General

Traditions

“CX 250 – London to Hong Kong – has just taken off and Su is already fast asleep. While waiting for my Gold Label, I took out my Lenovo. I am minded that life would take on a different pace as soon as we are back in Hong Kong. As a start, we would need to take stock on what the various contractors have done while we were away. We decanted Conduit Road just hours before we took off for London about a month ago; and the immediate task now is to set ourselves up as soon as possible before we decant Park Road which we plan to complete as soon as possible and certainly before we go on the trip to Ireland in September. But for now, I am content to re-live once more some highlights in the past month. First, we had a great time together. More importantly, we had deliberately not set everything in stone beforehand, apart from the start and finish dates. Some days were spent absolutely without an agenda, except for eating and drinking. In France, we had three meals in two-star Michelin restaurants, one at Christopher Coutanceau in La Rochelle and two at Gill Restaurant in Rouen operated by Gilles Tournadre. At Gill, we learnt that the two chefs are good friends and actually talk to each other. The wife of the chef in Rouen is a rather elegant lady called Sylvia who has been in Hong Kong because her daughter had attended some classes here.”

That was as far as I could go before I fell asleep too; and I did not have a chance to look at what I had written until now, some ten days later, when I turned on the laptop.

I guessed right. Life back home is simply hectic even without Edward Snowden. The good news is: the contractor did fix Conduit Road which is now in immaculate conditions – well, almost – and ready for letting. The bad news is that nothing seemed to have moved forward in Mei Foo and we had to live with all these broken promises. Meanwhile, life goes on.

I met some old friends last night at a charity organized by the Hong Kong Society of Dharma Supporters in support of the initiatives of Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera, more affectionately known as Ajahn Brahm. These friends are from my Buddhism study days at HKU since 2005. They are mostly loving, mindful, generous, charitable and kind people, and they are not all Buddhists. This Ajahn Brahm was born in London in 1951, ordained in Bangkok at the age of 23 after which he spent nine years studying and training in the Forest Meditation Tradition in Thailand. In 1983, he was invited with the support and agreement of his then Master in Thailand, to Perth, Australia to set up a monastery and to teach there. He has now a great following, not only in Perth, but also in Hong Kong and elsewhere. One significant initiative of Ajahn Brahm involves the establishment of the Dharmmasara Nuns’ Monastery in Western Australia, which seeks to provide training for nuns in the Forest Meditation Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. Now, in this Thai Buddhism tradition, under which Ajahn Brahm was trained, there are no nuns as such. However, in 2009, Ajahn Brahm facilitated legitimate ordination of Bhikkhunis or fully ordained Buddhist nuns. His initiative, nevertheless, had led to his excommunication from the Sangha in Thailand. But he sojourns on and has been very active raising funds to support the training of nuns under that Tradition.

Tradition is indeed a very powerful thing. To many people, it is unthinkable that a Buddhist institution would disown somebody trained under its tradition because that person has done some ostensibly humanitarian work which would be conducive to spreading the Buddhist Dharma or Buddhism teaching, in order to preserve a cultural tradition which arguably might not be central or fundamental to Buddhism teaching. In this particular case, the Buddha had never discriminated against the female gender in his days. He taught everyone who came to him. But one must take note that the Buddha never did found Buddhism as a religion as such during his lifetime.

It reminds me of today’s Gospel in which Jesus asked his disciples, first who the general public said he was, and then, who they would say he was. His disciples said that the popular world said he was either John the Baptist, the prophet Isaiah or some other prophets re-incarnated. Peter then said that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. In the Catholic tradition, we believe, among other things, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, meaning that we believe that the teachings of the Church today not only follows, but also truly reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ when He was on earth. There are many people, Christians and non-Christians who would dispute such traditions or interpretation, but faith and religion is not something to be argued as such, but rather to be studied and reflected upon. In our Catholic tradition, for example, we recognize and acknowledge that faith is a gift from God, so that it may not and indeed is not the fault of any individual not to have the faith. However, the individual ought to be open and to open his heart to receive and embrace the gift when it is bestowed on him or her. Once again, this is our tradition, and every religion, every community, every family and every individual etc is entitled to develop specific traditions for their own.

Traditions have it that the father is the head of a household and has the last word for everything; that the mother is to prepare food, wash the clothes, milk the cows and feed the children, etc, while the children are to listen to their parents, go to school and behave etc. Well, we are seeing none of the above these days; aren’t we?

Here in Hong Kong, traditions used to be that the Government would make the rules, preserve law and order and provide the necessary public services; while citizens or members of the public are to open the law and be good citizens. Now we are told by some self-appointed democrats and pacifists that it is in order to defy the law so that the Government would listen to the people’s demands.

I was amongst the audience at the HKU Convocation Speech last Thursday (20 June) when the Secretary for Justice, Mr. Rimsky Yuen was asked what the HKSAR Government in general and his Department of Justice in particular will do if the Occupy Central people did make a move to occupy Central. The Secretary replied in firm and unequivocal terms that he and his Department would uphold the law and bring any offenders to face the law, which is among the reasons his Department has been set up, which is part and parcel of his duty to uphold the rule of law, and which in turn is a corner stone upon which Hong Kong’s success is built on.

I hope to talk to you again soon.

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