We’ve all been told there’s a certain way to live … that, this is or that is the way we should all live…that this or that is what we should all do, if we want to a better tomorrow…that, this or that is satisfying, nourishing and edifying in life … yet, we never really questioned it. We just sort of went along with it in a way a man sees others lining up only to pick a number and stand in line – not really asking ourselves: what’s at the end of the line? But what if that thing, we all decided to pick up is not the best? What if it even works against instead of for us? What if that pastor, politician or leader was simply dead wrong? What if there’s another way that’s better? What if there’s something more to the whole idea of living instead of just existing and getting by? Most of us don’t consciously bother with the whole idea of auditing what’s already in our minds; if we did, we would probably discover to our horror that there are many things that has managed to encrust themselves in our thinking – these things often work against us. They add no value to bring us closer to fulfilling our deepest aspirations. As what they do is root us down in a particular way of seeing the world along with cutting off the field of possibilities that may even exist right before us.

Many years ago before the financial crisis – whenever anyone asked me what I really wanted to do with my life. I would usually tell them that I wanted to be a farmer. The reaction was often aghast followed by – “I am sure, you can do better than that!” – “What a waste!” – “You should think again.” – “you mean, you want to be a peasant.” Recently Vivian Balakhrisnan mentioned that the government is trying to encourage the masses to take on to hawkering – what’s my take? I happen to think that’s a great idea, probably one of the best that ever came out from the PAP steam engine – but let’s be realistic, how many people in Singapore do you think will look at hawkering as a vocation that can possibly actualize their dreams and aspirations? – not many I think. As to be a hawker is to be typecast very much like wanting to be a farmer – farmers and hawkers are usually looked down on in Singapore. Only understand this, it’s not that these professions don’t pay well or that they don’t ever come with the promise of job satisfaction – if we really examine our deep seated prejudices towards these vocations much of it is has to do with our own scripting as individuals. I am reminded people just don’t decide to wake up one morning and develop an aversion to a thing – usually the process is insidious and gradual. Where we are psychologically programmed to look down on certain type of professions – to a point where it’s virtually impossible for us to even consider taking them up seriously as a way of branching out.

That to me is wrong and brings nothing good our way – as when we cut off a way, just because we have alot of old stuff floating in our heads and we don’t even know how or who put them there – then it could be said, we are selling ourselves short. And being short simply means our opportunities for branching out goes right down to zero.

Darkness 2012

“The lives of people are not so different from young trees in an orchard. They are being choked by climbing vines Gentlemen. The vines are old thoughts and beliefs planted by men who have only known one way to succeed. Not two or three or even four, just one way – which they call, the Way. This if you must all know, is not so different from a man who only knows how to turn the wheel of life by only chiseling one alphabet – hence success to these people can ONLY come by keeping to the tried and tested yellow brick road. This myth needs to be smashed Gentlemen, it needs to be blown up, as it is poison and can only continue to hold us all back – we must go where no mind dares to go. Yes, I do not doubt there are some over there, who would probably tell me and others that we still have such a thing as a choice – a choice to live our life’s under our own terms. But how is this possible, when we all ONLY know the tried and test way of the yellow brick road? Let me be frank here, I do not think that we can take our way of life for granted any longer. Coming to think of it, it’s even conceivable the whole idea of work will go through a transformational change that is even beyond our capacity to imagine. You see Gentlemen, let me share with you my point of view of the future, in 10 or maybe 20 years from now – out of 10 Singaporeans, 8 will have to turn the wheel of life abroad. I want you all in this house to just consider this theoretical possibility, as it is presently inconceivable and that is a problem Gentlemen – Look around you Brothers, this disturbing trend is unfolding before us now! Even as we speak; we see signs of it everywhere and yet what remains incomprehensible to me is why do we continue to remain bovine about the whole idea of branching out? Maybe it has something to do with how we cling to our assumptions or have too in the way a deluded man needs lies just to render his unbearable life more bearable – if that is the case, then there is only one cure for this. We must go out, as we once did to the furthest reaches of the universe. We must do things that are difficult. Now it is still possible to do all these things. We must see opportunity where there is only a blank wall. Let me cut to the chase, why is farming strategic? It’s simple, the dumbest people have always gone into farming. Most of them never had a choice in the first place, the city just chewed them out and spat them back to where they came from, so they farmed. As a consequence, farm equipment has not improved since the 1800’s, it remains a parochial and insular industry – that is why we should go into it, it is ripe for the raid Gentlemen. As when we put a rugged individual into that kind of setting, then he can only thrive in it. We must be imperialistic in our attitude, it doesn’t pay for us to think small any longer – my hope is the Confederation of guilds will support this resolution. If not, be in no doubt that I will have no other choice but to go ahead with the Order of Purple and seek alternative funding from the Legation – Gentlemen, am I threatening all of you? Maybe, but that is because I perceive the urgency of this matter, while many of you remain steadfastly convinced that I am a mad man, a man who dreams of being a farmer. But I say to you, I hold in my hand the key that unlocks the door to another road other than the tried and tested yellow brick road. This resolution will have to go through this house in this sitting today, either that or we will be busted and good for nothing thereafter. We have to act now!”

Captured from a speech in the Imperium in Primus Aldentes Prime – The Brotherhood Press 2012

 

 

May 14, 2012

People usually consider turning water to wine or being able to walk on water a miracle.  But I think the real miracle of life is when you can just walk this earth and seek out mind blowing miracles in the ordinariness of life. Every day unbeknown to us, we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize, see or feel:  an azure sky, white puffy clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child.  All these things are miracles – as for turning water into wine, I happen to know a bus driver who moonlights as a magician who can do that – I even know how it’s done, there is no Da Vinci code there, no mystery even – and as for walking on water, why even bother, when all you need to do is buy a ticket to board a ferry. I happen to be one of those of who believe that the vast majority of humans these days have reached an end times of sorts in their lives – they may not realize it. But when you interact with them, you can only walk away with the realization that most of their expectations about life is at best unreasonable and unrealistic. Most of us expect the rest of humanity to chase after the same set of goals – get a good degree, work hard, buy a house and if possible even get a car – we embody our entire lives around this concept and even work like Olympic athletes to attain them – endless tuition, endless mugging, endless and ceaseless competition, endless hours spent in the office, endlessly trying to please our bosses, endlessly dedicating ourselves to something that we don’t really even understand. It is only when we press that pause button somewhere in our head that we can begin to seek out the miracle of life in the everyday – the way we can either bring joy or grief to our loved ones; our commitment to our friends and nurturing the idea of friendship and even something as miraculous as sitting beneath a tree and doing absolutely nothing except enjoying nothingness – when we consciously make a decision to slow down. Only then can we begin to make out the beauty of life and be satisfied with what we have – instead of craving for things like that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Darkness 2012

“To live an organically driven life these days – you should NEVER work better, betterer and betterest or even go fast, faster and fasterest – if you do that, then you will definitely end up in a ICU ward nursing a heart attack. You’ve got to pace yourself like a marathon runner and at times it even pays to “Chaik Chua” – “eat snake.” Hey, take it from me – do you think I worked my butt off all of my life? Well I didn’t, because I realized very early on in life, the people who are really driven are usually the ones who drive themselves to the graveyard, or end up making so many enemies at their workplace that they just have to leave as no one likes to work with them. I gathered this as believe it or not, I once worked in a factory in Boon Lay – and I ran the best outfit, turned them right around from the worst team to the best in less than a year! So good at it, that the factory manager even lived in perpetual fear of me raiding his job. So one day, I walked into his office, closed the door and simply said to him: “if you don’t stop your nonsense, I am going to take over your job! Alternatively if you work with me instead of behaving like an asshole, I will make you look so good and I will out of here in a year. As I have other plans. Deal?” We shook on that and I kept to my word. As to be frank, I was better educated than even him and taking over his job was really like snatching a candy from a kid, there is no sport there, no challenge even. But I digress, let me continue – during the morning meetings, whenever things fucked up, the only team that could nail the problem dead on its tracks was my team, none of the rest even came remotely close. Not even near. But there is no secret to this – I simply understood human nature. And this may seem a bit vague, as it is vague – because when you understand human nature then you would realize that a man is not a buffalo. You can’t expect a man to put in 8 hours of the best, anymore than you can expect a hamster to run on the wheel 24/7. So what I did was I turned a blind eye whenever I saw my men resting, even if they were just sitting around and talking, I never ever intruded into their space. Never ate or hung around in their mess hall either, just left them to do their own thing – and during the night shift when none of the managers were around, I even allowed them to bring along a portable TV to watch football during the world cup. You could say I encouraged my men to rest and to be even be comfortable with the whole idea of resting at work. Instead of pretending to be busy whenever they saw me walking around. But I had one golden rule, that the highest and lowest in my team understood almost instinctively – don’t ever make me look bad. You make me look bad and I will take it personally and find fault with you! That’s to say, when problems occur, I expected my men to work to resolve it – and I didn’t much care much about rules or union regulations either – if you have to work even 16 hours a day, then do it. I just want the problem to go away, how it is done is immaterial to me. And so in this simple way, my men knew that this fellow has a few gears – when things are happily humming along, he’s on low gear and that mean he doesn’t even mind when I go half speed – but when problems occur, then everyman is expected to shift to high gear and fall in – and in this way discipline is enforced as everyman knows what is expected from him. In this simple, yet miraculous way, work becomes heaven instead of a hell kitchen and there is harmony, order and purpose. I think that is the miracle of life, as most of us believe to get high performance we have to open up the brain of a man and pour in knowledge by sending him for endless training to up productivity – when all we really need to do is understand him for what he is, a man, nothing more or less.”

