Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Revered Teacher

The Chief Reverend Dr K Sri Dhammananda

Today (31 August) is a very special day for this nation, Merdeka. It is extra special for me. Merdeka means Independence or Freedom. For this nation, Merdeka means freedom from the shackle of colonial control. My revered Dhamma (Religious) Teacher also celebrated Merdeka today. It was today two years ago that my revered Teacher gained freedom from this cycle of births and deaths. My revered Teacher passed away today two years ago. Today is his 2nd death anniversary.

The Most Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammananda Maha Nayaka Thera was very well known for his tireless Buddhist missionary work. His base was the Brickfields Buddhist Temple in KL. It was in this temple 20 yers ago that I learned most of my Buddhism from him. For about one year, every Friday night at 8pm sharp without fail, I would be there listening to his talk. That period was special for me as Chief Reverend (that was how everyone addressed him) was answering all my questions. He had very kindly consented to answer all my questions which I submitted to him. So over a period of about one year I learned my Buddhism, Chief Reverend's style!! I recorded all these talks and also have transcribed them into 2 books.

It is common knowledge that geniuses, artists, great musicians and all others who have very special abilities are born with these talents. However there is one area often overlooked or taken for granted simply because it is just plain ordinary fare. Each of us also brought with us a certain affinity towards certain interest. As for me, since I was small I was always interested in Buddhism. I still have with me hand-written and typed copies of notes on Buddhism which I copied from books borrowed from the local library when I was a young student. It was to my second sister's credit that I was enrolled in the Sunday School at the Penang Buddhist Association when I was (I think) 10 years old. Although I did not learn much over that short period, the experience left a permanent imprint in my spiritual pursuit, later in life.

The first Buddhist book I bought for (I think) $2.50 at that time in 1968 was "Why Worry" by the Chief Reverend. Exactly 40 years ago!! I still have the book with me. Now the latest edition is twice the thickness and I got it free from the temple!! You can see both the pictures here.

My first Buddhist book (bought 1968)

Latest edition (2008)

Fast forward a bit to 1978, I went to work in KL. I was at that time staying just opposite the Brickfields Buddhist Temple. What a coincidence!! The apartment is Bangunan Tong Weng just next to the newly built Temple Of Fine Arts, along Jalan Berhala. Strangely at that time I wasn't attracted to the temple just opposite. I knew Chief Reverend was there, but did not make attempt to be there. It was only when I shifted to Subang Jaya and when my daughter was big enough to attend Sunday School that I began to associate more with the temple. It was during this time that I really became a student of the Chief Reverend.

Justin Choo with The Chief (1988)

Chief Reverend came to Malaysia in 1952 and was at the Brickfieds temple until his death. The temple has since changed its name to Brickfields Buddhist Maha Vihara. Every Friday night the Chief would give his 8pm evening talk. He used to joke that the old record had been going on for umpteen years. (For you youngsters, "old record" means the ancient record player!) The Chief was the spearhead who disseminated Buddhism, especially to the university students. The current well educated young Buddhists are the fruits of the Chief's untiring dhammaduta (missionary) legacy.

The Chief's forte was in his ability to write books and give talks. He was a natural speaker (often a real joker) creating laughter in an otherwise bland and sober sermons! His most influential book is "What Buddhists Believe".

Chief's most influential book.

Chief's autograph on the book.

The Chief Reverend, my revered Teacher lived until age 87. A very fruitful and pure life. Whatever it is, nature takes its course.

Anicca Watta Sankhara

(All component things are impermanent.)


Latest Up-date (2 Dec 2008)

Chief Reverend IS now in You Tube:

Who Is The Buddha? : The Buddha Explained Himself

Buddhism : Nothing To Believe


monsterball said...

Very nice and thoughtful of you to put out a post for our beloved Chief.
I guess you know I am also very close to him.
Yes...without Chief Reverend...not many English educated Malaysian Chinese...understands Buddhism.
His purpose of life is an envy to all...good Buddhists.
I am sure...he is stop suffering.

monsterball said...

hi...So many are rightly...praising you at Doc's blog.
Go read them!!
You said you want to talk to friends....then comment more at Doc's blog.
Take care!

cilyhot said...

