If the price for peace is so structured that it requires me to trust people who once conspired to ‘keep me in my place,’…..then it is simply another means to impose command and control over how I choose to run my business….then it is as good as offering another poison…a dead end…..there is no way out of this.

The only option is war!

I am so overstretched….I don’t nearly have the sort of network to make things happen without constant interference…there are systematic weaknesses within my enterprise that cannot suffer even so much as one minor hit….only tiny hit and I am well and truly out in the cold…fortunately no one knows this…fact is, the other landowners are much bigger…to deal with the ‘apparent threat’ they have combined together to create a super force now.

Should I be foolish to face off against such a formidable force head on….in the first six months, I will certainly be able to make it costly for them….in beginning I will win, win and win, but thereafter it will certainly be a conflict that will sap my resources to it’s very limits – and once that pivot point is breached….it will be a war of attrition…..defeat is a mathematical certainty.

I must not fall into this trap and only fight under my own terms…I must run deep and silent…..I must pretend that I am a wash out….put my tail between my legs and show everyone that I am shit scared or better still that I am a just an inconsequential fool….hardly a threat to anyone…except maybe myself.

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‘No one desires conflict. Least of all me….but at times conflict is inevitable.

As by simply choosing to run an enterprise…..one has already by default taken an aggressive posture against the status quo ante….it could well be something as benign as starting a chicken rice shop opposite an existing one across the street or even a complex conflagration like what we are all witnessing in the Spratly islands.

At times conflict is inevitable…even if all you’re doing is going about your business as a taxi driver, office cookie cutter and normal human being with average expectations such as myself….trouble will come looking for you….how does one go about the business of negotiating a ‘live and let live’ pact with an office bully…an unreasonable boss or a leader who keeps resorting to nefarious means to stay in power?

How does one even begin the process of reasoning with people who believe they have a right to lord over me…and that I should only grow to this level and no more…How?

The recent attempted coup in Turkey is just one of many illustrations of how conflict can emerge right out of the blue….out of nowhere.

So this whole idea of denying the existence of conflict by putting one’s head in the sand by failing to acknowledge it’s existence or even bothering to craft a sensible way to manage oneself and others effectively in the face of conflict is unrealistic…..it’s new age bull shit to believe that everything is in the palm of one’s hand and that external factors do not have the power to inflict pain on one!

It’s bullshit!

At the nucleaus of every conflict lies the belief – everyone is the SAME….everyone aspires towards the SAME things in life and everyone can be managed the SAME way….this to me…at least is a summary of how the seeds of conflict are sowed industrially.

However if one can accept – people have different preferences how to live their life and actualize their dreams and aspirations along HOW they wish to live, work and play under ONLY their own terms…which may be different from our conception of what is good.

In perhaps the same way, I much prefer spicy beef spaghetti to a bowl of soupy wanton noodles…you much prefer to read self improvement books to fiction – my point is people will always be intrinsically different – what you think is right for you may not to be right for me….see my point?

When one forces…coerce…or manipulate others to follow ONLY one ideology, principle, belief and believe the ONLY there is only ONE way to live….one sows the seeds to conflicts because others will naturally resist!

However by accepting and internalizing the philosophy live and let live…we provision space for others by accommodating their differences along with allowing them to make their life choices by provisioning the widget space.

Always treat others the way you want to be treated.

Maturity & Wisdom

July 16, 2016

Last week during a meeting with a cartel of landowners who had previously blocked me from buying more land. One of them who owns an oil mill asked me whether I would consider signing an agreement to sell him all my fruit exclusively…..I told him politely, I will have to consider.

One of them insinuated this is the price for peace….I turned to this fellow and told him….if this is your offer for peace…what then is the definition of war?

Thru out the entire meeting I kept replying….I will need time to consider.

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‘Both maturity and wisdom have nothing whatsoever to do with age….having lived X number of years more than others doesn’t automatically confer one a higher quotient of maturity and wisdom.

I happen to know of many men and women who are older and claim to have a wider breadth of worldly experience….yet many of them seem to have the maturity and wisdom of twelve year olds.

Neither has maturity and wisdom got anything to do with good grades either…that’s intelligence….it has even less to do with how much money you have managed to accumulate in your life time or the whole idea of prestige or how well and good others regard you.

Again…this bears repeating only because it is a fact of life that is often misunderstood by so many – if that were really true, then how can one account for the contradiction where there are so many young men and women who seem to be more mature and wiser than those older than them?

I guess what I am trying to share here is my philosophy of how I see the whole idea of maturity and wisdom being inextricably linked to the concept of sustainability – but before I can explain the link…one must first understand the word sustainability has morphed into a prostitute word – one of those sobriquet terms of endearment that people just feel the need to add on as a prefix to come across as credible…sensible…wise etc etc – it’s one of those words that has been used and abused so often by crooked leaders, it’s evacuated of all intrinsic meaning – wonder no more why these days, it’s bandied around from everything ranging from farming, how to run your business to how to grow muscles and stay younger by opting to be a vegetarian.

So if you really want to understand the trilogy of maturity, wisdom and sustainability.

One first needs to reclaim the real meaning of the word sustainability – because when we talk about maturity and wisdom in the context of sustainability.

All we are really doing is creating the idea of a sustainable person – and that can never be a simple idea, it’s a variety of man who takes the trouble to go deeper into himself with the goal of coming full circle. That is essentially how I see a sustainable anything – it’s the imagery of a perfect circle – be it a sustainable enterprise that doesn’t burn out workers, sustainable relationships where both partners grow mentally and spiritually or even something as simple as preferring to carry your groceries with a hemp bag instead of a disposable plastic carrier.

It’s a circle…..not a dead end or a road that leads to the edge of cliff!

So when we speak about the sustainable man – it’s the idea of a man who goes deep into himself. So deep that he has discovered his core. When a man has reached the very center of his being, he can only mature and that leads to wisdom.

As that is the moment when the man whose always distracted by what others say, think or even believe about him disappears completely. Suddenly that whole great diffusion of worthless energy of wondering what he, she or they said about him becomes meaningless….nothingness.

This attitude is often mislabeled as arrogant and being opinionated….but it is NOT!

As when a man discovers his core….he takes full responsibility for his words, actions and thoughts – hence he lives his life under his own terms and doesn’t do stupid things like seek the self respect….approval….and validation of others….such a man is only accountable to the important things in this world and NEVER the worthless.

So to me maturity can never be an acquired state of mind or school of thought that you can upload into your brain – rather it’s a verb…a conscious act that one has to work towards like seeking out where X marks the spot on a treasure map….it’s not automatic.

Journeying into your inner core like an explorer requires diligence and quiet moments of introspection – it requires one to have a deep spirited conversation with the self – till one attains self discovery.

When this stage is attained, a person can only become very beautiful. As he or she is like a flower in full bloom. At the very zenith of it’s fragrance and completeness of form and that is the unabridged definition of beautiful.

This should be goal of every man in his life time.’

Chaos

July 15, 2016

Chaos is a word that is associated with fear and anxiety and everything that is negative about life – that I imagine is what the word chaos means to most people…..as a state of mind, it simply means that one is unable to comprehend a person, subject or situation…. that is all chaos really means as a state of mind…nothing more….one is merely standing before a row of alphabets that one does not understand….it can mean this or that or even anything under the sun….there is nothing to hold on too.

This is why chaos usually provokes fear and anxiety with egomaniacs and people who are accustomed to having their own way all the time…..

For the man who aspires to control nothing but only his thoughts – he will not run around like a headless chicken – he will simply sit down and look at the incomprehensible…..and usually in life when one does ONLY this….soon a pattern will emerge…a key will reveal itself and the door will open to knowingness.

This is the ultimate discipline of the mind.

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‘It is impossible to be grounded and sane and calm when one does not make a conscious effort to control the ego – as the ego is a control freak. He is like one of those people who prefers to have things, people and events behave in their ‘rightful’ way all the time – the definition of ‘rightful’ means things, people and events MUST function in ONLY the way this ego archetypal sees the world…and since the ego centric archetypal believes he is always in control and command of everything under the sun….as soon as he comes face to face with the merest prospects of uncertainty in the form of chaos….a situation that cannot be controlled….he will suffer a nervous break down….malfunction and self destruct!

This is is what usually happens to egoistic people whenever they face a crisis……they cannot be cool under pressure. As to do that first requires the mental discipline to accept uncertainty and chaos as an indelible aspect of the human condition!

