When I go out to meet the light, the shadow of my body follows me, but the shadow of my spirit precedes me and leads the way to an unknown place
- Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas

Here it is upon me once again that time of year when the days seem compressed into a frenzy of purchases crammed into an already overloaded routine of work, personal and family life. Once again my family has gathered from around the world here in Midvalley except for my younger brother who is celebrating with his new wife in Texas where they live. Both of my brothers married in this year.

And once again the decorations festoon, the carols play to herald the acknowledgement of the birth of Jesus the Son of Man. And who is He? Well, there are many versions, many opinions and mine has evolved though my respect and admiration for the man has not waned. He is to me, my most cherished bringer of the Light to the world. To light the way, to awaken and free us from slavery and blindness. The Good News is here.

And yet this year, personally I have a detachment from Christmas. This year I am not swept away in the euphoria or is it the insanity of the advent season as the rest of this society seems to have been from my vantage point living here in the heart of the most popular shopping center in all of the country - a place I commonly refer to as 'MadValley" instead of 'Midvalley'.

Nay, this year perhaps it is the burden of my job here in Malaysia that has increased in weight upon my shoulders as the year draws close, a frantic hustle dealing with issues constantly leaves me numb and frayed. I've worked through most weekends this month. The difference in working environments between Asia and North America has been indelibly impressed upon me by now.

Or perhaps it is the barrage of the mob of the shoppers that force their way into Midvalley, my dining ventures into the masses feels like a minnow dodging a school of grown tuna. And surely also a factor, this observation that as the size of the masses grows the more absurd Christmas has become. As with things that become rote, the spirit is lost in the doing. It has become mandated by some higher power that I suspect to be capitalist, that on this day all people who have a concern for their reputation or stake in their job shall make purchases for people that they often barely know, buying them things they don't really want with money and time that they don't really have. And the wheels of the economy grind a few more degrees as our consumerism reaches new heights...

Sitting in my car attempting to come home from a long day at work but caught in an outrageous jam of shoppers, I wondered to what extent can this mass spectacle be drawn? With exploding population growth, everyone doing the same thing on the same day is bound to have its physical limits. So this year I have chosen to rebel and step out of the mob as much as I can. It is my contribution to the rest of the crowd to allow them more room. I shall risk that my friends relatives will continue to love me just the same if I do not produce a wrapped gift on Xmas day. Forgive me that the ever mounting burden of a job and scarcity of space and time both current trends of modern society at large has burgeoned to finally displace tradition. Is the material worth of an item given truly a measure of how much someone means to you? Not likely but we have been programmed to believe so at some level.

Perhaps in the future when a less frantic pace of life and less hampered place of living once again is my fortune then perhaps a return to the simple celebration of being with loved ones without undue distractions shall once again be.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night...

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Perfect Day

Today passed perfectly. The weather, temperature, wind speed, the amount of clouds and humidity. My clothes seemed to fit like they were tailored; and portrayed the inner me accurately. The amount of work didn't seem too overwhelming, I quickly kept on top of it effectively knocking off tasks quickly and correctly. The amount of rush hour traffic on the road was ideal because of the holiday season. People seemed to be less harried in general. There were no negative thoughts burdening me. And it didn't rain when I left work, just a gentle breeze and pleasant fading sunshine. What a difference, a big contrast to the past few weeks. I can't recall a working day going this smoothly and perfectly for such a long time. I've been working through too many weekends and feeling raw from the relentless pace of work, being micro-managed to the point of feeling like an administrative assistant. I've not ever wanted to run from a job until lately. Having a day such as today was a comforting reminder that there is still a sane level of existence, that truly nothing lasts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lessons from my cousin

I've been spending the weekend with my 13 year old cousin - E. She came to stay with me and my mother who is herself staying the month because of the holiday season. She has this quality of curiosity, innocence and sweetness that is so compelling.

Maybe it is her age, but she strikes me as someone that doesn't question her worthiness to be loved, it is refreshing to spend time with someone as such. Having her around has affected the ambience at home, now the energy at home seems fresher and more dynamic, like a window left open on a spring day. I enjoy interacting with her, she sees the world so differently. There are minimal assumptions on her part, and she catches humor and irony in many situations that adults tend to overlook. I suppose in that way she reminds me of The Little Prince. For example, when the 3 of us were sitting at a restaurant and 3 servers came to serve me my beer that I had ordered, she remarked how absurd it was. "One to hold the bottle opener, one to hold the beer and one to speak", she laughed. The novelty of the situation had escaped me entirely, perhaps I was too preoccupied with crafting an intelligent and refined manner. And when she laughs, it is unrestrained and infectious without any undertones nor is there any no pause whatsoever to assess the appropriateness of it.

E is incredibly gifted in music. She is a prodigy in that sense if I ever met one. In fact I have admired all my cousins on my mother's side for their talent for music, it seems they picked it up overnight and I have been envious of their magical creative expressions. It is SO nourishing for the spirit to do so. To me, musicians are also magicians for ability to change the composure of a space magically and instantly. I can imagine that doing so is like methamphetamine for the soul, it's almost unfair to everyone else seeking that sort of contentment. Yet, E stands out from my talented cousins - she learned the organ a few years ago and had performed on TV.

And then a month ago, she picked up the guitar and taught herself how to play it. She gave us a performance of some Taylor Swift and Xmas carols, but what really moved me was a song that she had composed herself. I could only listen and bask in the purity of her creation, her voice doused out the din of the rest of the world.

Yesterday we stopped at 7-11 on the way to the tennis court. She carried her guitar so she could practice her songs while I practiced some tennis serves. As we stood at the cash register, I encouraged her to perform her song in front of the two service clerks. Initially shy and reluctant, but then as she strummed the guitar, a connection instantly occurred between us - I felt precisely the same smile of gratitude, joy and wonder that was written on their faces. It was a sort of miracle. And later as I practiced my tennis serves, I felt so proud of her for I knew that her song was being carried to the open windows of the tenants surrounding the tennis court.