Mr Justin Choo,I FOUND IT!!I know now where I met your blog!!!It is BODOHLAND!!For your knowledge ,Im a Buddhist too.Monsterball,you are still awake!!Please read my comments on the previous 'old man 'article,ok?

Justin Choo said...


Sorry last night I was driving and I don't use hands-free gadget, neither does my cheap old simple h/phone have the function.

Looks like you are the most famous commentator in the local scene. Cilihot also knows you!

monsterball said...

Cilihot does not know me.
He said he wants to take down my fortune telling signboard at Petaling Street.
Reminds me Bruce Lee did that in one of his movies.
I hope cilihot...have training in martial art....because so many customers love me there.........hahahahahaha

monsterball said...

Justin...Go and respond at Doc's blog....all praising you!!
You must have manners la and not like Chief and keep quiet.....hahahahaha
Then come back...and tell me the 5000 shots is right or wrong.
I know this post id about Chief.....but he knows me well.
When I talk to him....sometimes subtle dirty jokes.. both of us..will laugh...and laugh...and he has alot of jokes to tell too!!

A true Malaysian said...

Justin & monsteraball,

Co-incidentally, I also know your teacher, but not directly.

I wish to get a copy of the two books. Can get from Brickfields?

Justin Choo said...


I've not been to that temple for many years already. I suppose you can get those books there.

Otherwise go to Sukhi Hotu Bookstore in one of the shopping complexes. I don't which one.

Monsterball would know.

monsterball said...

True Malaysian...Just go to....
Buddhist Vihara
123,Jalan Berhala
K.L....go into the temple and ask anyone..where is the book store.
There you will see...dozens of books.

monsterball said...

ATM is machine for money I right?

A true Malaysian said...

It is strange for us to know each other this way, but I appreciated very much.

Buddha's teaching is great, no doubt about it.

monsterball said...

You tell me not to forget Doc's blog..when I roam around....and you do not response to sperm matters...right now at Doc's blog.
Is it Chief's anniversary..that makes you recollect so many fond memories and you are still crying over his death?.
hi... he lived to a ripe old age of 84 plus one year for for heaven and one for self...thus made a total of 87 years.
He has been so influential...thus his purpose in life is completely fulfilled.
Yes...I saw him ..few months before he died..always alert and strong.
Did you see the corpse?
I cannot believe it!! He was so thin and in great pain. I asked Rev.Ratana why no one dress him up nicely..with a serene smile.
He kept quiet.
And in the mist of funeral rights and rituals being performed...Vijita Chinese group is somewhat "fighting" with Ratana's group at the compound!!!...who should take over.
Every Sri Lankan monk knows the Chinese Missionary Society is trying so hard to control the Sansana Temple...started by them..100 years ago.
Yes..without the Chinese Buddhist..the Temple may not have been what is today.
But Chief should have put his foot down..and spell it out..before his death....who he wants to replace him. I asked him long before his death..ago.......and he said...let them sort it out.
So Chief do play temple politics.
There is great politics in the temple here....and that's why I stop regular visits.
Few Chiefs invited me to be at their temples...especially the one from Sentul Pasar....real well educated and righteous monk...and one from Mahayan's temple at Taman Sentosa...known as SS3..Sugai Way Subang..all I refused.
I spent 10 years supporting a Ladakh Bhikku Sangasena.He was a nobody....then slowly become even more famous than Chief...out come those I introduce to this monk....carrying his balls.
I withdrew...and he came to my house with 10 find out...why am I so quiet?
I was very touched.....he cares and his love so clear.
You see....I have enough of politics in temples.
I go to the feel peaceful..alone and away from all sorts of selfish cunning forces.
So far so good.

monsterball said...

All in all...everyone have a purpose to be near Chief and then...faded out.
My 15 years with him..who does not know.,...S.S.Goh at his temple.
Rev.Ratana...I scolded him like my son...making him to control his temper.He said I am like a father to him.
I loan him a car for 6 set up his ophanage home.
The one thing I admire Ratana his abilities to make things work....and a good orgaiser.
I advised Vijita not to fight for position. He said he is not...but he can be easily influenced by ill advisers..all Chinese!!
Did you see...Dollah went to the temple...before Chinese N.Year and Vijita is recognised as Chief monk there? You see..Vijita is the first assistant to our late Chief and is a Malaysian citizen.
Rev.. Ratana is not.
Are you learning something?

monsterball said...