But a man who is always mindful of his destructive counterpart who is also an indelible man within the man…the man who is in all men, Mr Ego.

The egoless man knows only to well, he can control nothing whatsoever in this world….have I done everything to preempt La Niña….well I have done some right and wrong things….even then I can really be sure I can ride out this storm and come out of the other side unscathed….maybe if I am lucky, it will spit me out to the side like a seed….maybe I will have to roll with the punches…. the egoless man knows…all he can really hope to do successfully is control what is going on in between his two ears….he cannot control chaos…no one can, but it’s possible to control one’s response along with how best to make the best out of a shitty situation etc etc….do that ONLY…. and though one may stand right in the center of a chaotic storm….here, there is nothingness…push stillness while everything is in violent swirl.’

One of the reasons why I went into business and did not remain a salaried man – is because I derive a lot of satisfaction from giving those who work for and with me a very good deal!

I find that idea incredibly edifying as it sits perfectly inline with my personal philosophy – a man’s labor deserves the highest level of respect and dignity….and the best way for one to express this is by giving others their due for a job well done – hence the idea of dignity of labor is the corner stone of how I conduct my business.

But when I adopt this business outlook….it also means I like to get good a deal back in return as well.

And when I don’t.

I make it very clear to the other side where he’s fallen short or even ask for my money back.

The quality of stones the local quarry has been sending me is shit! I inspected them personally and rejected all ten lorries this morning, instructed all the gates to remain close. Eventually they made a u turn back to where they came from…later on, the boss called me up and told me in a condescending tone, that he was the only quarry around in a radius covering 84 kilometers…to put it another way…he was trying to play hard ball. So I told him in an impeccably calm and polite tone…please do not give me ideas about starting a quarry business…please I beg of you, because I genuinely want to be good and a source of joy and happiness to humanity….I really don’t want to be evil…I would appreciate it if you can consider what I just shared with you very seriously….the voice on the other side went dead silent thereafter.

Two hours later the lorries showed up at the at gate again – this time…they’re perfect.

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‘If someone is not treating you fairly and respectfully…then they are taking advantage of you – when that happens, you must learn to say, this is not acceptable and even be prepared to walk away.

Because if you allow others to take advantage so much as even once – it doesn’t just stop there…as all you’re doing is painting a big bulls eye on your back for everyone else to do the same!

This is how people get bullied, victimized, used and abused…..without them even realizing it, they create the very conditions for grief…by looking the other way…keeping quiet, when they should stomp their feet and bang tables…..by being politically correct….they literally set themselves up for the fall etc etc

In business and even personal relationships if you don’t possess the discipline to walk right out of the door – then you will surely have to get used to worrying, suffering and getting shortchanged all the time…..you must be prepared to walk away.

Walking away may hurt…be very inconvenient and costly (as it doesn’t make economic sense to do so sometimes)…at times you may even go down for the count all bloodied… but at least you stuck to your motto of giving others a great deal and expecting the same from others….at least they and most importantly everyone else knows you’re a dead serious no nonsense fellow when it comes to translating your theory of how you manage yourself and others…..it’s not theoretical!

It is this or we go to war lah!

That is HOW discipline is maintained….granted you may not be popular….people may even decide to black ball you or make your life miserable….but at least you are able to broadcast to everyone that it pays out zero to give you a lousy deal!

As you learn to be comfortable with this idea…you will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to give a great deal and receive one in return.’

It may rain soon….maybe we will get a small shower in the next few days. Then again, it might be a big rain….it’s very hard to say with the weather being so crazy these days…..things may turn from bad to worse. Then again, it may get better or stay exactly the same….who really knows…but one thing is certain….life will go on….and I am glad to be part of this world.

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‘If we genuinely strive to live as happy, healthy and well adjusted people – who possess inner wisdom to see living as a serious matter…..and NOT just something left to chance or the mumbo jumbo of fate and destiny.

Then there is no choice!

One must develop the discipline to ALWAYS be mindful of how the mind has a tendency of going round and round like a cat chasing it’s own tail….this is the nature of the mind…it’s like a river.

You want proof?

Simple. When one observes oneself and others carefully this becomes so very clear…..the first thing that one will discover is how so much of our expectant happiness, health and mental well being is premised on the many assumptions we choose to form about people and events and our objects of interest….it’s all based on ONLY that and very little else – from my years of study, this is the tap root of why so many people work themselves up to a frenzied state of anxiety and fear unnecessarily…..in some cases it paralyses them to a point where they can’t even step out of their comfort zone – to put it another way – they have developed the habit of chasing their own tails….without even realizing it.

And when one is going round and round, it’s impossible to be restful, peaceful and calm.

This state of mind is the reason why so many people take things personally…..feel insecure….become fearful….get angry and even plan to get even with those who…soon, they have fleshed out assumptions concerning that event, person or whatever piques their interest…usually that assumption is written in stone….in other words, they feel the pressure and need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything ranging from what was once mentioned, thought and written – they do all this in order to feel safe….secure and presumably to perpetuate what they see as their way of life.

But the world is not a laboratory – thoughts, events and even sequences of what may or may not happen cannot be reduced into a science……if one day a man slights me or decides to disrespect me….it may have nothing whatsoever to do with whether I have done something to incur his wrath….maybe he woke up from the wrong side of the bed that day…could be, something is eating him up from within….maybe even be he’s having a tough time at work. Do you see how one act, thought and even can even generate millions of possibilities along with questions that cannot possibly be answered…..because there are really so many things that are working to produce the final outcome….it’s exactly like the crazy weather we are experiencing right now….it’s impossible to say will happen for certain….even the experts don’t know….they can only speculate and even then it’s 50/50.

My point is don’t ever feel pressured or stressed out by what will or will not happen…..will things get better or will they take a turn for the worst…..will the new leap of faith in your new job you just signed up for be better than the rut that you’re in right now. Or will you just be jumping from one hot pot to another….will a meteorite the size of mall strike Singapore and wipe out everything?

It’s not important if the answer is correct….or wrong – what is jugular is only this: don’t make any assumptions….cross the river when you reach it….meanwhile just enjoy the view in the journey of life.

If you can just hold on to this thought long enough…today will be a beautiful day…..one day at a time…small steps.’

Big Rain….

July 14, 2016

With the relentless drought….the kampung economy is slowly shriveling up and dying….nothing can grow without rain.

My worst fears have been realized…the ground has cracked on my hill top lands – this means the roots have been severed…it will be a very difficult year for me and even if the rains come – as after this….it will take time for the trees to heal.

As for the small plot owners – a melancholic mood of despair has set in….today will surveying my lands a group of men asked me respectfully whether I could use my powers to make rain…..I simply looked up at the steely white skies imploringly.

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‘Should one decide to stop and simply sit along the five foot way somewhere along the old British road that runs the length of Beruas to Taiping in the district of Matang and larut in Malaysia.

It’s not unusual to see Tamil boys touching the earth and bringing their hands to their lips as they turn the corner that opens up to a hill. Neither is it strange to see Malay rubber tappers muttering protection verses as they emerge from the thicket near the hill. Even less unusual is to hear mothers or wife’s berating their wayward children and husbands with the peculiar stricture that is unique to the region and exist no where else along the length of breadth of the Malaysian peninsula – ‘if you don’t finish your homework….or stop spending all your money on gambling and drink…he will come for you.’

During the ghost month, it’s not unusual at all for farmers to toss sweets or light a joss stick at the foot of the hill where he’s said to live…..The Devil that is. Yes, in Kampung it is a ridiculous notion to suggest the Devil wears Prada. As everyone here knows only too well, he drives a Toyota land cruiser.

Since simple kampung folk believe he brings them both the twin heads of benevolence and malevolence – social protocol dictates the Devil should never be reminded he his a malevolent creature from that other world. Instead everyone is content to pretend he is just like one of them…..another farmer like all other farmers.

In the full moon, menstruating virgins are forewarned never to take the short cut that cuts thru the Western reaches of the Devils land. And should they be callous enough to do so – they should always draw blood by bitting their lips, if they don’t want him to appear in their dreams.

Kampung legend has it. The devil was once a simple farmer who came to these parts to turn the wheel of life from a city far down south. The wawa boy as he was known to all. Wore a baseball cap, carried a hello kitty backpack and lived in a little hut on the hill. For most of the time, he kept mostly to himself. And on those rare occasions when he did come down to the village to stock up on sundries. The children would gather around him as he distributed reed flutes he had fashioned from his own hand that mimicked the call of wild birds. He loved the birds and trees. Village girls would steal looks at the boy. As he had a boyish charm. For most the days, he could be seen planting row after row of palms in his small veggie patch.

