Oct 11, 2008

An encounter with Ven. Dr K. Sri Dhammananda

I have been having a lot of dreams these days. I wonder if it could be the effects of the drugs I am taking? In the most recent dream, I was with the late Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammananda. I had only met the man, when he was in the flesh, once. My friend (who happens to be close to him) and I went to meet him in his office at the Buddhist temple at Brickfields some years back. Last week, Mr. T had given me two books which the late monk authored. Well in the dream I had dropped my spectacles and was looking for it but I could not find it. I was lost, stressed and desperately looking for it here and there but I could not find it. Then came the late Ven Dr K. Sri Dhammananda in his orange robe. He found my spectacles, smiled and handed it over to me. I felt a great relief when I had them on again.

Today I met Mr. T for a discussion on Buddhism at a Buddhist CafĂ© in Klang. Looks like it’s going to be a weekly Saturday afternoon affair these days. He spoke about the true nature of the mind, about wrong thinking and views and about the Buddha. On one occasion I had asked him “where is the Buddha now?” and he had answered “The Buddha is inside of you”. I must confess that the answer stunned me for a while (And I am still thinking about it..It sounded a lot like what Jesus had said in the bible - "The Father and I are one", "You see me, You see the Father")

Somewhere during the discussion, I saw the connection between the dream I had earlier and the discussion we were having. When I lost my spectacles I could not see clearly. My vision was blurred and it was most frustrating and annoying. When I could not see clearly, I could not function properly, efficiently. But when I had them back on, I could see clearly and function happily. The highly respected monk is a symbol for the dhamma. The word 'dhamma' even appears in his name. The teachings of the Buddha, the dhamma, is the spiritual spectacles that give perfect, right vision.

Now we suffer because of an undeveloped mind. Such a mind brings about wrong thinking or views. We suffer. We cannot “see” clearly. Thus we stumble and fumble. We make mistakes. We thus become inefficient. We cannot function to the best of our abilities or realize our true potential. We are sort of handicapped. In this state we are ‘sinners” or “lost sheep”. In his book “You and Your Problems, the late Ven Dr K. Sri Dhammananda had written:-

“It is not what happens but our reactions to what happens that determines our degree of happiness or misery. Circumstances have the power to disrupt our peace of mind only as we let them. Events are things of the external world. It is not what happens without but the reaction within that counts.”

“It is easy to enough to be pleasant
When life flows along like a song
But the man worthwhile
Is the man who can smile
When life goes dead wrong”

“The Buddha says that the world is within you. When you discipline yourself the whole world is disciplined and peace is maintained not only for yourself but all those around you.”

“Men experiences stress and suffering because of five psychological states which envelop his whole personality. They are called nivarana in the Pali language meaning hindrances. They hinder happiness and overcloud a man’s vision of himself, his environment and the interaction between the two..These five hindrances are the desire for sensual pleasures, anger, indolence, worry and doubt. The Pali Canon illustrates the effect of these hindrances with the help of five similes.

The mind overpowered by the desire of sensual pleasures is compared to colored water which prevents a true reflection of an object on the water. Thus a man obsessed with the desire for sense of pleasures is unable to get a true perspective of either himself or other people or his environment.

The mind obsessed by anger is compared to boiling water which cannot give an accurate reflection. A man overpowered by anger is unable to discern an issue properly.

When the mind is in the grip of indolence it is like moss covered water: light cannot even penetrate the water and a reflection is impossible. The lazy man does not even make an effort at correct understanding.

When worried the mind is like wind tossed turbulent water, which also fails to give a true reflection. The worried man forever restless is unable to make a proper assessment of an issue.

When the mind is in doubt it is compared to muddy water placed in darkness which cannot reflect an image well.

Thus all the five hindrances deprive the mind of understanding and happiness and cause much stress and suffering.”

“Man’s mind influences his body profoundly. The mind has just as much potential to be a medication as it has to be a poison. When the mind is vicious, it can kill a being, but when it is steady and diligent it can benefit others.

When the mind is concentrated on right thoughts and supported by right effort and right understanding, the effect it produces is immense. A mind with pure wholesome thoughts leads to healthy relaxed living.- He is strong who conquers others; he who conquers himself is mighty’ – Lao Tzu. The Buddha says “No enemy can harm one so much as one own thoughts of craving, thoughts of hate, thoughts of jealousy and so on”.

A man who does not know how to adjust his mind according to circumstances is not a real human. Turn your mind inwards, and try to find peace within yourself. It is only when the mind is controlled and properly directed that it becomes useful to its owner and society. An unruly mind is a liability both to its owner and to others.”

“What can you achieve by changing the world? Can you achieve perfection? Never, you will only be able to feed your vanity and fulfill your ego. You will be bound by the wheel of existence. But by changing yourself, by realizing the nature of the self through selflessness, self discipline and self exertion, you can achieve perfection. By achieving such perfection, your life becomes meaningful and you can render great service to others.”

“The important thing about life is that we have it and therefore we must make the best use of it. This indeed is the great value of life, the opportunity of making the maximum use of it. Many people lead narrow, unhappy and depressed life because they do not try to make the best use of life. They spend most of their time worrying and struggling for survival, working like slaves, confronting enormous problems and hindrances.

We spend enormous time and energy in an emotional battlefield- fighting for survival, fighting for power, fighting for gain, fighting for name, fighting for pleasure and fighting to be free from danger. Occasionally, we do gain a little bit of momentary satisfaction but every pleasure inevitably ends with suffering.

If you can understand the real nature of life and the world, then you can readily understand why it is absolutely necessary to attain liberation and you would not delay your effort for attainment of this blissful state. Today you are fighting to escape suffering through a worldly way, which is temporary. However if you try to get rid of your suffering by developing the spiritual aspect of your life, then you can find real peace.”
"You cannot change worldly conditions according to your wishes but you can change your mind to develop contentment to find happiness"
"According to the Buddha, this world is based on conflict, friction or unsatisfactoriness and impermanance. Again, he says the way to worldly gain is one thing, and that to salvation is another.". - (Jesus said the same thing - You cannot serve both God and money)
In conclusion the message i got from the dream and the writings of the great monk was the world is a battlefield. The mind is an even greater battlefield. If we have not conquered our mind, if we have not corrected our visions, the time is not ripe for us to function efficently at our best potential to conquer the problems of the world. Like Jesus had said - " Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your your eye', when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from yoru brother's eye.'. (Jesus was a carpenter and he had the correct vision to use saw dust and planks to make a fantastic simile - a sure sign of an enlightened mind at work).

Well said Chief Reverend. Thank you for the Buddha-vision.

Oct 10, 2008

Found: The Lost Sheep

One of the most pleasant and refreshing pictures of Jesus I have seen is the one of Jesus walking while carrying a lost sheep over his shoulders. It shows a close bonding between a man and his sheep, between man and animal, between man and nature. Now I suppose the artist has based his master piece on this parable in the bible:-

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them- what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders and carry it back home. Then you call all your friends and neighbors together and say to them “I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate! In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent” – Luke 15: 4-7.

Jesus was a great Teacher. If he is right then, from the parable above:-

a. There is a God.
b. We are sinners.
c. We are lost.
d. There is a heaven.
e. God is consistently looking to bring us back to His Kingdom.
f. There will be great joy in heaven when one sinner repents.
g. God loves the sinner and seeks the sinner vigorously.

