Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Animal friendly products

One of the animal welfare organisations that I have been supporting,
The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES),
has recently published a Cruelty-Free Pocket Shopping Guide.

Enlisted in the guide are
a range of toiletries, cosmetics and household product brands
that are guaranteed to have not been tested on animals.

The list is not a long one, but it's definitely a good start!

Now, given the choice,
we should support products which come by an ethical path,
being a responsible Earthling :)

With Metta,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Vegetarian Wellness Classes 2009-2010

Some of my friends/students have been asking for
my vegetarian classes teaching schedule earlier,
but I often had to let them down,
as most of my classes were requested in an ad hoc manner
by different organisations.

However, recently, thanks to Ci Xin from Awareness Place
for providing a very nice class room @ Bras Basah Complex
and her terrific organised skills,
I finally could put together a timetable for 2010!

At this moment, although most of the classes will be taught at Awareness Place,
I foresee more classes will be added on at some other places too,
e.g. Buddhist Life Mission has also been requesting for more cooking classes
(details are still being discussed).

So, tune in from time to time for updated timetable :)

Happy Learning!
Kee Yew

p/s: what is also noteworthy is that I have added on a Personal Vegetarian Coaching Service for the new year to come. This new service is designed to help self-motivated people to kick start a new healthy life with more confidence, greater certainty and higher success rate (cf. relatively slow self-learning process).

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zen Cooking

Last Sunday, Mark, Susan and I attended a special vegetarian cooking class.

The cuisines we learnt was Shojin Ryori (精进料理)
-- yes, Japanese cuisines with a touch of Zen!

According the cooking teacher,
Danny, also the co-founder of Enso Kitchen,
Shojin means the devotion of energy (in term of Zen/Buddhism practice).
So, Shojin cuisine naturally upholds Zen-mindfulness as the intrinsic core
of the food preparation and dining.

The dishes taught were actually very simple,
but, tasty and beautiful (in presentation).
--I particularly like the blanched vegetables with walnut-mirin sauce;
simple but tasty tasty tasty!..

Danny put a lot of emphases, during his class,
on the Zen principles.
He educated us that, in Shojin Ryori, there should be:
1. minimal wastage during food preparation
2. use of seasonal ingredients (live according to 4 seasons)
3. not too much seasoning in each dishes, so as to keep the taste naturally pure/tasty
4. food prepared/dishes presented in the perspective of diner
(e.g. how to appeal the apetite of diner, how to make the dishes convenient for diner to eat etc)
5. focus and totally immerse during food preparation

At the end of the cooking class, when we were trying out the dishes,
I noticed, on the wrapper of the chopsticks, these teachings were printed:

"Contemplate on the 5 Reflections of Shojin Ryori before eating
(a custom commonly practised in Zen temples):
-Reflect on the effort that brings us this food
-Reflect on our imperfections as we receive the meal
-Reflect on mindfulness to be free from anger, attachment and ignorance
-Reflect on taking this food as medicine to sustain good health
-Reflect on the fulfillment of our practice as we accept offerings"

It was indeed an enriching cooking class,
in both culinary and spiritual manner =)

With gratitude,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beyond Genes

I was attending in Biopolis,
a few years back, a scientific conference
on Stem Cells, Cancers and Aging.

It was a prestigious International Conference and
the speakers were of great quality.

Among the many good seminars,
there was this speaker that impressed me with his topic on
Epigenetics of cancer cell development.

The lecture basically reinforced the idea of
the need to balance between Nature and Nurture --

Many people, including life scientists,
put a lot of emphasis/blames on genes,
when searching for the causes of diseases like cancer.
In such a process, they overlook the basics they learnt in school,
that it's always 50% genetic predisposition
and 50% environmental influence.

Life scientists nowadays work around the clock,
trying to screen out the very gene that causes
degenerative diseases, like pursuing for the Holy Grail.
But this speaker at the conference, pointed out that
his studies showed that genes do not sit
on the top of the hierachy of           
in the centre of disease pathology.

While genes are generally recognised the blueprints that control
the physiology of human body,
the speaker demonstrated that there are some other forms of
switches that control genes
(ie decides when, where and what genes should be turned on off).
These substances that maneuver life beyond genes
are termed epigenetic markers
(physically they are molecular modification of chromatin).