One day a greedy landowner approached the boy to buy his lands. The boy declined and this enraged the landowner. On one moonless night gangsters were sent to frighten the boy. Some said, they went too far. Others would insist since they were all drunk. The boy was accidentally killed. Rumor has it, his body was quartered and thrown into the marsh lands.

But since the boy so loved the trees and birds with all his heart and soul. The earth spirit mourned a river. When the bus from that other world came to collect the boys spirit to take him to the other side. It couldn’t get up the hill….as it was inundated by rivers of tears that made it too slippery to ascend. Eventually the bus driver from that other unmentionable world felt so exasperated he decided to cross the boys name out from the passenger list and even told the trees and birds who so loved him.

‘Alamak! All your crying has made it impossible for my bus to get up this hill. Do as you wish with the boy lah…..I surrender! Give up! Only don’t tell the gate keeper of the otherworld that I have not tried my best or been diligent about my work in the world of the living….I will come for him another day.’

That night when the frustrated bus driver from the other world had said these words and promptly driven off in his jalopy – the devil was hiding behind a palm on the hill and had overheard him. He knew then the trees and birds had conspired to cheat the great book keeper of heaven and earth and that very same night he claimed the dead boy as his worldly form.

It is not implausible for simple folk to believe this fairy tale account of how the boy had died only to be reborn as the Devil. As since superstition, mythology and folklore plays a preponderant role in shaping everyday beliefs and even reality in the kampung – what else could supply a believable explanation of what would come to past.

On the tenth day following the death of the boy when the ‘Lam Hong’ was expected to blow westwards, it blew from the opposite direction. A bad omen. That was the fateful day. The day the evil wind blew from that other direction….from that other world….when another man who all the villagers had seen, yet never ever seen before appeared suddenly in their midst.

Though the man’s features resembled in some faint manner the countenance of the boy, gone were his boyish innocent smile. This other man was older, perhaps fifteen…twenty or more years….it’s hard to say with the devil, as since time has no dominion over him it is always very hard to tell….his features were stern, hard and implacable like granite. He wore a bush jacket like the great landowners of lore who the elders of the village remembered as the man in their youth who once fought the communist during the heady plantation wars in Malaya. This other man had neither the boy’s clumsy mannerism nor his prediliction to smile readily. This other man’s demeanor suggested in every sense, he was not a man to be trifled with or taken lightly. When his resolve was tested one night by a band of reckless brigands, their lorries were found mysteriously burnt to a charred cinder with a sign, ‘this is what happens to thieves!’ A few days after that incident. The leader of the gang who had once murdered the boy was found dead with his head ripped from his body in a nearby estate. The death was so grisly, the coroner classified it as ‘unnatural death’ and concluded he must have been attacked by a very large unknown wild animal.

In the following months a series of strange misfortunes befell the village. The greedy landowner one and only love – his pride and joy. The apple of his eye. His only daughter had eloped with Devil. Some said he had looked deeply into her eyes one evening in the way only the Devil can and in that one moment time had stood so very still and when he had said to her ‘come!’ She followed obediently like a string puppet turning her back on her family. For months the Devil taunted the greedy landowner, till he was reduced to a nervous wreck. In the ensuing months, the health of the greedy owner deteriorated till eventually he was taken to the other side by the bus from that unmentionable other world. And his lands passed on to his daughter who eventually ceded it to the Devil.

Other landowners and businessmen allied with the greedy landowner all came to a similar ignominious end. For years the Devil’s reign of terror pervaded the valley. Till one day he became the largest landowner in the district. Even today when the moon is full. The sound of a bus struggling in vain to climb the hill along with the flowery abuse of an exasperated driver can be heard filtering down to the nearby village from time to time.’

Yesterday I went down to town to run a few errands – you know pay the bills, stock up on frozen food, dog food etc etc…while lunching all by myself. A very beautiful woman came over and took a seat on my table….now that would be mucho strange, but since the restaurant was filled to the brim that day. I considered it quite normal…soon she started to introduce herself…I did the same and a conversation of sorts ensued….a pleasant conversation….one that proceeded with long pauses, where from time to time she would look at me and just smile.

At some point during lunch I excused myself to go to the gent’s….when I returned. The lady was gone, so was a folder that I had carried into the restaurant placed on the chair…the content of the folder contains everything, scaled maps clearly marked with highlighters of the lands I plan to buy, landscaping plans which were planned for the rain season, road maps that I had surveyed, excel spreadsheets detailing every aspect of my entire expenditure for the entire calendar year, bank account details along with private transactions that if they fell into the wrong hands would render me completely transparent….naked….out in the cold.

I smiled supremely as I looked on at the scene…rather strange don’t you think so…..you see it’s very simple really – I have known for quite a long time my business rivals are very desperate to know what my plans are…..they need to know what I am planning to plan to interdict….intercept….counterattack….that is how the game is played – the folder that was taken are all dead ends….they all convoluted routes that lead to doors that open to another door and another and to no where – as for the bank accounts they all belong to the most accomplished Nigerian con men in the whole wide world.

Mission accomplished….now all I have to do is sit back and wait for all those dead ends to go right back to the war room of my business rivals like time bombs.

It’s very satisfying….as I spend days, weeks and even months preparing this folder…and every detail is so realistic and meticulously out that it’s perfect…..but business rivals don’t seem to get it….No!….they’ve missed it the whole point….you see it’s very simple really – it’s not HOW one plays the game the matters most…it’s really a case of how the game plays you!

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‘In business when your rivals can’t seem to break thru no matter what they seem to do – ultimately, they will resort to sex.

Sex is very powerful that is why it’s not unusual to see buxom girls selling fertilizers – all they have to do is jiggle their papayas and say, ‘this will make your fruits big and juicy and heavy!’ – of course they’re referring to the products they’re marketing…what else could they be talking about. But you get my point…sex sells.

As it operates at a primal level of desire….yearning and fulfillment – there is no denying sex is a very powerful and effective crowbar – after all let us be honest about this and speak like men about it – it is what it is…so to say be mindful…be alert….if you cannot tahan (no power to resist) do this or that….really counts for nothing very much.

It is what it is – after all imagine to yourself, I am a man who is very far from home…..it’s only natural for me to have desires…to be touch and be touched. That is all I am prepared to share for the time being.

I don’t have any solution to this hubris….this shard of glass that is implanted in my head….I don’t….

My only solution is to follow the vampire rule, just before the sun goes down – go back home and switch off your mobile phone. Lock down – it’s automatic in my plantation safe house….once the timer reaches seven twenty…all the dead bolts are enabled…the doors cannot be open…unless, a complex override feature is activated. I never go out at night. I never break this discipline….never mix business with pleasure either….just lie down quietly in your vampire coffin and read a book….soon the sun will rise again and it will be another beautiful and safe day…..I am a soldier with a mission…failure is not an option…I must keep to the discipline.’

Wherever you go….whoever you choose to associate with…in whatever setting, be it work, life, play or even in a community of faith believers – you will find that people will lie to you….but do not take it personally…as most of the time these lies have no malicious intent whatsoever – and as you observe more….so does your awareness sharpen…..then you will notice that you also lie to yourself.

That is why I say don’t take it personally – as in most cases when people lie to others….they are doing it simply because they don’t have either the courage or strength of character to face the truth – so do not expect people to tell you the truth all the time, because they also lie to themselves….just like you!

All you can really do in this world is control your own thoughts and tongue……to try to do so with others it a very foolish act.

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‘We all lie to ourselves…..it is really a matter of degree that is all and a question of whether those lies are benign and harmless or deliberately meant to mislead to fulfill a hidden agenda – if it is the latter….then I think it is a problem…as since those lies are so destructive….recently, I attended a conference where the speaker used the word, ‘right sizing’ – I interrupted him mid way and asked, ‘what does this word mean?’ This was in a conference filled with people….after his lengthy explanation as to what this word meant….whatever this speaker had to say came across as disingenuous and contrived….my point is avoid such words…as what they do is subtract your credibility – it does nothing positive for you.

You will find when you create the habit of calling a spade a spade – noted! You may not always come across as politically correct. But at least those who you are speaking too will never have any rhyme or reason to ever question your integrity or intent – is integrity important? Yes, I think so if one desires to engage with others meaningfully on a long term basis.