How often do our lives revolve around status oriented accumulation and conspicuous consumption? How often are we daily massaged by a hyperactive consumerist vision to see and measure everything in life in terms of money – even time is now considered money. If we do not have enough money we feel inferior, mediocre- unhappy and a loss of self esteem. We worry about how to pay the bills and lose sleep. We get irritable, annoyed, intolerant and restless. We cannot see clearly as we are blinded by our wrong vision. We are truly lost sheep when we live for the trinity of money, sex and power. Jesus taught that anxiety about this trinity is a waste of time and distracts us from what matters most – the bringing about of the kingdom and the righteousness of God which will bring all round true happiness, satisfaction and rejoicing in the world. This is the true ideal of life, and ideal we must strive for at all costs even at the price of death. And how do we enter into this Kingdom here on earth? By following the values taught by Jesus:-

Be humble and thirst for truth and righteousness, be merciful, be pure in heart, be a peacemaker, be willing to joyfully suffer persecution and insult for doing what is right.
Be the salt and light of the world – by doing good works.
Do not hate or indulge in anger, but instead seek to reconcile.
Do no lust or be sexually unfaithful in your heart.
Do not presume to make vows but have simple speech, where yes means yes and no means no.
Do not get revenge, but find a creative and non violent ways to overcome evil done to you.
Love your enemies, as God does and be generous to everyone as God is.
Give to the poor, pray and fast secretly.
Don’t let greed cloud your outlook but store up treasure in heaven through generosity.
Don’t worry about your own daily needs but instead trust yourself to God’s care (have faith) and seek God kingdom of righteousness first and foremost and vigorously.
Don’t judge others but instead work on your own blindness.
Go to God with all your needs, knowing that God is a caring Father.
Do to others as you would them do to you.
Don’t be misled by religious talk, what counts is actually living the teaching.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal but store yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
You cannot serve two masters; you cannot serve both God (truth and righteousness) and money.
Renounce. Forget yourself, take up your cross follow the teachings.
He who loves his life will lose it. He who loses his life for the sake of the Kingdom will find it.

And the great Teacher makes this promise:-

“Therefore take no THOUGHT, saying “what shall we eat” or “what shall we drink” or “what shall we wear” (for all these things to the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things WILL be added to you”- Matt 6: 31-33.

Now the great but pauper artist Vincent Van Gogh had this to say about Jesus:-

Christ alone... has affirmed as a principal certainty, eternal life, the infinity of time, the nothingness of death, the necessity and the raison d'ĂȘtre of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as a greater artist than all other artists, despising marble and clay as well as color, working in living flesh. That is to say, this matchless artist... made neither statues nor pictures nor books; he loudly proclaimed that he made... living men, immortals.

I am convinced, like Van Gogh, that if we repent from the errors of our ways and live the teachings of Jesus, if we would make his words, so to speak…our flesh (‘and the word became flesh, full of grace and truth- John 1:14), we would have true peace of mind and we would become living men… immortals. Then there will be great rejoicing and celebration in heaven.

Oct 5, 2008

The Bojjhangas (Part 2)

I summarize my reading of the Bojjhangas as follows:-

The Enlightenment factor of Mindfulness – to be mindful day and night to perform wholesome deeds – generous, moral and meditation deeds and to be mindful to avoid unwholesome deeds. Whatever work that needs to be carried out, mindfulness does not forget to do it. To be pure in thought, word and deed at all times. To be mindful of the present, the Now. Not the past and the future. To guard the mind from unwholesome mental states or defilements. To be mindful of all phenomena arising in the body or mind - they must be observed as they really are at the moment of their rising. To be aware of the rising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena.

The Enlightenment factor of the investigation of states – when things are investigated and examined thoroughly and diligently, understanding, knowledge or insight (wisdom) arises. All mental states that arise – good or bad – must be seen and understood as what they really are.

The Enlightenment factor of effort – Effort and energy are needed if one is to progress or prosper in whatever one does. One must have strength, courage, endurance to put in the necessary effort to succeed at anything one sets out to do. No shrinking, no stepping back, no procrastination – no matter what the difficulties encountered.

The Enlightenment factor of rapture – One has to have interest, satisfaction and joy in what one does that leads to rapture. This is a inner feeling of gladness and delight. This does not mean only work for one’s own joy or satisfaction. It must lead to giving gladness and delight to others too. The work one does that leads to rapture has to have the function of pervading – to pervade the body or mind with rapture – to refresh the body and the mind with the work one does which leads to the service of others – elating, refreshing both oneself and others.

The Enlightenment factor of tranquility – one has to put in effort to keep one’s mind in constant tranquility and calmness. Its function is to relieve or crush the disturbances and agitation of body and mind. When one has a tranquil mind, one can work and function efficiently and thus be of service to oneself and others.

The Enlightenment factor of concentration – one has to develop the characteristic of non- distraction. When concentration arises, the mind does not go here and there anymore. It stays focused on whatever one does in the Now, the present, until it completes what one sets out to do.

The Enlightenment factor of equanimity – One has to be balanced in all things. Its function is to prevent deficiency and excess and to prevent partiality. It makes one impartial in all things.

When one is diligent in practicing the above, one becomes the master of one’s mind. Much physical disease is caused by anger, stress, depression, guilt, unforgiving nature, envy, hatred etc. The practice of the above teaching leads to peace of mind and the control of thoughts- of seeing things as they really are. With right thinking, all is made well. For as a man thinks, so is he. We attract not what we want but what we are. This is the law of attraction. We attract what we are. And what we are, are constituted by our habitual right or wrong way of thinking and this can go back a long, long, long way. Wrong thinking and wrong actions are the cause. Physical disease and other unwanted happenings are the effect. We reap what we have sown. It is the law of karma. Bad karma can be mitigated if we follow the Bojjhangas.

The ideal is the perfect man. The perfect nation. The Bojjhangas are the means to become the perfect man, the perfect nation. For the health of the nation depends on the minds of its citizens and more significantly, the minds of its leaders. If the minds of the leaders are corrupt and weak, its policies will be weak and the nation suffers. Thanks to the Buddha we can become the perfect man or the perfect nation if we follow the Bojjhangas.

From the point of worldly affairs – the Bojjhangas should be taught to the people. It should be part of the education policy to create the perfect nation. For example if we had the factor of mindfulness, we would not be lazy, forgetful or negligent in our duties. We would be mindful of our thoughts, words and deed as we know it has consequences. We would want to be mindful to sow good thoughts, words and deeds to attract good consequences to ourselves and to others. We would be attentive in our work and this leads to quality work. Mindfulness leads to self mastery.

If we had the factor of investigation of states, we would increase our knowledge in all that we do and would be seeking ways to improve ourselves and the quality of our service. We would reject an education policy that emphasizes on memory and passing exams by how well one has learnt answers from past year questions. We would implement one that emphasizes thinking, creativity, inquiring, reasoning, novelty and analysis. We reject ignorance. We endeavor to have a scientific mentality. We should be able to discern whether our efforts and undertakings would bring more prosperity and wealth to ourselves and the nation. When we understand this investigation of states as a factor for prosperity, progress and wealth to arise, we would apply ourselves diligently and honestly to the task of investigation of things, asking about the ideal of things. We would put in the necessary effort to implement our understanding and knowledge from our investigations. We would find the ideal of things and reject any element that corrupts our ideal.

With the factor of effort, we are encouraged to strive enthusiastically to investigate and find the effective policies and strategies to bring benefit to ourselves and others. We would then implement them to achieve the ideal. We would reject any form of incompetence, indolence and apathy in our quest to make the ideal a reality.