And when the speaker was asked:
If epigentic markers control genes,
then what control epigentic markers?
He answered in a reflex manner:
Environment and Diet.

His epigenetic study does not contradict
what scientists already known that genes
harbour the mysterious code of life;
but emphasizes the universal law of multiple dependency.

Like what I heard from the education officer
of Vegetarian Society, Mr Yeow,
"Gene is like the bullet loaded in a pistol,
and diet/lifestyle is the trigger we pull to fire the shot"

With metta,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ask and we shall get!

I was attending a webminar conducted by
a billionaire Keith Cunningham last night;
and was grateful to pick up
an important principle of successful life (and biz)
within just the 1hr 15min talk.

Cunningham was absolutely inspiring in his talk.
He pointed out that one of the biggest reasons why
people fail in their biz (life?) is that they
are too passionate about their own ideas,
forgot to ask what the clients really want.

He quoted an example that
Sony actually first started out her biz
with her much-loved electrical rice cooker.
This very first product failed Sony miserably,
as the public did not think it's attractive
with many rice cookers basically lying around everywhere.

In contrast of Sony's failure with their first attempt,
Cunningham told another story about
a famous chocholate company (forgot what's the name :P)
whose initial passion was actually caramel!
This company went around and asked people
if they would like a shop that sells caramel.
The feedback was that caramel was not appealing,
BUT, if they would be crazy if the shop sells all chocholates!!!
The choc company did as the feedback told, despite their passion in caramel.
And you bet the company got good business selling
not what the company had in mind initially,
but a product that the outer world truly need/demand.

After listening to the two real stories,
I kind of sat back and reflected:
how many times in life, we do things we think people'd like just because we like;
and not things that people actually spell out they really want.
A lot of failures, according to Cunningham, in fact arise from
our habit of not asking what people need (due to ego-centricity?).

If we do ask, and serve people what they need,
we shall get the adequate return for servicing people with the right thing...

-- Ask and we shall get !

Listening to Cunningham, I believe that
it does take much wisdom for one to become successful in biz/life.
Don't you agree? =)

Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Screening for the V-Factor

A few weeks ago,
my institute brought in a health screening service
and I went on a very comprehensive screen,
from basic cholesterol level to bone health, to cancer markers,
to renal/liver function, to aneamic profiling etc...

The results turned out to be
reliefing (as cancer markers turned out nil
while I am genetically predisposed to colon cancer)
and also
encouraging (as all the good readings reassures that
healthy vegetarian lifestyle is easily achievable)

What's also noteworthy is that
despite I am born with thalassaemia (a kind of anemia),
My haemoglobin level, tho' low, still falls within acceptable range
(so acceptable that I am supposedly qualified for blood donating) =)
-- vegetarians do get enough iron!

So, maintaining a healthy physiology by a vegetarian diet
is as real as the blood tests reflect.
People always asked about the X-factor (critical factor) to
success for anything;
I think for true health, people should ask first about the V-factor,
that is the Vegetarian-factor :B ..kekeke..

Well regards,
Kee Yew

p/s: I highly recommend try out this health screen company: Health Outreach Program
~ they offer good value price for comprehensive screening and also good service.
Imagine they call up every client to go through the test results item by item and
also attach detailed info to help understand the meaning of each test, along with the report :)

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Monday, October 5, 2009

Juggling between Yin and Yang

From time to time, we hear people making remark that
vegetarian diet is too Yin
and hence it's not very ideal to go absolutely vegetarian.

While there is substantial wisdom behind this remark,
there is no need to be discouraged to go fully vegetarian/vegan.

I was sitting in a Macrobiotics guru, Richard Seah's lecture 6 years ago,
and heard him analysing a case study of
his close friend, Shakib Gunn who
was supposedly very wrong with his vegetarian diet.
Richard claimed that Shakib's diet was very "Expanding"
("Expanding" tho' not equivalent, but is very close to "Yin" in Macrobiotics term).

Richard scratched his head for a long time,
wondering how could a guy like Shakib
led an active and cheerful lifestyle with his totally 'imbalanced' diet;
until he discovered that Shakib had a routine of swimming in the sea every morning.