I took her to a Karaoke at the mall because she had never been to one. We had a grand time singing our hearts out to all kinds of songs. Then as we walked home through the mall she grabbed my hand so we could walk hand-in-hand, my immediate reaction was how this might be misperceived and I found myself looking for an innocuous moment to slip my hand out of her grasp. Then I came to my senses over how foolish I was being, this was my typical reaction whenever any sort of girl held my hand and yet here was my own dear cousin. I realized that the time was not far off when my cousin would no longer reach for my hand, once she had 'grown up'. So I held her hand with gratitude and felt loved as we walked home.

I had an opportunity to have an uninterrupted conversation with her after a swim one Saturday morning. As we sat on the deck chairs under an umbrella, I took the chance to speak some words of wisdom hoping to imbue a sense of responsibility and heightened consciousness in her. Things I had learned from books, life and that I wish I had been told when I was her age. I think the only things that she really got from me was: "just because everyone thinks something, it doesn't make it true", and she could readily understand my lengthy discourse on how important it was for us to live in harmony with nature. She listened without interruption, with undivided attention. I wondered if I was perhaps marring her innocence with the heaviness of the topics I was sharing and so I stopped after awhile. I suddenly felt old... and for the first time it occurred to me that my cousin could have been my daughter. I was actually that much older than her, funny... it had never dawned on me before.

Now that she's left, I've realized that my 13 year old cousin imparted me more knowledge about living than I did to her about life. And it was all just from her BEING - simple invaluable lessons in how to brighten ones path. Live freely, play/create/listen to music as much as you can, laugh without restraint, be fearless, love and do not doubt that you are loved always.


video
Her song...

Catching up with an old friend

Until today my friend J and I had not met for a few years. We've known each other since we were 10 years old and were very close as kids. Our families were good friends.

He moved to California before I did; and there he met a lovely girl and married her. I had the fortune of attending their wedding in California since I had moved there by then. When his work permit could not be renewed easily he and H left for England to work for awhile before returning to Malaysia.

I had not seen them since until I was startled at a restaurant near my work during lunch break last week. A woman standing beside my table called my name and I didn't recognize her until she told me hers. And then it became quite obvious that I should recognize her, she was J's wife. She too worked in the area and was on her lunch break. We exchanged numbers and this afternoon we all met for lunch along with their 2 year old son.

Catching up I learned that J had quit his job a year ago and lost 15 kg in the 2 months bracketing that occasion because he was consumed by the stress of the life altering decision. "I couldn't endure a job that seemed to go nowhere. I had always felt that there was more for me", he said. A part of him felt unfulfilled and he couldn't ignore it any longer. Hearing him say that reminded me of what compelled me to leave California in the first place.

And so now he was working full time on a novel and looked well - happy. I was surprised, I had known J was creative from the romantic artwork and poetry he had crafted around his apartment in California largely dedicated to his wife. I had looked at it and used to wonder if I could ever meet someone who inspired me to such degree. But I had not known he had a passion for writing. Apparently he didn't ever think he could write in volume either, he admitted. But the fictional piece that he was working on was something he was so passionate about that he loathed to spend any time away from it. I envied him saying that. "Another one breaks free to live from his heart and chase his dreams", I thought to myself. I then felt abashed over how I had been consumed once again by the grind of a job that served to further enrich vastly over-paid executives.

I asked him what the topic was and he said that it was about long distance running and then added almost reluctantly that it was also of romantic love. "But it's not a romance, romance novel", he insisted. It bothered him when people instantly categorized it as such. It impressed me that he was writing this book, I knew he was not a runner by any loose use of the term. It didn't daunt him. "It's like as though the story just comes through me", he explained. I knew what he was speaking about, there were some blogs I had written that seemed to be channeled rather than originating from me.

As we parted ways, we agreed to get together once in awhile to work. I thought it to be a great way to spend time with someone at a cafe with our laptops, him working on his novel and me blogging or working the job.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tai Chi updated

For over a month now I've been practicing Tai Chi daily. I had been looking to get into Tai Chi ever since my first exposure to it in New Zealand but it had seemed rather inaccessible to me until the yoga studio that I practice at started offering it a few months back.

Prior to joining this class, I had tried to learn with a private Tai Chi instructor but it didn't quite work out. There were two reasons for this, one was the language barrier and the other was that it just didn't seem like Tai Chi. I tried 3 lessons then gave up, I remember having to check each at each lesson to confirm that he was teaching Tai Chi because it really seemed more like ballet or ballroom dancing. At one point, we were literally dancing arm around each other and he was telling me in broken English that I was 'the girl', I think it was at that moment that I decided to quit.

Now, I have access to a class with other beginner participants. It's also nice to expand into a new circle of friends. One of them is passionate about tea and he's been trained by the Tai Chi master in the art of Chinese tea ceremony. He seems to have a long standing relationship with Master Lim as his protege, he clearly adulates the man. "Master Lim only learned until Grade 2, but he is an expert on Chinese history, tea, Tai Chi and Chinese medicine", he said once. And so I held a tea ceremony in my apartment a few days ago with some of the classmates. It lasted a few hours, there were many kinds of tea, and it was a great way to socialize around a table.

Tai Chi means "Ultimate Form" and it originated over a thousand years ago in China. It was initiated as a means of self-defense for monks or spiritual folk in general since they were otherwise often trounced by bandits as easy prey. The routine I am learning in the long Chuan style and it has 108 steps in it. We've covered only a fraction of them.

