Jun 6, 2008

Tun Dr. Ismail

Could it be that we live in different dimensions at the same time? Is there a sixth sense? Are there faculties in the human mind that may appear to be separate or strange, but they are in fact only a part of another stage of being? A twilight zone? I woke up one morning some time ago. The sun was just coming up. Three elderly gentlemen were in my bedroom. There were standing in a row in front of my bed. On the left, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, on the right the late Tun Abdul Razak and in the middle, the late Tun Dr Ismail. All three wore suits. The two TARs were looking sad and solemn. They remained silent. TDI was furious. He was animated and making a furious speech. His arms going and up and down, emphasizing points - what he was talking about, i do not know. It was as if it was from a silent movie. Then in another scene, i saw the stadium Merdeka come tumbling down. It was shocking. Like a scene from an earthquake movie. What still remains in my memory today is the manner in which TDI was acting. What was he so upset about?

I did not know much about the man before his visit to my bedroom. He passed away when i was only 7 years old. Not long after the visitation, a book was released - "The Reluctant Politician' by Ooi Kee Beng. As i remembered his visit to my bedroom, I thought fate wanted me to know the man better. So i bought the book and read all about the man. He was one of the founding fathers of this country together with Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak. He rose to be deputy prime minister and when he passed away he was acting prime minister. He was a doctor by profession, who had 'looked forward to become a millionaire' in his line of work but who became a politician only, reluctantly.
With the country facing issues of corruption, racial disharmony, a crisis hit judiciary, petrol price hikes, inflation, widening gap between the rich and the poor, political uncertainty, weak government, weak leaders, inefficient civil administration, poor implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), decline in morals, increase in crimes, etc. etc.- all causing a climate of anxiety, insecurity, fear, hopelessness, depression and hardship to the people, i now know why the man was so upset and could not rest in peace.
Perhaps a look at the man could be of assistance in solving the problems of the country in these trying, oppressive times. From the book, i learned that the man was short in temper but could calm down easily too. He was loyal and faithful. He was a good husband and an exemplary father. He was a highly principled man. He was a stickler for fair play and correctness and asking him to use his political power to help you was tantamount to be asking to be put in jail. He was like that all his life, clean as a whistle. He lived within his means. He did not like to use his 'connections' or political influence for personal matters. He was a man who lived a very correct life, a man of formidable reputation for integrity and talent in all communities with views more cautious and more sophisticated than those of his younger colleagues. Money favors, political hypocrisy or deceit, all those were anathema to him. TDI recognised corruption as a great ill but understood that for Malaysians of all races, going into government is one of the easiest ways to make money so they accept bribes and become corrupt. He was of the view that people should establish themselves in professions and the business world and then enter politics. His message to the youths - they should not enter politics until they are financially or professionally secure.
He was a gentle person capable of great warmth but he could quickly blow his top when faced with incompetence. He was a realist, aware of the prejudices of every community. He agreed with the slogan "Malaysia for Malaysians" but he did not agree with the way the slogan was to be translated into reality. He did not agree that it could be done overnight, but he knew that the inborn prejudice and resistance of millions will have to be worn down patiently, that the millions from every community have to be convinced slowly, and that they have to be persuaded steadily in the delicate process of uniting the various races in Malaysia. In short he was a diplomat ahead of his time. He believed in dialogue and consultation -skillful diplomacy and mutual understanding among leaders - to resolve problems. He rejected extremism and ultras in all its forms.
On the special privileges of the Malays, he was quoted to have said that the special position of the Malays under the Constitution is mainly intended to enable them - to borrow an expression from the game of golf - "to have a handicap" which would place them in a position for a fair competition with better players. Therefore like a golfer, it should not be the aim of the Malays to perpetuate this handicap but to strive to improve their game, and thereby reducing, and finally removing, their handicap completely. He said the biggest mistake that the Malays made was coining the term 'Bumiputra". He disliked the term as it tended to convey an entirely different meaning to what was intended for the Special Position of the Malays. By coining "Bumiputra" the non-Malays suspected the Malays of wanting to classify themselves as first class citizens while they were relegated to second-class citizens. TDI was against such classifications as it could lead to disharmony. Like Abraham Lincoln, he believed that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
He believed fully in the oneness of Malaysia and worked on this belief. He was absolutely neutral. When you dealt with him, you knew you would get fair treatment. He was a lovely man with strength of character, high principles and a great sense of fairness - probably the most non racial, non rascist Malay at the time.
Lee Kuan Yew, was quoted to have said about TDI - "I came to like and respect him for his direct and straightforward manner. As i got to know the Malayan ministers better, he was the one i trusted absolutely. He was honest and sincere in his dealings with me, and i believe he reciprocated my friendship and respect for him'.
TDI believed that the application of the New Economic Policy (NEP) will change from time to time to suit the situation and the circumstances and the geographical setting. But its aim and its fundamentals are the same and that is to close the gap between the rural and the urban, to destroy poverty without regard to background or race. He was an optimist who believed that under a pragmatic form of government, a "Malaysian Race" that was 'progressive' would develop.
At work, he pressed himself harder than anyone else. He expected accountability and integrity from those who worked under him. He deeply feared that Malaysia's development would be undermined not by communism, but by communalism and what he termed the 'tidak apa-ism' (nonchalance). He was a firm believer in efficiency and would not tolerate delays under his administration. He believed in clean, efficient and honest government and led by example to the end.
There is an incident where a Chinese peasant woman once came to his house in a truck filled with vegetables as gifts for him. She was hoping that TDI would help release her son who had recently been detained. TDI told her to take her gifts away or get thrown into jail as well.. This unwillingness to compromise on TDI's part left a strong impression on his colleagues, relatives and friends.
Perhaps if the leaders today would follow the way, the truth and the life of this great statesman, described as the "MAN WHO SAVED MALAYSIA" (recognising his role after the May 13 riots),- this country can be strong and harmonious again. After the man finished speaking to me in my bedroom, he called me to him. I went to him and he said something to me. Then another scene appears - the stadium Merdeka started to rise from the rumble and ashes and began rebuilding itself into a beautiful, more glorious and magnificient stadium. It was a stunning scene.