BUT most importantly, integrity to oneself – that I find requires tremendous effort, humility and honesty….the paradox of the human condition is the vast majority of people don’t have a problem when it comes to seeing the wisdom of being honest to others….but when it comes to themselves, it’s really something else. For one, they rather not think about it…..those I reckon are the most destructive lies….as we become the very victims of the lies we choose to tell ourselves.’

Last week while driving along the kampung roads. I saw a sign, ‘LAND FOR SALE,’ – I happen to know of this couple…I don’t know them personally…..they moved here about two years or so ago – the husband is a Singaporean PR…but he was retrenched or something and so they decided to cultivate orchids for the home market…they hail from Buangkok…I think.

I was wearing my No.1 assassin creed no nonsense planter’s bushjacket complete with briar pipe….as soon as I stepped out from my landcruiser – I did not even introduce myself…instead I asked in an authoritative voice of a landowner – ‘what is the price?’ The man mumbled something….I raised my voice brusquely, ‘speak up man!’ He blurted out a figure….soon his better half came out to join him.

After that I proceeded to survey the land as if thinking aloud….’yes…yes…she is a beauty…..close to the river even….this one can certainly spread her legs wide! Thereafter I boomed out, ‘The matter is settled then…I agree to the price.’ I then proceeded to rattle off a list of things that he should bring along to the lawyers office at 9 sharp the next morning…the title deeds, bank account, ID etc….somewhere in the rush…the man murmured again, ‘you mean to say you see potential in this land?’

I removed my sun glasses and glared at him menacingly….as if he was wasting my time. Thereafter I told the man and his wife, ‘that is a question for me to answer….now are you serious about selling this land!….I hope you are not wasting my time!’

From the corner of my eye. I could tell the woman was pensive and guarded…I can tell, the slight curl at the corner of her lips gave her hesitant nature away – this led me to only one conclusion…the idea to throw in the towel must have come from the husband.

At this point the man began to recount how his business had floundered as in his own words – the weather has been conspiring against us….it’s impossible to grow anything under this heat…I took another step towards him. This time I was so close that he could make out the scar above my right eye, flared my nostrils and made grinding sounds with my teeth…and told him, I am not interested in your sob stories….I just want to know whether you is serious about selling your land….are we clear?

The couple shifted uncomfortably….then the man blurted out something….we have heard about you…you are the man who lives on the hill…the one who once waged war against ten landowners and won…what do you want with this piece of cursed land for?

Before I could answer the woman stepped forward and said, ‘please give us time to think about it….She suggested dinner.

During dinner, I adopted a much more congenial and affable demeanor – it proceeded guardedly at first…then when it warmth up…the couple told me – life has been very difficult for them as the weather is not cooperating.

I told them….that is life….you have good times and the bad…the blessing comes with the curse. But one thing is for sure the bad times cannot last forever…I went on share with this couple they are newbies….I on the other hand am a lau chaui (battle hardened)….so this is very normal. I even suggested to this couple that since the wife’s side comes from a family who trades in the pasar in Bedok….I can even make arrangements for her to gather durians.

I joked, ‘back in the home front, they’re paying ten bucks extra for a kilo of durian…here in the trenches we get it for nothing.’

That was when the woman smiled and soon the man did the same…I had a feeling then they would not sell the land.

That’s a pity….as she is a beauty…you see this is what happens when one is foolish enough to mix emotion with business.

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‘Newbies who come from Singapore to turn the wheel of life are like glass….they’re very fragile…..very crumbly…..when things don’t go their way – it’s as if the world has come to an end….to some degree I can understand.

But really what is a problem? If one breaks it down…it is just simply something that needs a bit of patience, time and sorting out…so one must ALWAYS cultivate the discipline to see a problem in the right scale and perspective – if the Kidon, the state execution arm of Israel, CIA and MI 5 is looking high and low for you with FLIR satellites and the pineapple eye of NSA spyware….that is a problem.

If you are like Kong Hee and looking squarely at ten straight years behind bars….that is a problem.

If you have third stage brain cancer…that is a problem.

If you have to go to bed every night wondering whether men with no necks will rappel down helicopters and double tap with full metal jacketed rounds armed with semi auto’s….that is a problem!

Anything else is not a problem…it is just a set back…a hiccup…a kink…not something to be feared. Rather it is something that simply requires time, patience and understanding….begin by looking at it.

Look at it!

The deeper and longer you look at your so called problems, the smaller they will become….it is not that the problem has magically disappeared….it is simply because you are beginning to understand it’s nature…it’s intricacies….it’s complications like when you open the back of a watch and see how so many different things work together…you have begun to put a sense of scale to it in relation to what is happening in your life….you are even considering making adjustments how to make this ‘problem’ grow smaller. Go on looking at it and soon they will start disappearing completely by assuming a REAL scale and perspective. Suddenly within the kernel of that which you once perceived to be a problem…you will discover opportunity.

The only problem that you have when you are face to face with a problem – is NEVER the problem – rather it is HOW you see the problem….it is as simple as that!’

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Many years ago when I didn’t have a house…

Last week one of the village elders who is part of a cartel to stop me from buying more land….came up to me and said, ‘you told us, you were planning to sell your land and move out!….now it seems you have bought more land.’

I looked at him squarely and told this man whose expression hung with an air of expectancy…..’I said no such thing….that was what you all assumed.’

Thereafter I excused myself cordially and walked right out into the world…..it was another beautiful day.

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“Whatever happens around you, NEVER take it personally…as nine out of ten….it probably has something to do with other people’s life narrative of how they NEED to see themselves in relation to others and the world – Yes! We all a live a life based on a narrative – wordsmithed by the many alphabets of the many assumptions we often make of ourselves and others….you do it…even now when you are reading this….somewhere at the back of your head, you’re asking – what is this man who owns this blog writing about….why does he put so much effort into what he is doing…what is his goal….what does he want from me?

People do this all the time and so do I….they are evil…there is no malevolence….that’s just part and parcel of the human condition – but since I am conscious of how the vast majority of humanity intrinsically NEEDS a narrative like oxygen, water and food to survived….since I am fully and completely aware of WHY he needs so many of his assumptions (real or imagined) to enable him to strive to live a life that he considers meaningful….useful….productive…purpose driven – I am acutely conscious of this human flaw more than most people – that is how I see it…each of us have our own life narrative…it’s like a well trodden path that we walk by every day without us even consciously realizing it….there are even features in this path or narrative, a tree between two lamppost, a bench that we may even take a rest before resuming our journey to where we want to go in life – that is why if there is little or no information, it’s very unnatural for man to suspend disbelief – it’s like suddenly walking down that sane path one day and noticing the tree or park bench is gone or either in the wrong place – so what we usually do instead is fill up that blank space with something – when we do this, we make assumptions about events, people and what may or may not happen – that assumption has nothing whatsoever to do with reality or even the truth, it’s main purpose is to fulfill our need to know and to replace the incomprehensible with something that doesn’t have the power to disturb….this is the intrinsic nature of man. Even should he hear something that he can’t possibly make head or tail about…the need to understand is so powerful that ultimately he will make a assumptions….like I said, it’s got nothing to do with reality or the truth…it’s a deep yearning to understand even if we don’t have all the information too – and given more time that assumption is transformed into their version of the truth – hence man becomes the manufacturer of his own truth and lies….this is why I say everyone has a narrative….a path that they have to walk ONLY because man doesn’t have either the courage, patience or wisdom wait for the truth to emerge.”

Two years ago I came across a young girl who was sitting all by herself and crying on my lands…..when I asked why have you come here. The girl wiped her tears and told me, this is the most desolate place in the whole wide world….as no one from the village dares to come here…they say, the devil lives here…that is why I am here….to be all alone in my sorrow.

After that the girl sat down, looked down and curled up her feet….I know….she was trying to make her feet look smaller. I have heard of this girl in the village who is known for having unusually large feet….they call her Yeti….others…elephant feet….tree foot.

The girl began to recount how she had overheard her parents and relatives discussing her ugly feet…how they had even said, it’s impossible for her to find a decent man with those ridiculously large feet…..this was the reason why she had come here.

That was when I knelt down before this girl and asked her in a calm voice – please take off your shoes….I want to see your beautiful feet.