I practice it every morning right after my Ascension; it helps to still the mind, and increase my body awareness and balance. I always start with some Chi Kung as a warm-up to get the Chi moving. 'Chi' becomes more of a fixture of reality as I awaken it through Chi Kung and Tai Chi.

From the outside it doesn't appear to be much, it is not impressive to look at nor does it seem to serve much purpose - it is "stillness in motion". Some mornings I even find myself wanting to skip the practice because I am short of time, it seems to be the easiest way to make more time if I did so. But I've learned that the things that appear most insignificant tend to have the largest impact and TaiChi falls into that. Over this time, I have grown in confidence, poise, focus and all areas of my life are enhanced - sports, professionally, relationships, sexually.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let There Be Fresh Air

A few days ago I had a confrontation at work with the office administrator over the quality of the air in my department. The encounter highlighted for me a general difference in the cultures of the East and West.

For 2 weeks the air in my department had steadily degraded since the number of users frequenting the smoking room had jumped due to the displacement of personnel affected by renovations throughout the various departments. To make matters worse, the extraction fan in the smoking room had broken down a while back and it was not repaired. It came to a point where my office smelled like a night club. My coworkers and I were feeling progressively ill throughout each day and our repeated emails to the O.A. were being ignored.

With the approval of my manager I moved into a different department where I had access because of my collaboration on two projects. I seated myself amongst the other team members where there was a non-assigned seat available, in fact I seated myself literally next to an air-purifying machine and was pleased with the cleaner air.

It didn't take long for me to catch the attention of the O.A. and his right-hand man. They pounced on me at my new desk and berated loudly me at length over how I was breaking company policy with this new choice of seating. I reminded them that this was temporary until the renovations were complete and if I needed a higher authority to approve then I would; I then countered with, "now that we are speaking face to face, I'd like to know what is being done about the air quality in my regular work area?". His response was to be curt and dismissive, calling it a "minor issue" to him and did I actually expect things to be resolved immediately? "I expected at least some kind of acknowledgement on your part that you received my request, some kind of assurance that it would be addressed at some point", I answered. It galled me to hear him, I knew that the O.A. had knowledge of this issue from months back when the fan quit.

After the heated exchange, my access to the area was revoked in a matter of a few minutes. I half-expected that to happen out of spite but I had not expected a security person to be summoned to pressure me to vacate the desk. I did not comply to this either. I assured this fellow that I would get approval from the general manager of the division, for according to him that was how high I needed to go for a simple temporary change in seating. It all seemed very absurd, and though unsettled, in my heart I felt justified to remain where I was since I was among teammates and I had the support of the manager of the area I was sitting in.

Over lunch a coworker from my old carcinogenic work area informed me that the smoking room had been shut down and locked by the O.A. and the air was already improving - finally! The long awaited relief among my coworkers brought assurance that I had done the right thing.

Later that same day, my access card was restored and the O.A. confronted me in the kitchenette; he seemed like a difference person, full of apology and very remorseful to the point that I actually felt uneasy. He never realized how bad the situation actually was. I kept assuring him that things were cool, it dawned on me that this was a man that had at last come to his senses and realized what a poor situation he had put himself in by being negligent in his duty and then revoking my access without proper cause. I could see that he certainly didn't want me going to the G.M. pleading my case for my rights.

It was a small step on my part, but it led to a big outcome and no one had to lose anything. I'm no Rosa Parks but there are times to make a stand, however insignificant it may seem at the time. It was a valuable learning experience.


The only tired I was, was tired of giving in. - Rosa Parks

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Celebration of Life

A few weeks ago, my friend K whom I had helped a few months back called me to announce that she has been stricken with another round of cancer of the blood. This girl is only 23 years old and she runs her own charity organization for kids with cancer at a particular hospital. Needless to say she was upset, the memory of the pains and hardships to barely overcome the first cancer left her demoralized and in a defeated tone she told me that she didn't have the strength to go through this again - she was prepared for the worse.


A week ago I called her up and we setup a lunch appointment. As we dined on our Japanese food, I looked at K properly. I was impressed by what I saw; she had quit smoking for 2 months and was swimming regularly. The treatment was painful and expensive, essentially injecting clean blood into bone marrow in her right leg every week. But apart from her sore leg which left her with a noticeable limp, you couldn't perceive any other symptoms. To be quite honest, I had never seen her looking so beautiful and healthy. I pointed it out to her and told her that the crisis has looked like a huge blessing more than anything else so far.


She told me that she had just returned from Australia, her best friend has arranged for her to return to Sydney and spend time with her family for her birthday. K still lives in MAlaysia while her family resides in Sydney. Unbeknownst to K, this best friend had also called on K's old friends that she had not seen in years because they had moved overseas to different countries. Best friend told them K's predicament and her friends agreed to travel to Sydney and surprise her on her birthday.


K said that the first few days she was in Sydney were spent doing the things she had enjoyed when she lived there - surfing, climbing, walking along the beach etc. Things that she hadn't done in ages since living in KL and taking on the all consuming life of a corporate worker toiling in the city. My heart clenched as I heard this, I knew precisely what she was speaking of.


On the day of her birthday the weather was sunny. Her best friend had organized a BBQ in the backyard and K assumed it was nothing more than a quiet small gathering. Gradually at different intervals, a long unseen friend would show up at the door. "All that food piled on the BBQ and then there were my dear friends whom I had not seen in ages gathered around from all over... it was the happiest day of my life". I could picture it well, her friends casting goodwill and just celebrating K being alive and nothing else. What a beautiful occasion. Strong emotions washed through me as I recalled my friends in California gathering to bid me farewell. I missed them dearly too, I knew of the powerful impact to suddenly have them show up out of love in such a way. K told me, "I found the strength to fight this now, I know again why life is worth living."