This has been extracted from the Way of the Farmer under the chapter: Getting Peak Performance all the time! – This has been brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012

Almost anything we do can communicate who we are to others —the way you carry yourself, the accessories that accompanies your clothes, the way you look at the world and they way you react when the world looks back at you. Gestures communicate too, but they are much subtler.  They aren’t language in themselves, but no one can deny, they can either add or subtract from what you have to say about yourself and others. A supplement to language, that is who I see it.

Even the most sluggish among us can convey a host of messages to others without having to say a word: “this is no good,” “he’s stark raving mad,” “nice rack,” “my place or yours,” “let’s fuck” “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “be nice,” “I can’t say too much,” “I am still considering,” These gestures are so common to all of us that most of the time we aren’t we even conscious of how they can so often be part of our vocabulary when it comes to communicating with others.

Granted when we speak, we use alphabets to shape our thoughts, but when we gesture, we shape the feelings we attach to our words. Being aware of this dynamic process – allows us all to appreciated the nuances of communicating effectively with others. As the way we carry ourselves along with convey ideas allows us to be sculptors using the raw material of life itself to shape our relationship with others.

Darkness 2012

“Understand this please! If you can buy into the loose idea, anger and frustration can be transmitted to others – so can empathy, love, desperation, yearning and even sleepiness – all these things can pass from one person to another during a simple conversation. Most of the time, we aren’t conscious of this process – some people are mindful of this, such as actors, public figures and politicians. They have to be, it comes with the territory – but even then, they usually come across as flakey whenever they try to say something that they don’t really believe in or lack conviction – so I am usually very skeptical of politicians who regularly spout feel good rhetoric – don’t give much weight to what they regularly have to say. That’s why I think, if you’re genuinely serious about the whole idea of sculpting a better you – there are really no shortcuts in life. Trust me looked high and low for them, none, just plenty of dead ends – that’s why I am a firm believer in the idea, it’s important to ALWAYS set aside some quiet time and think about your objects of interest deeply – you know things like what do you think about freedom of speech along with perhaps your opinion concerning work and how work should be done or even how work should be rewarded along with the whole idea of how work either feeds or hollow out the human spirit etc  – is work just a means to put food on the table or could it be much more and if so how does it relate to the whole idea of leading an organically driven life? It is only when we have bothered to work all these ideas in our heads that we can really come across as someone who speaks with conviction. Whether the views you hold are popular or not is not the point here; the important thing is to keep chiselling away at your beliefs – till you can no longer chip away any more as the tool has hit a hard substrate. When you reach that point, then I think, you can more or less conclude that is your firm opinion on A, B or C. But most importantly, when you are called to account for your beliefs – you can defend them with elan, panache and skill, as you have worked through them, so you can only come across as a very sincere man of conviction. I do not believe it is possible to be sincere when so many things have been left in the in tray of the brain and has not even been worked out in our heads. That is why these days, you come across so many hollow men – men who have really not bothered to do their homework and as soon as they open their mouth, they are pelted by the rotten tomatoes brigade. It is only when we know the things we take an interest in from the inside out can they work themselves through us only to  work themselves out of us in the way we speak and gesture to others and from there into the broader world, we all know as the community. Something cannot come from nothing.  Just as a man can’t wake up one morning and simply decide to be sincere – usually when you look at someone who is sincere, he’s usually a man who has invested the time, effort and attention to study it from the inside out – he knows and so he embodies this in the verb of speech, thoughts and deeds. And knowing is really the ONLY difference that separates the real from the fake. That’s why the fake will usually pretend not to hear the questions of the serious men of this world – they can do nothing except run for cover and hide. There is no such thing as dignity in silence – only perhaps the idea you have been irrevocably defeated. None whatsoever. That is why when you are in the company of serious men, you should always be mindful of what you say. And if you are not sure, just shaddap and observe. Maybe if you are lucky, you will learn something meaningful.”

Extracted from the Way of the Farmer – Brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012

 

No one in this planet does it better than the Koreans when it comes to pumping out tear jerkers – they are the indisputable Toyota motors of the love stories genre; when I first started writing love stories to supplement my income; they were simply inspirational in every way possible – from plot, cadence, speed and texture – I copied these masters unabashly, now you know why the brotherhood press love stories division is so prolific – some may balk at all this; and say most of these yarns are nothing more than superficial rehashed Mills & Boons reads – I disagree; the plot may seem trite only because you’re distanced by your prejudice and ignorance – but once you immerse yourself in them and get beneath the triteness and invest your heart and soul in the plot; they’re astonishingly beautiful, sensitive and heart warming in every sense – many years ago before the internet age began; I lost someone who was very dear to me to lymphatic cancer – she was snatched away from me and this left an incredible hole in my heart which I can only describe as an eternal abyss – at first, I tried to bring her back to life in the virtual; I scoured the world for the best animators, best mathematicians, best illustrators; money was no object; I even once stormed a replica of Taj Mahal with 100 Sardokhan elite troops to create paradise for her – despite their very best efforts no matter how real they fashioned her; they were never able to capture her essence; – her spirit always remained elusive and afar; and that hole in my heart was never ever filled – it was only when I sat down and began to write love stories and started churning them out like a cookie factory; that I began to understand for the very first time in my life – how pain and joy are in fact one of the same reality; and the rest is really grist to the mill; as I had to immerse myself into my characters and experience what they really felt – and with that came a deep spirited understanding of love and courage.

Someday my animators in the gaming world will get it right and she will smile the way I remembered her – till then while the story goes on – somewhere in amid the tears and laughter, there will always be a place called paradise and she will never be far away from me.

Happy Birthday Sarah, Darkness forever – I’ve see you in my dreams.

————————————————————————————————————————

“I am a hard man. You could say life made me this way. One learns to be hard very early on in life especially when hardness seems to be the only thing the world seems to dish out – hard even when I was growing up. As I realized very early on in life, it doesn’t pay to back out from a fight, not in the neighborhood, I grew up. Sometimes you just got to stick it right in and give as good as you take – hard even when I strived to get an education against incredible odds. I am not like the rest of you. I went to London with just a tube of Mentos in my pocket and some loose change – made the rest up by holding down two shift jobs while trying my best to squeeze lectures in between. Those were desolate and bitter years and you could say, I hated the world and often wondered to myself why had fate dealt me such a lousy hand – it’s very easy for a man to be bitter about life when hardness is all he has known. I remember one incident clearly, when I attended lectures in soiled overalls and had dirt underneath my fingernails – and the rest of my classmates just moved away. And so that became an allegory of my own life – people can be cruel without really knowing it – it was clear as day to me; they didn’t regard me as one of them, I was an outsider. You know the sort of person who everyone pretends not to see in a room – I didn’t belong, didn’t fit in and you could say, the battlelines were drawn very early on in life. So I became harder. When I started working, life was hard again – my boss was a white motherfucker, he gave all the cushy jobs to his own motherfucking ang moh tribe – and sent me to Godsaken postings that none of his buddies wanted – fucked up third world countries – where it was not unusual for people to point guns at me at least 3 or 4 times a week – but what is a man to do? I needed the money and building water treatment plants in Mindanao paid very well –  As the Cantonese say, “Mah seih, lok tei han,” – When horse die, man has to walk – but make no mistake, only a hard man thrives in those fucked up countries – if you’re soft, you end being kidnapped or ass fucked and returning home in a NTUC plastic bag. It was tough and comical when I think back about it. As it was not unusual for me to carry a Samsonite briefcase in one hand and a semi auto in another – but that’s how it is when one is posted to a fucked up country. Much later on, life got easier, even then I had to scheme my way to get rid of my enemies and consolidate my power, but that hardness that I has always been with me, left a residue on my character. This time, I was polished, but incredibly deadly hard. But I don’t think a man can live an organically balanced life when so much of his character is hard – so what I did was work very hard to set this aspect of my character to one side, like a man who puts his stamp collection in a shoe box slides it underneath his bed. It was only when I started to write love stories to supplement my income that I began to realize how much of life I was missing out on – beauty, sensitivity and the ability to just hold time in one grain of sand that’s a big part of life – you could say the most rewarding and satisfying part of life. It’s not true when people say those sort of  things are arty-farty – it wasn’t trivial to me, not at all. You’ve got to understand, all I’ve ever known is hardness – and now a whole world of softness had suddenly opened up before me. I remembered feeling scared, but I said to myself, I will permit it to pass over me. So I went with the flow and when it has gone right through me I turned my inner eye to see the wake of the departing hard man – there was nothing thereafter, only I remained – that’s why I think, it’s very important to be soft to those who have only known hardness – even if you cook a nice meal for a girl and treat her like a lady for one evening, you could very well change her outlook in life for the better – or to reach out to that troubled teen and just to spend some time with him or her, that could change everything in the way you press the reset the button and set it alright again – little acts with bits of softness. But all this can really only come when you’re like an eclair, hard on the outside, buttery soft in the inside – finding that balance is important that’s the way, I see it.”