With the factor of concentration added to the factor of effort, we are fully immersed in carrying out our business or duties in the home, in the work place at the micro level and in the field of education, trade or politics at the macro level. We reject laziness. We honor discipline. If all is done well, we experience benefit and profit from our work. More gets done. There would be more achievement and productivity. This leads to the experience of joy, lightness and delight (rapture)… calm and peace (tranquility) which enriches our being. This would enable us to be more compassionate beings for one has to be compassionate with oneself before one can be compassionate to another being. As a result of the factors of rapture and tranquility we would cherish and love our work and our duty – health, productivity and prosperity are maximized. One should be placed in a working environment where one can work according to one’s best interests, abilities and talents to increase productivity. This will ensure that the factor of rapture and the factor tranquility pervades everywhere leading to more contentment, harmony and productivity.

With the factor of equanimity, we become balanced people. We then become impartial, tolerant, composed, fair, compassionate and competent in our work and dealings with others. We carry our duties with composure, with reason and logic rather than being swayed by our passions and emotions. We reject all forms of extremism and fanaticisms. We reject superstition. We would reject greed. We would reject a society where the gap between the rich and the poor is wide. We would strive for equality for all. We reject racial politics. We reject unfair economic policies. We reject all injustices. We would respect human rights. We would respect animal rights. We would respect the rights of all living beings and the rights of the environment.

Thus, strict compliance with the Bojjhangas can only lead to all round health, prosperity and happiness to all. May all be happy and well.

The Bojjhangas (Part 1)

Last Saturday as usual I went back to my parents’ home. My mum told me that there was a package for me. I looked at it and it was a huge packet. Inside the package, there were 18 books! – on Buddhism. My mum told me that an elderly Chinese man sent them to me. I know that man as Mr. T (He had given me 10 books earlier- of which I had not the time to read yet). I called Mr. T and thanked him for the books. He told me to read all the books he had given me and digest the teachings and I could discuss any matters that merit discussion with him during the weekends. I started reading the first book – The Bojjhangas.
This teaching of the Buddha is said to be the medicine that makes ALL diseases disappear. Disease can be physical, mental or spiritual and this teaching of the Blessed One cures ALL diseases– if we care to practice it daily, faithfully.

The Bojjhangas (English version) is as follows:-

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rajagaha in Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Santuary. Now on that occasion the Blessed One was sick, afflicted, gravely ill. Then the Venerable Mahacunda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down on one side. The Blessed One then said to the Venerable Mahacunda: “Recite the factors of enlightenment Cunda”

“These seven factors of enlightenment venerable sir, have been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, they lead to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What seven?

The enlightenment factor of mindfulness has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of investigation has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of energy has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of rapture has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of tranquility has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of concentration has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

The enlightenment factor of equanimity has been rightly expounded by the Blessed One: when developed and cultivated, it leads to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

These seven factors of enlightenment venerable sir, have been rightfully expounded by the Blessed One, when developed and cultivated they lead to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.

[“Surely Cunda, they are factors of enlightenment! Surely, Cunda, they are factors of enlightenment! This is what the Venerable Mahacunda said. The Teacher approved. And the Blessed One recovered from that illness. In such a way the Blessed One was cured of his illness.

The Bojjhanga Sutta (English Version)

Having known by way of experience the seven kinds of Dhamma called factors of enlightenment which destroy ALL sufferings of beings who wander through this samsara (round of rebirths) and which defeat the army of Mara, the Evil One, these excellent persons were liberated from the three kinds of existence. They have reached Nibbana where there is no rebirth, ageing, death and danger.

Oh good people! Let us recite this Bojjhanga Sutta which is endowed with the aforementioned attributes, which gives not a few benefits and which is like medicine and a mantra.

These seven factors of enlightenment, namely mindfulness, investigation of dhammas, effort (or energy), rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity, which are all well-expounded by the All Seeing Sage, promote, when practiced repeatedly, penetration of the truth, cessation of suffering and knowledge of the path. By this utterance of truth, may there always be happiness for you.

Once the Lord saw Moggalana and Kassapa being unwell and suffering, he preached the seven factors of enlightenment.

They having rejoiced at the discourse, immediately were freed from the disease. By this utterance of truth, may there always be happiness to you.

Once when the King of the Dhamma was oppressed by disease, he had the Venerable Cunda recite the discourse respectfully, and having rejoiced at the discourse was immediately cured of the disease. By this utterance of truth, may there always be happiness to you.

The diseases of the three Great Sages that were eradicated reached the stage of never occurring again like the mental defilements eradicated by the path. By this utterance of truth, may there always be happiness for you.

Oct 3, 2008

Vertigo 2012

I woke up at 2 am this morning - feeling dizzy. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. Could not sleep after that. Could it be due to the side effects of the drugs I have been taking? Or a new medical complication as far as I am concerned? The technical term for this most miserable of sensation where my world & i are spinning is Vertigo. In the Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘Vertigo”, the character played by James Steward actually suffers from acrophobia or fear of heights. In my case I still do not know what it is. Vertigo while sleeping? I have never experienced it before.

Vertigo has reminded me of my mortality once more. Better live one day at a time. No one knows what will happen tomorrow or the future. Why plan for the future? After all, even the money we put into banks is not guaranteed to be there in the future. Banks may all collapse and money and all other instruments of trading may be rendered a thing of the past in a single day (or hour) one of these days. We may all suffer a vertigo and who knows what then…which brings me to the present American economic crisis which is affecting global financial markets. The world seems to be having an economic vertigo of its own. And no one knows what will happen tomorrow or the future. Even the $700 billion dollar plan is only said to be short term measure. The world is looking at an economic recession.

The earlier conversation I had with a good Christian friend of mine during tea time came to mind. As usual he spoke about bible revelations. As I type this, I hear a loud thunder outside my room. A sign perhaps that God confirms that what I am writing now is inspired by the Holy Spirit?
Anyway for the record, very briefly the bible has this to say:-

Rev. 18:19 "They will throw dust on their heads and with tears and groans: 'Mourn for this great city whose lavish living has made a fortune ... for in one hour is she made desolate.'"

Rev. 18:9 - 'the kings of the earth lived with her in luxury'
verse 3 - 'every merchant has grown rich through her debauchery'
verse 11 - 'the traders of the earth wept in distress over her fall'
verse 12 - 'there is no one left to buy her goods'
verse 14 - 'the life of magnificence and ease has gone'
verse 15 - 'the traders had made a fortune out of her'
verse 17 - 'her riches were destroyed in a single hour'
verse 18 - 'all those making a living out of the sea and sea transport, lamented over her fall'
verse 19 - 'her lavish living had made a fortune for shipowners' (oil carriers?)
verse 23 - 'her traders were the princes of the earth and all the nations were under her spell'
Wall Street fits to be the present day symbol of the city the bible refers to. In John’s time it was Babylon.
Now what is the significance of this collapse of the world’s fragile economic system? Is it to make way for a new world economic order? Where there will be no need for money anymore? According to my friend, the bible says that a new system will have to be implemented which only requires the mark of the beast to buy and sell.

According to the Scriptures and my friend, the "mark of the beast" is received on the right hand or forehead. With modern technology, it is very possible that this mark may be directly linked with a computer chip - planted into the right palm or forehead. Better the forehead as the hand can be chopped off.

"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666" (Rev. 13:16-18).