Jun 4, 2008


In this country, lawyers are waiters. Why? Because in court they wait most of the time. Waiting for their cases to be called up which could take hours. How much of our lives do we spend waiting? We wait for the bus, we wait in traffic jams, at the train station, at the airport, at McDonald's, at the toll booths, at the cinemas, at the hospitals etc. etc. We wait for people to arrive, we wait for our next favourite TV show, the next news segment or for the European championships to begin. Lovers wait anxiously for the next sms or call from each other. Children wait eagerly for the next school holiday. Adults too wait for the next holiday and the next pay. We wait for the next 'big break', the next vacation, the next exciting thing to happen in our lives. Even when i click the intenet icon, at the bottom of my computer screen, i read the words "Waiting for https://www.google.com"

Waiting is a state of mind. We want the future, we don't want the present (except when it is pleasurable). We don't want what we've got and we want what we haven't got. We want our food fast, drinks fast, reach our destinations fast, we want to be rich fast. We want to know what the future will be - we see fortune tellers. With every kind of waiting we are unconsciously creating inner conflict between our here and now, where we don't want to be, and the projected future where we want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of our life which make us lose the present.

The Masters say give up waiting as a state of mind. Snap out of it. Come to the present moment. Just be and enjoy being. If you are in the present there is never any need for you to wait for anything.

Jesus says in the parable of the Ten Virgins:-

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' " 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matt. 25:1-13)

Now i always thought that the parable meant we have to be vigilant at all times and to be good people because we do not know when the 2nd coming would be, when Jesus would come to judge the world.

Now, Echart Tolle, in his best selling book, 'The Power of Now" has a different intepretation to the above parable and an esoteric meaning to "waiting". Tolle writes:-

"In a sense, the state of presence could be compared to waiting...This is not the usual bored or restless kind of waiting that is a denial of the present..It is not a waiting in which your attention is focused on some point in the future and the present is perceived as an undesirable obstacle that prevents you from having what you want. There is a qualitatively different kind of waiting, one that requires your total alertness. Something could happen at any moment, and if you are not absolutely awake, absolutely still, you will miss it. This is the kind of waiting Jesus talks about. In that state, all your attention is in the Now. There is none left for daydreaming, thinking, remembering, anticipating. There is no tension in it, no fear, just alert presence. You are present with your whole Being, with every cell of your body. In that state, -the "you" that has a past and a future - the personality if you like - is hardly there anymore. And yet nothing of value is lost. You are essentially yourself. In fact, you are more fully yourself then you ever were before, or rather it is only NOW that you are truly yourself.

Jesus speaks of the five careless (unconscious) virgins who do not have enough oil (consciousness) to keep their lamps burning (stay present) and so miss the bridegroom (the NOW) and don't get to the wedding feast (enlightenment). These five stand in contrast to the five wise virgins who had enough oil (stay conscious).