Are you reading..or am I talking to a lunatic?

Justin Choo said...

Yes I am reading monsterball

monsterball said...

You see..millions are fortunate .to have a purpose in life.
So I respect and envy Chief's full...purposeful life!'He was one of the greatest Buddhist leader in Malaysia. We are fortunate to know him. Very difficult to have another one like him.
Dalai Lama played politics...the day he left Tibet.
Our...Kelantan PAS MB....Nik playing politics.
Now you tell me....are these holy men?
They are special and kind hearted men....but are the really holy?
Few died because of them...someone will need to bear the sins....who?
Mahatma Gandhi refused to become the first PM of India...after freeing his country from the British. That man was and still is...a holy when he played politics to free his people...he stopped..when mission accomplished.
Who started the so call boycott China's Olympic Game stuff...Dalai Lama.
So you see...Justin...purpose in have ..Doc have and I have are few we know.. from blogging. But ours are just a tiny speck compared to Chief..Dalai Lama and Nik.
So those people should becareful....not to speak out wrong things.
RPK is banned......because he dare to speak. He never claim to be right or holy..and see what happen.
So is the level of influence we all have to others.
My purpose in commenting is to convince people to vote against the government.If I have succeeded....that's my purpose in blogging.
We must not be like goboloks...always one party to manage our country.
So my friend....Chief ceased to suffer at ripe old age.
Lets rejoice and remember him...with loving kindness.
Did I tell you...he came to my house....15 years ago..with few monks...and chanted .to ward of evil spirits...and he placed the Buddha idol on my praying alter.
I have all Kuan Yin Ma...but he took a Buddha statue and place it ..where I have never remove it at all.So everyday I pray...I can feel Chief have a part in my religious life..which is very true.
And almost all his books...I have one given to me free..signed by him.
I donated mostly to his books his temple.
Once he ask for building donation...I gave a huge sum.
Then few months later...he asked again.
I said...why don't he get one filthy rich give the full sum...once and for all...and i noticed lots and lots of donations that could cover the building cost easily.
I asked him...where are the money? He said he sent some to help his Sri Lanka Buddhists needs...and that if he need them back...Sasana Society will help.
So I replied...why not ask Sasana for help? From that day...onward...he dare not ask me for financial help.
Same thing with a temple in Malacca.
Mt parents died..and I bought THREE places for is reserved for me with my parents.
I recalled....each place cost me RM800 ..some 35 years ago,
Each time I go to pray to my parents...I can see a tablet with a red paper ..placed next to my parents...a place reserved for me...not dead yet.
All of more and I ask where is my place. The chief nun replied...I bought it from the previous dead chief..and she has used my money to donate to building funds. You see...each time I go to that temple....this chief nun will telling me donate to this or that..endless donations needed. Then I changed and refused.
So she took revenge...and tell me cock and bull.
She said...I need to pay RM3500 to book a place. I refused..not that I cannot afford it. I let her know..and remember....the great sins she did to me.
But I tell you....she will not feel she is not holy at all.
Anyway..I have decided to throw all my ashes and bones to the done with the situation hinted I need to do just that.
That's all.

Taikohtai said...


I was re-directed by a fellow blogger to your site and have found it very impressive. I am also a VUW BCA alumni (1979) and hail from Penang too. Yes, you guess it, I am practisng Theravadan buddhist. Hence my question today:
You mentioned that "It was today two years ago that my revered Teacher gained freedom from this cycle of births and deaths" - are you saying that Ven Dr Dhammapada attained the 4th Ariyan state of arahantship?


Taikohtai said...

Ooopsie, typo: please read Ven Dr Dhammananda....

Justin Choo said...


Welcome to this blog. Happy to have you here. Please visit more often. Blogging is like doing business. If no customer, close shop.

Penangites are everywhere. Even Dr Hsu is from Penang!

I used the word "freedom" to invoke a sense of "mission accomplishment". Nothing more than that.

monsterball said...

I agree with Justin's explaination to taikohtai.
This "Handphone" nick usually talk nonsense..and brag too!!

BryanChoong said...

Dear All;

It is great that all of you still remember our Great Teacher which I fondly call Father.