With the latest advance in information technology, the internet, sophisticated mobile phones, pocket computers, cheap airlines and fast trains, another prophecy comes to mind -.
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase" (Daniel 12:4).

Like it or not, whether logical or not, whatever the faults one may find with the book, the bible has predicted present day events…the vertigo is now being felt. It will continue until the second coming of Christ. Hallucination or not..we will find out in the fullness of time. And the fullness of time? 2012.
Why 2012? Reveleation 20:12 - "And i saw the dead, small and great stand before God: and the books were opened: and another book was opened- which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works" - JUDGMENT DAY.
A close Buddhist friend of mine told me he once placed a bet on 2012 at the gambling house. He won first prize.. but he lost the ticket and could not claim the prize! He was devastated. But that is ok. Its only money. As the christians and moslems say, when judgment day comes, let us not lose our souls and lose the biggest prize of all.
I have not heard the thunder again. Odd that it only happened once all this while...God must have spoken...

Sep 26, 2008

Race politics (Part 2)

If a nation is sincere in making its people strong to boost its human capital resources, it must do away with crippling effects of race politics and treat every one of its citizen, irrespective of race, equally. There is only one race in the country – the Malaysian race. It may difficult to change the mindset of those who cherish their own race but it has to be done. Every citizen is a means to an end. The end is a strong nation with a strong people. But attention to detail must be given to the means - which is the individual citizen. We have to perfect the individual self of each citizen and the end will take care of itself. No effort must be spared in ensuring that every citizen, irrespective of race or creed, be giving enough opportunities to grow and realize their full potential. The education system will have to be revamped. The degree of the country’s success should be measured by the degree each one of its citizen’s success. This should be the ideal.

Real progress in a nation is made when its citizens are dominated by hope and courage rather than fear. When all the peoples of the land are given good education, love, sufficient income to keep them away from grave want or anxiety, a home, good health, jobs, the nation will be great. What is also required is a deep respect of human rights of each its citizens and the courage by the government to uphold such rights at all costs.

There should be a collective or collaborative enterprise rather than competition among the races. The government should do away with bumiputera companies (which is race based and promotes division) and implement the concept of “Muhibah” companies instead. By Muhibah companies, I mean companies who MUST comprise of the different races to work together to bring success to the company and to the country. The word ‘Muhibah’ means united goodwill and friendship. When the diverse inherent talents and abilities of the different races work together in a spirit of goodwill and fellowship, achieving success together, the success is 'shared' and this bring happiness to all equally. This happiness will bring purification to all concerned. All past sins will be forgiven. All past resentments will melt away in the euphoria of success acheived by a combined force of the different races. This will serve as an impetus to future successes. This is a policy for building a pure Malaysian race. This concept need not be confined to economics. It should be extended to sports too. Sport is an essential way to unite the people. A nation which excels is sport is a nation which strives on winning. And winning comes when spirits of the different races are united and different strenghts, qualities and abilities are harnessed creatively to make the team a unique and formidable force.

The government has sent a man to space. But it is of no economic consequence. It does not bring economic prosperity to all citizens. It is short term glorification. It’s time to think long term. It’s time to send these Muhibah companies out to reap the opportunities that exist globally. With a combination of the Malay, Chinese and Indian talent, we can conquer China and India – emerging giants in world economy to bring greater prosperity to Malaysia. We should not forget that we also have other races in this country for example the Sikhs, the Eurasians, the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak that can only add and strengthen these companies with their unique abilities. We should follow the British who sent out their East India companies to explore and conquer the world. As a result they became Great Britain. Why concentrate on this small little country of ours economically when we have the world economy to conquer? Instead of competing against our fellow citizens, why not compete against other nations? Why focus on race politics? Why not combine our diverse talents and abilities together and conquer the world? Bring back the wealth from abroad to the country to prosper the nation- then there will be no need for racial politics as everybody is happy, prosperous and secure. For starters, every child in this country should start learning the languages of Chinese, Tamil, Hindi and Arabic as vast opportunities lie in China, India and the Middle East. The Malays can play a very important role when these companies go to the middle east. The study of these different cultures and languages will equip the young generation nicely for future undertakings. Language is a powerful tool in economic conquest.

We need intelligence, creativity, artistic capacity and benevolence. We also need reasonableness, tolerance and the realization of the interdependence of our multiracial people. We need long sighted leaders. Finally we need morality. What is morality? It is judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see truth, the courage to act upon it. It means the dedication to that which is good and the integrity to stand by the good at any price. Race politics is immoral and an evil that must be abolished if this nation is to be strong and prosperous in the future.

Race politics (Part 1)

This country has been dominated by race politics since its independence. After 50 years of independence, it’s time to put an end to race politics. Nothing is accomplished for the nation by any attempt to make one race secure at the expense of another. This only breeds insecurity, envy, hatred and fear. The nation is divided, and that is a recipe of disaster as far as nation building is concerned. As the great Master said “A house divided by itself cannot stand”.

There is also an evil being propagated by race politics –the party that champions the rights of that race only gives handouts to its own race. Thus honestly speaking, there can be no equal distribution of wealth. To wield and stay in power, the party of that race would need to have support of its race and most of the time its supporters are ruled by emotions or passion rather than reason. As they are not ruled by reason, they are inferior in their intellect so they have to be given things unearned. For with limited reasoning powers, how can they excel in whatever they do? Thus allow a system that encourages corruption. Its an easy way to obtain riches. Thus the policy will be the man that has the least to offer wins. Give handouts to stay in power. But how much is there to give? A nation only has limited natural resources and if spent foolishly and wastefully, the present and future generations will suffer. This incompetence and weakness in the management of the country's economic resources are bad for nation building, long term. Further, if one is strong, competent, rational, intelligent, talented and able – one is rejected if one is not of the same race. If one is emotional, mediocre, loyal to race and party leaders one is rewarded with high positions and lucrative contracts. The policy does not strive for human excellence. Rather the race party wants to perpetuate mediocrity to stay in power. After all, if a man raises above mediocrity and becomes intellectual, philosopical and analytical, he will reject race politics for he sees its evil and weaknesses and therefore reject the party which is race based. In the end the race party that wants to stay in power will only serve the needs of the few of the race for they want to keep the majority of the race inferior to stay in power.
With race politics, there will be envy, ill feelings and distrust among the races. This unholy atmosphere will only produce untold evil and wickedness. In order to remain superior all types of policies or practices will be implemented by one race to frustrate or 'kill' the spirit of other race. All this is detrimental to the nation.

Intellectual integrity is anathema as far as these racial politicians are concerned. The media conceals from society true events. Its only duty is to serve as an audience to VIPs who make speeches for the ‘public good’ in phrases carefully chosen to ensure that things remain ambiguous. When one plays the race card, ambiguity is a necessity. Double talk is the name of the game. Deceit in human relations is perpetrated and encouraged. Divide and rule. These leaders who rely on race politics are willing to sacrifice the future of coming generations to their own momentary prosperity. They are the real threat to national security.