Monday, November 2, 2009

An interesting fact

"If you had put $10,000 into stocks of companies with the highest paid CEOs of the previous year from January 1991 to December 2004, you would have ended up with only $8,079, while the same money invested in the S& P 500 would have returned you $48,530 - that is six times as much." - William Bonner and Lila Rajiva - 'Mobs, Messiahs and Markets'.

Source: http://www.faireconomy.org/press/2005/EE2005.pdf

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This found me at an appropriate time

"In the name of the best within you,
do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst.
In the name of the values that keep you alive,
do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly,
the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title.
Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture,
an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out,
spark by irreplaceable spark,
in the hopeless swamps of the approximate,
the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.

Do not let the hero in your soul perish,
in lonely frustration for the life you deserved,
but have never been able to reach.
Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won,
it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours." - Ayn Rand
- 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rollerskates ON/OFF

It just occurred to me with enough pause to write it out in the midst of some closed eyed Ascension. On the days that I don't Ascend, it feels like I'm on roller-skates making my way through the slippery steep slopes of San Francisco, scenes flash by in a blur and I duck my head several times and flail my arms just to stay on my feet long enough to come crashing into my bed by the end of the day.

Step into the NOW and the roller blades come off your feet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vilja is Baptised

Today is a significant day for me, I am becoming a Godfather to a little baby girl named Vilja. This ceremony is taking place thousands of miles away in Norway; and the baby is the first child of a dear friend that I met on the Camino last year - Marion. She is one of the two sisters that I spent a few days walking together towards Santiago. God I miss those days...

At her request, I scanned and emailed my wish for Vilja so that Marion could print it and attach it to a little white helium balloon to be released as part of the ceremony. In recognition of our time on this earth as a journey and in the context of the Camino.I wrote:

"May all your arrows point to the Light. Buen Camino young beautiful pilgrim."

It is beginning to be understood by modern science that Consciousness influences matter and our thoughts know no boundaries. In fact, thoughts occur instantaneously everywhere the moment they form. So, at the appointed hour I did some meditation and in that sense I was present for Vilja's Baptism.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know." - Michel de Montaigne

Monday, October 19, 2009

A relationship experiment

I have recently begun a new relationship and to ease things after being single for a while I've restricted my selection to just plants for now. Baby steps. Plants are easy to love, they will accept you even more unconditionally than animals who in turn accept you more unconditionally than humans. So, really plants are the ideal living partner and they help purify the air.


Last weekend I walked into the supermarket here at Midvalley and browsed the plant section looking for that special plant. And I found her after brief appraisal of numerous candidates, I felt certain that the one I had chosen would satisfy me more than all the others. So I stood in line at the checkout counter with my little plant... honestly I almost backed out but instead I held my resolve and soon I was walking home with her in hand proudly showing her off trying not to spill any of the water in her round glass bowl. She is of the sort where there is no soil to sustain her, she simply is weighed down in water by a few pebbles. As I walked home, I could feel my heart welling with pride and love for... JP. Yes, I named her JP because every other name seemed too human. JP stands for Jelly Plant as it says on the price tag right above $19.50.


It must seem absurd to consider a plant for a relationship. But if you've read The Little Prince you will understand, for The Little Prince so dearly loved a flower on his planet. In the exchange of dialogue with the fox on our planet earth, The Little Prince reveals that "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed". It could be said that I have now tamed my plant by taking it home.


It may seem odd, but I do truly believe that there is an exchange of love that takes place between all living beings if you allow it and that rediscovering this relationship with nature is key to our sustainability as a species on this planet. For too long now this current civilization and past ones have sought to dominate and control nature through our intellect, when this is coupled by mankind's viewpoint of seeing ourselves separate from nature it is a recipe for disaster. We are already observing the long term repercussions of such in our changing climates and shrinking resources while the global population of our species continues to explode.


JP really brightens up a room, so I keep her on my desk at work and I introduce her to my coworkers as my new relationship. To which they typically respond with a puzzled expression "oh"... and then carry on walking.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Little Prince

I've been neglecting my Blog. I've been of the opinion that nothing has transpired as to be worth blogging about because my life has become too ordinary and routine. But it is really an excuse, there are no ordinary moments. But it is our automated responses that make our lives seem mundane.

A friend and coworker of mine remarked recently that The Bright Path should continue... "it is like being aware of a different world". It touched me to hear this. It is precisely what I've been trying to convey with this blog - THERE IS ANOTHER WORLD, and it is more real than the one that we regress into when we are driven by our minds instead of our hearts, overcome by our fears and judgments, when we are lived by life instead of living it, when we feel life happening to us instead of creating it. Heaven is on earth. Freedom from suffering can be found.

I dedicate this entry to you dear friend who has inspired me once again to pen a few more lines, I know you are grieving the loss of your father in the past week and I hope the words I write provide you some measure of comfort in your time of mourning. Take a few steps with me Here and Now, maybe you might feel your father's hand in yours. Maybe...

We all go through this, losing someone we love. It cannot be avoided... for every 'hello' there is ALWAYS a 'goodbye'. The passing of a loved one is both an experience of great pain and yet of immense value. We are reminded of what actually matters most when the ones we love break depart our journey. That is the learning, well actually... the reminder. There is nothing to learn really, only to remember that all that matters is that which cannot be bought nor seen nor touched. It is simply our relationships with each other that bring value and determine to a large degree the level of satisfaction in our lives. If we as people never passed on from each other, would we ever get it then? What truly matters... perhaps not. It is the current culture to squander our time with each other in empty material pursuits of happiness. What if we lived each day as our last? And why should we not,... nothing is ever guaranteed except change.