From that day onwards she told everyone in the village – the man who lives on the hill, says I have the most beautiful feet in the world….not ordinary feet like most girls, but the big and knobby type that he prefers to have fitted on his car…the man who lives on the hill says one day a man of great wisdom will also see them as the most beautiful thing in the world and I should not hide them…..as these are not ordinary feet – they are unstoppable under all forms of terrain and weather conditions – the type of feet that is so rare that it is the most beautiful feet he has ever seen before – she even posted her feet on Instagram with me kneeling to admire them – gone was her sense of shame….gone completely was her lack of confidence….and not long after that as I predicted – an appreciator of big things (presumably big feet as well). A businessman who owns a fleet of tractors and excavators (obviously a sensible man who knows the value of how only a woman with big feet can lug up a 50kg bag of fertilizer up a 45 degree slope) sent a matchmaker to the girl’s family – he offered a dowry of four acres of prime durian orchard and a brand new Toyota Vios for her hand.

Till today this dowry has never be bettered….

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‘Craftsmen, writers, poets, painters, musicians, dancers, singers, artist – ALL without a single exception seem to have a sensitivity that they can feel beyond the body…mind…and soul.

To these category of people – what is before them is a transcendal experience….observe carefully when a musician plays an instrument, he or she is in another realm….another world….if you’re not in the flow of this spiritual river…you cannot be part of that world, you are merely looking in from the outside.

This is how these category of people see the world – as a world within the world.

They can sense the various nuances of the mind like the many colors on a rainbow…they are even conscious with the slight pull and tug of the heart…as they are very sensitive. This is because they have the power to see, hear and reflect on things that most people are oblivious too.

This should prompt us to ask the questions – why can’t most people experience the beauty of this other world that is tremendously edifying and nourishing to their mind, spirit and soul?

I believe it is because we have all been conditioned to perceive beauty and everything under the sun as ONLY a very vapid and superficial and shallow thing – that is why it is very hard to enter into this other realm.

How? When if one simply observes everything of the world is at war with the idea of the individual….THEY tell you what is good as mothers milk! THEY have even successfully sold you THEIR conception of beauty….this is not a conspiracy, there is no evil billionaire stroking a cat and making all this happen – it’s just the way the world is….it has to keep defining what is good for you….without that first notion being planted in your head like a seed, they cannot possibly create desire….without desire, there can be no consumption and without consumers there can be no such thing as the marketing manifesto…..so we are of the world, it’s in our head. Even I am of the world….but it is only a question of degree.

So for one to step into it the other world….that beautiful world – it is not a matter of having to upload new knowledge, information, life hacks or data. Neither does it involve learning anything new at all – rather it involves unlearning and forgetting and consciously setting aside many of the programming the world has deposited in the folds of our mind….in some cases the conditioning is so all pervasive that what we see is not truly ours to call our own…..but we believe it truly to be ours! – we only think it comes from deep within us…that it has been synthesized by our brain, but in reality it has been put there by others…..so if you happen to be a young man who wants to go places and your friends and colleagues ask you what is your life plan? Please don’t tell them you want to be a farmer….they will think you are mad….they will institutionalize you and the next thing you know, you will end in the IMH….and the only thing you will be farming is fungus…..just pretend to be like everyone….that was what I did.

It is only when a man is able to free himself from the gravity of the world – that constantly tells him….this is what you must have to be successful!….this is how you should behave, if you want that……this is no good, that is very good!….do this, not that….and this conditioning is very powerful….it is relentless…24/7….and omnipresent.

But when a man is able to step out beyond the hold of the plastic world…into that other beautiful and real world…he will experience…feel..see…and above all understand things for what they really are….as for what others may say or think…this man cares very little.’

Not very long ago…a man told me that he felt that I was stupid not to make the effort to get along with those who recently set up a cartel to stop me from buying more land.

He rebuked me for my foolishness and stubbornness…I simply murmured, ‘yes…perhaps you are right.’

Then this man began to recount how I had deviously flooded their lands last year by secretly diverting the raging river….again I murmured, ‘yes….perhaps you are right.’

After that he capped it all by accusing me for being a snide person who refuses to koy tow to the forces that be…again I murmured I, ‘yes…perhaps you are right.’

Thereafter I excused myself politely by informing him that I needed desperately to take a shit.

He was dumbfounded….but perhaps, he too may have been right to react in the way he did.

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‘Understand this! Understand it clearly for what it is and not what you want it to be or what others say it is – The less people know, the more stubbornly they will hold on to it – that is the nature of ignorance – that which I have just described is the very nucleus of ignorance…..so do not waste your mental bandwidth on ignorant people – remember always in the course of a day, there is only X space in your mind….fill it with nonsense and you too will be a nonsensical fellow…..like five bars on battery time on your phone…be mindful of this constraint and bottle neck….use your mind effectively.

If you choose to argue a point to it’s logical end – do it only people to who you respect and believe to me honorable and important to you…they are worth it! All the time ….otherwise let the ignorant say and think whatever they want….in this world – one can only control one’s thoughts….only a fool tries to control what others may say or think. Besides ignorant people are inconsequential – that is the elemental nature of ignorance, it’s a useless….worthless and wasteful use of the brain – so what good if can possibly come out of it? Nothing! As something can never come out of nothing.

Remember you only have X or Y time on this earth – thereafter it is gone….use it wisely, don’t waste it on trying to persuade ignorant people that the world is round especially when they believe wholeheartedly it is flat like a pizza.

Let them say and think what they like…..better still give them your blessing – do what makes you happy!

This is what the wise always do – they always conserve their energy….as they know it SHOULD only be use for worthy pursuits….not stupid things like discussing how many angels can one fit on a head on a pin head!’

Being thrifty does not make one popular (that could perhaps supply an explanation why I was never ever got a single date in my campus days) – being thrifty is these days considered abnormal. This is only to be expected. Especially in the city, where everyone is living in a society of perpetual consumption. Hence most people are culturally and intellectually cut off from understanding the wisdom of thriftiness. The mind numbing marketing manifesto worships unmitigated consumption….it even encourages it…..buy this and you can be him. But if one is able to press the pause button in the head….then one can certainly ask, what does Calvin Klein men’s briefs have to do with a six pack? Can you see the torrent that is pumped out by the juggernaut marketing monsters. Hence it is not unusual, not at all for many to be enamored and to even admire those who seem to be able to buy and satisfying their needs….under those mind altering conditions, it is even understandable why so many people have fallen into the mind trap of materialism. Because society has successfully sold us all the idea – to be happy, healthy and living a purpose driven life……it’s ALL premised on being able to buy things that we don’t really need.

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‘Whenever I am in the field….I eat only once a day. I have two cups of coffee in the morning. The rest of the day I drink only water. I don’t snack in between. Never…when I return from the field. I take shower. Cook and eat like a king….I eat only once a day.

I developed this habit as I spend a lot of time with tribal people deep in the wild – no one that I have ever known who is untouched by the grubby hands of the ‘civilized’ world….eats three or four times a day! I have never in my whole entire life ever met a tribal man or woman who is ALWAYS eating all the time…..they eat only one meal in the evening…it’s a big meal..what I call a ‘knock out’ feast where after consuming the meal, one is not able to move at all!

In tribal society that sort of diet is not unusual….coming to think of it, even animals don’t eat all the time….it’s not possible. As there is no refrigeration and food is hunted.

Even my dogs don’t get fed everyday – the meals are random and for days they go without food….as I find when they feed regularly at a specific time….they always seem to be in a stupor and they all seem to die faster.

My point is man is not supposed to eat three or four times a day – this habit of consuming food is an accretion of ‘civilized’ and modern living – that is why in the city, you find so many fat people – there are no fat people in the wild….so the idea of being thrifty does not necessarily involve HOW you spend money….it also applies to how you see yourself in relation to the whole idea of consumption.

For me I find when I only eat one meal a day…I am much more alert. My senses are very acute….I can even pick up microscopic alterations in the atmosphere….everything is sharp, defined and purposeful…like a hunter in the wild.’

Being thrifty has nothing whatsoever to do with counting pennies or being a miser…To me it’s just a very effective life hack to maximize your return on your investment – that means I NEVER ever spend money impulsively on nonsense like fridge magnets, snacks, soft drinks, colorful cactus, dinky toy dogs and useless stuff that I know will just end up one box where a lot of stuff that I goes to die …nor to I load on on useless and low quality stuff either…when I decide to buy something, usually it’s the best….price is never an issue…branding is immaterial (my shoes are handmade in Calcutta using the best leather I order from Japan), quality, reliability, durability and ease of maintain is all that matters to me….that is all being thrifty really means.