Darkness 2012

Captured in a thread in Ekunaba – Brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012

No one in this planet does it better than the Koreans when it comes to pumping out tear jerkers – they are the indisputable Toyota motors of the love stories genre; when I first started writing love stories to supplement my income; they were simply inspirational in every way possible – from plot, cadence, speed and texture – I copied these masters unabashly, now you know why the brotherhood press love stories division is so prolific – some may balk at all this; and say most of these yarns are nothing more than superficial rehashed Mills & Boons reads – I disagree; the plot may seem trite only because you’re distanced by your prejudice and ignorance – but once you immerse yourself in them and get beneath the triteness and invest your heart and soul in the plot; they’re astonishingly beautiful, sensitive and heart warming in every sense – many years ago before the internet age began; I lost someone who was very dear to me to lymphatic cancer – she was snatched away from me and this left an incredible hole in my heart which I can only describe as an eternal abyss – at first, I tried to bring her back to life in the virtual; I scoured the world for the best animators, best mathematicians, best illustrators; money was no object; I even once stormed a replica of Taj Mahal with 100 Sardokhan elite troops to create paradise for her – despite their very best efforts no matter how real they fashioned her; they were never able to capture her essence; – her spirit always remained elusive and afar; and that hole in my heart was never ever filled – it was only when I sat down and began to write love stories and started churning them out like a cookie factory; that I began to understand for the very first time in my life – how pain and joy are in fact one of the same reality; and the rest is really grist to the mill; as I had to immerse myself into my characters and experience what they really felt – and with that came a deep spirited understanding of love and courage.

Someday my animators in the gaming world will get it right and she will smile the way I remembered her – till then while the story goes on – somewhere in amid the tears and laughter, there will always be a place called paradise and she will never be far away from me.

Happy Birthday Sarah, Darkness forever – I’ve see you in my dreams.

————————————————————————————————————————

“I am a hard man. You could say life made me this way. One learns to be hard very early on in life especially when hardness seems to be the only thing the world seems to dish out – hard even when I was growing up. As I realized very early on in life, it doesn’t pay to back out from a fight, not in the neighborhood, I grew up. Sometimes you just got to stick it right in and give as good as you take – hard even when I strived to get an education against incredible odds. I am not like the rest of you. I went to London with just a tube of Mentos in my pocket and some loose change – made the rest up by holding down two shift jobs while trying my best to squeeze lectures in between. Those were desolate and bitter years and you could say, I hated the world and often wondered to myself why had fate dealt me such a lousy hand – it’s very easy for a man to be bitter about life when hardness is all he has known. I remember one incident clearly, when I attended lectures in soiled overalls and had dirt underneath my fingernails – and the rest of my classmates just moved away. And so that became an allegory of my own life – people can be cruel without really knowing it – it was clear as day to me; they didn’t regard me as one of them, I was an outsider. You know the sort of person who everyone pretends not to see in a room – I didn’t belong, didn’t fit in and you could say, the battlelines were drawn very early on in life. So I became harder. When I started working, life was hard again – my boss was a white motherfucker, he gave all the cushy jobs to his own motherfucking ang moh tribe – and sent me to Godsaken postings that none of his buddies wanted – fucked up third world countries – where it was not unusual for people to point guns at me at least 3 or 4 times a week – but what is a man to do? I needed the money and building water treatment plants in Mindanao paid very well –  As the Cantonese say, “Mah seih, lok tei han,” – When horse die, man has to walk – but make no mistake, only a hard man thrives in those fucked up countries – if you’re soft, you end being kidnapped or ass fucked and returning home in a NTUC plastic bag. It was tough and comical when I think back about it. As it was not unusual for me to carry a Samsonite briefcase in one hand and a semi auto in another – but that’s how it is when one is posted to a fucked up country. Much later on, life got easier, even then I had to scheme my way to get rid of my enemies and consolidate my power, but that hardness that I has always been with me, left a residue on my character. This time, I was polished, but incredibly deadly hard. But I don’t think a man can live an organically balanced life when so much of his character is hard – so what I did was work very hard to set this aspect of my character to one side, like a man who puts his stamp collection in a shoe box slides it underneath his bed. It was only when I started to write love stories to supplement my income that I began to realize how much of life I was missing out on – beauty, sensitivity and the ability to just hold time in one grain of sand that’s a big part of life – you could say the most rewarding and satisfying part of life. It’s not true when people say those sort of  things are arty-farty – it wasn’t trivial to me, not at all. You’ve got to understand, all I’ve ever known is hardness – and now a whole world of softness had suddenly opened up before me. I remembered feeling scared, but I said to myself, I will permit it to pass over me. So I went with the flow and when it has gone right through me I turned my inner eye to see the wake of the departing hard man – there was nothing thereafter, only I remained – that’s why I think, it’s very important to be soft to those who have only known hardness – even if you cook a nice meal for a girl and treat her like a lady for one evening, you could very well change her outlook in life for the better – or to reach out to that troubled teen and just to spend some time with him or her, that could change everything in the way you press the reset the button and set it alright again – little acts with bits of softness. But all this can really only come when you’re like an eclair, hard on the outside, buttery soft in the inside – finding that balance is important that’s the way, I see it.”

Darkness 2012

Captured in a thread in Ekunaba – Brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012

This e-novel published first in Hong Kong and Sweden, has to date crossed the 70,000 copies mark.

Shorohji as it’s commonly called is inspired by a Korean love series Darkness saw while he was in a business trip in Japan – it runs 48 chapters and retails for 103 Imperial Shekelians. Please contact your book club for further details. Brief Extract: Main Protagonist / Musings / Chapter 31 – The Revelation 

“Pain can never be taken philosophically; otherwise it isn’t pain. Today Dr Kim told me she will certainly die within the month. Yet as I walked aimlessly through this streets, I feel nothing – can it be I am still yet to live and experience life? My eyes have hardly opened, have they? I am simply a child standing before the portal of life – all this is so clear when someone you love only once in your life has to suddenly leave you.

 The old say, the more humane we become, the more likely we are to suffer the pain of others. To love simply means to embrace vulnerability, to be even woundable in the way a man grips and searches out the sweetness of her lover in a moment’s ache. Never made easier by the solace of simply observing from afar, but here where she is before me, I can no more deny her existence any more than I can say, I never once existed. 

If it is not given me to know the course of time, then the best I can do is to be attentive, to watch the moments go by, to feel her occasional caress and to revel in her closeness. You could say this is how a man who has never loved ambles his away across this strange terrain.

It’s like trying to work my way along a wall in the dark, It doesn’t serve me to turn and rail against the wall; it may have been placed there so that I don’t slip and fall over the edge – that evening, after finishing my fifth cigarette – I decided to walk beside her again….slowly, one step at time, I retraced my steps to the hospital – lets see where it goes. If this is the script the story teller of life has penned for me, then I shall simply have to utter my lines! Do I even have a choice? What I will have to do can never be considered an accomplishment or failure worth mentioning – it’s simply what it takes to be a human being who loves another more than himself – to live for the moment, that is and not to expect anything in return except pain. You could say, I have finally discovered my purpose, my reason to live and a reason to enthomb my selfishness……and with it, this has to be the first day of my awakening….breathe…this is my first day and as day’s goes. A day when a man simply loves a woman.” 

Written by Darkness.

This has been released by the Brotherhood Press Love Story Division based in Korea – Aurora – The Brotherhood Press 2010.

 

We are all flawed, even the best of us. Not everyone cuts all the right moves in life. Those who claim they did are liars – everyone carries with him and her a baggage of the haunting past of what could have been, if only I didn’t fuck that turning point in life up; could even be failing to get that grade and having to settle for second best for what we believe to be the rest of our lifes – or even failing in a business deal and having to see our dreams turn to mud.