The Ten Virgin parable is not about the end of the world but about the end of psychological time. They point to the transcendence of the egoic mind and the possibility of living in an entirely new state of consciousness".

The Masters say that the average person think in patterns and cannot accomodate himself to a different point of view, a new dimension of consciousness. They are right. I did not have Tolle's insight on waiting, which is most interesting. There is no waiting in the NOW.


I asked my friend, Mr. T, a Buddhist why the earthquake in China and the cyclone in Mymmar had to kill and maim innocent children and babies. Sharon Stone had spoken her truth -" I am not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because i don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And the earthquake and all this stuff happened and then i thought - is that karma? When you are not nice that bad things happen to you?". And she got whacked for it left and right. All her films are now banned in China.
Mr. T's reply was as follows:-
"To Buddhists earthquakes, cyclones, typhoons, vulcanic eruptions are all natural phenomena which arise due to changes and interactions in the four elements ~ solidity, fluidity, temperatures and motions. No human being can control these natural phenomena except learn to understand them and take precautionary actions to avoid them. Just look at USA. The West are knowledgeable in science, medicine, etc., and invented the most modern and destructive war machines and equipments that can wipe out the whole world. They have even gone to the moon and returned, staying in space for long period of time. Though they might have prior knowledge like weather forecast, yet they just couldn't do anything when typhoon Katrina and other natural disasters struck.

Not only that we have no control over these natural disasters it is sad that we human beings are contributing towards them. Human beings are damaging the environments, causing much sufferings to the helpless animals, too. And our children to come are going to suffer.

To the Buddhists the innocent babies and children including adults as well are experiencing the fruits of their bad deeds done in the past. The arisings of these natural phenomena are merely present conditions for the victims' past bad kamma to ripen. Kamma whether good or bad without supportive conditions for them to ripen can never bear fruits. Buddhists do not believe these calamities are punishments from a non-human being who is almighty and to whom human beings are at his mercy and must submit and obey".
If what Mr T says is correct, then the babies and children died or were maimed because of their bad karma i.e. they were not innocent. More importantly, for purposes of this blog - our ability to realize our dreams, our chances of success would also be subject to karma from our past or our previous lives -depending on THE SUPPORTING CONDITIONS for them to ripen. When it comes to the question of karma, the English philosopher David Hume's immortal question comes to mind- HOW DO YOU KNOW?
When it comes to realizing dreams - taking Mr T's view in positive light, we should, when we sow the right supporting conditions or combinations in the present - 'the rainbow connection', be able to reap our fruits - and realize our dreams in the future. Genius is knowing the right supporting conditions and combinations to sow. This would apply to Government policies as well as individual effort.
However when it comes to gambling, it would be easier for a camel to enter an eye of a needle than for a poor man to win big at the magnum 4D, the sports toto, the da ma cai or the social welfare lottery - well that is my perception. It is impossible to know the right supporting conditions and combinations to sow to strike the jackpot prize! That is why the Buddha, the prophet Muhammad and Lord Krishna tell us to stay away from gambling.
On the issue of karma , as i come from a Christian background, two conflicting scripture passages come to mind for now:- As you sow so shall you reap - galatians 6:7 and "One plants and another reaps" - john 4:37. This may be true for our one life on this earth. But as for previous and future lives in another bodily entity with a different name and form - my quest is still on..

Jun 3, 2008

The Rainbow connection

Rhonda Byrne wrote a best seller, "The Secret". It made her very rich and popular. Her book is about making dreams come true through the power of thoughts. One attract what one thinks, good or bad - the law of attraction. The rainbow has a secret too, written in the sky, after the storm. Someone said "Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain". Conditions, combinations of sunlight and raindrops are needed to bring about a rainbow - a secret revealed by Sir Issac Newton. A deeper secret may be that actualization of dreams is all about the getting the right conditions and combinations - the right mix. Take for example Manchester United, recently crowned Champions of Europe. Without 42 goal hero Christiano Ronaldo, could they have achieved the dream? Without the new faces - Tevez, Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani - could they have achieved the dream? In all probability not. United were lost about winning the Champions League for about 9 years before this team came along. You can ask Sir Alex how hard it is to find the right team. The right conditions and combinations of people and ideas - "the rainbow connection"- actualize dreams.
As Kermit the Frog (the Muppet Movie) sang:-
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.