As we mourn for ourselves we remain aware for a cause for celebration. We celebrate the moment of the departed being free from both the illusion that we live in and of the constraints of the corporeal form. Time and space dissolve. You mourn the loss of ever feeling your father hug you again in this lifetime yet there is the cause for rejoicing that now your father shall hug his father again. Without time and space, he now also hugs you as he pleases. And the cycle continues...

I've recently had the great fortune of reading a book called The Little Prince. This book has been around for decades, it has the appearance of a children's story but it contains some deep insights about the human condition. The main character is The Little Prince who comes from a distant planet and travels through the galaxy encountering other planets inhabited by a single adult that individually epitomize a particular mental condition that we tend to suffer due to our social programming. These encounters are meant to highlight the wretchedness of these conditions in a satirical manner. The Little Prince is an endearing character for he represents the innocence and the beauty within us untainted by such miseries impressed upon us by our enculturation. The story's essence can be captured in the following line uttered by a fox to the little prince: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye." If we were to live this principle then perhaps the importance of dying and leaving each other behind would diminish.

As an interesting side note, a week ago I met a Polish girl that told me of a Spanish guy she once dated briefly who had tattoos of The Little Prince all over his body. I can only surmise that this person was motivated by the need to be reminded of the beauty and innocence inside of himself - that which makes each of us completely worthy of love by default.


- The Little Prince

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Day in Belum Rainforest Resort

Today I witnessed the most spectacular sunset of my life over a fresh water lake in the Belum rainforest in the northern state of Perak near the Thai border. I drove here yesterday looking for a revival and I found one in the sky. Since I acquired a car over a month ago, I've been making excursions out of the city on the weekend to seek cleaner air and better scenery.

I arrived here and I thought to myself that this was going to be a waste of a 5 hour drive and a long weekend. There's too many people here and it's too commercialized. I'm going to return to the city even more resentful of the drudgery my life had become since I became more focused on my professional work life. Lately, it seemed that I had lost my moorings and drifted out to sea abandoned by the wind and cut off from the rest of the world.

After breakfast I rowed a bamboo raft onto the middle of the lake. It was one of the simplest boats, ten bamboo shafts tied together and held rigid by 4 sticks acting as cross beams. The propulsion device was a 5 ft shaft sliced down the middle, essentially an oar. It took a lot of rowing to get a short distance. After a few minutes of concerted rows I turned back and was crestfallen to see the shore was still so near. The funny thing about self-powering on the water is that the effort never seems to produce the expected proportional result in terms of locomotion. But if you persist you can find that open space where the placidness of the lake wraps and enshrouds you. It softens the outside of you, makes you permeable again so the light can find its way inside of you once more.

And when the light is alive in you, it makes you turn your head up to the sky often enough so that you catch the glimpse of the wondrous tapestry of colors masterfully woven over your head. I saw that dazzling combination of soft intense hues of violet, orange, blue and patches of grey cloud highlighted in the right places emblazoned adrift on the rainbow sky like burning ships. Is this really the planet that I live in?




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perceptions

Yesterday as I was reading from Gregg Braden's book and transcribing some of the content to my Blog, a woman in her early 30s approached me with a folder, ID card and tin. Sensing a solicitor, I was on guard immediately. She introduced herself but I was barely listening, my automated "No, thanks" response was on the tip of my tongue. I asked her to re-introduce herself and she showed me her paper ID, then presented me with a home made binder containing local articles from newspapers and magazines in various languages describing a home for disabled children run by a lady named Dhanapakiyam. One article showed her receiving an award from Reader's Digest for her humanitarian efforts and how she turned her life around - the only Malaysian ever to receive one.

She said, "I volunteer at this place and today is my off day but I'm going around town looking for donations. I'm hot and tired. Could I please sit down with you?" I pulled out a chair for her and took a good look at the contents of the binder. This woman was selling decals as a form of donation, each one cost $10 and it showed a simple winking moon faced character holding a badminton racket swatting at a shuttlecock. "The children designed it" she explained. I was moved out of admiration for her zeal and compassion for the people living in the home. I pulled out $50 and handed it to her in exchange for 5 decals. She thanked me and then left.

Today I had a conversation with my parents and I described the incident to them. "I'm afraid you were scammed" came their response. I adamantly rejected the claim. My father said, "I had the same thing happen to me recently, I asked the guy to give me an address to mail the check and he paled." He went on, "These people are all over town, you can't trust them." I felt like a fool as I often did with my parents and I was torn, the feeling of joy that I had helped people in need was mutating into bitterness and dejection. "It's the thought that counts" was their consolation. This was the standard excuse for people to brush off others in need, I didn't want this to be the last time I gave to a charity worker in the street. I needed to still believe that there ARE people that can be trusted when reaching out for help in such a way.

I turned to Google and looked for the phone number of the home in the town she mentioned. I called the number of a place that matched the description. The lady that answered told me that they DID have a charity drive last month but they used a blue form that was filled out on location. They did not authorize people to solicit donations on their behalf in the street. The numbness was setting in... before I hung up I asked just to be sure, "who is the person in charge? Is she an Indian lady that received an award from Reader's Digest?" She said it wasn't, she didn't know whom I was speaking of. I asked, "Is there another home such as yours in that town?" She didn't know of any other.

I tried again on Google. this time I looked for the name of the Malaysian lady (whom I couldn't recall) by typing in Readers Digest and Malaysian award. It's amazing how little publicity this sort of thing gets as opposed to terrorist acts and other dehumanizing forms of news. There were few articles returned and even then the first few were irrelevant hits. Finally I found one that did describe the event. It mentioned her name and I used her name along with the town to track down her phone number. I called her and a small voice answered on the other side. I asked her, "Is this Danapakiyam?" She confirmed it was and I introduced myself then described the events of the day before. "Yes, that is correct." she responded. Relief and joy flooded through me.