Let me be frank and honest. Being blotted out by the shadow of our past can only deny nourishment to everything that’s hopeful, satisfying and nourishing in life – it stands to reason, since we can do nothing except carry with us the entire summary of our PAST. We can only live an unbalanced life. A life that is not in harmony with the laws of nature. Think about it, if nature really hardwired us to live in the past instead of the present. We would all be born with rearview mirrors. It is only when we begin to be mindful of how so much of the past can move so freely into our everyday life that we can really be acute aware so little of ourselves is living in the PRESENT – with out presence in NOW (This very second when you are reading this and not playing Soduku on the side) – how can there be such thing as a FUTURE and most importantly the power to MOVE on in life – to break out – to rocket ahead it seems that we are so shackled to our past failures that we are ALL like a man who suddenly finds himself waking up in a 9 by 10 cell – at first he struggles to fathom the incomprehensible – “why me?” then it gives way to a sort of resigned acceptance in the way a man in a wheelchair can only look on with defeat at a flight of stairs. And this can only bear the fruit of suffering called bitterness. Bitterness leads to anger. And anger to helplessness – you know the feeling where you look on at others who seem to have played the game of life so well and you wonder to yourself why can’t I even figure out how the game is played. No you’re not dumb, no it’s not because it’s a mystery – but bear in mind this sort of eating away at a man is what invariably happens when life is not balanced – there is no Ying and Yang here – no purposefulness that can even power you forward – if anything it holds you back – and when goodness gives way to feelings of hopelessness – we can only see the world in darkness – we seek out the worst in others, instead of seeing their good points – we remember what they did to us or how someone like him brought us grief somewhere in our distant past – yet we are quick to forget maybe, we cannot perceive what’s good because we are really living in the shadow of our haunting past.So like the man who has only known disappointment, loss and seeing the things he once loved and cherished being snuffed out like a candle – we continue to trace out our haunting past in the PRESENT – we see schemes when none exist, we mistrust when there is every reason to trust, we hold back instead of giving it all – but above all, we have betrayed ourselves by driving out everything that we ever wished we could be and much more.

But I say to you right now – you have to FORGIVE yourself; sometimes when we fail to make the grade; so what the fuck! there’s a reason – we may not know what that may be when the crunch came but serious men of this world all know: when one door shuts another door opens – it has too, and it will – maybe not be tomorrow or the day after or even a year or two from now – but a day will come when you will just say to yourself – if I didn’t go throw that period of losing everything where I can’t even see a country called hope, maybe I wouldn’t be the man that I am today.

Trust me shit happens to the best of us, but get back because BEFORE you can even move forward, you’ve to just travel light and that means making peace with yourself. 

Breathe tomorrow is another day; a new beginning and new start. 

Darkness 2012

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“Everyman reaches a point in life when he realizes it doesn’t pay to run away from his past – when a man doesn’t sit down with a bottle whisky in a very dark place and deal with the many demons of his past – it will simply overwhelm him. There is no point in pushing it away or saying to yourself, I am not like that, I had a happy childhood and everything was smooth sailing for me – bullshit! Everyman has a past, you have one so do I – and if we really want to break away and make something out of our lives, we simply have to deal with the things that holds us back – it doesn’t really matter whether you are a policeman, teacher, insurance agent, care salesman, dentist, professional call girl, politician or even a pastor – the past has a way to walking right up into the present and when it can come and go as it likes, that’s a real problem – a very big problem, that why when I found the man with the slicked back hair and sporting the expensive Italian suit called the Singaporean gangster in London just stroll right up as if he owned the present – I just said to him, why don’t you sit down – we need to talk my friend – and I just told him, this can’t go on, one of us has to leave – and somewhere in my mind eye’s, I placed a revolver on the table. And that was really the turning point in my life – when I walked away from it all, I didn’t even look back, not even once. As for that man from my distant past, he just disappeared and with that the rains came. I’ve had a hard life. But since then, I’ve worked hard to make it softer and kinder.”

Extracted from the way of the farmer – Brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012

Just Stuff

May 12, 2012

 These two cups more or less sums up my confusion concerning high street coffee these days.

      Looks creepy, but I think it works in a kooky sort of way – talking heads?

 You’ve got to give it to this illegal logger, he’s definitely got a sense of humor.

This doesn’t need any elaboration.

This probably needs some elaboration, but I don’t know where to start, it just looks cute.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend.

Darkness 2012

writing & reading

May 11, 2012

One should never underestimate the power of the written word – granted you may well be in another time zone. Our lives may even resemble the moon and the sun. When I am awake, you’re a sleep. But that doesn’t mean we don’t share a connection beyond the dictionary meaning of friendship. You see it is really very simple. Perhaps you need to believe that I am separated from you in the way, you can look at me through bullet proof glass and nothing can ever go through this side or the other side to affect you; maybe that idea of separation is something that your mind needs to continue this relationship – but I am not so sure nothing can ever pass this way or that way. I am not even so sure that both of us are like desolate islands separate by vast continental shelfs. You in your shark infested island and mine God knows where. But I know we share a common country of thoughts, emotions and aspirations – as whenever one person writes from the the heart and another reads, then a sort of magic occurs where you can say, within the span of time, you’re reading and digesting this, then we are really connected. And if we can even share these things regularly, then it’s even possible that something here goes over there and vice versa share. But don’t push your mind to understand what I am saying now. I don’t want to scare you. Besides I am much older and I am supposed to be wiser, so let us just leave it there – because you brain is going to explode like a hand grenade, if you think too much abt this. Just go with the flow and take it one step at a time. Remember, you’re always in control and even if you aren’t maybe it makes sense for you to believe that you are. It’s a way of getting a handle on things. Only to answer your original question: what do I think is the furthest distance in the universe? Is it the distance between two distant stars. No! The furthest place between two points is when I am standing right before you and you cannot even see me. Correction: you refuse to see me, for reasons only known to yourself – and if you must know that is I the furthest point that separates two points or in this case two people.

Darkness 2012

Captured very recently from a thread in Phi Beta Kappa – The Brotherhood Press 2012

The WP first kept totally silent, then supported Mr Yaw, and then three weeks later suddenly expelled him from the party. Until now the WP has not given Singaporeans a full and proper account of what happened, or why it acted in this way. Mr Yaw himself has said nothing, either to explain or to apologise for his behaviour,…”

That’s rich from Mini Lee. As he also never explain so many things that he was obliged to explain to taxpayers – for example are HDB flats getting bigger or smaller in Singapore? Till today, no one knows. It seems to be one of the greatest mysteries in Singapore. I suspect neither does short cake Khaw either. Neither did he explain how it’s even possible for someone who earns only $1,000 a month own a HDB flat in Singapore. Till today, no one knows. This is the second biggest mystery in Singapore. I suspect neither does eight ball either as he is still very adamant that runaway COE and housing prices is not likely jack up inflation. But please explain to me like a baby how does a sack of rice get into a supermarket, does it just walk there or does someone has to drive it. As for housing, eight ball insist, it doesn’t affect the average Singaporean, as he is not going to buy a house, but what if he’s renting or needs more space. Coming to think of it what kinda of pariah logic is this – I doubt this will ever change the view held by so many experts that inflation is really an acute problem in Singapore – so as you can all see, there are so many things that Mini Lee should have done, but didn’t and now he wants to nitpick on small little issues when he has a big giant hole in his own backyard.

Before he goes around accusing other people for misbehaving and shortchanging the general public. Maybe he should look at the shambolic way in which he is running his outfit.

I have a feeling Hougang is cut and dried. People are not stupid and the day of reckoning will come. He just need to suck in all in and roll with the punches – that is as good as it will ever get whether he likes it or not.

Darkness 2012

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“What is it that you all seem to have so much trouble in understanding? After all, I spoke in simple English. Let me try to explain Hougang to you all again. You see it is like this. When your house is on fire. You should put out the fire in your own house first. Instead he is going around trying to put out imaginary fires in other people’s house. So as you can all see. It is very hard, if not impossible to respect such a man, very hard indeed – as in this world, no man can force another to respect another. Please understand I am not trying to be malicious or even personal. I am just very honest with all of you. I am a farmer. And farmers are very straight forward and honest people. They don’t have time for foreplay, they reach directly for the drawers! Even if you disagree with my assesment, I think some of you should at least take my feedback constructively. After all, we are supposed to be in the new normal, so let us at least pretend to be new and normal for a change. Instead of getting angry with me. Some of you should try to be good and try your best to rehabilitate me.”

Captured very recently in a thread in Ekunaba – forwarded by the digital signal jammer KDD Vanquish – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Attitude

May 11, 2012

Nobody can go back in time and right the wrongs of the past – be it studying harder or trying to secure a better future, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. This can be done by changing one’s attitude towards life. Attitude, to me, is more important than food or sleep. It is more important than one’s education, net worth and even what others may regularly think abt you. It is more important than looks, aptitude or skill. Attitude can often make or break a family, firm and church. The remarkable thing is none of us have to wait too long to enjoy the benefits of a change in attitude; as we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We may not be able to change our past… we cannot even change the fact that there may even be plenty of fucked up people who work, worship and play alongside us that may test our patience to breaking point or that they can always be counted to act in a fucked up way all the time. We may not even be able to change many of the things that is messed up in this world like being stuck in a traffic jam or waiting in line for something that we shouldn’t even be waiting for or even that things are going the way we planned it to go.

The only thing we can do is control the things that we have power to control, and that is our attitude. And that is really all we need, nothing more or less, the rest we can just make up as we go along.