Sep 13, 2008


So much tensions, riots and wars have been caused by religion and philosophy. Religion and philosophy give people meaning to life. They take comfort in them and react violently when there are conflict of beliefs or when faith or religious institutions are threatened. Recently a blogger and a member of parliament was detained under the Internal Security Act because they touched on religious issues. All this is to me is making much about nothing.
I view religion as a form of philosophy. The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life but to prove to them that there isn't any. How do we know there is a heaven or a hell? How do we know what happens when we die? How do we know what God is like? Or what is God? So many definitions, so many explainations. How do we know which philosopher is right? One seems right until we read or hear another. Then both seems not to have it all right when we read another philosopher. What is truth? - was the question Pilate posed to Jesus and Jesus had no answer....I had often wondered why the great Master had no answer to that question. Here was an opportunity to tell the world what is truth and Jesus remained silent. Perhaps it was the wise thing to do as there is....no answer?
It is this insistence of meaning of life that makes man so complicated and confused. Once there is self reliazation i.e. when man realises that, ALONE, he is of no importance whatsoever in the vast scheme of the universe, that no possible significance can be attached to his activities, that it does not matter whether he lives or dies, succeeds or fails, he will become more humble and the world will be better off than it is now. Blessed the humble, they shall inherit the earth! says the Master.
Religion is based on faith or superstition. Philosophy is based on reason. Reason is the most naive of superstitions. It is delusion to believe that things can be understood when in fact the universe is a state of contradiction. It is in the nature of opposites. The duty of philosophers, religous teachers and thinkers is not to explain but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained. The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge but to prove that knowledge is impossible to man because nothing is ever static in the universe. Everything is fluid, in a flux - impermanent. And what happens when philosophy proves that knowledge is impossible to man? What is left? Instinct. We are like the all other living beings- relying on our instincts. We are of the same kind, different only in degree. When in doubt, trust our instincts. Its the only reliable barometer for truth. It is my instinct (it is subjective) that we have to respect each individual and their beliefs. Love thy neighbor. If we love our neighbor, we accept and respect their beliefs and not make fun or critisize them. We can have a sharing of views and be entertained by such fellowships. We let others have the freedom of expression of differing views and we teach society to accept freedom of expression with no threats of detention without trial. A matured society would value transparency, an open sharing of thoughts and beliefs rather than censorship. Our minds are big enough to accept conflict of views. Unity in diversity is a crucial lesson a developed and civilised society needs to learn ever so badly in a world that is getting smaller by the day.

Sep 12, 2008

Detention without trial

Have been most busy lately that I have not had the luxury of time to blog. I have had too many things to do. When I am not thinking of work, and talk with people, I have observed a spirit of depression, of insecurity in those I meet. The country is run by a Prime Minister who is not allowed to have peace of mind to run the country, there is division in the ruling party, there is talk about a revolution and takeover of government by th opposition, there is inflation and there is this fear of racial tensions that can lead up to violence and emergency rule. These contribute to the uncertainty – we don’t know what is coming next. Investors stay away. People don’t spend money, projects are stalled and the economy is sick. Clients delay in payments, people don’t want to spend money on lawyers and I have to work harder leading to anxiety attacks.

I have now read that an MP, a blogger and a reporter has been detained under the internal security Act – that means detention without trial. How can a draconian piece of legislation exist in a country that practices democracy and profess Islam as its official religion? Detention without trial is against the universal principles of natural justice and has no place in any civilized society. This just adds to the depression and the feeling of helplessness to fair minded citizens in society. Where is the superman, the iron man or the batman? We do need them in times like these. But then they are just fantasy. They become blockbuster movies because they reflect our need for superheroes to fight the bad guys and to protect the small guy against the bully and the oppressor.

I am fortified in my view that a government is the most dangerous threat to its citizens’ rights. It holds a legal monopoly on the use of force against legally "made helpless" citizens. Civilization is setting a citizen free from the unjust oppression of government. The only power any government should have is the power to crack down on crime and to protect the minority from the oppression by the majority. (Those in government should also keep its hands off business if there is going to be any national prosperity in the long run). With minimum control and interference by the government, its citizens should be allowed to run the economy and bring prosperity to all. We cannot allow an environment where this government is free to do anything it pleases and digress to the darkest period of human history – where citizens were ruled by brute force to keep them quiet and docile so that the government can carry out its own corrupt practices and remain incompetent, weak and unjust.

There is no basis for detention without trial even if it is in the interest of national security. If a person is a threat to national security– charge him or her in court. There are powers to deny bail if evidence can be produced before the court that the person is indeed a threat to national security. Government decisions to detain an individual without trial should always be subject to review by the Courts – who must be manned by high moral standing and competent judges. The courts are the guardians of the individual’s rights. Judges are gods as far as I am concerned and therefore must act and behave like gods – learned in the law, wise, fair, just and compassionate. Even governments should tremble before these godly judges in the Court of Law.

The real threat to national security is incompetence, weakness and injustice. When these elements exist in government, then the government is the threat to national security, not the opposition, the bloggers and the reporters who criticize the government.

George Orwell wrote – If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever. I hope he is wrong about the future in this country.

Jul 25, 2008

The Sacred Ladder

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up upon the earth, and the top of it reached to the heaven and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD was standing beside him." Genesis 28:12, 13. The ladder is also called Jacob's ladder. Jacob was in the wild, asleep on a stone which he used as a pillow when he had the dream. When his ego was away, while he was with nature, the ladder appeared. What is this ladder? My interpretation..
Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, also known as St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Ecology. He saw every creature as sacred. The world in which he lived or Nature was not something evil to be rejected but a sacred ladder by which he could ascend to his Creator. He saw the sacredness of life even in an ant or a bug. He saw God in Nature. Nature reflected God. His sacred ladder- his compassion for all things in Nature, in the world- kept him in communication with angels, messengers of God, who brought him intuitive wisdom and joy, a profound bliss which is only possible when one is at one and harmony with God, with Mother Nature, as reflected in his prayer-
Canticle of All Creatures
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister, Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
The environment deserves our reverence and compassion as it is part of us. It is alive. Mother Nature has been around longer than us. She sustains us. She is sacred. As we continue to continuously cut down forests, pollute the rivers and seas, pollute the air that we breathe with technology never known before in the history of the world, we are recklessly efficient in causing many species to go extinct. We too may become extinct soon. We are descending spiritually. There will be no peace for the wicked. In my mind, wilful actions or omissions on our part in inflicting harm to Nature is mortal sin - we cause unimaginable torture, pain and suffering to our innocent and helpless fellow brothers and sisters in the forms of fishes, insects, birds, wolfs etc. There is no end to our selfishness and greed in depleting our natural resources. No wonder why God seems so distant from us No wonder why we have so much misery in the world and the many natural disasters that increases by the day. We are heading towards the pit of darkness and gloom because have ignored the sacred ladder. See also the website of:-
Global Disaster Watch - Natural Disasters


Last Tuesday morning i had a pleasant surprise when i entered the office. I saw a very attractive sexy malay girl sitting on the sofa. She was one of my secretary's friends. She was on leave for the day and decided to spend the day with my secretary (yes i am a good boss- what harm is there to allow my secretary to chat with her sexy friends as long as she does her work?). I later found out from my other employee, Mr T, that the sexy lady was not a she but a he - 'a transvestite', a 'pondan'. Then the devil put thought of sodomy into my mind. Now i think the apple in the garden of eden was not an apple but sex, perhaps sodomy sex. Or 'Jijian' the mandarin word for sodomy. 'ji' meaning 'chicken' and 'jian' meaning 'rape' - 'chicken rape'. With sodomy being the hot topic in Malaysian politics these days, i thought i would analyse the law on sodomy.
Section 377A of the Penal Code states "Any person who has sexual connection with another person by introduction of the penis into the anus or the mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature".
Section 377B, the punishment section states that 'whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may exceed to 20 years and shall also be liable to whipping".
As can be seen from the section, oral sex is also carnal intercourse against the order of nature. Most couples have oral sex..The males can be charged with carnal intercourse against the order of nature. If oral sex is acceptable why not sodomy? It's no big deal. These sexual offences are outdated. Artists, fashion designers, gays, the Roman armies and the Greek armies all enjoyed sodomy sex. The only difference is these days the gel used is more potent. You've got the normal gel, the sensational gel and the extra sensation gel - yes my pharmacist told me about that and wanted to sell me some - God forbid. So why is the government so obsessed with sodomy? Just amend the Penal Code, abolish these outdated laws and start governing the country.