Praying "Rain"

It had been a time of extreme drought in the high deserts of northern New Mexico, when my native friend David invited me to an ancient stone circle to "pray rain."  After meeting at a prearranged location, I followed him on an early-morning hike through a valley that contained more than 100,000 acres of high-desert sage.  After walking for a couple of hours, our journey led us to a place that David had been to many times before and knew very well.  It was an earthen circle made of stones arranged in perfect geometries of lines and arrows, just the way the hands of its maker had placed them long ago. 

             "What is this place?" I asked.  "This is the reason that we have come." David laughed.  "This stone circle is a medicine wheel that has been here for as long as my people can remember."  He continued, "The wheel itself has no power.  It serves as a place of focus for the one invoking the prayer.  You could think of it as a road map - a map between humans and the forces of this world."  Anticipating my next questions, David described how he'd been taught the language of this map from the time that he was a young boy.  "Today," he said, "I will travel an ancient path that leads to other worlds.  From those worlds, I will do what we came here to do.  Today, we pray rain."

             I wasn't prepared for what I saw next.  I watched carefully as David removed his shoes, gently placed his naked feet into the circle, and honored the four directions and all of his ancestors.  Slowly, he placed his hands in front of his face in a praying position, closed his eyes, and became motionless.  Oblivious to the heat of the midday desert sun, his breathing slowed and became barely noticeable.  After only a few moments, he took a deep breath, opened his eyes to look at me, and said, "Let's go.  Our work is finished here."

Expecting to see dancing, or at least some chanting, I was surprised by how quickly his prayer began and then ended.  "Already?" I asked.  "I thought you were going to pray for rain!"  David's reply to my question has been the key that helped so many to understand this kind of prayer.  As he sat on the ground to lace up his shoes, David looked up at me and smiled.  "No," he replied.  "I said that I would pray rain.  If I had prayed for rain, it could never happen." Later in the day, David explained what he meant by this statement. 

He began by describing how the elders of his village had shared the secrets of prayer with him when he was a young boy.  The key, he said, is that when we ask for something to happen, we give power to what we do not have.  Prayers for healing empower the sickness.  Prayers for rain empower the drought.  "Continuing to ask for these things only gives more power to the things that we would like to change," he said.

I think about David's words often, and what they could mean in our lives today.  If we pray for world peace, for example, while feeling tremendous anger toward those who lead us into war, or even war itself, we may inadvertently be fueling the very conditions that lead to the opposite of peace!  With half of the world's nations now engaged in armed conflict, I often wonder what role millions of well-intentioned prayers for peace each day may be playing, and how a slight shift in perspective could possibly change that role.

Looking back at David, I asked, "If you didn't pray for rain, then what did you do?"

"It's simple," he replied.  "I began to have the feeling of what rain feels like.  I felt the feeling of rain on my body, and what it feels like to stand with my naked feet in the mud of our village plaza because there has been so much rain.  I smelled the smells of rain on the earthen walls in our village, and felt what it feels like to walk through fields of corn chest high because there has been so much rain."

 

- Gregg Braden from "The Lost Mode of Prayer"

The Lost Mode of Prayer (I)

I am sitting here in MidValley by the gardened boulevard with a delectable mocha and I am reading a book that is reviving my spirit.  I just have to share this pieces of this wisdom:
On this day, we found ourselves in some of the most remote, isolated, magnificent, and sacred places of knowledge remaining on Earth today: the monasteries of the Tibetan plateau....
I focused my attention directly into the eyes of the beautiful and timeless-looking man seated lotus-style in front of me: the abbot of the monastery. Through our translator, I'd just asked him the same question that I'd asked each monk and nun that I'd met throughout my pilgrimage: "When we see your prayers," I began, "what are you doing? When we see you tone and chant for 14 and 16 hours a day, when we see the bells, the bowls, the gongs ,the chimes, the mudras, and the mantras on the outside, what is happening to you on the inside?"
As the translator shared the abbot's reply, a powerful sensation rippled through my body, and I knew that this was the reason we'd come to this place.  "You have never seen our prayers," he answered, "because a prayer cannot be seen."  Adjusting the heavy wool robe beneath his feet, the abbot continued.  "What you have seen is what we do to create the feeling in our bodies.  Feeling is the prayer!"
The clarity of the abbot's answer sent me reeling.  His words echoed the ideas that had been recorded in ancient Gnostic and Christian traditions more than 2,000 years ago.  In early translations of the biblical book of John (chapter 16, verse 24, for example), we're invited to empower our prayers by being surrounded by [feeling] our desires fulfilled, just as the abbot suggested: "Ask without hidden motive and be surrounded by your answer."  For our prayers to be answered, we must transcend the doubt that often accompanies the positive nature of our desire.  Following a brief teaching on the power of overcoming such polarities, the words of Jesus recorded in the Nag Hammadi Library remind us that when we do this, and say to the mountain, "'Mountain move away,' it will move away."
 - Gregg Braden

Friday, May 8, 2009

Iridology update

In reference to my earlier post here... I have been taking the supplements faithfully 3 times a day for about a week now.  And the difference in me is encouraging.  The jury is still out on the spine, my back still bothers me though the symptoms are different now.  The discomfort is more localized and my muscle are less tense but it is there nonetheless and the level of pain doesn't seem to be getting less.  On the other hand, I am sleeping better at night, it doesn't wake me like it used to and I get out of bed easier in the morning. 

I feel more energetic, better blood flow, better concentration and I've dropped some weight.  I eat less now.  In fact on the fourth day of the program I noticed a sharp drop in my appetite for food and drink.  Only water seemed to be desired.  It was as though my body was going through a detox.  I recall the iridologist mentioning that our cells regenerate every four days, I wonder if this had something to do with it.  

