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Ocean Dive - Braving The Mind

Average men are only surface-seers. Wise men sees things as they truly are. To the wise all life is suffering and he finds no real happiness in this world which deceives mankind with illusory pleasures. Material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire. No sooner is the desired thing gained, the desire begins to vanish. Insatiate are all desires.  

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Recently I went back to my hometown and all of a sudden recalled something that I've not seen for many years. I asked my retired dad if he still recall seeing my knife. "What knife?" replied my dad. I briefly told him about my knife that has rubber straps for snorkeling or diving use.  He then described to me a white box and asked if that's the box I'm looking for. To my astonishment he could describe the white box as I remembered the last time about 20 years ago that's where I stored it under my old bed. I then asked if that box is still in the house after so many years of neglect and the old bed was already been dismantled. My face was telling him that I'm very inquisitive and am looking forward to see if it's still around somewhere in the house. He went to the store room and started searching for a while and with a big surprise he came back with the said old white box. My scuba knife was found together with an old mask and a snorkel that I have totally forgotten.

My dad's effort made me realized that being parents they won't simply throw away their children's stuffs for certain reasons. The only reason that I could think of is the sentimental value that parent's felt when seeing in their kids' belongings and they would like to keep those stuffs as sweet memory in their old age. Likewise some of my text books during school days are still being kept in proper cabinets. That's what make parents so special.

Great memories came flashing back through my mind when looking at these old stuffs. The first person that I recalled was my old buddy from college days Gary Choong - a true mariner and sportsman with a passion for water sports. A daredevil I would say especially when he's in his scuba gear fully submerged underwater. To put it briefly, sharks normally black tips found in Tioman Island surroundings are also afraid of this guy. Those were the days in Damansara, SS2 PJ and then Singapore and Tioman where we used to hang around. Those disco days and club hangouts are merely memories of the past for having such friendship. A class of its own with truly great musics to chill out those days.

Good quality knives for scuba should be able to withstand rusting from seawater and 316L stainless steel grade is commonly used for this purpose. Do not attempt test your regular Meed Mor under such condition as the material used to produce Meed Mor is totally different (read Meed Mor - The Conquering Knife) and for different purpose.

New replacement mask & snorkel
The forgotten treasures brought back those beautiful memories of beautiful islands and sandy beaches not forgetting some friendly but greedy inhabitants in these islands. These few island pictures (including the greedy islander monkey) were taken recently to put my perspective into place in replacement of those damaged or lost Kodak film prints. In those days there're no digital cameras and all those film negatives are either been destroyed or lost.

Greedy Monkey
The captivating scene of people making livelihood at sea e.g. fishermen, boats plying around the sea route is always exciting to watch. Working hard each day under the heat of the sun to bring catches and tourist for island tours is a way of life for islanders. This island life is almost the same just like anywhere in this world wherever you go be it Tioman Island, Pangkor Island, Krabi, Phuket or the Maldives.


Those were the days of relaxing and sun tanning on the poolside. It has been a very long time since my last resort stay, enjoying the confined tranquility at the pool. Those with some knowledge in insight meditation will know that this is vanity state of the mind wanting to beautify the skin with sun tanning lotion to self-satisfy our inner attachment for pride. It is very unfortunate that bodily ageing is unavoidable and it has effect on our external beauty. Knowledge on the subject of mind and matter will detach away this vanity for those who understood it clearly.

Coming back to my old buddy Gary we used to be hooked onto network PC games. This addictive strategy game was none other than Red Alert when it was very popular in the past. Without the knowledge about how the mind works (kilesa or mind defilement), this addiction had cost us sleepless nights for being addicted to the core. Each morning we went to work like zombies but when the clock strikes 5pm, immediately our eyes brighten up and we will call each other to meet at our regular Cyber Cafe to continue playing. By 6.30pm we already have our dinner and by 7pm the battle game resumed till midnight.

There are many battle scenes to choose in this PC game and we used to challenge each other. Those memories are still fresh when thinking back those days with my buddy. One thing for sure we burn money like crazy as Cyber Cafes weren't cheap back then due to the ISP charges. Per hour charges was like RM8 then dropped to RM5 but slowly it went further down to RM2 and hour.