 Darkness 2012

“The weather is behaving like a siaow charbor, she is blowing hot and cold, raining when she shouldn’t and turning the land into a dustbowl when she should be raining – yesterday, I went to the Northeastern range of my land – there I was standing on the hill and watching the clouds unfurl – beneath me, the workers were waiting for orders – yet none came; so they sat around and waited while I looked on for hours wondering whether the dry season is here or still somewhere in the Pacific making its way here – it is very hard to tell. Last night, I spent nearly four hours study satellite images of clouds, nothing. Then today cumulus clouds started to form in the East and headed towards the West, but by mid-day, they dispersed. Without an accurate prediction, I can’t plan! So there I was with smoke coming out of my ears, got so fuming mad that I even hacked a Cobra’s head clean off. Then as returned back to the villa, it suddenly it hit me, there is nothing wrong with nature, she has always been like that…for maybe millions of years – it’s me. I am expecting nature to behave like a bus that follows a time table, that can’t be right – Who am I to even expect this, let alone demand it? Nature works according to her own time and pace and no man can really rush her – when this realization sunk in, I felt much calmer as I realized when you miss one bus another is bound to come around again.”

Extracted from The Way of Farmer – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Before a man decides to pick up a thing. It is best to take a long and hard look at it – and even ask himself, “what is this thing?” – ” should I even pick it up?” – “will I be able to put down this thing one day?” As in life, it is not unusual for us to come across so many seemingly interesting things that are crying out to be picked.

Even when we are minding our own business and not disturbing anyone in Singapore; so many things out there in the world are shouting out, “pick me up now!” All around us glossy billboards are screaming out, “if you want to look like me! Pick me up!” From time to time, a beautiful girl in a short skirt may flash us a “pick me up” smile. All of them are begging to be picked up. And even when a man dedicates himself to the intensity of work, again, he is often asked by his superiors and management to pick up this and that skill to be more productive and competitive, be it multi-tasking or buying into new thoughtware. All around us, we are constantly faced with things that want to be picked up.

But if we do not even bother to think long and hard abt the things, we should or should not pick up along with how or where to set these things down. Then there is a real danger we may not be carry these things that we have decided to pick up under our own terms. When this happens, then it could be said, the thing that we have decided to pick up has already managed to whirl themselves into our heads latching themselves to our consciousness – as time goes by, this thing, be it money, power, women, high office and influence can only color the way we see the world along with altering many of our responses. When this happens, this thing can only ravage our character hollowing it out. By this late stage it is very hard to know whether this thing we have once decided to pick can ever be set down – it has taken control over every aspect of our lives; we have ceased to be the master of this thing, we are now it’s servant and this thing has been transformed into a God. And when this happens, all we can really do is wait for our impending doom.

The End. Matilah!

Darkness 2012

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“You have googled it Gintai, but it is unlikely that you will find the real meaning of this ancient Chinese idiom. Since you are so interested, allow me to share with you my thoughts on this subject. The origin of this idiom, what you decide to pick up, you must know when and how to put down is intrinsically Cantonese, the teochew will not know what this means, as for the Hainanese, they think it is about hanging out laundry – but to most Cantonese, they know it well as part and parcel of martial arts culture, specifically Hon Kuen. Hon Kuen Kung Fu is the only martial arts that emphasizes on correctness of stance, so much attention is devoted to proper stancing, leopard, crane etc. This is not unusual as Guandong was a busy trading hub and many coolies worked as stevedores loading and unloading cargo from ships. So the Tao of balancing heavy weights was always an ellusive art handed down from master to apprentice. As time went by the simple idea of a man taking up a heavy stack and balancing it and putting it down safely became an allegory of what it means to live a purpose driven life.

The prototypal martial artist from the Hon Kuen stable infact developed many of their martial stances by observing the stevedores who loaded the merchant fleet in Guandong. They came away convinced that the simple idea of bearing a heavy load and delivering it to it’s destination contained within it a microcosm of what it means to live a purpose driven life. So as time went by this allegory of life became a feature of coastal parlance. The emphasis is usually on correctness of conduct in the face of temptation and extraordinary hardship. So if a Mandarin says, “what I decide to pick up, I can put down.” It means, he will be unwavering in his mission and see it to the very end. If it is a businessman, it simply means, I will see this enterprise to success no matter what the odds and when the day comes for me to hand my responsibility over, it will be done perfectly in accordance with the laws of heaven and earth. There is a seriousness and finality in this idiom and it is usually used to emphasis that the person uttering it is a very serious man, someone who should never be toyed with or taken lightly.

As since this idiom refers to correctness of conduct. There is also an art of war component here: that is the man who decides to pick up this thing must first know how to balance this heavy weight skillfully. If he misjudges what he is dealing with, he will fall off the plank and lose his load to the river.This is why this idiom is used specifically to educate the young that while it is very easy to pick up a load. It is no bloody use, unless he knows how to is settle this thing safely down. To those who may be older, this idiom means, please play the game and do not let the game play you or make sure you are always the master of money, do not allow money to be your master. So as you can see Gintai there are plenty of hidden meanings here.

Suffice to say, this idiom is usually used by serious men to rebuke those who seem not to understand the importance of correctness of conduct, like a man walking around like a drunkard carrying a heavy weight, not knowing where to settle it or for that matter where he should even go. When a man is diffusing his energy in such a manner, it is very hard to know whether he is carrying the load or the load is carrying him – so the serious men of this world will say to this wayward fellow, “leih mo gau chor mah!, leh loh tak hei, fon tak lok moh?” – “are you kidding me! You have decided to pick up this load, do you know how to settle it down?” It simply means, this man is out of his depths, he has no business doing the things he is doing, he should sit down before he falls down, he should perhaps even stop what he is doing before he brings harm to himself and others.

Gintai, money is best treated as a heavy weight. It should be picked up with the right attitude and with a clear vision of where it is supposed to be settled. If not a man is likely to fall into the river and make a bloody fool of himself.”
Darkness 2012″

Captured recently by the digital signal broadcaster KDD Vancouver and KDD Majestic – posted somewhere in the abandoned sector of district 19 (Singapore blogosphere) – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Money can very often take over our lives, like an evil weed, it can even blot out the field of possibilities and dominate every aspect of our existence. When this happens money has become a God – the only problem there is, money is a pretty crappy God – as when one becomes fixated on money, one can only be led astray by power and influence. After all these other aspects of life come along with money. You really cannot have one without the other. As a result, it is not uncommon for all of us to know of people who have become so obsessed with the idea of accumulating money that they even end up destroying their lives and those around them.

The Cantonese, I believe have the best attitude towards money and it’s counterparts – power & influence and it goes like this: “lor tak hei, fong tak lok,” this is short but very profound, as it is really as compact as a pill – and what this means is:

What I can pick up, I will also have no difficulty in setting down.

The problem in Singapore these days is we have lousy role models who like to hold on to the things they once picked up and have even forgotten WHY and HOW to put them down – some of these power crazy even believe it is their birth right not to set those things down. This is because money, power and influence is extremely difficult if not impossible to set aside.

A man who believes he can just set down money, power and influence as easily as he once picked it up, simply doesn’t know himself along with how he can be transformed by money.

When people are NOT mindful of the destructive effects of money –  they can easily become enslaved by the idea of money. As a result they are seldom satisfied with what they already have – they are all like vampires, searching for more and more money to slake their unquenchable thirst.

This simply means instead of playing the game of life. The game of life is now playing them. Instead of controlling money, money is now controlling every aspect of their life along with how they respond and make sense of things. So it is really quiet impossible for these delluded people to put down what they once decided to pick up. Neither is it possible for many of them to effect a proper hand over of money, power and influence. As these people are really the architects of their own hell – as they have invested so much of their personality, ego and prestige in the whole idea of what it means to pick up a thing. It is conceivable they may have even lost their sense of mission along with any purpose that can produce any measure of good for the vast majority of people. When a man puts money on the altar and begins to work towards it, like it is the alpha and omega – then what he does is open up the gates of hell. As these people are really going against the Tao of nature. That means their lives can never be in harmony with the laws of ying and yang and this can only lead to suffering. And suffering usually leads to a very sad ending.

Darkness 2012

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“Money is very important. People who tell you, it is not important are simply unrealistic and delusional. As even to live a simple life, you have to be a very wealthy man. I cannot just plant a chili tree in a park owned by National Parks Board. They will come knocking on my door. But if you are wealthy, you can buy land and plant anything you want without anyone disturbing you. So money is very important.

Granted, it may not be able to buy you happiness. But why would you even expect money to buy you love? Tell me, do you use a screw driver to open your front door? You don’t. Like me, you probably use a key. So when people claim that money cannot buy happiness – they are really just stating the obvious. Let me be frank and honest. I rather be rich than poor and you could even say no one goes into commercial farming for any other reason except to make money. Yes, I love trees, but please understand this with absolutely no trace of illusions, it also has to make good business sense – as to be a commercial farmer one can never run away from commercial realities; hence there is always a need to leverage on a multitude of ways to increase productivity and yeild – it is a highly competitive business with real and present risk of going bankrupt, so how can anyone in their right frame of mind say money is not important? 