Jul 20, 2008

Lessons from George Harrison

Ex Beatle George Harrison (25.2.1943 – 29.11.2001) came to my mind this morning. What did the man, whose life was cruelly snatched away by cancer about 7 years ago, to teach me? The best way is to look at his quotes. Here are some of them:-“All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much” – Well if everybody would follow this advice, there would be no greed in the world.“As far as I'm concerned, there won't be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead” – Loyalty is a rare thing these days. Just look at the Christiano Ronaldo saga. Everyone’s loyalty is to money and materialism. We should be loyal like George Harrison and… George Best.“As long as you hate, there will be people to hate”. Try this out now and we see how profound it is.“The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them” – Nothing is permanent. All things pass away…We all change. We all have experienced how something so good at first can turn out so wrong in the end.“Try to realize it's all within yourself no one else can make you change, and to see you're only very small and life flows on within you and without you”…a lesson in humility. “When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there’. Good one George.. The ego is always the stumbling block to peace of mind. Let go. Let it be. Let it go…Let there be peace. Peace of mind is what we all need to bring peace in the world.“With our love, we could save the world” – This is what all great Teachers taught...“You've got as many lives as you like, and more, even ones you don't want” – Don’t know about this George. I have not had much experience of past lives before. How do we know? I once had a vivid dream about me being a Japanese Astrologer in the Japanese navy during the second world war in my past life. The other astrologer got us all killed with his wrong calculations during an intense battle at sea with the allied forces. The ship was bombed, sank and we all drowned. This one life i would not want again. But I need more experiences to corroborate that experience. Please George, I pray, ask Lord Krishna on my behalf to send me angels with more messages about my past lives, if any.

Well did George have anything to say about the law and lawyers? Surely he did not…Out of curiosity I did my research. To my surprise he did! He wrote a song “Sue me, Sue You Blues!! I did not know that! Here are the lyrics:-

You serve me
And I'll serve you
Swing your partners,
all get screwed
Bring your lawyer
And I’ll bring mine
Get together, and we could
have A bad time
Its affidavit swearing time
Sign it on the dotted line
Hold your Bible in your hand
Now all that’s left is to
Find yourself a new band . . .
We’re gonna play the sue me, sue You blues
We’re gonna play the sue me, sue You blues
Hold the block on money flow
Move it into joint escrow
Court receiver, laughs, and thrills
But in the end we just pay
those Lawyers the bills
When you serve me
And I serve you
Swing your partners, all get screwed
Bring your lawyer
And I’ll bring mine
Get together, and we could
have A bad time
Were gonna play the sue me, sue You blues
I’m tired of playing the Sue me, sue you blues

He must have had quite an experience with the law and…lawyers for him to write this song. Pity he did not give us an alternative to law suits which give us all A bad time.

Finally George’s last words before he left this world, –


George Harrison, God bless his soul…Hare Krishna.

A Good Quote

I met a new client last friday. She's a very highly educated foreinger and wanted me to defend her in a matrimonial matter. I had decided i had enough of matrimonial cases as it can be very draining and emotional. But this case was a challenge. So i decided to take up the brief. She wrote me a long brief and put in some quotes into it. This is the first time any client of mine has ever inserted quotes in a brief to me. Uncanny, yet a most pleasant surprise. I myself am a fan of quotes as can be seen in my past writings on this blog. I thought this quote merits a place on my blog:-
I believe that every right implies a
every opportunity an obligation,
every possession a
- john d rockfeller jr.

Jul 18, 2008


'Jingshen' is the mandarin word for spirit and vivacity (this is the best i can do writing. The key is to actually pronounce the word correctly which i can't do writing). Above all things, Jingshen is important in life for if we do not have Jingshen, we decline and die. We also need 'huo li' - vitality and energy - 'Jing li'. To have more 'Jingshen', 'Huo li' and 'Jing li', to add more spice to life, i decided to enrol in a Mandarin class. I did start on the classes some years back but had to terminate it as i had to go to UK for an assignment. The other day, i decided to re start the classes at a new centre near my place of work. The teacher, Miss Wang (I call her Miss Money Penny as she likes talking about money in class now and then and because in the Malay language, 'Wang' also means money), is a tall young lady from China, very fluent in English (her second language) and has a talent for making speaking mandarin simple. There are only 4 of us in a class- limited to 4 students only (this is strange..the chinese being supertitious and all, why did Miss Wang decide to have the unlucky number 4 in class? Hmm..must query her about this). I am the oldest student in the class. The other 3 students being an indian girl in her early twenties, and two young chinese boys (in their early twenties too) who have just started on their first year law course (looks like even in mandarin classes i meet people connected with the law- what a coincidence). Imagine chinese boys learning mandarin...I missed the first class but apparently did not miss much. In Mandarin, its all about phonetics - you have the initials, the finals and the toners of a word. The toners are the important part in speaking the language. Chinese is a tone language. Its all about the sounds- the different pitches (like learning music) - you have a different toner and you get a different word. Mandarin has four basic tones - the first tone, the second tone, the third tone and the fourth tone. The tones are used to distinguish the meaning of a syllable. Different tones have different meanings. For example the word 'ma' with different tones have the meanings of mother, hemp, horse and curse. The word 'ma' is also used in a question - 'Ni hao ma?' - 'How are you?' The interesting part of learning the language is that when one pronounces wrongly, the consequences can be hilarious. In such classes, one can be humbled so as to be polite and not laugh at our chinese brothers and sisters out there who can't pronounce English words that well, despite trying their very best. So i imagine very funny moments in the weeks ahead. Good for dealing with the stress of life and for the heart and health generally.
Miss Money Penny has a unique talent in connecting these different toners with English words that makes it funny. So you have this picture in your mind of the English word and it helps you remember the initals, the finals and the toners of the mandarin word. With only two classes a week, she has to be good and talented to ensure we speak the language in eight weeks time. Jingshen, Huo li and Jing li to all.

Jul 15, 2008


True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
yet it is fully present.
True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.
The Master allows things to happen.
He shapes events as they come.
He steps out of the way
and lets the Tao speak for itself - Lao Tze

Be Content

Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?
If you look to others for fulfilment, you will be never be truly fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have;
Rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you. - Lao Tze.

