May 19, 2008

19 May 2008 at 2:34 pm

Welcome, before we begin our Wesak day message, check out the rest of the Brotherhood Press that you may have missed during the weekend.


It’s Wesak day. And as I try my best to settle into the groove of having to live with a plaster cast on my left arm for the next 3 months; I tell myself; I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

After all it’s only the first day. I tried to make coffee earlier this morning, but gave up half way when I realized, I wasn’t going to get very far by trying to open up my expresso maker with my foot. I’ve also given up on the whole idea of cooking; since all the diced carrots seem to be more interested in rolling off the chopping board.

The only thing, I seem to be able to do is water my potted plants.

And this brings me to my Wesak day message this afternoon. I don’t know whether any of you have heard about this story about a sacred Bodhi tree which once stood in Brickfields in greater Kuala Lumpur.

It sits uncomfortably along a hair pin that’s famous because there’s a famous curry fish head restaurant there. Sometime back ago, while visiting Kuala Lumpur. A friend took me out for lunch in Brickfields; the eatery had a good sweep over this famous tree, so it was an obvious conversational point.

According to KL urban legend, this is no ordinary Bo tree. For one, it dates as far back to the period when Sri Lankan laborers first made their appearance in the sleepy mud plains of Kuala Lumpur some 200 years ago.

The sapling supposedly originates from the famous Bodh Gaya; the same one Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, attained enlightenment.

Looking at the tree from where we were makaning; I couldn’t help but wonder what an oddity it was framed against the hustle and bustle of tower cranes and spaghetti junctions; someone mentioned in passing; its days were numbered; they’re planning a new highway here; and the Municipal Council has contracted Chow Yuen Fatt and his replacement killers to plug the poor tree! Others exclaimed since it was still a frequent destination for pilgrims, it’s unlikely that the authorities would cut it down. Not so soon at least. Besides it was during the period just before the Malaysian elections; and judging from the numerous election posters plastered all over its expansive trunk; it probably still had a fair innings to chalk up.

Through out lunch, I found myself wondering; what would this tree have to say, if it was given a chance to say its piece? How long has it stood there? A silent witness to the urbanization of this mud delta once called Kuala Lumpur. Did it once inspire a generations of water color artists, photographers and even lovers who would have scrawled hearts of forever more on her trunk?
Whatever her libations some of what she may have to share will forever be associated with the pivotal moments in Malaysian history. Some of these stories might simply have been part and parcel of the every day litany of urban life in the straits, offering shade, a brief respite against torrential rains. A gathering point for the odd odd cendol vendor and his patrons – an oasis where time simply stands still as ordinary folk turn inwards for a moments rest against the endless cacophony of urban life. While others may have been momentous such as shielding protestors from bullets which once came forth like hailstorms from the guns of colonial masters. Yes, I am sure she has seen it all. She’s a lao chaiu after all.

As my mind turned inwards; I am reminded every age has its own concerns, and in ours; it was simply unacceptable that the good should not triumph on the last throw of the dice. I realize this sounds trite. Especially against the back drop of what will simply have to come to past with this whole business of the community moderator. http://singaporedaily.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/sgdaily-roundup-what%e2%80%99s-hot-in-week-17/#comment-1902

You could even say, I remain completely convinced that the powers will even see it right through to the last leg.

It doesn’t take exceptional talent or even great foresight; just a play at selective deafness and dyslexia with a perhaps lashings of avoiding eye contact. Any fool can cut down trees or destroy the internet – we cannot stop them. I have already done the last of my calculations. They are simply too big; the motivation for command and control too strong even; the allure virtually irresistible; its clear they simply don’t even want to stop, listen and discuss the matter; that’s how powerful the imperative really is; and if they did, we would still be destroyed – chased and hunted down as long as fun or a buck could be got out of it.

All we can do is to prepare to run away.

What’s emerging for me is the realizing; no one really cares any more; why should they? When did the single injustice of a tree ever provoke enough reason to force the axe man to lower his tool? In the litany of injustices which befall us daily; the malevolence of earth shattering earthquake and life churning tornados – one more egregious than the many, many disparate and relatively smaller injustices which regularly mark out our lives ;one tree and the thoughts of one man concerning what he believes about the net hardly matters.

It’s grist to the mill.

Trying to change the status quo. I am reminded is a silly preoccupation which only a fools such as myself are content to do. Hello Kitty dolls are infinitely a lot easier to market than first edition leather bound copies of Stendhal, wot?; the countervailing desire in our society (and others even perhaps) for authoritarianism and the warm embrace of the state is too powerful to oppose with small numbers of actions against small injustices.

It’s just not worth the bother.

As it is; the Bo tree that once stood somewhere on an obscure road in Brickfields was finally cut down to make way for a new highway. Proving once again, people’s desire for a better tomorrow is often overwhelmed by the grinding day-to-day practical necessities which would hardly allow them to take stock of even the interest of a single muted tree. I feel the same may be happening when many of these 15 bloggers go about the whole business of recommending change for the rest of us; but unlike the tree let me just say this for providence sake; I never once gave you the right to represent me. I don’t believe in what you are doing and I wish no part in your new world order.

Yes, the Bo tree and me have merged to become even the mythical contrarian.

But even as we prepare out hearts and minds for the final curtain act; there is cause for optimism. You see all is not lost my friends.

A few months after the tree was cut down; my friend in KL, thought it would be a good idea to tender a few saplings from this one unfortunate tree. Without even the slightest thought, he potted it and eventually, it grew. One of these saplings was given to me with just the words; “take this to a better place. It must live.” I fulfilled my duty by planting it somewhere in the bosom of Bukit Timah nature reserve during one of my solo mountain biking rides.

She lives on. And one day she will grow tall and strong. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all she comes from an ancient lineage of survivors going back at least a millennia to a time even before us or when dinosaurs walked this earth; long before the advent of mankind she had proliferated spreading out across the lands – calling it hers. Through the centuries she had seen fires, drought, disease, earth quakes, and maybe a billion libations of tempest; yet she stood her ground proudly proclaiming, “come what may, I will survive!

But the real tragedy and travesty of our time like the tree, I simply call Bo and probably our beloved net is both cannot be saved from the acts of knaves and fools.

Nonetheless, there is hope my friends. Never forget that. Happy Wesak Day.

Darkness 2008


  1. Chronicler said

    This site has been taken over under Article 60 of the Interspacing Act Primus 3883202.3

  2. Chronicler said

    Four points were made concerning the poster “many teddies,” prosecute on all 4!

    Threats have no value, if they are not accompanied by action!

  3. […] Comments JL on Daily SG: 12 May 2008A WESAK DAY MESSAGE … on SGDaily Roundup: What’s Hot …Darkness on Daily SG: 12 May 2008Darkness on Daily […]

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