It is important, but I think what is required here is to ALWAYS regard money for what it is, instead of what others say it is – ONLY then can a person mentally prepare himself to deal with money responsibly.

From a spiritual angle the whole subject of money is much more complex – as the farmer is always struggling to find the right balance between making enough and trying to find contentment – but let me be frank abt this. It is very difficult for a man to be truly satisfied. Man is after all a hunter, so once he has killed a saber tooth tiger, he will look to bigger prey as his trophy. So when a farmer has successfully managed to till one hectare, he will look at ten hectares and in no time, he can only talk the language of thousands of hectares! When this happens, a man can be very easily swept away by the affectations that usually follows money, that is power and influence. And this is not uncommon at all, as when you are successful at what you do; then it is not unusual to attract a following who are always interested to learn the secrets of your success – so success begets power and influence. When a man finds himself changing imperceptibly, it is usually very hard for him to detect or correct himself – that is why no matter how much a man makes, it is best to give everything to his wife and only be contended with carrying $50 in his wallet everyday – with $50 a day, a man can have many lofty ambitions like buying a private jet with stewardess sporting short skirts, but since his net worth at any point in time and space is only $50 –  he will simply have to use his imagination or cultivate the art of sitting back and watching these delightful thoughts come and go like puffy clouds – that is to say, he is locked and chained up like Mr Hyde. If he wants to screw around, he cannot, as what can one really buy these days with $50? You wouldn’t even be able to get a room where they store cleaning chemicals and mops in Hotel 81. So there are many things a man cannot do – and knowing that he can do never little with the constraint of only $50 is not such a bad thing for a capable and ambitious man who is used to getting his way. As this is really what keeps him grounded and clear minded about the things that should really matter. There is really no shame in a man admitting that he may not have the will power to resist the temptations that comes with money and asking his wife to be the banker. There is however great shame when a man does not even take the trouble to sit down and figure out what is his strengths and weaknesses. Now you know why, all the serious men are afraid of their wife’s, as they know the higher one gets the more he should learn to bow before the everyday and ordinary.

Remember the $50 rule – as this is one of the most reliable ways to prevent money, power or influence from running amok and taking over your life and turning it into a living hell.”

This has been extracted from the popular series – The Way of the Farmer – brought to you proudly by the Brotherhood Press 2012

Most people will not have too much difficulty in look back over the years and identifying a moment in time when their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or choice, these are what I call significant moments, because of within this span of time in space, it is as if, we are standing before a deep valley on the edge of a cliff. During such moments, we have so much fear and fascination swirling in both our heads and hearts. But somewhere in this mess, there is a readiness within us to take that leap of faith.

I find in life. As a man grows older, these “significant moments” in life present themselves less and less – and even if they should suddenly spring up in the everyday litany of life, it is unlikely to provoke the same thrill in all of us – as been older, we are all very much like old soldiers who have seen the before, during and end – there is no more allure, no illicit thrill that can only come from taking on an unknown quantity. At our age and with the wealth of experience behind us, it is very difficult to get excited abt anything anymore.

But that is the precise reason why – especially when we are older and see the world increasingly with prosaic instead of dreamy eyes that we should chase these “significant moments.”  As sooner or later every man will eventually discover that the really significant moments in his life is NEVER like the advertised version of life not that unreachable summit, no that epic bicycle ride around the world, not that one in a thousand business deal that managed to lift off, not the first million, not the first hectare, not the endless evening parties, not the friends we surround ourselves with, not even the great goals we have all achieved. As we begin to live life more and more, we too will eventually realize life has a sense of humor and it too leaves residuals on us all, where the really “significant moments” in our life are less about our accomplishments and possessions – it is really about the everydayness of life and how we all go about the business of loving and being loyal to our wife’s, caring for our children and making sure there is always food on the table. Being a pillar in our family so that the extended branches can rely on us in troubled times. When we have reached this stage where the ordinary litany of life can somehow be our “significant moments,” that has to be one of the greatest accomplishment of every man, as it means we no longer choose to measure our lives anymore. Rather our lives are measured by those around this – to know this when you are young is to know how to age gracefully.

Darkness 2012

“Trees do not have a problem with aging gracefully – only man seems to suffer from this problem, as his ego usually gets in the way of graceful aging. When I use this word graceful aging, it applies to you even though you are young – as how do you really begin to age gracefully when you have not really given it much thought BEFORE you age – do you mean to tell me, once you hit 60, only then are you going to buy a book from Amazon on how to age gracefully – if that is the case, then your chances of success is close to zero. Long before you are old, it is always best to look at how trees age, in the moment of their youth they are full of vigor, it mid-life they are reasoned and measured and when they have reached their twilight years they are stately – and so it is with man as well – when you are older, you should do all the things that you wanted to do, like jump out of an aeroplane and see the world by bicycle etc – but as you reach 30, then you priorities must change. And those significant moments that makes up your history will also have to go through a change as well. But somewhere around 30 to 50. Every man will go through a great revaluation of life – some get confused by this, that is why you see them chasing after younger women and eating monkey’s brains or popping tiger ball’s pills – these men are trying to recapture what they feel they might have lost. But that idea is misplaced. As they have really not lost anything at all, this is what life is all about – when you are 30, you cannot run as fast as when you were a teen and when you are 40 you can never run as far as a 30 year old man – nature is incredibly democratic – that is just what life is all about. But one of the greatest periods of awakening for every thinking man – and this gift of life can really only come to the thinking man, I am so sorry. As if you have NEVER bothered about it, how can you even posses it?

It is the idea the really significant moments in life is not about the great adventures in your life – as sailing around the world, macheting your way across the dense junge or even summiting that mountain can never really be considered courageous acts – yes sooner or later, everyman will realize this. As the bravest thing in this world sometimes is just to be able to wake up in the morning, brush your teeth and put on your polyester tie just to go to work. It is in the everyday mundaness of life that every thinking man will discover there is REAL courage. As here, there is no cut off point – it just goes on day in and out. And somewhere in this litany lies the true terror that will always test man. So it is this that the wise man finds his significant moments in, when he is with his kids or sharing a tender moment with his wife, picking up the kids, hopping down to the shop to get that carton of milk, these are the things that are really boring, yet significant. So very significant.”

This has been extracted from the Way of the Farmer – proudly brought to you by the Brotherhood press 2012

Love & Fear

May 8, 2012

In life, we all eventually learn the wisdom of what works while discarding the useless. You could even say this is the only thing we ever do throughout our brief lives. We may not be conscious of this process, but trust me when I tell you. We r all doing it, it doesn’t matter who we are: rich or poor, highflyer or bottom skimmer, gifted or just plain mediocre. We ALL go through this process of winnowing the useful and useless at work with our colleagues. And even when we are with our families and close friends at rest and play – we are doing it. But try as we might to do this as best we can, each of us will eventually reach the wall of realization that there are usually two constants that are ALWAYS at work in life: Fear and Love.

This should not come as a surprise to the perceptive reader. As both fear and love are very powerful forces. They have an effect on both the hearts and minds – so it is not unusual to find that at various turning points in our life, be it deciding to get hitched, buying the first house or car, getting the first promotion and wondering whether we will be able to do a good job etc. All these pursuits are colored by a mixture of love and fear.

Only if we are to fully understand how one relates to the other; we should understand them in the way an assassin gets to know the tools of his trade – as this afternoon, I will share with you how to kill fear with the power of love.

Fear is the nemesis of all man – it is the antithese of the mother. When we are fearful, we pull back, we freeze, we don’t take risk, we tow the line instead of striking out and all too often fear paralyzes us into inaction. This is only to be expected as fear is the mind killer. When we are in or around love, the reverse happens: we are open to all that life has to offer with its endless fields of possibilities layed out before us, full of excitement that even comes with the promise of acceptance.

So to banish fear COMPLETELY, we must first realize, we can NEVER simply discard it away like so many of our bad habits. This is not how one should go abt the business of killing fear, as that only heightens fear it’self. To kill fear dead in it’s tracks – we need to first learn to love ourselves, we need to be kind to ourselves to even be selfish and bask in our full glory along with learning how to be perfectly comfortable with our imperfections. It is only when we dedicate ourselves to doing this time and again that we can overcome fear. As our love inside us will work it’s way outwards like a tree fingering from a seed. And it is only when this happens can we begin to chase our fear in ourselves, loved one’s and those who we really care about. As the fastest way to banish fear is NEVER to fight it head on, but to starve it of all nutrients with the power of love. Love conquers all. Love will always find a way.

