Nanputuo Temple

I have been to so many temples in China, and the most impressive ones I’ve been to are up north. After visiting so many temples over the years, I no longer have any interest in visiting another one. But as we had a guest who was in Xiamen for the first time, we took him to Nanputuo Temple.

Nanputuo was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) It was destroyed during the war around 1300s and rebuilt in the 1600s.

Many practicing Buddhists come, but there are probably more tourists.

When I first came to China I did not really think of a temple as a place of worship because most people were just taking pictures. But one Christmas at the church where I used to go, tourists came inside the church during mass and took pictures of the altar and the priest. I was at first shocked, and then angry. When I calmed down I realized the rudeness of these people were due to ignorance. They thought the mass was a show, like a concert.

Although I had never misbehaved in a temple, I became more conscious of my actions in a temple which may be misinterpreted by Buddhists.

Nanputuo can get very crowded especially during weekends, but if you visit Xiamen, it is one of those must-see places. It is right next to Xiamen University, which has a beautiful campus.

Nanputuo also has a vegetarian restaurant, which serves a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes. But if you are not vegetarian, there are countless restaurants nearby to choose from. One good thing about going to touristy places in China is you will always find some place to buy food!

Advertisements

Losing Weight: Inspiration + Discipline

(This is about my experience, and I know not everyone has the same experience. But there are people like me out there, and this is for them.)

I’ve been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember, but it has been on and off as my weight fluctuates. I started gaining weight and actually became a little overweight on my last year in university and my first year working. Then I went to study Latin dance and lost weight and was my ideal weight for a couple of years until my heart was broken and I became depressed and resorted to stress eating. Then I had the opportunity to move to another country. When my husband and I first met he was so thin and I was overweight, but he liked me anyway. I tried to lose weight, and I did and was quite happy with how I looked in my wedding gown three years later. After 4 years I had a baby and since then I have not been successful in reaching my target weight. My son is now 8 years old.

Looking back, my recipe for losing weight back then was: inspiration/challenge and discipline. I was inspired to lose weight because I wanted to look nice for my then-boyfriend. I was challenged to lose weight after I realized I couldn’t wear the dress I liked because it wouldn’t fit me. There were times I was challenged to lose weight because a guy I liked, liked a girl who was so skinny! As an older person now I find those inspiration/challenges seemed really silly but they helped me lose weight! The point is we need something to inspire us or drive us to want to lose weight.

At this period in my life, my first and most important reason for wanting to lose weight is to be healthy. As my son is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and has several delays in most skills yet growing taller and heavier everyday, I need to stay healthy to still be able to handle him even when he becomes taller than I in a couple of years. This is real and serious inspiration.

Next comes discipline. Discipline means exercise and diet. Those times I lost weight I was either going to dance lessons, dancing in front of the TV (there are lots of dance workout videos available) or running almost everyday. The important thing was I was physically active. Apart from exercise, I also went on a diet. Diet did not mean not eating, but reducing the portion. I have always believed in Aristotle’s idea of moderation in everything.

I put exercise and diet under discipline because these two indeed demand discipline. There were times when I became lazy or tempted to eat more than what I needed, and it took a lot of self-control to get myself to workout or say no to more food. Again, that inspiration/challenge helped me stick to discipline.

And as once again I am trying to lose weight, I am also trying to stick to my recipe of challenge + discipline. So far I have been doing well as I am not home yet (I always put on weight when I go home to the Philippines, where everything, especially eating, is more fun!! The real challenge will be spending the summer back home.)

Right now I have started shedding a couple of pounds, and I have to thank my husband who has also become health conscious when he reached 40. Like me, he realized how important it is for both of us to stay healthy for our son. Though he does not exercise as much as I do (I dance in front of the TV everyday) as he is always busy at work, we both try to eat healthy by eating more vegetables and fruits and less meat and bread/rice.

Like I said, so far so good. I hope you find your inspiration and add lots of discipline to achieve your goal.

Good luck!

T.