A Sense of Urgency

My aunt from UK came down with her husband Peregrine and her two children son, jonie and daughter, steff. I was given the responsibility of taking them around last sunday. First to the KL Tower for lunch. That took 3 hours. Then a short driving tour of KL. That took 1 hour. The jams around KL due to the silly police road blocks did not help much. Then to Putrajaya. That took another 2 1/2 hours. Then rushed them to Bandar Utama for a japanese dinner with the whole family at Shogun (didn't know that existed). I excused myself as i had to work on a case the next day. The day before on saturday, it was lunch, shopping, dinner at at Itallianis and then a drinking session at a pub at the Curve (a place i abhor but had to give in for the sake of my cousins and brother). I had not been at a pub for a long time. The music was LOUD. The lyrics obscene. The air was filled with cigarrete smoke and so many young people around. If you want noise pollution, air pollution, and drink pollution, go to a pub. Go ahead and enjoy but when you get to forty, you'd probably be diagnosed with a few kinds of chronic diseases. No wonder so many die young these days.
The long and short of it was that it was very hectic for me. This was definitely not my normal kind of weekend. My aunt and family had one agenda after another.. one place to visit after another, one relative to visit after another. They are now in Langkawi. Every minute counts. Only 7 days in Malaysia. They had been to Hong Kong and Singapore, Thailand next on the agenda. Make every day count. Make every day an action packed one. Its like this when we go to a foreign country. So much experience to gain. So much places to see and so many people to meet. Time was of the essence. It's like when one has to leave and won't come back. Like dying in some ways. If we know we are going to die tomorrow, or soon, i think we might behave like tourists.
When i was the 'tourist guide' for the day in KL, so many questions were posed to me by Mr. Peregrine while we were at the KL Tower at the revolving restaurant. You get a bird's eye view of the whole of KL and it is an awesome sight. I was asked - 'What is that place?' 'And that'? 'Is that an air strip?' 'And that vast green field over there?' 'What is that triangle shaped building over there?' 'What is that building over there?' etc. etc. The same questions while we were on the road. I made a poor tourist guide. All i could say to most of the questions was 'i don't know' - it then dawned upon me that i was a stranger in my own city. These people come from overseas and there is a great sense of urgency to know and experience everything they see, while i, who am here everyday, take everything for granted. That was a 'buddha' moment for me. Well maybe it helps to have foreigners, teenagers and children around. They ask a lot of questions about everything - from places to politics to economics, to philosophy. No end of questions- keeps one awake all the time. It was a wake up call for me. Time to visit more buildings and places around the city and become a good tourist guide next time.

Jul 4, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

Barack Obama looks promising. Against all odds, he is now the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States. A year back, who had the audacity to think that? I have read “The Audacity of Hope” written by Obama himself. He shares much of his ethics/values in the book and if he carries them out when he becomes President, I think we can all have the audacity to hope for a more just and fair tomorrow.

This word ‘audacity” was used by another prominent black leader, the greatest of them all, so far, – Martin Luther King Jr. King fought for the right of the Negro to vote and today, about 40 years later after he was assassinated, a Negro is running for President. What audacity! Now is a good time to reminisce about King. In his Nobel Prize Speech, King said:-

“I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept the idea of the “is-ness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is a mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life which surrounds him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nation, can be lifted up from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered man have torn down, other-centered men can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow down before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed and non-violent goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land. I still believe that we shall overcome. This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the City of Freedom. Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood”.

King also said in his “How long” speech:-

We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. That will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” I come to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again.
How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you reap what you sow
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

And then we have the King’s “I have a dream” speech:-

“I have a dream today!’
I have a dream that one day every valley, shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

King was a prophet when he said:-

“Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”.

With the world getting smaller each day, King’s words are magnified many times over.

And what did King say about ‘death’? In his ‘A drum major for righteousness’ speech, King said as follows:-

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator – that something we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. Every now and then I ask myself, “What is it that I would want said?” And I leave the word to you this morning.

I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war in question.
I want you to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say, on that day, that I did try in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to serve humanity.

Yes I want you to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have the money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that is all I want to say.

If I can help somebody pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he is travelling wrong, then my living would not have been in vain. If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught, then my living will not be in vain”.

At the end of his book, Obama wrote:-

“..I think about America and those who built it. The nation’s founders who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting the imperfect union. And the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers, tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams. In that process I wish to be part of. My heart is filled with love for this country”

Martin Luther King Jr. – truly a great man. The salt of the earth. Like Barack Obama, I have the audacity to hope that good men and women can make a change and will eventually prevail.

The Kingdom of God, Jesus and John Lennon

More than 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ said ‘kingdom of God’ is at hand. ‘Kingdom of God’ means a kingdom where good, truth and righteousness reign supreme, where there is no more injustice, oppression and tyranny, where peace and justice flow like the river. It’s a long time now and still no kingdom of God in the world. Was Jesus a dreamer? Is the kingdom of God just an ideal that would never ever be realized? Is it all fantasy? Or is it closer at hand than we imagine?

What if the only way for the kingdom of God to come is though weakness and vulnerability, sacrifice and love? What if it can conquer only after being conquered? What if being conquered is absolutely necessary to expose the brutal violence and dark oppression of these governments of the day, to show that no human system of government or ideology, can be trusted – so that they, having been exposed, can be seen for what they are and freely rejected - making room for the new and better kingdom of God to come?

What if the kingdom of God must in these ways, fail first in order to succeed? What if our only hope lies in this impossible paradox: the only way the kingdom of God can be strong in a truly liberating way is through a scandalous, non coercive kind of weakness: the only way to be powerful is through astonishing vulnerability; the only way we can live is by dying, by moving from selfishness to selflessness: the only way it can succeed in the end is by failing first? Scientists believe in evolution. The kingdom of God is evolving too. Slowly, but surely, we are beginning to distrust the governments and the systems of this world, as their serious shortcomings are exposed daily through the wonderfully evolving media. Never in man’s history has information and knowledge been transferred and shared at such astonishing speed. Perhaps our new found knowledge and collective experiences are moving us towards a kingdom which emphasizes more on the self government of the individual, where the internal laws or morality and compassion, will eventually prevail over external laws. Perhaps the day will finally come when then is no need for governments and the kingdom of God within each one of us is finally realised - that we are all one and that a house divided, cannot stand.

As in John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no heaven
Its easy if you can
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
And the world will live as one


We cannot trust the government. The government is supposed to make life easier for us. But it oppresses us. Government uses force - laws, army, police, court, guns, jails, detention centers etc. You expect that force to be used only against the bad guys, the guilty but most often these days we see that force is used against the innocent. The innocent are put in remand, put in detention centers, subject to physical and mental torture while the guilty with 'the connections' get scott free. Forget about equality before the law. Those in Government is above the law.
The Government is all about politics. Everything is transformed into a political issue — to be decided by those with the most political influence. And that will never be the people, you or I. Politicians don't weigh their votes or decisions on the basis of ideals or social good. They think in terms of political power. The government cannot be controlled. It's easy to think of ideal laws that will stop the bad guys while leaving the good guys alone. But no law will be enacted the way we have in mind, it won't be administered the way we have in mind, and it won't be adjudicated the way we have in mind. The ideal laws will be written by politicians for political purposes, administered by bureaucrats for political purposes, and adjudicated by judges appointed for political purposes. Those in power will do even shocking and scandalous things to stay in power. So don't be surprised if the new laws and promises of the Government turns out to do exactly the opposite of what we thought they would do. Give the politicians an ideal and they turn it into a political deal.
It is a fact that Government will always use power to abuse. Give good people the power to do good, that power will end up in the hands of bad people to do bad. The problem isn't the abuse of power, it's the power to abuse. Give politicians power and it will be abused eventually, if not by today's politicians, then by their successors.
Finally, Government does not work. Because Government is force, because government policies are designed to enrich the politically powerful, their families, cronies, proxies and supporters, because we can't control government and make it do what's right, because every new government policy soon wanders from its original purpose, and because politicians eventually misuse the power you give them, it is inevitable that no government policy will deliver on the promises the politicians make for it.
The best we can do is to ensure that the absolute limits on government as enshrined in the constitution drafted by the founding fathers of the country- who normally are the most idealistic lot because they had just got independence from the previous Government that bullied and oppressed them. If these absolute limits have been eroded upon, then the first step is to restore these absolute limits, and then, if the people choose, to work to change those limits to ones that meet the needs of the day.