Trying to recall how that Red Alert banner looks like and found it after a short search in Google. I am pretty sure if Gary were to read this article he will surely have a lot to talk about this addictive game. Likewise if you ever been drawn into this game before, you will understand how exciting it was at every minute. One particular character in this PC game was Tanya - a Russian spy that always reply "Yes Sir", battle ships sending missiles over "Kaboom", army battalion in waiting for instruction "Right Here Waiting" with the click of the mouse, etc. Each night after we played the game we both can't sleep with the mind repeating all the computer characters commands above "Yes Sir", "Right Here Waiting", "Kaboom....Kaboom.....Kaboom", sounds of bombs and adrenalin rushing inside our mind door. Click and listen to the sound commands and that's exactly what the mind will "playback" when we're trying to sleep after a night of adrenalin rush. For this reason we both are like zombies the next working morning.

When comes to Friday night you won't see us hanging out anywhere else other than our regular Cyber Cafe. It goes without saying on Saturday and Sunday we're crazy enough to trash each other out and see who has the best strategy to win. Gosh! After each game session had ended (after 5-6 hours straight) we will have Teh Tarik and joked about that Tanya the commando for "her" so called artificial intelligence to sneak behind enemy lines to cause destruction in this fantasy game of the early 90s. At one point in time, we thought we were already experts in this game knowing every single commands and strategy used to win, we then wanted to challenge a bunch of college kids. We wanna be hustlers. Guess what? These studious looking kids beat us flat out. This only made our desire to win back and take our little "revenge" a little further to try to beat them back. The suffering of sleepless nights continues between me and Gary. Those were the days of being ignorant.

Let's Go Scuba
Getting back into the water for the first time wasn't easy after so many years. A sense of adventure and adrenalin comes to the mind door waiting for the unexpected happening soon while under the deep blue ocean. With the help of some mindfulness the mind slowly settled down for the upcoming explorations ahead. What lies down there nobody knows for sure as most of the time it depends on luck what you can see as I know it.

Are you afraid?

Preparations to go underwater again are planned in advance before scuba diving. The compressed air tank could leak or regulator malfunction. Hence, knowing all those basic skills during underwater emergencies and make it back safely to the surface is top most priority.

Unfortunately my buddy Gary doesn't go diving anymore. Have to respect his decision and hopefully we can go for one last dive before hanging up my dive suit for good. If you wanna dive, you got to get certified and learn to be a diver. Breathing underwater for the first time is pretty alien with a regulator in your mouth. Everything has the 1st time.

Training new students

After so many years out of touch with the sea, it is not unusual for anyone trying to make some adjustment to the water again.  The same goes for me too. What's needed is sheer bravery and to earn the distinctive mark as a certified diver. It's not for showing off but for own safety. The rest are pure fun diving while enjoying the peaceful tranquility in the open water environment.

A dive boat could be jam-packed with equipment that are essential for diving. It's nice to see everybody including equipment, food and drinking water supply are all packed like a sardine can on the dive boat. Those tanks of plentiful compressed air for breathing underwater are crucial but they can cause Nitrogen Narcosis too. Harmful intoxication of too much nitrogen while breathing with compressed air will make you hallucinate like seeing a Big Fat Elephant swimming under water next to you. This is the main danger of diving. As my friend Gary put it nicely, he simply says "Stop sucking so much compressed air, it screws up your brains". Apart from nitrogen narcosis, a lot of people (especially non-divers) are afraid of seeing sharks. Do you still wanna eat shark fins?

Ain't bringing my diving knife on board because I can't find a suitable rubber strap holder to grip the knife handle as it's an old knife after all and it's not easy to find spare kits. Funny isn't it a lot of people would think a small knife like such can be used for self-protection against sharks. That's what my dad asked me the previous day about knife and sharks. Well, if a shark really want to be aggressive toward you, there's nothing you could use to protect yourself.

