pay good money learning mindful meditation as a relaxation technique and it does that quite well.  But entrepreneurs need to do more.  Entrepreneurs should embrace Zen meditation as an important tool to dissect our mind.  Mastering the technique opens up a new world which would explain how our brain reacts to stimulus and forms action.  Having that knowledge gives us an important edge in becoming a successful entrepreneur.  Fortunately for entrepreneurs, it is a lot easier to learn how our mind work than it is to learn how a term sheet work.

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Entrepreneurs live a busy life, both by design and by demand.  It is difficult to start an exercise such as Zen meditation, especially when the benefits are not very immediate.  However, entrepreneurs travel a lot and spend lots of time waiting for meetings (meetings with VC's, e.g.).  The dead time during take-off and landing is the perfect time to meditate.  That's a half hour downtime that you could use unless you want to read the same flight magazine for the fifteenth time.  Grab a pillow on the way down the aisle and put it halfway between your lower back and your butt, sit up straight but relax.  Point you head slightly downward as if you are looking at the top of the tray and you hands on your lap.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself suspended from the ceiling with a string tied to your hair.  Now focus on your nostril and feel the air as you breath in. Feel it again as you breath out.  Focus on the difference in temperature, moisture and scent.  If you can't feel anything, try holding your breath for as long as you can and breath again.  Count slowly from one to ten each time you exhale.  Guess what, you can't do it, right?  Your mind wonders, right?  Don't force yourself, just let the thought go and try again.  And keep trying.  Don't be a master of your own mind, be an observer.  Constantly go back and forth checking between your posture, your breathing and your thought.  Just keep trying.  After all, you are not going anywhere and all personal electronics are already turned off.  

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Zen is Japanese and comes from the Chinese word Chán (in Korea, it is called Son) which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, meaning sedimentation.  Zen meditation is not passive and is not about the elimination or filtering of thought.  It is actually quite the opposite.  Zen meditation is an active mental exercise to settle the noise from the signal in our brain and to create some space between our surrounding and how we react to the stimulus.  Entrepreneurs have to make decision all the time.  Often the difference between making the right versus the wrong decision has to do with how we process limited data and how we synergize between the rational/quantitative half and the intuitive/qualitative half of our brain.  Think of Zen meditation as the daily exercise for your mind, giving you a competitive edge to be successful as an entrepreneur.  In other words, borrowing from an old computer magazine, Zen meditation is your daily mental calisthenics and orthodontia (aka Running Light Without Overbyte).

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It's not just what you say but how you say it.  Whether you are talking to perspective customers, perspective vendors, perspective employees or perspective investors, you are always selling, sometimes even selling sh*t that you don't have (which we affectionately refer to as pre-product marketing),  While you are building your company brand, you are leveraging on your personal brand.  And your brand has everything to do with how you present yourself, including words that you choose and tone that you use.  It takes a lot of work to be a successful entrepreneur and the learning starts with improvement of the self.

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Using MRI, they show what happens to your brain when you meditate.  Not surprisingly, many parts of your brain are shut down during meditation including frontal lobe (which is responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness), parietal lobe (for processing sensory information about your surrounding world, orienting you in time and space), Thalamus (which is the gatekeeper for the senses, focusing your attention by funneling sensory data deeper into the brain) and reticular formation (which is the brain’s sentry, receiving incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert).  Most importantly, meditation weakens the neural connection between the "Me" Center of the brain (technically the medial prefrontal cortex which processes information relating to our ego and our experiences) from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain.  The end result is that we are better focused, less anxious, more creative, more compassionate, better memory, less stressful, and have more gray matter in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain (i.e., bigger brain).  With all these benefits, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that zen meditation is an important survival tool for struggling entrepreneurs.

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One reason that I am interested in Buddhism, especially historical Buddhism which is actually non-theistic meaning that it does not require the acceptance nor does it deny the existence of a creator/decider (主宰), is that I believe it is an important framework for entrepreneurs who constantly need to struggle between building a successful business and maintaining a balanced life.  Of the so-called six Pāramitā (波羅密) which refer to the perfection and culmination of virtues, the most important one is service (Dāna Pāramī or 檀那波羅蜜, meaning generosity or giving of oneself, or 布施).  As an entrepreneurs, we build community.  Every day, we are confronted with three buckets, one filled with people who wish us dead, one filled with people who wish us success (which will eventually become our community of paying customers) and the last but the biggest bucket is one filled with people who are indifferent.  The key to success is to find more people who wish us success than wishing us failure.  The last bucket is our silo of opportunities.  Every day we identify one indifferent and turn it into a champion.  And we do that by asking a simple question, "How can I be of service to you?  How can I relieve your pain?"
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