Sunday, June 28, 2020

Enjoy the coffee, not the cups

Everyday, we complain about life not being fair. We always find excuses to take things for granted and when something does not go our way, we get frustrated and find reasons to shift the blame to somebody else. In our casual conversations, we often find ourselves talking about people whom we do not like and things that we hate doing. We tend to focus too much on things that are beyond our control and that makes us unhappy. It is true that the main source of our stress is indeed our desire to always have the best for ourselves, and when we do not achieve what we wish to achieve, we start grumbling about life.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Cruelty and hatred: the negative forces that can destroy humanity

Although human civilizations have begun thousands of years ago, it seems we are still far from the touch of humanity. The birth of modern education has revolutionized the way we think and behave, but it has failed to ignite in mankind the universal values of love and compassion. Every day, people are being tortured, raped or murdered mostly by those who are said to be educated and civilized. There has been hardly a day in my life when I have not heard or read the stories of human madness and brutality. The stories of innocent people being kidnapped, tortured and killed in the name of race, faith and political differences, the innocent girls and women being sexually exploited, harassed, raped and murdered by lustful men, the innocent children being abused and tortured to death, all point to the fact that there are still many people in the world who have not yet fully grown into a real human being. It is very sad that human beings, the so-called most intelligent, sensible and wise species of all, are capable of doing such a thing to another human beings.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What we dream alone remains a dream but what we dream together can become a reality

When the US President, John F. Kennedy visited the NASA Space Center in 1962, he took a chance to talk to a janitor who was cleaning and mopping the floor. When asked what he was doing, the janitor smiled and said that he was helping his country to put the first man on the moon. To most people, the janitor was only a cleaner but in the larger context, he was very much part of the national vision of his country. It was the collective effort and dream of all those who worked at the NASA including the cleaners, drivers, technicians, engineers and scientists that made it possible for the United States to successfully send the first man to the moon in 1969.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

What we carry on our mind determines the quality of life we live everyday

Once upon a time, a senior and a junior monk were walking back to their monastery after visiting their village. Soon they reached a big river and as they prepared themselves to cross it, they saw a young girl who was also attempting to cross the river. Not being able to take the risk, the girl approached the monks and asked if they could help her get to the other side. The two monks looked at each other because they had taken oath that they would never touch a girl. After thinking for a while, the older monk invited the girl to climb over his shoulders, carried her across the river, sat her on the other bank of the river and continued his journey. The young monk could not believe what just happened. Without saying a word, he overtook the senior monk and walked as fast as he could, completely upset and angry. Hours passed by without exchanging even a single word. Finally they caught up with each other at a stupa near their monastery and not being able to hold it any longer, the young monk burst out “As ordained monks, you know that we cannot touch a girl, but why did you carry that woman at the river? You will never be forgiven for breaking that oath!” The senior monk smiled and said, “Oh my dear brother, I had just carried her across the river and left her on the bank, but it seems you are still carrying her!”

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Online gaming and its associated risks for children

With the closure of educational institutions and restricted movements in the community because of COVID-19 situation in the country, our children have been finding it difficult to spend their time meaningfully at home. They have no friends to hang out with and no places to go to for outdoor activities. They are increasingly growing restless and anxious. As a result, most of them have been going online to interact with their virtual friends and play online games, and with the e-learning classes going on, it has been even more challenging for the parents to monitor what their kids are using the internet for.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The right song at the right place at the right time

The establishment of Zangley Muenselling School for the Blind in Khaling in 1973 brought new hopes and dreams for the visually impaired people of Bhutan. His Royal Highness Prince Namgyel Wangchuck and the missionaries from Norway who founded the school had a common dream, a dream to help every visually impaired Bhutanese see the world through education. One of the biggest responsibilities the founding fathers of the school had was to shift the social paradigm from “We are blind. We cannot do anything!” to “We shall overcome!” And so had the students first learned to sing the nursery song ‘We shall overcome’ the lyrics of which contained the ultimate vision of the school. Over the years, the school has opened the horizon of opportunities and unlocked the door to a promising future for all its visually impaired students, and this is what the song was all about.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Life under the shadow of Coronavirus

Photo of flowers on the mountain with Sun rising in the horizon. Image courtesy: www.businessinsider.com.

The month of May is here in all its natural grandeur. The tender blossoms from the balconies of buildings, gardens and forests are seen rejoicing in the cool breath of Nature, with their colorful petals smiling at the Spring Sun. The mountains and valleys have rolled back to life after being withered by the freezing temperatures of winter. The blessings of Nature are everywhere, in the tender petals of flowers, in the singing of the seasonal birds, or in the beautiful rivers flowing through the valleys. But this year, something is missing in the air. With COVID-19 pandemic still looming round the corner, the feeling of serene calmness and tranquility the Spring season usually brings has not yet sunk in.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Revisiting the past through digitized news archives

The New York Times, which is one of the oldest newspapers in the world has digitized all its news archives starting from its first publication in 1851, giving us the opportunity to travel back in time to look at some of the most important historical events just as they happened. The stories written years after the events have taken place can help us get a glimpse of what had happened in the past but they do not take us back to feel the actual atmosphere of the time when they happened. The original news articles on the Assassination of the US President, Abraham Lincoln on 14th April 1865, published on 15th April 1865; The collision of two jumbo jets on the runway at Tenerife on 27th March 1977, published on 28th March 1977; and The assassination of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984, published on the same day, all took me several years back in time and I felt as though I was there when those events unfolded. I had heard these stories through history books and articles written at a later date by scholars and authors, but these digitized original news reports really made me feel as though I was on a time-machine, flying backwards to see the history myself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A song of death and impermanence

