I Only Know Contentment

May I offer you a contentment pictogram coin and a scoop of clear, sweet water from the contentment well in the shape of coin for the Year of Monkey in 2016! Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Contentment well.jpg

Today we have two more days of the Year of Lamb. This morning there was a terrible earthquake in Southern Taiwan, buidlings collapsed and many were affected. On average every Taiwanese investor lost about USD20,000 in the Year of Lamb.

2015 had been a very difficult year for Taiwan corporations and retail investors. Exports tumbled for months, stock prices of some many decades old blue-chip companies plunged because of a new pension law requiring them to set aside huge amount for pension of employees (these companies have many retired or about to retire babyboomers) and yesterday the most profitable financial conglomerate announced their investment disputes with Delta Lloyd, a Dutch insurance company, that has lost about 60% of its market value this year. Not to mention China’s stock market phenomenal rallies, junk bond and foreign currency depreciation problems (70% of Taiwanese fund investors bought junk bond funds, in particular pensioners were advised to buy junk bonds in South African Rand  to jack up their fixed income with 13% annual payouts.The rand has been plummeting drasticly with recent changes of finance ministers.)

People in US may have very different stories and probably have reaped lots of profits from stock markets and the most thriving economy around the world.
All the emerging markets in Asia, South America, Africa , Russia and even rich Arab countries are in dire conditions. Europe and Japan may be hopeful, but who knows? Anything can happen any time to turn things around.

Though I try very hard to keep up with world business news on the internet or with Barron’s, Bloomberg and even DW TV, not to mention BBC or CNN, Financial Times or Wall Street Journal, it is not much use because all news are outdated when compared to market changing from moment to moment. Many countries in Europe have negative interest rates. I have thrown up my hands on what to do on my finance and tell myself I have enough as long as my spending is within my means.The best personal finance condition is to have just enough to live and not to have to wring the brain to decide about investments with markets going up and down.

For almost a whole year my electric bill was zero because I used less than last year and the drop of oil prices, now I pay US$2-3 a month.My water bill is about US$5 monthly because any water used for washing would be used to flush the toilet  etc. My grocery and transportation expenses run around US$75 to 120 per month. That is minimalist living but still a very good life compared to many living below One US dollar a day.

The library is my office for writing, research and other work. I use their computers and databases for free, the MIS department and young librarians help me resolve any computer glitches. I managed to self-publish two ebooks at Amazon around Thanksgiving and hoped to donate all revenues to  a French father’s nursing home project for the aging mentally challenged in East Taiwan. I am ashamed to say that I have not donated a single penny yet because of my unsuccessful marketing efforts or  maybe the lack of interests on the subject matter, my writing is just not good enough or it just takes time. If anyone would care to share or comment about how I can improve, I would be most grateful.I have never done any facebook or twitter until this Thanksgiving.

Kazuo Inaomori, the Japanese billionaire priest, is my hero and model. I have read all his books that I can get hold of and try to live by his advice to recognize when one has received enough and to do the right thing. I feel very blessed that I have received enough and really enjoy learning so much every day from all the resources and help I have received around me.

I Only Know Enough

 

(more on pictograms of “I only know enough”)

I hope I am doing the right thing sharing in writing what I have learnt about Chuang Tzu’s wisdom on conflicts and loss and Su Shih’s contentment and happy life despite his poverty and loss of loved ones in exile due to injustice. My new year resolution is to learn how to  share more effectively with those interested or have the need to know about how to be free and easy amidst conflicts, loss, stress or dislocation.

Happy New Year! May you have true wisdom to do the right thing in 2016. Freeasy Peace to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Success?

A Swiss professor teaching religion in US but had spent a couple decades in Japan gave a talk yesterday and contrasted Japanese temples on the verge of extinction and the thriving Buddhist Mountains in Taiwan. Another American professor of Buddhism posed the question if economic flourish or visibility is the criteria for success?

After the talk I went up and asked the Swiss professor about Thich Nhat Hahn’s version of Chinese Buddhism drawing huge crowds of followers worldwide despite his modest financial support from his book sales while Taiwanese Buddhism has limited share of voice in the West compared to Tibetan, Japanese Zen or Theravadan Buddhism despite building opulent temples and massive investments in charity events around the world.See temple in South Africa.Taiwanese Temple in South Africa

Pu Shien Shrine.jpg

By Japanese or Chinese standard, Thich Nhat Hahn would be considered Chinese Buddhism rather than Zen. If we ask an average Westerner on the street, most would think Zen is Japanese rather than Chinese.And then many Taiwanese Buddhist groups condemn Theravadan or Small Vehicle Buddhism (that is closer to the Buddha’s original teachings than Chinese Buddhism that is a combination of Indian Buddhism, Confucian or Chinese adaptations and folkloric deities) for not doing good but focused on self cultivation. (It reminds me of Protestant, Catholic, Islam and Judaism are all of Abrahamic root.)

Reported by Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and various international media, Kazuo Inamori, the Zen Buddhist Priest Billionnaire who turned around Japan Airline Paging Buddha said, “No need to be isolated from the world to find enlightenment, you should find in your own work…….the financial aspects of work are very few when compared to the actual capacity that it has to increase the value of your soul.”

Hideko Yamasita  blended concepts Buddhism and Yoga in  her whirlwind bestsellers of Danshari (minimal living for fulfilled life) in Japan and Asia. What is success? Gaudy temples or impressive charity functions around the world or actual incorporation of Buddhism in business and  daily living charm?

Yamasita’s books has not been translated in English yet Marie Kondo’s books on life changing magic of tidying up (a much watered down version of Danshari) is a whirlwind in the West.

Who is a bigger success ?

 

 

 

 

Daily Living Charm with BMW for the Environment

The charm of the Taipei City mayor: he gets around with BMW. His BMW is Bike-Mass transit-Walk and he has been doing it for years as a well-to-do surgeon before becoming mayor.

To boost the economy Taiwan government recently announced a couple of thousands USD equivalent of subsidy for car owners to replace their old cars with new ones. Those who can afford cars are usually better off financially, do they need to be subsidized? Despite deflation according to official figures, food inflation ranges from a few percent to double digits from typhoons or who knows what. Workers are squeezed between no salary increase and rising food costs for years. The rich had been getting richer from investments and then mass money exodus with unreasonable tax policies on properties and stocks. They revoked the tax on stocks yesterday and hope the rich’s money will come back.

With the world climate summit coming up at the end of the month, shouldn’t the mayor’s BMW or even the electric battery operated scooters be promoted instead of car subsidy?

It was reported in the news that a young worker bought a Tesla class scooter with a loan a month ago and it was smashed and totaled when he and the vehicle fell flat on the road from dodging a car. He was furious and scorned the manufacturer (who was reported as the rising star innovator-entrepreneur in Forbes and Huffington Post), “Is it made of glass or paper?”

Scooters

 

As in all things, there are two sides to everything. In Taipei, riding a bike can be dangerous competing with cars, motorcycles, pedestrians on narrow streets as well as crowded pavements parallel-parked with trucks unloading goods. There were incidences of random knife slashing of passengers by some crazy youths on the metro or seniors and children run over by a bus or truck at crosswalks with green lights. (Unlike US or other countries, vehicles can legally turn right or left even on red lights in Taiwan.)

C’est la vie! Living Charm for the day :”Know the inevitable, be at peace as destiny. That is highest integrity. ” (Chuang Tzu).