BMV under Chief Ratana had completed the 80 hours chanting & re-opened & refurbished the Library in his Memory. The Bodhi tree area are also renovated in his memory.

Before He passed on, I did posed a question about his opinion on Rev Ratana. He replied that Rev Ratana is a Good Monk & had devoted his time on social welfare which he encourages him to do as time has changed.

Jealousy is the core of his problem as the others are envious of his work.

As to the photo with Pak Lah, Rev Vijitha had a great ability to jostle his way to be photograph which is a very amusing aspect on every function organized.

He was at the door & it happen the photographer from The Star a young Malay girl captioned it wrongly.
Amusing as The Star did call up Chief Ratana to apologize for the slip up.

I guess that as a Lotus in this Samsara world we have to have the ability to differentiate the struggles of each and every monk or be it religious personnel from any religion.

Please do NOT criticize from far but have a little respect for the TRUTH !

For those who are spread out in the Nation, please remember our Late Father's basic teachings that Buddhism is in the Heart!

Sadhu & May the Holy Triple Gems continue all Buddhist & the Rest be Blessed with Good Tidings Always!

cilyhot said...

Mr Justin,I have finished reading all your previous posts just now.I am touched ,especially your blogs about the death of your mum......n the older old man.That reminds me of my mother in law.She had Six sons and 10 daughters but she spend her last 2 years living in my house because of 'inconvenience' in staying at other houses!Alas when she is on her last days to nirvana,,,,,,,,,,the filial 'older men' are convinced that she should go home to the 'old house' to stay.At her last days,the old home is convenienced ,at last.for me ,no problem,you want her to die there,got face mah,go ahead.Furthermore ,there is a furios debate among my wife's siblings on how much money should be spend on the funeral.In order to show how rich and filial they are now,everything is 1st class now for my mum in law,,,,,,,,,,,after she died!!!!!!

monsterball said...

Like all religions..Buddhism is good.
It's some monks and active devotees that are no good.
I love Chief like a anyone...but one must not avoid telling the truths...and that is Chief have a love being noticed and advertised a film star.
Talk to him..and he will spent alot of time...telling you this at that of his personal achievements.
I do admire all his achievements...but for blare them became a sad thought....he had so many weaknesses.
I think none of you can are closer to Chief...than me...for more than 10 years.
As for Rev.Vijita...I asked Ratana...about the incident...he smiled and kept quiet.
So one can only judge by the photo......and it is a fact....Buddhist Missionary group in K.L..all Malaysian Chinese are the ones...fighting each other...who should take over Chief....poking fire here and there.
The real problem....the Sinhalese do not know how to manage the Temple properly.
And Rev.Ratana charity works are welknown....mostly success in whatever he put his hand on to it.
So he should be the CHIEF.
Why those Chinese keep supporting for Rev Vigita...who is so weak and have no leadership quality at all?
Worst still...they got Sasanna to support Vigita,
So you go and tell more truths..and let me learn.

Justin Choo said...


You really read all my postings??!! I am a joyful man today. As Monsterball puts it bluntly (as always) we must always tell the truth. I want to tell you the truth too. I write in this blog hoping that others will read my thoughts. And then "talk" to me. It is very therapeutic. It makes me less resentful and reduce my anger. This is good for my health. I can stay healthier with a happy mind.

Thanks for sharing your experiences as well. This world will be like that, same old problems caused by either irresponsible people or the evil ones!

What you said about Chief made him a real human being, no halo above his botak head!

monsterball said...


monsterball said...

And he was not holy holy. He was an excellent teacher with a selfish cunning heart....but he harmed no one.
He truly love .....only Buddha.......can quote HIS sayings...with ease. you know Sanskrit language?

BryanChoong said...

Dear Monsterball;

Sadhu for your comment!

I do see your point. But can you share on the happenings at this great temple?
It is Sad that a place of worship has been turned into a war zone for selfish group
Sigh ........
How do we deal with this group of people who are out there to promote themselves & Not the struggles and True Dhamma?

Right on to you Bro !

Justin Choo said...