He explained to the audience that
the sea salt and the sun belongs to "Contracting" elecments (opp of "Expanding" ie Yang),
and these elements could balance the "Expanding" elements (Yin) from his diet.

From this small case study,
it was clear that when we talk about balancing Yin and Yang,
we have to think out of the dining plate.

The balance of Yin and Yang
takes into the consideration of diet, season, environment, emotion etc.

Hence, whether a Yin-inclined vegetarian diet can sustain a person's health/life,
relies not only on the diet itself,
but also how this very person balance multiple aspects of his life.

Vegetarian diet is a compassionate lifestyle
that cares for the environment and animals,
we should have good faith
that it will do good to everybody include our own good self  =)

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Four Universal Relationships

During my early days of Dharma learning,
it was fun, exciting but also difficult.
It was difficult because
I had become more mindful,
but so mindful that
I had a lot of worries over whatever I plan to do
and frustration upon whatever I have already done.

However, I later read a book by Venerable Chin Kung,
in which I was educated on the Four Universal Relationships.
Since then, I began to drop those unnecessary worries
and learnt to accept unexpected events in calmer tone.

Venerable Chin Kung pointed out that
all relationships in this world
could be boiled down to only 4 types.

These 4 types of relationship explains
how this world functions in a simplistic yet philosophical manner.
By imprinting these 4 types of relationship clearly in mind,
a lot of worries and frustration will be gone,
-- that's how this buddhist teaching
helped me put down a lot of psychological burden
and move forward bravely in life.

These 4 types of universal relationships are:
1) Relationship of repaying kindness (报恩)
2) Relationship of revenging (报怨)
3) Relationship of repaying debt (还债)
4) Relationship of collecting debt (讨债)

If we ever worry/frustrate about whatever we do in life,
visualise that there are only 2 possible outcomes:
either  CAT1: repaying kindness/debt to other people
or       CAT2: revenging on/collecting debt from other people.

If it's CAT1, we probably owe people kindness/debt in the past,
then it's a good thing to repay the kindness/debt, the sooner the better.

If it's CAT2: people probably owed us a lot in the past,
then there is nothing to worry about,
but we should learn to be more forgiving when people are repaying us.

For example, say someone is pondering at a fruit stall
whether to buy an apple, worrying the apple may not be fresh and sweet.
To solve the worry, one may consider the 2 possible categories of outcome:

- If the apple turns out to be fresh and sweet,
then it's the grocer repaying one kindness/debt
(happy ending) --CAT2

- If the apple turns out to be rotten and sour,
then it's the one repaying the grocer
(not-so-desireable-but-good-to-repay-quickly happy ending) --CAT1.

After understanding the 4 relationships in depth,
we'll never have to worry/frustrate over decisions we make in life;
because, either CAT1 or CAT2 outcome, it's a good thing.

All that we should be concerned now is
whether we are farming enough good merits to repay
the debts that we stole/borrow from people or
the kindness that we accepted from people in the past :)

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to order Silver Bullion Bars from Perth Mint

A few friends have been asking how to order
999 Silver Bullion Bars from Perth Mint,
worrying the procedure may be a bit too complicated.

Here, I would like to share my experience for easy reference =)
Basically, it took me only 2hours to settle :P
-- presuming funds are already in the bank and the total sum of order is < AUD5000.

- Please note that this capital gain investment for Silver Bullion Bar is for 2-3yr term investment.
-Liquidity is moderate. If higher liquidity needed, then go for Gold Bullion Bars.

The procedure is:

1. Call Perth Mint @ +618 9421 7428
between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday (Perth Business Days)
and ask for a quote. [Calling is a must]

2. Perth Mint will email you the quote right after the call, and
you will need to fill in the agreement and fax back to Perth Mint within 1 day.

3. TT transfer the sum quoted at your favourite agent/bank within 2 days and
email Perth Mint to confirm TT.

4. Wait for the bars to come in 2 weeks =)

** There are extra charges that you need to add on when budgeting your investment:

- Postage @ AUD1/oz
- 1% Insurance (of Silver Bar) + 1% Postage
- Bank TT fee (SGD20~40)
- 7% GST (in SGD)
- FEDEX handling fee (~SGD20)

Happy Investing ;)
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}
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