Darkness 2012

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If your wife is the sort that cannot cook for nuts – let, me share with you a technique, how to improve her cooking by 500% within 45 days. I stress 45 days only as, if it continues you may have to go to the hospital for a stomach scan. Never criticize your wife’s cooking. As when you do this, she will always be filled with fear whenever she takes to the wok. Fear can make a woman especially nervous so she will add more salt when less is needed and less sugar when more is needed – you will end up with tasteless food and high blood pressure. The best way to encourage a woman to cook like a chef is to adopt the demeanor of a Mossad secret agent and eat her food as if she is the best cook in the world.  Even if what is before you taste like rubber duck, you should be such a good actor and wolf it all down and even pretend to ask for second helpings. When you do this regularly, you will certainly suffer from indigestion, but at least your wife will believe that you love her cooking –  and she can only be filled with confidence and devote more of her being into making you a happy eater, so her cooking can only improve by leaps and bounds over this 45 day period (providing you do not end up in hospital). As what you have done is to successfully use love to kill her fear of failing. You see, it is very easy to understand this, you do not even have to be a guru, just someone who values the common sense: Fear cannot possibly grow in love. That is not possible, just as a rose can never grow in the desolation of the desert. As love robs fear of all its nourishment, so it can only shrivel up and die.

This strategy can be successfully applied to dealing with subordinates that do not seem to take pride in their work as they have been henpecked to a point of uselessness – can also be used to deal with troubled teens and students you have had to beat up in Kendo to show them who is boss, but don’t want to give up Kendo and just be a team player – can also be used to deal with troubled teens who do not seem to have the patience to excel in school work. Research and study this well.”

Extracted from the way of the farmer – The Brotherhood Press 2012

I rarely post articles that I come across in the newspaper, but this one by SEAH CHIANG NEE is really an excellent and crispy piece that captures much of the anxities felt by so many middle class Singaporeans and residents. If ST journalist can regularly come out with thought provoking write up’s like this, then I really don’t think. They have to worry too much about their future. As it is, they are set to slide further down into depths of irrevelance. You really have no one to blame but yourself.

Enjoy.

Darkness 2012

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The demise of the industrial era locally and the emergence of competitive giants like China and India are pushing down wages everywhere. SINGAPORE’S P-MET (pronounced Pee-met) – the acronym for Professionals, Mana­gers, Executives and Technicians, a flourishing group of people who make up 51% of the workforce – is under stress. Most are, of course, university graduates or diploma holders, whose numbers and role in society had steadily increased because of strong growth and people’s determination to get higher education. In turn, it helped to shape Singapore into what it is – a rich, middle-class society. The first blow was struck by the demise of the industrial era here as well as the emergence of competitive giants like China and India that pushed down wages everywhere. Factories were closed or moved overseas and mass retrenchments followed, including executives and managers. A series of downturns and recessions added to the toll. In 2008, for example, 43.3% of retrenched Singaporeans were from this group. A new shadow now looms. This is the arrival of a small army of hungrier foreign P-METs who are always ready to accept lower wages. Singapore is a middle class city. An estimated 70% of citizens consider themselves middle class rather than working class. The influx of one million workers in the past 10 years included many poorer paid P-METs from India and the Philippines. Many ended up in finance, computer and multinational corporations, some of them easing out locals. The arrivals are a mixed bag. The majority comprises lower-paid workers, but also includes many extremely rich settlers. The demographic infusion is continuing but the government, responding to public pressure, has recently reduced the number of approvals given out. It has eroded bit by bit the Singapore middle-class, already hit by economic changes.

Another effect of globalisation is the monthly departure of 1,000 Singaporeans to settle abroad for better opportunities and a more relaxed lifestyle. In the past 10 years, 97,990 Singaporeans (excluding small children), had left, the government said. Many are young and well-educated professionals. The erosion of the middle class was first noticed three years ago in Japan, and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong and Taiwan before arriving here. It was enunciated as the M-shaped society by Japanese strategist Kenichi Ohmae, who noticed that among middle-class workers in Japan only a “very few” made it to the rich, while a greater number actually sank to the lower classes. For some middle-class Singa­po­reans, this sounds uncomfortably familiar. The gap between rich and poor in Singapore is the second widest in the world, and the government has promised utmost efforts to put it right. For the government any weakening of the middle class is bad news. Who forms the middle class? There is no universally accepted definition, but Singaporeans generally base it on earnings. People who earn S$4,000-S$7,000 (RM9,800-RM17,200) are considered middle and upper middle classes. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said that any political party that wanted to win power in Singapore must win the middle class. The mass arrival of foreign professionals into the marketplace is causing the government dearly in public support – as shown in last year’s general election. Former Director of Internal Secu­rity Department (1971-74) Yoong Siew Wah wrote that “Singapore has 30,000 P-METs who have been unemployed for quite a long time, and we now have Chinese and Indian immigrants competing … for the limited employment opportunities”. What do the unemployed P-METs do? Many work as taxi drivers, property agents, insurance agents, financial advisers, remisiers, or tuition teachers, said a surfer. In recent years, the Lee Hsien Loong government responded to the furore by cutting down the number of foreign PRs and raising the pay ceiling for foreign professionals. He also pledged priority efforts to narrow the income gap between rich and poor. Commentator Patrick Loh said: “If you look around, Singaporeans have lost many middle management and higher management jobs to foreigners for the past decade. “They are still losing these to them. The painful part is losing these jobs to lesser qualified candidates, just because they appear to fit the role better with a cheaper pay package,” he added. There is another compelling reason why the People’s Action party (PAP) wants to keep educated youths employed. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told accompanying journalists to India years ago that his government would want to avoid his host’s plight. Their universities were churning out too many unemployed graduates. Recollecting from memory, I gather his rationale being: These unemployed graduates have the knowledge and free time to plan revolutions. They would hang around in coffee shops and talk politics, and soon a revolution brews. Recently, an Education Ministry official was reported to have told a US diplomat (source: Wikileaks) that Singapore did not plan to encourage more students to study in university, and the campus enrolment rate would stay at 20%-25%. I wonder, if this is true, is it connected to concerns about the possibility of unmanageable unemployment among graduates here?

Do read this as well, aptly entitled: driven to despair, literally.

 

http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=insightdownsouth&file=/2012/4/28/columnists/insightdownsouth/11191642&sec=Insight%20Down%20South

 

In this day and age when religion has been hijacked by professional marketers, it is not so different from a owning a Kate Spade handbag or a exotic car that regularly turns heads – many people take to religion these days in the way, they decide to join country clubs – it’s not so much about the idea of God, as it is all about image and showing off – nonetheless, on Wesak, it’s important to remember the fundamental values that ALL religion teaches: Peace. Compassion and Non violence.

No one religion is higher than another – they all stand equally before man and the wonderful powers of nature – as they all roughly preach the same message. They may do so in different ways, but they all end up in the same place at the end of the day.

If anybody from another religion pities you for worshipping what you consider to be the God of your life – take issue with him! That is your right. Be forceful in correcting him in the way, you will slap nonsense out from a child, when you see him doing something dangerous and destructive. As this is what bad teaching can only do – fill a man’s mind with dangerous and destructive thoughts which have nothing whatsoever to do with God.

Your religion is really yours and yours alone – man is always optional, matters little whether he is a pastor or world famous sage – he is just a man, nothing more or less, fix your eye on the one who is truly important. Get to know him and as time goes by, you will hopefully find that friendship can indeed be a very rewarding thing.

Darkness 2012

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“All religion is intrinsically grounded on goodness. There is no such thing as an evil religion. It matters not whether it is judaism, Islam, Christianity or Buddhism. They all preach the same message of Peace, Compassion and Non-violence. The same however cannot be said, about man who likes to enrich themselves and accumulate power and influence in the name of religion – that is why it is best NEVER to get involved in the politics of religion – leave that to fools and knaves, there is never a shortage of them. As for you. You don’t have time for mumbo jumbo and that is really the end and the beginning of it all.”

Nature certainly presents endless challenges to test man’s patience – a few days ago. I tried to move a prototype accelarator for my new oil mill that arrived from Germany – courtesy of the Gessenshaft Guilds Confederation – in the beginning it proceeded well, just a slight drizzle. Then in a blink of an eye, hell was unleashed, a thunderstorm came and this was promptly followed by a flash flood. Result: two overturned lorries and one that is seriously stuck in the mud. As for the accelarator, it is seriously damaged. It’s busted pretty bad and the nearest place I can get it fixed is in a shipyard in Singapore. So I will have to return back home asap.

I am very tired. I have not slept for 72 hours.

Darkness 2012

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One Year Ago somewhere in Munich

“Gentlemen, oil palm grows around 20 degrees south latitude in Central and East Africa – there is lots of sun there. As there is lots of it through out that latitude across the entire world stretching from Cameroon to Malaysia and right up into Burma. So tell me why is everyone try to run their oil mills by trying to connect a three pin plug to the national powergrid. The biggest constraint to operating a oil mill is electricity. As electricity requires  substations, pylons and cables. These things don’t exist in the jungle and even if they do, they don’t last very long as warring factions like to target them – I don’t have to mention the obvious, where there is a cable – it can be sabotaged so the risk there needs to be managed – what we need is not a giant oil mill plant that we usually come across in Singapore Island – we need to think modular, something like an inductive solar powered oil mill. Look here there is nothing fancy to it, it’s really just a giant solar water heater. I have it sketched out on a napkin. I haven’t really changed anything except perhaps used molten salt as the medium for heat transfer to enable us to generate superheated steam to at least 400 atmospheres. As you can all see the calculations are good. Now you people just need to build it in Bavaria – if we can build such a machine and transport it to site – it means we can even operate it smack in the middle of the jungle! We will not be dependant on ANY government – the German Guilds should help us all instead of spending all their time and energy making really expensive beer machines!”