All sharks are predatory and they are prehistoric living creatures. Perhaps the most feared shark species is the Great White and Tiger sharks. It's a real strong sea creature and just its fin tail can be as tall as a human. Imagine its fearsome size and razor sharp teeth. Anyway, chances of encountering a Great White is very slim in hot tropical waters except cold temperature waters in California, South Africa and The Great Barrier Reefs in Australia. In warmer waters black tips reef sharks are common. If you do not provoke them they will leave you alone. Just like human, you saw a guy sitting peacefully sipping a cup of coffee, you walk up to him and stick your hand out and stroke his body. What do you think this guy will do? The result will be the same as with sharks with nasty consequences.

Bangkok Post news: Cathay bans shark fin from cargo flights

One of the main reason for shark attacks is due to human can stay longer in their territory. Sharks are territorial animals. The advancement in wet suits technology to make divers stay longer inside the cold water for instance is another contributing factor. We have to understand that sharks has no hands to touch and feel if you can be eaten or not. They are also color blind only using their senses to hunt for their usual preys like seals and fishes. The only way for them to know if you are on their diet list is to take a test bite. Once the shark takes a bite at you and realized you are not his usual usual menu it will swim away. By that time you will be haemorrhaging to death due to excessive bleeding from the bite wounds.    

Some days the weather can be bright and sunny and great for a dive trip out at sea. Some days can be a little rough. Therefore, the boat captain makes the jurisdiction to go or not to go out. 

Sometimes you may see dolphins swimming along if you are really lucky. Remembering back the Jataka stories about Lord Buddha, in one of his past rebirth he was born as a dolphin. Hence, this intelligent sea mammals are considered sacred in my heart whenever I see one on TV screen or remember them. Likewise, all sea living creatures whether fishes, sharks or turtles, etc. have life too just like any living beings succumbed to their individual karma. Believe or not to believe it's hard to fully comprehend this profound subject matter.

Ocean Conservationist from France conducting surveys and ocean ecology studies

Ocean Conservationist making a pre-dive check. I'm checking mine too.

Dive! Dive! Dive!  

The whole reason for writing this article story on Ocean Dive is to relate back my past admiration for the beauty of underwater marine life. Also thanks to Gary for giving me such a good memorable joy for the sea many years ago. As a Dhamma seafarer ourselves seeking relief on the cycle of rebirth, there will be a day we can come to understand that life in any form has its own unique conditioning that can never escape the 4 Noble Truths as taught by Lord Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni comprising of Birth, Ageing, Sickness and Death. This is the universal law that transcend all living beings.

After many years had passed since my last sea adventure on board a yacht together with Gary, the decision has been made to revisit the sea life again. But this time with a sense of compassion for those marine life.

Inside this dry bag is LP Thuad and Mai Tao Wat Balai

As a believer in amulets, one never leave them behind. Most amulets can't be carried along during a dive  for one reason. They may get damaged due to the salt water or the plastic casing cracked when going down to 30 BAR of water pressure. Asked Than Plen of Wat Balai to get his opinion if the recent released Mai Tao could work under underwater. The answer was a big YES. But the problem was unable to find a suitable strap to hook around it so that I don't lose it while diving. Therefore, have to leave it inside my dry bag with my LP Thuad. After some thinking I finally selected my LP Thuad for all my dives after recalling the legendary LP Thuad saving people lives on board a stranded vessel.

LP Pern Wrist Takrut as my companion in underwater dives

The other amulet which is a wrist Takrut was selected to accompany me. Without casing and solid made of bronze material is perfect for this type of activity. Uncertain if the Yant inscription could work underwater or not, the sure way is to find out. Now I'm turning into a fearless water Tiger. We never know what's lurking under the water and that's for sure. Some divers may have their own individual lucky charm in different forms including tattoo arts on their body.

Just For Laughter!!!  If you follow this hand signal meanings surely you will surely fail as a diver. 

Still Breathing 

It's been a very long time since my last adventure in the ocean. The smell of sea water, boat gasoline, boat engine noise, etc. all brought back my memories to the past. There're plenty of excitements as well as anxieties too. Nobody knows what to expect or encounter the very minute we jump down from the boat and upon descending to the bottom.

