The 5Cs of Buddhism

The 5Cs is a well known acronym in Singapore. It typically refers to the Singapore Dream. It was coined in the 90s due to a local observation of the materialistic obsession of Singaporeans. The 5Cs are Cash, Condo, Car, Country Club Membership and Credit Card. When I started my banking career upon graduation years ago, I had the same dream.

Pretty Ducks
(Photo taken in Singapore Botanic Gardens from where I practice Taichi also known as a form of meditation in motion.)

Even today, many young adult Singaporeans can attest to the chasing after the same dream of 5Cs. The problem is that the 5Cs is all about material goods. So social or community values have largely been ignored.

My kindly friend, Yap Kheng Guan, shared with me his acronym some time ago. Brother Yap, as he is called in Buddhist circles, centered his 5Cs on Buddhist values. Being a dharma teacher, he has graciously allowed me to publish it so that it can benefit readers. The 5 Cs are Commitment, Contentment, Compassion, Calmness and Contemplation. Here is what he wrote in an email response to me….

The 5Cs of Buddhism

Commitment is necessary for any endeavor to succeed. We need it to cultivate goodness. It gives zest to life and ensures we go about our effort with diligence. Buddha spent 6 years searching for the Truth and after his Enlightenment, 45 years teaching. His commitment to what he set out to do was never in doubt.  In everyday life, especially at work, one who is not committed suffers.   The slackers in the office not only cheat on company time but spent useless energy trying not to do any work!   Happiness at work and other areas of life are usually found when one is committed to what one is doing.

I often compare Singaporeans who are well off materially with the not so well endowed people around us.  Are we happier ?  Sadly we are not because contentment is not one of our traits.   The cyclone-hit villagers in Myanmar showed what contentment means.  They do not have much and the cyclone took away loved ones and left them with very little physical comfort.  Yet because of contentment they are happy.  It gives them the strength to move on with life.  With contentment one is grateful.  One cherishes every moment and everything, good or bad, that life offers becomes a blessing.
Compassion is regarded in Buddhism as one of the four Brahma-viharas or sublime states of mind. The other three are loving-kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity. With compassion, one sees and feels for the suffering of others.  One understands that suffering is our common bond not just among humans but all beings.  This understanding should soften us and prevent us from further afflicting suffering onto others.   One would be able to see the merit of creating happiness for oneself and others instead of causing harm.   Through compassion one can cultivate an unbounded and a spacious love of life and living.

Calmness is much needed these days.  Not much good can come from joining the fray in a turbulent meeting or a heated argument.  Calmness gives us clarity and helps to relieve stress.   Many people can prevent themselves from getting into conflicts, worries, depressions or even suicides if they are able to cultivate calmness as a way of life.   With calmness, you are a blessing to yourself and others.  Be a calm in every storm and in this way help to make the world a happier place.

Contemplation covers a wide spectrum of things that we should do regularly to purify our minds.  Meditation is one.  So is being mindful.  Many of us lead busy lives and spend a great deal of time and resources taking care of physical things – body, cars, houses, chasing the 5Cs and seeking out sensual pleasures.   We tend to neglect the most important part of our being – our mind.   Contemplation is a call to action to train and cultivate our minds so that we can live meaningful lives.   Contemplation distinguishes us from lower forms of beings; humans can reflect, think and contemplate, and make choices for a happy existence.  We should not waste this precious human gift.

C is For Cookie?

The emphasis on materialism did not go unnoticed by the government. In August (around the time of our Nation’s Birthday) this year, Singaporeans have been called to examine the 5Cs dream again. The proposal is for the 5Cs to represent career, comfort, children, consideration and charity. These would help support the values of multi-racial harmony, community service and family as well as promote a hardworking culture.

I guess whatever the 5Cs represents depends from which angle you are coming from. To the cookie monster in Sesame Street, “C is for Cookie”!

I would like to highlight my favorite C, though. It is a very important one, I believe. And it is Consciousness or Conscious awareness. Spiritual teachers often say that many of us have been asleep to our true nature. This being true, what we need is an awakening, the increase in consciousness. Consciousness means that we become aware that we are more than our personality or ego selves. In my opinion, it’s what’s needed if we want to create the best life possible for ourselves. It happens when we take responsibility rather than let other events, other people or material good dictate the level of our happiness.

What’s Coming?

Interested to know more about consciousness and in particular, abundance consciousness? What’s coming is a book that I have been writing for the last six months. It started as an idea one year ago. It is a book that outlines the story structure of my journey, from the time I first had the Singapore dream of the 5Cs. I haven’t quite finished with it yet. However, I hope to give you updates along the way. Do keep a lookout for them 🙂

Your Thoughts of the 5Cs?

As always, I would be pleased to hear your thoughts. What is your favorite C?

In loving abundance,

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