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‘I bet you’ve never ever heard of Nepros screwdrivers before…machinist use them, so do Formula 1 mechanics and technicians that maintain aircraft – best in the world…doesn’t turn into mush after ten applications, as it’s manufactured from the highest grade tempered steel…good to go forever.

My point is I don’t buy fifty or sixty screw drivers in my lifetime – I only buy it once…that’s it….finish…end of story….the alpha and omega.

That to me is thrift! Wasteful people who regularly suffer from chronic cancer of wallet – they buy one screw driver ever year and most of the time it’s just piled up in a mess with other useless tools in a rusty box…but not me.

My watch. Rolex no date submariner – very expensive, but my version is a tool watch previously issued to French military divers….it’s old, but it’s tuned to perfection every three years to keep within + /- 10 seconds in month.

Only one….good to go in the field and even sartorially correct for a night out in a black tie function….that’s thrift….I don’t do stupid things like visit the watch shop to change batteries every three months….to me that is wasteful….wasteful.

Torch light. Nitecore. Best in the world…used by Militaries and even NASA…not cheap at all, very expensive, but these are instruments, not torch lights….that’s the only exception, where I have six for various applications….only once. I never go for the made in China, buy six or seven times a year variety that let’s you down when you most need it!

Coffee maker…Bialetti classic, design has not changed for nearly fifty years…plenty of spare parts…only once…use it everyday…never failed to produce the best brew in the world.

Bicycle. Don’t see me changing parts every week or adding useless stuff for blink sake – everything is functional / other people ride with 27 / I ride with 26 extra big tires all set up minimally on a titanium frame set….buy only once.

That’s my point. Buy the best. Give it the care and respect it deserves and it will serve you a life time….that to me is the definition of thriftiness.

Like I said, I am not the sort of man who buys screw drivers every three months.’

Simply demonstrates that one is afraid to face oneself – that if you must know is why most people ALWAYS seek out others to validate who they want to believe they are….

Truth is….they don’t know themselves….they don’t want to…the very thought of coming to terms with the reality of who they might be scares the living day lights out of them.

Yes…I imagine many may smirk and even laugh themselves with a voice somewhere in their head whispering…I know myself…..I do.

Really?

This is why there is a need. No correction…a yearning for most people to pigeon hole themselves and even identify themselves with others who they believe share their values and nourishes their souls with a sense of belonging and identity – I am believer….intellectual….expat…..European…person who likes to read books, or anything else one cares to stick a label on that says loudly – this is who I am…this is me….this is what I believe in – without them even realizing it – they are being violent.

Violence is a very strong word….I understand completely.

But in this sense it is purely descriptive and I see it as an accurate description of a state of mind when a person yearns to belong…even if it means assassinating the very idea of who they really are.

That is how powerful the need to belong and identify is…now you see how this process (for lack of a better word) can only be described as violent!

Because as soon as one commits the act of identifying with a group of people who you believe share your values….respects the things that you do and even enjoy the things that give you pleasure – then by default, you have already begun separating yourself from the rest of mankind…..you have already set road blocks somewhere in your head, as to what you can and cannot do….you have in fact severed yourself completely from the field of possibilities by the act of closing your mind to all others who may differ from you…..and if you are not mindful of this act of detachment…you will also grow arrogant and proud that you belong and this can only lead to hatred for those who may differ from you…..it is to put it another a form of insecurity….immaturity and a chronic yearning to hold on to a security blanket.

So a wise man always seeks to belong to everything and nothing at the same time – that is hardly a contradiction, it simply me and he does feel the need to belong simply to feed his sense of insecurity…neither does he seek safety in numbers….kinship or any form of belief that demands him to renounce who he truly wants to be – a man who simply understands himself.

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‘This only happens to me whenever I visit the city. No! It will never ever happen to you….you see it’s a vampire thing…you really have to be a member of the club….and like all dark associations…one cannot possibly know of these things – one can guess…but one can’t possibly sense it’s pull.

But for me whenever I visit the city – this always happens.

At some point I am always aware of a pack of wild city dogs training their eyes on me furtively. I can always tell something has piqued their interest…it’s me….it’s all there…the ears are like taunt springs…as if they have all sensed something they don’t quite understand…something that should not exist, but is not before them as if they are all under some powerful hypnotic spell.

As if they had suddenly stumbled across a strange ancient language that had the power to disturb….a language written in alphabets they could neither read nor understand – it must have all been very strange for those dogs and that degree of strangeness can really only speak the length of one sentence –

‘How did one of us become one of them!

‘Where’s your tail? Do you like coil it around your waist and lick it so that it sticks or do you just stuff it all into that suit and hope that it doesn’t pop out? What happened to your fur and long ears! Another asked as if thinking aloud, look he’s even wearing shoes….I bet he can drive as well and not just stick his head out of a window and hang his tongue out like a flycatcher…I bet you all the mother of all Dino bone’s he can’t even remember what Alpo taste like any longer? Where’s your pack?….Would you like to join our gang?

I looked down hoping that they would all stop staring at me and just move on…but they stayed right there burning me like laser beams with their searching eyes… When I looked up I flashed them all a menacing look – go away! I told them with my eyes…please go away…I am on a secret mission in the city…all of you will give me away….obey me! Go away!

They laughed mockingly at me…..Obey me! Did you all hear that! Obeeeeeeeeeeey meeeeeeeeeee! One of them, the leader with a broad white streak running the length of his back stood ramrod with his head held high as if asking – teach us how to do what you do! The rest shouted him down, ‘don’t be stupid, can’t you see he’s damaged goods….he’s trapped in a human body…I bet he even takes a crap regularly in a toilet…he’s cursed!…how the hell did you mess yourself up so completely that you don’t even have a tail any longer! Either you have no respect for yourself or you fucked up big time blood! It’s so fucking painful to see one of our own stuck with four paws over there in concrete…you’re hurting our eyes blood!’

I narrowed my eyes and flared my nostrils, this time snarling, ‘Go away!’

They backed off a bit…..

But when I continued my walk, they followed me thru the faceless sea of men furtively from time to time looking at each other….like I said, it’s a vampire thing….unspoken code in the wild….all the while the lingering taste of the wild clung to the back of my throat….only they could sense it that I don’t belong here.’

Last week a group of village elders came to see me concerning a man who they all described as a recalcitrant….belligerent…and difficult person – a person who one of the elders mentioned as someone who does not seem to respect our way of life…..one of them asked me to use my influence to reason with this person….I did not answer at once…instead a very long pause ensued.

Finally I asked the question…

‘How did a level headed and reasonable man become a troublemaker and the most unreasonable person in the world?’

One of the elders interrupted me and added….how he became like that is not important….he is like that now and someone needs to set him right and straight.

After another an unusually long pause….I asked again the same question.

‘How did a level headed and reasonable man become a troublemaker and the most unreasonable person in the world?’

This time one the elders who could bear it no longer blurted out.

‘It all started twenty five years ago…..there was misunderstanding…you see…’

He was cut short by another elder who didn’t want me to know the history of the dispute…..but that was all I needed to UNDERSTAND completely and totally….it was too late thereafter you see once the cat is out of the bag….everything is so very clear.

That was when I got up from my seat and apologized to them all profusely – by telling all in a sonorous tone – I really don’t see how I can render any assistance on this matter…it is really beyond me….after all this is a matter between all of you and this man…..it has nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Before these old men took leave – one of them turned to me and asked again, ‘you refuse to help us to reason with this fellow?…what are we supposed to do?’

Again a long pause ensued as I walked alongside them to their cars…then as if hit by a sudden moment of epiphany – I told them all, it’s best to right and straighten what was once broken and twisted twenty five years ago…..why don’t you all start there…..at the very beginning….make it right there…never sweep the past underneath the carpet somewhere in your head….it will never go away.

After all….even should you all seek help from others, they too will ask of you all.

‘How did a level headed and reasonable man become a troublemaker and the most unreasonable person in the world?’

If you don’t want people to ask that sort of question – then go and hire some brainless thugs….but only remember when you go down that road, it’s a two street….do you all understand?

So please go and make it right first….then come back…AFTER that I promise….I give all my word….I will use my influence to reason with this fellow.

The light was seeping out. It was late in the evening and I rested my eyes on the fading wan of the remaining light as it sank over the hill….for the first time, I realized it must have been a very faraway place….the light, that is.