The ocean is one of the most dangerous place to be for one simple reason. We humans are not born to live in the water. We live on land and breath the surrounding air. In order to see this underwater world we have to adapt ourselves to the water pressures, breathing compressed air from a tank, use fins to swim like fish and we're surrounded by so many different sea creatures. Some are territorial, some are docile, and some poisonous. So sit back and enjoy as we scuba down to the bottom of the blue Andaman Ocean.

The tranquil ocean ambiance is a blessing and one can stay still for a long time. One can forget about what's happening in the daily world that's full of volatility. But keep a constant check on the air supply. Freedom is what you feel in this world totally submerged in water and surrounded by sea life.

Marine Life as they are. These pictures are not taken from a giant aquarium tank. It's a beautiful world...
Cute Mr. Hawksbill Turtle

My favorite Big Fat Guy

Squid - Looks really 'Blur Like Sotong'

"I may be very beautiful. Don't play-play with me".
The general rule of thumb - Never Touch Anything no matter how beautiful they may seem to be. You could either kill them or you get yourself into serious trouble. Neither outcome is not desirable.

Black tip reef sharks
This is what I've been waiting for with full excitement. A stealth swimmer and pretty elusive as most reef sharks can be found in shallower waters at 8-10 meters deep. Usually you can't get close enough to them to take good photograph due to their speed.

Mr. Stingray - Found you hiding under the sands

Manta Ray

One of the dive crew Tom is pretty good in blowing some astonishing bubbles to the surface. This require years of practice. Seeing air bubbles exhale out from the breath is a very astonishing sight to watch as they look like a transparent ring floating upward gradually expanding larger as it surface.

Nitrogen Narcosis is the most feared accidents by all divers. Decompression sickness is the result and sucking in too much nitrogen into your body could even result in death. Proper safety, training and diving with great buddies will ensure this risk is minimized. Similar to seeing a big Fat Elephant swimming in the water when the symptom arise, one can also hallucinate looking at a torpedo shark submarine or a camel scuba diver, etc. You must be kidding! Nope. Guess this 2 amazing photo illustrations was inspired by those who remembered seeing that torpedo shark and camel - a silent killer symptom of nitrogen narcosis.

Mindfulness every moment watching the mind door is the surest way of getting out of trouble. In any given situation when mindfulness is developed to a certain extent, it is helpful as a guardian protector. Profound as it is on the subject of mindfulness, with practice the practitioner would be able to track the changes of the mind states as it flux constantly with the three elements Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (leads to suffering) and Anatta (realizing non-self).

Diving with great guys who have more experience is fun and exciting apart from safety precautions. In scuba diving you share the same interest with divers of other nationalities. Everyone can crack jokes, sharing cigarettes, eat together. But once we're in the waters we automatically switch our mindset adhering to safety measures looking after each other. That's the best thing of being divers. It's a big family no matter which nationality you are from.

Jason - an experienced Dive Instructor from Vegas with 2000+ dives under his belt.  

Ryan on training to be Dive Master

Fearsome tattoos that even sharks are afraid

Taking a rest to reduce nitrogen level inside the body before the next dive


After each dives day most people will find it exhausting and take a nap as the boat heads back to shore and find comfort on land. Land is where human lives. The only thing that they brings home are those beautiful memories that lies at the bottom of the ocean.

Mind and body at rest

Looking at the marine life and all those sea living creatures is like attaining another level of inner peace in the heart. Not that it's a must to go scuba diving in order to attain this inner peace.  I would find it more pleasant to deal with these sea beings than with human.

For the very first time did I realized that these marine creatures has no material wealth to gratify upon unlike humans do. The only thing that they do have is their weapons e.g. razor sharp teeth, needle sharp tails, poisons, and camouflage. Humans too use protective weapons such as protective amulets, knives, etc. To conclude this, all living beings wants safety and free from danger. This is a great life lesson after diving into the other ocean world.

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