On the tennis court, Azmil, my coach has noticed similar improvements in my performance. He said, "You get tired less now, better ball focus, you're looser on the court.  From your agility, I can see your lower back is not as tight as it used to be."

I am not sure if Iridology is to be given all credit for my better tennis.  Oneness Blessing too claims to boost an athlete's performance or even an artist's creativity because of the boost in activity in the frontal lobes.  Maybe it's a bit of both, but I've never had such a blast hitting the tennis ball these days.  Nowadays I can see the ball suspended in the air for a split second before I contact it with confident ferocity.  

I am already convinced to continue pursuing this program.  I took a look at articles on the internet about Iridology and I was taken aback by how it tends to be discredited by the medical profession even citing studies that debunk it.  No big surprise, alternative medicine is never supported by the established medical society.  It just goes to demonstrate that nothing is to be believed, even when you are told NOT to believe.  Go seek the truth for yourself.  

It is worthwhile mentioning that the supplements I've started are NOT drugs nor meant to replicate any of the body's normal production of enzymes/amino acids.  Instead they are nutrients that aid the body in the natural  production of such.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Quick Recovery

Overnight I have recovered from my dark mood.  It seems my emotions run stronger in both directions these days, whether it is positive or negative.  My unbridled foul mouthed rant against that which draws me on my quest, call it God or the Truth.  It dislodged some old resentments that were never expressed out of fear of repercussion.  My Christian upbringing taught me of a God to be feared and not to be challenged, to do so would risk falling out of favor and then perhaps fire or brimstone would fall on me.  But I've since learned to vent and there are a lot of old hurts that are being released.  A relationship that does not allow for such expression cannot be healthy nor realistically sustained.  To accept that I am loved unconditionally by God would be of significant import that would free me to tread my own path of inquiry deviating from a version of truth that was packaged, branded and handed to me.  I never asked for the package but then again no one ever chooses their version of reality, it is their luck of the draw when given their belief package by their parents after birth.  With the acceptance of unconditional love there is no longer fear of repercussion.  At some point I dared to take a good look at the classic depiction of God as a vengeful judge; if I could upset the big guy in the sky then isn't he subject to me?  And if it there so, then why did he make us (all 6 billion of us) so damn incapable of abiding by a set of rules, does he enjoy being disappointed constantly on a daily basis billions of times?  So I chose that what matters more is the intention, at some point we need to step out of line and walk another direction trusting that no one who does so would slip through His/Her fingers.

It has been a year since I left my unrestricted comfortable life in California and had I been told I would not have achieved certain results in my life by this time, I wonder if I would have still started down this path.  The fact is that the perfect job had come my way before I left Malaysia, precisely as I had declared it but I had let it slip away.  What happens when one makes a misstep or doesn't step through an opened door that was meant for them?  Am I now living the life that is unscripted down a lost path, have I fallen out of favor with my guide never to redeem myself.  Never mind then I thought New Zealand was my Promised Land but it wasn't, waters didn't magically part for me.. though a helicopter did bring me back to the beginning. Maybe I simply chose wrongly again, it could be I should have just not gotten on the helicopter and carried on.  What would then have been waiting for me at the end of the trek and with a few more days in New Zealand.  Essentially I have become fearful and angry but the rant was a huge catharsis for today I feel so much lighter and capable.  Having moved some blocks, my faith is restored and feel plugged in once again to the higher powers.  I am ready to take up my cross again.  

My view has changed a lot, I used to believe in a fatherly figure in the sky that would protect me and grant me miracles if I just were to listen and abide with his set of rules.  Then that notion dissolved to be replaced with a greater burden of responsibility... I too am a creator, and God is a lot closer than I though whispering in my ear "you want the miracles?  create them!   Or rather intend them then step out of the way.  There are no other rules and no reasons to doubt, unless you've judged yourself as unworthy, because then that will be your truth also.  You are always right and you are always creating".

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.  I will meet you there." - Rumi

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The lows get lower

Today I hate the world.  I am tired and the bitterness is fueled by unmet expectations; risks and efforts undertaken over time that yield no results. My only accomplishment is accomplishing nothing.  I find myself completely ineffectual in every endeavor I don't want to try anymore I'm done lifting my head up.  Why not conserve energy and be idle, the destination is the same.  I rage against the strings attached to my limbs, I do not wish to play anymore.  The puppeteer looks malevolent, and delights in my suffering taking me through the paces of a fool.  Who is the puppeteer and where are these strings attached?  Of course the self-help gurus will point out it is my mind, but my spirit is losing ground and there are no allies in the battlefield within myself.  The enemy wears many faces; he is too dominant and the attacks are relentless.  On the outside I face a world that tells me over and over again that I am the one dreaming, not them.  I want to start over, where is the reset button?  Let me retake the tests, I know the answers now.  

I started this Blog a year ago to color my world in a pleasing way; but the brighter shades have run out, there are only dark grey pencils left in the box.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Returning to Malaysia

Why return to Malaysia... the training I intended to take in March to point my professional career in a certain direction did not materialize.  The certification would have opened doors in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world for that matter.  But a week prior to the start of the course, it was cancelled because of insufficient numbers.  This training is only offered quarterly in a handful of locations globally and quite susceptible to cancellation especially during leaner times.  I have returned also because I have realized that at this point in my life, I am not ready to reduce the level of social interaction and live in a more bucolic setting.  Or a more mundane sedentary existence, it is not my calling now.  I can't quite explain it but I feel New Zealand has served it's purpose, maybe it was simply so I could acquire the benefit of iridology and the supplements.  Who knows maybe it will actually resolve my back issue that has plagued me for years and years.  Maybe the true impact of the Oneness Blessing is yet to be perceived.  Maybe to discover Tai Chi and the miracle it is to the body.  Whatever it is, even if it turns out to all mean nothing in my life I will likely return to New Zealand someday again.  This young country of open expanse and rugged unspoiled terrain that homes 4 million southern frontiers people.  It is a gorgeous escape from the modern fast paced demanding lifestyle.  And I will complete the Milford Trek.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iridology

I leave Queenstown today to begin my journey back to Malaysia via Christchurch and Melbourne.  Before I get on the bus to Christchurch at 230pm I take a trip into town for a long awaited appointment with an iridologist.     