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‘Knowledge is not power ontu itself – it only appears to be so…that is to say it has all the bells and whistles that gives it a sheen of competence….that is why crooked leaders like to you statistics to establish a point – besides there are many ‘knowledgable’ people out there in the world – who if you follow their life advice you will certainly flounder on the rocks – not very long ago, there was a very ‘knowledgeable’ minister who once advised young people to be crane drivers…as he heard they earn on average $7K a month in Singapore….but if you listened and acted on his advise with the housing market tanking now and the slow down sinking it’s teeth into the Singapore economy – where would you be?

Of course he has forgotten about the matter…he is after all a knowledgable man is he not. So knowledgable that even he has no idea how to stop the trains for stopping from time to time.

Knowledge is just information….data….numbers….percentages….trade off’s…it is of the head and ONLY of the head – and since it has no power to recruit the heart…..it is quite dead and inferior thing.

But understanding is something much deeper….much more complicated….much more demanding on the intellect. As I t is one part head and also the heart as well. So understanding unlike knowledge is really a total and complete thing….it’s hard and soft, white and black, ying and yang…it’s very harmonious…you don’t need to add anything else to that combination to make it complete…it is good to go, as it is!

When you ONLY have knowledge about something or someone – then whether it produces good or bad, right or wrong, justice or injustice or is closer to perdition or salvation will NEVER be clear….instead it will depend solely on HOW you make sense of that data and WHAT you plan to do about it.

The end is never in mind….there is no game plan.

But with understanding – the end is already in your mind even before it all begins and as for the means, since it is intertwined so closely with both the brain and the heart – you will always be able recruit the best qualities of what makes you a human being…your humanity…the power of empathy….wisdom in your acts and words….I am not saying for one moment UNDERSTANDING by itself – is full proof or even close to 100%, the gold standard or even anything near perfection in the decision making process….. As in truth, at times even I get it so very wrong that it is cause of great regret for me….I am just saying if you seek ONLY to understand FIRST Instead of taking and running with what one side has to say….usually experience informs me very reliably one can make better life decisions than even the most knowledgeable person in the world.

The knowledgable man has no heart after all – and the heart is the strongest muscle in the human body!

That is all I am saying…nothing more or less….I am not even adding any salt or pepper, just laying out the naked truth as I see it bare…

Early on in life – I (and others, especially my parents) realized with a mix of sadness and regret that other people always seemed smarter than me….they could talk really well, while all I could do was look out at the world with a blank expression as if I wasn’t supposed to be even there…I did to belong…not to the world at least…or was it me?

When I started work. Many were more qualified while I had to make do with half measures….or was it only half filled…again I don’t know.

I found myself in a number of different fields….mostly jobs that didn’t suit me. Or maybe it was the other way around – and to be really honest many were perhaps happiest to see me go…but I had a habit of reading voraciously – I knew a lot of stuff that many people didn’t know, most of it was of course useless like how do you get lead into a wooden pencil – or why do eggs in a carton always break in the middle of the pack and never the sides and a million other stuff that most people don’t know – one day when I was working for a tobacco company. A group of old white men looked at a bale of tobacco leaf…they seemed to be arguing…then out from the blue (he must have presumed I was the warehouse supervisor….maybe) a senior executive asked me what I thought about it – I splayed out a whole leaf and told him and other senior executives something was very wrong with this consignment – someone asked what? I said look at the veins, they’re larger than usual…that means wherever this came from wasn’t from where the manifest said it originated from – this crop is starved of water…it came from a drought hit region…..later on when someone rechecked the manifest – it merely confirmed what I had said….the consignment was labeled wrongly or maybe the vendor was just trying to pull a fast one…it definitely wasn’t Virginian leaf….rather Turkish – I can’t tell you exactly what happened thereafter.

But if I had to make a guess, I had successfully imprinted myself in the brain of all right people around me that hot day in the warehouse – I did it ONLY once, but everyday thereafter whenever someone wasn’t sure about a suspicious consignment – I was always called in to inspect the contents of the container….soon I found myself in board rooms where everyone wore suits and something very strange happened – these men would ask me what I thought about this and that….usually I never gave a clear cut answer…..not that I knew the answer…you see I just appear to know….it’s the illusion of the appearance that I know – this exasperated some people…who demanded either a yes or a no….but since I suffered from an incurable lag in not being able to commune with the world in the way that most people can supply an answer when asked – even when I was pressed….I would usually say something like, ‘how interesting,’ or at other times I would just keep silent and because my face has a natural diabolically evil condescending look of conniving intelligence – it seemed as if I was trying to humiliate or make another senior executive appear stupid or worse still…I was setting him for the fall.

So they promoted me on the understanding that I would be part of their inner circle…..that I would play ball, instead of being difficult all the time….to put it another way, I had someone managed to sell myself as someone indispensable…..valuable and highly important to the whole equation of organizational success – and again I did the same thing, but this time it wasn’t interpreted as belligerence. Rather they all listened to me only because they believed I was very good at covering my ass this time …so they went with every decision I made…but since I never really made any decision except maybe agree with everyone else who seemed to agree…again I managed to sell myself as someone very sensible…reliable and above all infallible…..at that time, I didn’t think much about this, but now it must be something to do with selling myself….and that makes the idea of selling a thing much easier I suppose.

Eventually I grew bored and moved on to other jobs……and again the same thing sequence events would happen without even the slightest trace of variation from what previously transpired…..it was always the same….ONE incident that established irrevocably without any shadow of doubt that by every definition of the word ‘perfect’ – whenever a crisis crop up it was impossible for me either a wrong or suboptimal decision….again I was fast tracked…..promoted….inducted into the inner circle of older men who always regarded me someone who could always be trusted to always keep cool under crisis and make the right decision…..

By that time I even delighted in the idea of humiliating those who went against what I suggested – usually I would allow them to argue their case forcibly…passionately….right to the very end when they had even painted themselves into the proverbial corner – while I sat there impassively. But at the end of it all…the old men in the board always looked at me and on one occasion I even had the temerity to exclaim, ‘do what you like!’ And just walked out. The dearly unfortunate Vice President finally secured a hairline buy in from the board….it flopped of course…..a catastrophic success they called it….he got sacked…or maybe he simply felt the need to move on….I got his job.

I never had any friends at work. I lunched mostly with very old men….we always took two hours or more….I do not have a single memory, not even one, where I was ever in the company of people my own age…..which to me is rather odd. Perhaps it had something to do with my reputation of always bumping off my own boss and taking over his job….eventually a compromise of sorts was hammered out by the old men in senior management to fast track me providing I promised to curb what they refereed too as my ‘imperialistic tendencies’…..and that made it incredibly difficult for me to ever develop any form of meaningful relationship with anyone my age at work….that could explain it – after all who the hell wants to get close to someone who everyone knows is going to be their boss one day!

Shortly thereafter I promised the board never ever to embarrass publicly or bump off any other of my direct superiors any longer….there were of course other concessions…perks….on reflection it’s hard to say what really accounted for my peculiar life as a salaried man…could well have been my slow and quiet and slow burn demeanor….but if I had to point to one thing tangible – it’s the ability to sell oneself…in this case the seeming appearance of a diabolically intelligent man who might perhaps even relish in the taste of blood.

After that I grew bored and started my own business….

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‘Selling yourself doesn’t necessarily mean one has to be able to make others feel comfortable or even at ease or feel good about who they are…that’s optional….to me at least….that’s the low impact stuff.

Being able to successfully sell yourself – just means you have made a perceptive shift to see yourself as a corporation in your own right – the way you dress, speak, convey a thought, manage yourself and others…..you are a corporation and even should you work in a firm – you’re really just a corporation within a corporation where you are the CEO of your own branding and persona.

That’s all it means!

To accomplish this perceptive leap…..may well be hard….but if I had to pin it down to a few bullet points – it simply has to do with striving to be authentic and natural and being no one else except maybe who you are….the art of developing your own style to manage yourself and others which of course involves the acceptance of certain realities like how most of the time at work, it’s not really a case of remaking oneself with the seven habits of highly effective people. Rather it’s the brass tacks of how to deal with the seven habits of highly ineffective people…..most people try to damn hard to be someone who they know, they’re not…I have absolutely no idea where they’ve uploaded that crummy thoughtware from. Maybe they once read a book about someone who they really wanted to be….or maybe it’s just like ten bullet points they have pinned on a map somewhere in their head where they have to go here first, then there and so on and so forth…like I said, I don’t know.

My point is they try too darn hard to be someone who they’re obvious not or will never be – and that’s just a way of saying they will always miss the mark.