In the endless cycle of birth and rebirth,
We are entangled in this suffering-laden Samsara;
Though we were born and reborn millions of times in the world,
Never had we been fortunate enough to find the path to enlightenment.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The significance of Dradu and Dilbu, the two commonly used ritual instruments in Throema practice

Photo of Dradu and Dilbu

In Throema practice, the practitioners use a small ritual drum called Dradu and a bell called Dilbu. These ritual instruments give a spiritual rhythm to the prayers. But they have deeper meaning and significance than what we think we know. According to His Eminence Garab Rinpoche, the pioneer of Throema practice in modern times, a Dradu is more than just a circular drum made of a hollow wooden cavity covered on two sides by a thin animal skin. I feel it is important that all Throema practitioners know the actual significance of these seemingly simple-looking ritual instruments while using them.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Looking through both darker and brighter side of COVID-19 pandemic

The schools and colleges are closed. The towns look desolate with only a handful of people and cars on the streets. The public offices and business organizations have gone quiet with people taking turns to come to work. Most of the people have chosen to stay at home, away from the crowds. The city of Thimphu which used to be bustling with human activities almost 24 hours a day now appears dead and dull. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the entire economy. With the number of confirmed cases and related deaths running in tens of thousands across the globe, we are beginning to feel the real weight of the pandemic. People are losing their jobs everyday as the countries are going through economic paralysis.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Fix the face, not the mirror

A drunken man was walking home after a party one late night when he suddenly lost his balance and fell into a bush of thorns. When he reached home, he quietly sneaked into the bathroom and looked at the mirror. He was shocked to see that he had bruises and scratches all over his face. He suddenly realized that he had been warned by his wife never to drink again and if he did, she would leave him. With the hope of playing it safe, he got his first-aid kit and dressed all his bruises to tell his wife in the morning that he accidentally fell down on the road while walking home in the dark. But in the morning, he woke up to his wife yelling at him for drinking again. He protested saying that he never drank at the party. But his wife took him to the bathroom and showed him how he had placed the bandages all over the mirror. He did not have even a single bandage on his face.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Five fake health tips on COVID-19 we should ignore

We know that COVID-19 is a new virus and there is no known treatment. Yet, there are lots of fake health advice being circulated on social media. The worst thing is that people are falsely attributing the sources of such information to UNICEF or medical doctors to make them sound genuine. I have looked at some of the most widely circulated health advice and verified with official sources. Here are the five fake health tips we should ignore.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The fight against COVID-19 calls for national unity and collective responsibility, not blame game

At around 05:00 in the morning on 6th March 2020, I was skimming through my Facebook Newsfeed when I suddenly came across the news of the first positive case of Coronavirus in the country. It instantly sent a chilling wave of panic and fear along my spine. I immediately went on to check the official Facebook pages of concerned agencies to verify the information and when I realized that the report was true, I was left shaken. Within no time, the news stirred up the entire population and triggered all sorts of debates and discussions on social media, mostly blaming the Hon’ble Prime Minister for not shutting down the tourism industry. This sudden shift from panic to hatred was more worrisome than the actual situation. More than the virus, I began to worry about our social harmony and national unity as Bhutanese.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Clean hands can save lives

Washing hands with soap is one of the easiest and most effective ways of protecting ourselves from common diseases. It is said that if we wash our hands properly everyday, we can prevent more than 50 percent of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses. Yet we often tend to take things for granted and forget to wash our hands before and after carrying out critical activities. Handwashing is perhaps one of the first lessons we have learned from our parents but even today, we hardly care to know how to do it in a proper manner. Since we use our hands in almost everything we do in our daily life, it is important to keep them clean so that infectious germs and bacteria do not find their way into our body.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A reflection on death and impermanence

Life is like a burning butter-lamp in the wind. We never know when it will be blown out. Yet we live as though we would never die. We hardly think of death and impermanence in our everyday life. Clouded by our desires, greed, ego, anger and ignorance, we often get carried away by momentary sensual pleasures and materialistic comfort the world provides and forget the very purpose of being born as a human being, the most intelligent and capable species of all. It is only when we are born in the human realm that we have the opportunity to practice Dharma and change the course of our afterlives. No other sentient beings have the opportunity and capacity to seek enlightenment like human beings. This is the main reason why human life is considered so precious in Buddhism.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The widespread misinformation about the new coronavirus outbreak calls for responsible use of social media

A woman wearing protective mask in Beijing, China. Image source: BBC World News

As the global community is struggling to cope with the new coronavirus outbreak that has originated in China, our social media platforms are overloaded with information that are often misleading. Since the day the news of the outbreak made international headlines, we have been seeing many social media users sharing their own theories about what could have caused the outbreak and how it can be controlled. I feel that it is not only the virus that is spreading across the globe. The rumors and misinformation about the outbreak are travelling even faster, spreading unnecessary fear and panic amongst the general population.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Waste management awareness onboard public buses

On the morning of 28th December 2019, I was pleasantly surprised when the driver of the bus I was travelling in from Thimphu to Phuentsholing played the onboard announcement that requested the passengers to take care of their own wastes during the journey. The public announcement which was recorded in three languages: Dzongkha, Sharchhop and Lhotshamkha talked about the importance of maintaining pristine environment and advised the passengers to make use of the garbage bin that was placed on the aisle. We were warned that we may be subject to penalties as per the relevant laws and policies if we are ever caught throwing our wastes outside the designated areas.