Hi Bryanchoong,

Before Monsterball answer you,sure he will; I just like to post a comment. Everywhere you go as long as there is a group of people interacting, you will see human conflicts. And in temples and Buddhist groups even without monks, the same problems are eternal. The more popular the monkis the worse will be the bickerings. That is one of the reasons why I don't mix with temple people. You know, most people who go to Buddhist temples have strange peculiarities?? That includes me (and maybe Monsterball too!)!!


cilyhot said...

Mr Justin,I am scratching my head!!Why you ask me to write the truth when I had done so??After reading my comments over and over,,,aha I it because you do not believe the number of children my late mum in law have??its true.She even won second place in a competition on 'who had the most children 'contest organised by sin chew jit poh a few years back!!!!in Perak state.She is a wonderful humble dame ,who can even recollect how she went to ipoh hospital nearly every years.Even the staff there recognise her!!!My wife is number 15!During our wedding,people thought there is a printing error in the invitation card!!15th daughter,,imagine!!!

Justin Choo said...


Just call me Justin.

I try not to tell others what to say. I checked my earlier comment and did not find that I told you to tell the truth. I was just quoting Monsterball.

BryanChoong said...

Dear Justin;

I like your fair & wise comment. I just hope that temples will adopt a little Friendly atmosphere like the Churches where everyone who visits there will find salvation & a peaceful mind.

No wonder Buddhism cannot spread in a bigger manner in the light of so much bickering which is in total opposition of any religion.

I have also witnessed a volunteer who tried very hard to ensure a successful function only to be told off by the VP of BMS himself for Not allocating a VIP seat for him. ( VP was not even doing anything at all ) Imagine the words which really shocked me beyond redemption " If you do not know how to volunteer than don't Volunteer." Just because the VP was not given a VIP seat on the main table.

How sad when in the name of religion things get messed up by " holier than thou " people.

Take Great Care & hope that you can address this issue in your next blog item.

May you & your family plus everyone be bless with good tidings.

Hoping for a Better & Peaceful World!

Cheers ^-^

monsterball said...

bryanchoong...It is always the case.
When one monk starts a temple.. few want to help.
Then as it get more and more many want to help...but most have selfish ulterior motives.
They want to mix business or just get new friends.
And when that temple becomes what our late Chief's temple is...really huge and popular...many are fighting for position...just like in any famous political party.
It is same in all religious faith temples...churches...mosque. Nothing to be surprise about.
But our late Chief could have made life sweeter and more 'holy' for everyone to visit the putting his feet down...and not allow anyone to play diplomatic politicasl games.
He did not!!
And like I said..he loved to advertise himself....and when one donated huge make a book about his life..he was so thrilled.
I got one FOC from him...duly signed.
Surely...that expensive huge book of him...cost alot....and he could use the money to print more of his books....and give them those needy ones..if one cannot afford to buy it.
I recalled Mother Teresa cancelled a banquet in honour of her...took the money to feed the poor.
Now that's a saint.
Justin have said it all...but thought you like added view from me.
I love him so much..that I decided to keep an arms length from avoid knowing all those devotees .which are infact..friendly to me.
I can smell politics..and I hate it.
Without Chief...I have limited knowledge of Buddhism.
Without Ahmed Deedat..from South Africa....I cannot learn more truths about the Bible.
Without 15 years in a Missionary school...I may not learn to love Jesus.
I am blessed to learn so much truths...and got the chance to study... comparative religions.

monsterball said...

To deal with those people need a strong brave smart devotee ...where everyone will respect him/her.
That has always been the weakness...can't find all are busy working.
If found one.then the Chief monk must act like the CEO...don't interfere..let them do their jobs...and act...when he smell politics is played.
It's systematic...orgainzation and applying methods that must be firm ....clear and strong.

BryanChoong said...

Dear Monsterball;

I don't think that name fits you. It should be Cute Little Adorable Ball.

If everyone have such purity as yours than what a Beautiful World we have!

BTW, Justin & yourself, what do you think about Ratana?

Should we help him in his welfare work or likewise?

A Ringgit for your thoughts!


Justin Choo said...


Yes you should help Ratana.

monsterball said...

Bryanchoong...I purposely chose that let others judge me...from my writings.
You cannot hide your real character with hundreds of messages.
So I am an open book.
I am 69 years old....and am flattered with your compliments. Thanks.
Yes..go and help Rev.Ratana
Mention my name....S.S.Goh sends his love to him.
Take care.


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