On Friendships, Secrets and Hemingway

“THERE’S no such thing as autobiography.  There’s only art and lies.” 
— Jeanette Winterson.

img_2608

Friends are people with whom you share some of your deepest secrets, with the hope and faith that they would carry these secrets with them to the grave. But as it is, some friends are simply incapable of keeping secrets. If your friend is married, know for sure that your friend’s spouse will know your secret. In today’s world, especially among young people there doesn’t seem to be any secrets at all. The idea of “secret” seems to be dying. Everything is posted on social media for the world to know.

Still, how would you feel if you actually had an extremely embarrassing secret and told your best friend about it, and the next day when you woke up, you checked your Twitter only to find out you have become famous after your friend had posted your embarrassing secret on Twitter for everyone on Twitterverse to enjoy making memes about?

Since last year I had been re-reading Hemingway, but this year was the first time I read “A Moveable Feast.” I enjoyed reading it until I reached the part where he wrote about Fitzgerald. And I was just disappointed.

When I started reading it, I did not think of it as a memoir and simply enjoyed his description of his life in Paris — his struggles, the people he met and spoke with and his impressions of them. I did not even mind so much the things he wrote about Gertrude Stein as I did not feel there was real friendship between them.

But with Fitzgerald it was different. Here was someone who trusted him, and told him something very personal, obviously in confidence, and he wrote about it for all the world to read and know about a very private thing about someone he considered his friend.

I guess writers, artists have been doing this for ages — writing about someone in their life including what has been told them in confidence — and not thinking about how their revelation will impact the life not only of the one they are writing about, but also of those related to the person, their spouse, children, great-grandchildren.

If Hemingway had made an effort to protect his friend, he would not have been so explicit in sharing Fitzgerald’s problem to the world. He was quite careful in not saying so much about his then-wife and child, which shows that he could have refrained from revealing too much about Fitzgerald. As it is, the part on Fitzgerald just came out gossipy and not a gentlemanly thing to say at all.

Maybe it’s just me, but reading “A Moveable Feast” changed my mind about Hemingway, especially that he said this about Dostoevsky, my favorite author, “How can a man write so badly, so unbelievably badly and make you feel so deeply?” This book made me “feel so deeply” but not in a good way.

Responsibility, Emotional Maturity and Heartbreak

When someone I am genuinely close to (like one of my best friends or my sisters) makes what I think is a poor decision or does something I find childish, I tend to say, “Jeez, how old are you?” Of course, they are free to say the same thing to me when they think I’m being silly. But they have “nicer” words to say!

How old are you really?

We, humans, have three types of ages: chronological, biological and psychological age.

Our chronological age is the number of years we have been alive. Our biological age refers to the age of our body’s systems. Some people who are 50 years old may have the body (health) of a 40-year old. One who is 25 years old may have a biological age of 50. Finally our psychological age refers to our cognitive functioning and emotional maturity. Some people may be 50 but have the cognitive ability and emotional maturity of a teenager! ( Like someone I know who thinks he has the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old! Self-awareness is important though!)

This is just my observation: if a person does not like or fears becoming responsible for another person, it will be difficult for that person to reach emotional maturity. Being in a relationship where you are committed to one person whose happiness means more to you than your own happiness is a stepping stone to reaching emotional maturity. I think this is why most of us in our youth go through that period of becoming head over heels in love with somebody who later breaks our heart into tiny pieces that we feel can never be put back together again. But the truth is, as we find out, our hearts are only as resilient as we want them to be.

If we have gone through heartbreak and are mindful of our experiences, we can prevent ourselves from going through the same heartbreak again. Mindfulness is necessary in achieving emotional maturity. Something I learned in my early twenties as a young woman trying to become a nun which I value to this day is how we sometimes fall into a pattern of behavior, and I witnessed myself several times over the past decade almost getting suck into a pattern again. Fortunately for me, I have more responsibilities and commitments; I know my priorities, and I am much more aware of myself and my weaknesses.

My point is, one does not have to suffer so many heartbreaks if one truly endeavors to learn something from the experience.

You can extricate yourself from the pattern if you sincerely want to free yourself of it. But you have to want it. If you do not have other responsibilities and commitments you can anchor yourself into, it will be even more difficult to disentangle yourself from this pattern.

Are you stuck in a pattern? Does the same story of heartache keep playing out in your life?

Look within.