Image

What is really wrong with this chart? Look at it very carefully. Don’t try to answer the question directly, it’s an elephant – so it’s best to cut it into smaller pieces. Focus on only one side at a time, then ask yourself what’s really missing from this chart. The answer you seek is there. You need not look further. It’s all here in this chart.

Darkness 2012

Singaporeans are not stupid. Most already know globalization is here to stay along with foreign workers – after all, there is no Da Vinci code to it, this trend is really just another accreation of the whole idea of an increasingly borderless world, where goods, services and people are becoming more mobile. No one is suggesting for one moment, we should all turn our backs on globalization and return back to the happy days of the cottage industry.

But why is it so difficult for Singaporeans to welcome foreigners with open arms to our shores?  Why is can’t we all seem to get along? Why is there so much friction? Are we perhaps parochial and insular in our outlook? Or are we just plain red neck xenophobic?

Well if you really want to know the root cause why most Singaporeans find foreign workers a bane rather than boon. There are plenty of accounts floating in the internet. Some have highlighted one reason for the deteroirating relationship between native and foreign workers is the break neck pace at which the government is trying to ramp up the population by bringing more foreigners into this tiny rock – this can really only sharpen the sense of anxiety for most Singaporeans as the unmitigated pace of immigration has caused a host of intractable problems in our midst – from straining the infrastructure such as transport and housing, spiking the price of cars and houses along with narrowing the field of opportunities for most Singaporeans.

Many years ago Adam Smith warned people are the most difficult things to transplant in another country. Importing labor is simple enough but managing it to ensure the sum of what continues to unite us all is greater than our divisions appears to be is infinitely more difficult – while relying more on foreign workers to shore up our economy was arguably the ONLY way to go to keep Singapore competitive. No one can deny (even by the most forgiving standards) the Singaporean government could have done significantly more to temper many of the corrosive economic and social cultural distortions that foreign workers bring in their wake – since very little has been done by the government of the day to minimized their impact of accomodating so many people in Singapore – this can really only heighten the sense of disenchantment felt by many Singaporeans who no longer see the Singaporean dream with the same degree of self confidence that they used too – how could they, when all too often they are priced out of property, cars and in certain cases even job opportunities.  

The result is naturally penned up frustration where most Singaporeans will simply draw the conclusion, real or imagined, that foreign workers are really the source of all their problems. Had the government of the day done more to smooth out these shocks and spikes associated with bringing so many foreign workers to our shores, instead of just lazily flicking on the auto-pilot switch and folding their arms and leaving it all the vagaries of the laissez faire market to sort out the mess. Instead of trying to shift the blame to the electorate by rolling out irritating platitudes and empty rhetoric to appeal to the patience and sagacity of most Singaporeans to be more welcoming to foreign workers, all the problems we have in our midst would have disappeared like lemon drops.

Against the backdrop of these challenges facing Singapore. It’s interesting to note Mini Lee recently highlighted in his Mayday speech how even Germany now seems to be opening their doors to foreign workers – only what perhaps he omitted in his sharing, unlike the Singaporean government that has always been inexplicably bovine in managing the harmony between foreign and native workers – German policy makers are likely to adopt a much more serious tack towards managing this change without disrupting their social cultural and economic fabric. Hence even if immigration sets to be a mainstay in German life, the pace is unlikely to be as fast and furious as that of the happy-go-lucky (let it rip lah!) policymakers in Singapore – who really only have tons of shattered dreams and broken homes to show for as they once raced ahead by nearly doubling the number of workers in Singapore within a span of ten years! This is really unprecedented in the history of any country or even continent – Indeed, one can say firms were happiest and even maybe expats and their wifes, but at what cost did their happiness come at the expense of the average Singaporean Ah Kauh, Muthu and Ahmad? 

So let me finish off what Mini Lee was too lazy to elaborate: the chances are probably zero that the Germans will ever follow the Singaporean template of immigrating foreign workers – rather the Germans are likely to adopt a controlled approached where measures to promote better relations between native and foreign workers will probably remain their top priority. Had Singapore policymakers bothered with the same they too would be sitting pretty along with discovering a sustainable means of retaining economic prosperity along with sustaining a vibrant social and cultural framework that would cement relationships between  foreign and native workers. As it is, they are like really cats and dogs. And I suspect things are going to get rougher – this is what happens when there are stupid and lazy people who cannot plan for nuts.

Darkness 2012

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“I have noticed all my life, how stupid people like to regularly throw out really valuable and precious things. And one of the greatest national treasures we have against being assaulted by the feeling of alienation and being marginalized is our culture. But like I said, stupid people like to throw out valuable things – so some of these extremely stupid people went on nationwide TV and declared , “Singapore has no culture!” Now do you really know what this means? Do you even have any idea what it means to say that to a mass of people that you don’t even have such a thing as a culture? Wonder no more why when we speak about xenophobia, this is a subject that is closely linked to a far deeper question – “who am I?” So what we see here is culture plays a preponderant role in the whole idea of national identity along with feeding the whole idea of personhood. This idea is as old as the hills and it goes all the way back to the days when we were all sitting around a fire and listening to the Shaman. As he recounted the origins of the tribe.

For me, since I consider all politicians roughly two rungs slightly higher than the best food court manager – I never ever take what they say to heart – especially when I hear them spout such rubbish. I will say, “maybe you don’t have a culture, but I do!” So I know who I am and where I stand in the community. It is ONLY when you can take pride in where you came from that you can really understand the meaning of why you choose to do the things you do. And this idea of identity can only fortify you with the right attitude to see a thing right through to the logical end – this idea of identity is not just fluff, it is a strategic asset that all the serious men know about – and forms part of the compedium of the art of war – that means, a sense of belonging aka identity has an intrinsic value that feeds into the whole idea the individual is only the aggregate sum of the whole. To the best of my knowledge culture is the only way to bring out the best in people. During the Blitz, if you took away culture, there would be no such thing as the final redemption in the form of the Battle of Britian – the same goes for the Brotherhood, take away our culture and we would all be lackeys like the red Indians when they were herded to reservations – so don’t cause my brain pain, don’t tell me these are trivia! As when these really important things that identify groups of people to a particular tribe are just thrown out like rubbish what do you think people will take too – xenophobia. As another word that can best describe xenophobia is nihilism. And you cannot blame them, as the condition of the powerless and defeated is to seek the fastest way to relief – this is what happens when people do not take pride in their identity and they are even schooled to be ashamed of who they are – then they can only find repose and rest in the mindlessness of hate which is the bitter fruit of xenophobia.

But let me say this to you all. Especially to those of you out there in the desolation of Africa, Burma and South America – that we have a culture and it is alive and in top form. It may not be as stately as our French friends with their opulent idea of France profonde or even as elegant and quaint as the Germanic idea of Volkergedanken or even as stepped in history as the Jewish idea of Amiut Yehudit. But nonetheless we have a cultural touchstone – if I had to point to this cultural repository that is able to contain every aspect of “who I am.” It can very well reside in the whole idea of maggi two minutes noddles. Why do you find this idea so ludicrous? I have noticed on my recent African inspection of our plantations how so many of us seem to haggle over Maggi mee every time we met. It seems this is the only thing we all do without trying to kill each other – do you want to exchange Laksa for curry flavor? What if I give you two prawn flavored in exchange for one curry flavored maggi? But nonetheless somewhere in the politics of dessicated instant noodles is the idea that you and me have created a space, language and parlance that connects you to me; you could even say whenever the locals see us haggling as we do underneath a palm tree – quarelling endlessly as we do over Maggi mee, they are likely to say, “this is a very Singaporean thingy. I don’t think we can ever understand it.” They areabsolutely right, they cannot understand it, just as we can never understand Bar Mitzvah or why French women never seem to get fat. And this is really what culture is, it is not abt pomp and pagentry, it is the idea that you and I share a common set of lemotifs that is hard if not impossible to explain to others who are not members of our tribe. That is why whenever the locals see us negotiating over Maggi Mee – they can only watch in bewilderment. Be that as it may.

My point is even in this humble make do way, we still have a reliable touchstone to know remind ourselves WHO we are and check off our bearing to know WHERE we are going – and with this, we can only be filled with confidence to tell others what we are willing to accept and throw out – people who deal regularly with us, know that we are not flotsam’s and that my friends is the reason why we will always prevail and prosper. But never forget, where it all comes from and what is the means that allows us to make this spiritual connection to our sense of identity and belonging – it may well be found in the idea of maggi two minute noddles. But nonetheless these are roots that feed into the whole idea of the tree called –  WHO ARE YOU? Never forget your roots. Never.”

This has been extracted from the way of the farmer – Proudly brought to you by the Brotherhood press 2012.