Year of the Rooster - Year of Awakening

Recently we went to Chiangmai, Thailand, to join the one-year memorial of my Thai teacher, Tan Ajahn Pongsak Tejadhammo. We wanted to make a video to show how he successfully used the Four Noble Truths to resolve the national problem of deforestation of the headwaters to grow opium, which affected the livelihood of many hundreds of thousands of farmers in the lowlands from the late 70's to the 90's. After almost 40 years of effort, the birthplace of the headwaters started flowing again with watershed trees standing up high. There was no more opium in the highland. The farmers were thrilled that the rivers were flowing to the lowland, not only in Chiangmai, but all the way to the center of Thailand. The villagers now have enough water to grow their crops again!

Soon after we arrived in Chiangmai, we saw some roosters walking freely and happily in the front yard by the road. Some of our students were so excited  to see this. In Hong Kong, our students have only seen chickens locked up in small, crowded cages, often stacked up high in rows. Every chicken wants to stick out his head from the cage to breath or for food and water! This is also our Hong Kong people situation, isn't it? Many low income families cannot even afford to live in a very small apartment. They have to live in these small cage rooms (劏房). Our lives in Hong Kong are like those of these poor animals. Because of our environment, we lose our human nature, which is supposed to be the best among animals. Our actions become worse than that of animals -- narrowly self centered, thinking only about 'me'. We don't understand the nature of all things, nor do we understand what true freedom and peace is. It is very sad!

Chickens do not only provide their flesh and eggs to humans. They show us their number one "Do It" mind when it comes to hatching their baby chicks, with no "my" opinion, "my" condition.  Also, they call before the sun starts shining on the earth. Nowadays city people take away their job, which belongs to the chickens' true nature! In the old days many great practitioners got great enlightenment through hearing a chicken crowing.

Every year many people in this world want to change the outside system of their society or country. But a truly effective system requires us to change our mind habit and stop being selfish and ignoring the well-being of others! I encourage every one to spend some time in nature! Nature only gives and asks for nothing in return!

May the 2017 Year of the Rooster be a year for us to wake up from our greed, hatred, and delusions. Wake up to our original human job, which is to attain our true nature and help others and this world. And wake up from our small self-centered 'I", the cause of all suffering. This world will then become truly and peacefully free! This is the happiest thing we can share with each other!

The call of the rooster helps us to wake up,
Together we sing the song of world peace!