In conclusion, politicians care nothing for the people's desires. If we really want to make a difference in society, if we really want to improve life, let us do something for ourselves and our family today. Let us be the change in our immediate environment and to the people who come into contact with us with their problems. That's where we have real control, that's where we don't need to rely on politicians, or anyone else, and we can make sure the results are as we have planned and intended. Real good is always achieved by the ordinary man working in an environment outside government.

Jul 2, 2008

The 30% curse

When we were young, we were on the paper chase. Now when we have the paper, we are on the money chase. Yes i have been busy trying to make money so no time to blog. Sad ain't it? The problem is that money comes slowly these days. With inflation and a stagnant economy, you have to seriously think how to make money. That takes a lot time too. A lot of time spent at the restaurants and cafes with close friends thinking how to make more money. But sometimes the ideas don't come as quickly as you would like them to. Sometimes despite you trying your best, money does not come. That can be most frustrating. Sometimes when you least expect it, money comes. I spoke to a mystic the other day. She told me - 'you always miss by 30%'. I asked her what she meant by that. She said - 'you always achieve 70% success rate in the 'big deals'.- which was true, coming to think about it. She told me that what i got was determined by the law of karma - you reap what you sow. So if in our past lives we have not been charitable, we find it hard to earn money in this life. Things don't come as smoothly. If we have been generous in our past life and a lot of people had owed us debts, then there is a very good chance that we would win a lottery in this lifetime. That explains why so few of us strike the lottery. Our nature is to be selfish. There are 'deva' postmen out there to despatch our karma- good or bad to us. They are the 'accountants' of the universe and they cannot be bribed. (This was news to me). I asked her what is the solution to remove 'the 30% curse'. She said that this world is a 'universe-ity' to teach us to be charitable. So if you want to be rich, have a comfortable, anxiety free life in this life and the next, be charitable. Give and you will be given. The more you give, the more you recieve. For misers, this is the most hard teaching to follow. If you have been a nasty person in your previous life, you will have it bad in this lifetime. But there is a solution - be charitable. Do lots of charity. That was the advice she gave me. I told her i don't have enough to be charitable. She reprimanded me -'Take back what you said. If you think lack, you attract lack (the law of attraction?). You always have something to give. Give what you can with a glad heart. You need not only give money. You can give your time. Chatting with a sick person, with a downtrodden friend, giving food to an animal etc. etc.- all are charity. You always can give something'. To prove her point, she gave me two small blue elephants, which she brought from Bangalore. She could not give me a real life elephant from Bangalore, so she gave me two small elephants, - 'to represent Ganesha', she said. Ganesha in the hindu faith is the lord who removes obstacles. I felt touched by her charity. The truth is charity touches people's lives. Charity removes obstacles, like lord Ganesha.

Of course if you are a Christian, then Jesus Christ removes all your bad karmas at the cross by his great act of charity of dying for the bad karmas (sin) of the world, when you decide to accept him as Lord and Savior. But someone may say that can't be done because the law of karma is universal and unending. My argument would be that the Buddha said that nothing is impermanent. We all know what a spiritual giant the Buddha was. If nothing is impermanent, then the law of karma also cannot be permanent. There is a way out- The way of charity. The way of Jesus Christ, the way of the Buddha, the way of Ganesha. Always the way of charity - and the truth- charity, shall set us free from bad karmas and bad luck. We all do the paper chase, the money chase. Few are interested in the chase to be charitable and that explains why many are chased by this mentality of lack. May all be well and happy.

Jun 19, 2008

The Interview

I decided to give Mr. T an interview today. Mr. T is not your normal kind of guy. He attracts attention wherever he goes. He makes heads turn. He amuses little children like Roland McDonald would or Colonel Saunders. He is a ‘celebrity’ no one has interviewed before. So I asked him if he would give me an exclusive interview which I said I would post on my blog. He was hesitant at first but consented after much persuasion. Well here is the interview – up, close and personal with Mr. T.

What do you think of life? I think life sucks.

Why sucks? Pain.

What do you think of your mum? She was Ok. I miss her. In the sense she achieved a bit. She brought up her family well.

What do you think of your dad? I think he is a great guy. Because he can bring 6 donkeys up facing all kind of problems till age 79 which we celebrated a few weeks ago.

What do you think of people generally? All cannot be trusted. I want to ask you one question – how many people have stick with you? Have not cheated you? You know you have been cheated. The doctor who took my mum’s life away. My best friend who took my girlfriend away. There is no promise in life. Things change. For better or worse. To me its worse. I have not seen things get better. Chinese are ungrateful people. Because they are greedy. They want more. Malays are ungrateful but better than the Chinese, why I don’t know, cannot explain . They cannot be loyal but up to certain point you can trust them but the Chinese they are snake. If they go their share they don’t care. But the moment they don’t, that’s it. But Indian – they are snake. Cannot trust at all. Whether they have advantage or not they are trying to get more. I mean Indian lawyers they are actually part of them.

What about you? You are Chinese. Are you ungrateful too? Well you decide for yourself. Am I ungrateful? I mean generally. Of course there are exceptions. One or two. There are always exceptions.

So that goes for the Indians and Malays too? The exceptions? Yes.

What is your dream in life? No dream.

But everybody has a dream? I don’t. Well I only have one goal – to make life better brought up my daughter, finish my commitment that it is.

Do you think u can achieve this dream? No problem

What is the greatest achievement in life? Well having able to live until today is the greatest achievement already. This year 41 to 42 . Be content.

What is your philosophy in life? Live a day at a time

Do u believe in God? What? What God?

How is your wife? I don’t know. Oklah, better than me.

How is your daughter? She is naughty.

Anything else you want to say about your daughter? Nothing. Well only this Saturday my wife is going for camping. I have to sleep with my daughter. That is nice. I will be sticking with her the whole day- she is terrible. And then she has got to watch cartoon. She want to share TV with me. Its Ok.

What do you think of the world? The world is going to end soon.

Why? I don’t know it’s just my feeling you know… I am pissed not being the selected one.

The selected one? You know some people buy one lottery and they strike it rich. I buy the lottery – but I don’t strike, I am not the selected one.

What lesson have you learnt in life? Don’t trust anybody.

That all? Yes.

What are the greatest enjoyments in your life? When I have my daughter. When I was a father.

What are the other enjoyments of your life? Food, TV. Sleeping, beautiful women. Can see but cannot touch because there is always a price to pay.

Who is the most beautiful woman to you? Tang Wei. You know she looked so tall and sexy in Lust, caution. Don't you think so?

Yes, she was. What is your greatest disappointment? Maybe I should have achieved better in life. Maybe if I got a degree. I can’t find my direction now. I fall down I don’t know how to get up. I am lost. The moment you fall u have to get up immediately. I am quite used to it.

You know, you are a star wherever you go. People actually are attracted to you. How do you feel with all the attraction from old and young alike? I am used to it. No big deal.

What advice would u give young people these days? Don’t trust anybody. Work hard. Work smart.