I had been trying unsuccessfully to schedule an appointment on short notice over the phone but the lady is always booked for days ahead.  To make this appointment I booked almost two weeks in advance as soon as I returned from Auckland.  This appointment certainly factored in my decision not to complete the Milford Trek.  I felt this was important and that it would be an eye opening experience - no pun intended. 

The lady seems rather unfriendly when I arrive.  She directs me to a chair on the opposite side of the table without a smile.  She enquires about my friends and I am surprised that she remembers my initial visit here many weeks ago when I came with Jules and Mervin.  I decide that her curt mannerism is just her nature and I ease up, complying with her instruction to maneuver my head to brace my chin against the photographic machine.  The pictures of my left and right eyes are displayed immediately on a large lcd monitor on her desk.  "The left iris," she begins "tells us the condition of the left side of your body.  And likewise the right iris for the right side."  "You are fighting a virus right now, you probably are feeling the effects of a cold but you have a strong immunity.  You can tell from the density of the optical fibres... "

For the next thirty minutes she leads me through her assessment.  I am stunned to hear her mention my father's acidic stomach condition and that my mother is a highly anxious person that thinks too much, she didn't pass me enough red blood cells when I was in her womb.  Both are correct about my parents, but I don't know about the red blood cells - I've never counted.  She says that I've inherited the same tendencies from my parents referring to certain patterns in my iris.  Then it gets even more impressive as she begins to list ailments that I experience.  I have a tendency to be hypoglycemic, the level of sugar in my blood runs too low.  So I like to eat sweet things to compensate.  I have an issue with transport of oxygen to the brain (I really objected to this one), so I like to exert myself with physical exercise to boost the transport of oxygen in me otherwise I get depressed after a few days of inactivity.  My spine leans to the left and is curved to the right and my pelvis is tilted downwards to the right.  I probably have a numbness in my foot when I walk a lot.  Correct again and I have good posture so she couldn't have seen this any other way.  All of her assessments were spot on.  I was quite amazed. 

I ask her why my spine suffers this condition.  In summary she says that we're genetically predisposed to certain weaknesses in us, inherited from our parents.  The human body is designed to fix itself but it tends to not do so because of stress factors in our lives and inadequate levels of nutrition, the quality of the food we eat is in steady decline due to anti-biotics, perservatives and other additives, bio-engineering, chemical pesticides.  We are simply not receiving the proper tools and conditions for our body to mend itself.  She recommends certain supplements for me, essentially putting together a tailored program based on my iris analysis.  She puts them on the table in front of me, I see 6 bottles and I choose the most important 4 to cut cost and because of space limitations in my luggage.  According to her the most important one is to support my liver, many of my ailments stem from an inefficient liver.  Consequently, my body's inability to rid itself of certain toxins that keep re-accumulating at glands along my spine is the primary reason for my spine to continually misalign itself despite a history of chiropractic adjustments.  She is not pushy in her sales pitch and I sense I can trust this.  I ask her bluntly to dispel any last reservation, "will these 4 supplements fix my spine?"  "Yes", she answered without hesitation.  And so I pay for them, they are priced as I would expect.  The program is meant to be adjusted with future iris analyses and I have enough for 3 months.  It costs me NZ$350 including the analysis.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Milford Evac

It is still raining by afternoon and the party is now split into two roughly even groups.  Food is redistributed amongst the groups, one group is to be helicoptered up to Mintaro hut to replace those that are being helicoptered either onto Dumpling hut or back to the start of the trail.  And the other group of which I stand in is to hike back out to the start of the trail led by the warden.  Mervin stands in the other group and we bid our farewells, I shall not see him again until Malaysia. 

We wave our goodbyes to each other and the warden leads us out.  We only go as far as ten minutes before we are walking in water.  We arrive at the river and there is no boundary between the river and the trail, the water continues to rise as we continue to tread slowly.  It is cold but not dangerously cold.  Eventually the warden turns us around, it is too risky to continue on foot.  We are to return back to the hut to be helicoptered back to the start of the trek and then catch the boat back to Te Anau Downs, from there a bus will return us to Te Anau and even onto Queenstown if we desire it.

 

The water rises and rises as we attempt to trek out

The party we split from is amused to find us back again so soon.  There is an air of excitement in the air as we are given instructions on how to manage ourselves when the helicopter begins transporting us 5 at a time.  Soon we hear the faint whirr of the approaching chopper which crescendos into a loud thumping as it makes it careful descent on the deck.  It takes several trips between Mintaro, Clinton and the trailhead but eventually only a handful of us remain and then I too am ushered into the chopper.  From the air the landscape looks like a disaster zone, there is water everywhere.  It is only a short ride though and insulting to the amount of effort we expended on foot two days ago. 

The winds are calm enough today for the chopper to fly

We are given to option to stay the night in Te Anau or carry on to Queenstown and I choose to return to Queenstown.  This leaves me one full day in Queenstown before I depart.  Jules is startled to see me return a day early and I relay the events to her supplemented with my camera footage of my little dramatic rescue.  She doesn't buy my story that Mervin got carried away by the strong current though :)