As for me I am just really striving to be comfortable – and the most effortless way that I know how to accomplish this efficiently without draining my batteries is to simply be myself – it took me many years to be comfortable in my own skin….it didn’t come naturally to me. Not at first. As the world is always trying to plant a flag on one’s head to tell you this is the only….best…fastest way. But I guess being able to work most of the time alone and running my own enterprise provides me with plenty of opportunities to get to know myself and even come to terms with what I can and cannot deliver to others – having said all that I can’t emphasize the importance of being able to sell yourself first….I am referring to the persona…not the plastic version of how you want the rest of the world to see you. After all no amount of personal marketing is ever going to alter the fact that if you’re basically a two question person – then it is what it is – see my point. One can really only be who one really is and no more…stretch that idea further and I think you’re in deep waters…especially if you’re talking to a ten question person…he’s going to grill you and by the time he’s finished with you…you’re shredded and so is the deal….it’s gone with the wind. As you didn’t bother with the most important part – sell yourself first….then and only then do you sell what you can offer.’

Psychological warfare

July 7, 2016

This afternoon a group of village elders who previously formed a cartel to stop me from buying more land paid me an unexpected visit – during the discussion one of them mentioned casually…what is the point of fighting…to which I sighed and mentioned in a sardonic tone….yes, I agree, but there is so much pain….to amplify the prevailing mood I even took out my hanky and sighed again only to murmur…so much pain….after that I reached for my chopsticks and turned the half eaten fish over. Many on the table were surprised as the side I had turned was only half eaten….then one of them asked, ‘we have not even begun feasting on the first side…why have you turned it over…I simply told him and others in a stern tone….yes, the fish looks whole now does it not…..but we all know it is half eaten on the other side….so now what are all expected to do? Do we eat this side and pretend that the other side is whole or should we finish what was first presented to us?

They all looked down in supplication – it is after all a metaphor from the old country, things only appear to look good on one side, but it is all bones on the other side….the accounts are yet to be settled.

That was when I turned to the cook and ask him to remove the fish…..those who know the language of the old country will know what this means….those who do not will simply think me wasteful…..many things can be said, but let us stop here….some things in life are best left to the imagination.

Words are truly meaningless at times like this.

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‘Be respectful to people and their ways….be courteous….when we speak about a man being elegant….it is all about showing respect, courtesy and giving others the benefit of good light – do not look down on others just because you happen to believe you may be one rung up the ladder in life when compared to them. As one day…..even the humblest can lord over you….but do not cheapen yourself either with bull shit modern new age philosophies of forgive and forget for the sake of just forgiving and forgetting….after all how much sense does that make?

You mean to say, you can take pot shots at me and I will just turn the other cheek and slink back into my kennel like a whipping dog.

Who put that fuck idea in your head! Who?

Who actually taught you that!

No! I will study you and when the time is right I will strike decisively without warning….or threaten too at least to negotiate for terms in my favor forcefully – my point is never just let things slide, all this new age talk about letting go is self serving nonsense. Nonsense about freeing yourself from anger and resentment it gets you absolutely no where in business – it’s an act of narcissism to feed a bankrupted soul.

The man who knows the art of war knows this well – he will never ever give one millimeter without ever securing a concession from the other side.

When he is transgressed….he will seek of course the law….but if the law does not give him justice….then what is he supposed to do? Sit down, drink his coffee, read the papers and pretend that life is normal?

What sort of nonsense would that be? How is any man supposed to go thru life with dignity and self respect IF he just let’s things slide.

Coming to think of it – who was the idiot who said that by forgiving one is able to free oneself….

In life you only get what you are willing to stick your neck out and negotiate for – no one will give you anything for free or out of good will or just because they like the color of your shirt, that only happens in the movies….that idea doesn’t exist and even if it did someone…somewhere is getting a piece of you….Trust me..you just don’t know about it that is all.

So never cheapen yourself….if the other side once made your life miserable – negotiate hard and hold your ground and be very firm….where possible seek restitution in the law…if the law is toothless then improvise – this way, even if they don’t respect or like you…at least they will fear you…and that for lack of a better word is a form of respect.

That way people will never take a bite out of you again….as they know you can hit them very hard.

Trust me life is not simple where you believe good things can ever come on the cheap or without you at least sticking your neck.

This is the difference between a man and a fool – the fool ALWAYS expects the best from others …the man of wisdom however only knows he will get what he is prepared to negotiate hard for and he will be firm and very assertive.’

One thing at a time, not two, three or even four….one only, and that very act of dedicating oneself to ONLY doing one thing may appear deceptively simple to do – but it is not!

Not at all!

A friend asked me one day – how to come to terms with my overblown ego? I asked him back..how does one go about eating an elephant? Do it in one go and you may either choke to death or your stomach may explode….cut it into little pieces….just try your very best to practice humility for one hour every day….that is all.

Do just that ONE thing!

Start there…once you can do effortlessly…then come and look for me again…we will go to another thing, but start with that ONE thing first.

One step at a time….one thing only, not two, three, four or five!

For example if you drive a taxi for a living, just dedicate all of yourself to getting to the destination safely….does the passenger look familiar? Will he give you a big tip? Or will he lodge a complain?

Not important….

Same with the way of the silent death – the bow hunter. There is a monster owl that is flying into my birdhouse and gobbling all my swiflets – but how does one go about taking out such a cunning predator…..you know it’s not like the movies….where the hunter stalks the prey doing five and six things at the same time…..to strike decisively with only one arrow at such a masterful predator…..it first begins by doing one thing.

Creating the perfect conditions to take that one shot!

Even before that there are other small steps….one must understand the way of the monster night bird…it’s Tao….method….modus…..it’s very hot these days. In the day time, the ground is baked like bricks…..especially the hill top, this is the only reason why the monster owl is now flying to the hill to stalk my birds…. where the residue heat continues to radiate out thru even the cool of the night, it’s different from the shady lowlands – he is invisible here…he has no thermal signature when the surroundings are radiating so much heat…that is why the monster bird is hunting here at night……remember one thing only at a time…..but the hill top is not easy for a bird of prey to fly thru….the ground is not level, the fronts are everywhere….it must proceed slowly…weaving in and out…owls have the superpower of silent flight, but when they have to weave in and out, they are noisy…I will be able to hear his approach….stage by stage….each time flying and perching….once the coast is clear, he moves on, each time closer, maybe four five times….

Remember one thing only at a time.

A failing common to all owls is when it perches on a front – it poops, that’s it’s way thereby leaving white marking….and since it has grown accustomed to this flight path…it’s unlikely to vary.

Remember one thing only at a time.

So I will search out for it’s droppings…..once I have discovered it…I will secret myself some distance away – it cannot be too near….owls have FLIR, a sort of thermal vision, so I light candles to confuse him…six will do….six is just enough to confuse him momentarily..that is when I will strike when it’s head is turned away from me…but damn….it cannot be too far either – as this time of the year, the eastern winds blow hard only at night…..that may carry my arrow too far left…the shot has to be taken at 100 feet, set at a poundage of 60 kilos with a 17 grain bullet tipped….anything else is no good….the monster bird is just too sly, besides he has the advantage in sight, hearing and stealth – all I have is ONE thing….surprise….providing I can confuse him….I don’t need a lot of time…just a while will do….it’s no good to try a long shot – he will pick up the hiss of the speeding arrow and bolt…nearer is not possible either…no way…100 feet is good…100 feet gives me a clear shot even with the very faint moon light….one shot.

It all begins and ends with only ONE thing….

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‘Multi tasking is a very stupid philosophy that is just pretending to be clever involving the sheen of dexterity, the ability to improvise and above all mental agility – I personally don’t know a single millionaire who multi task…and I know many….but I know many bankrupts and people who are going around in small and big circles who multi task all the time.

Don’t believe me. Then just observe……look….look without judging how so many people are fiddling with their smart phones when ALL they really should be doing is doing what they should do – like walking, driving, enjoying a meal, taking in the beauty of sights and sounds, being fully engaged with their loved ones – so these days….the idea of juggling ten or more things in your head and being scattered brained is really quite a normalize thing….it has become the new normal aka how one should live – it has become a way of life that is so pervasive that we don’t even feel the need to press the pause button and interrogate it further – hence it is very seldom for one to come across people who only dedicate themselves to doing one thing at a time these days……

People with such attitudes today are labelled as inflexible….inefficient…..ineffective….incapable of adapting to change etc etc.

They are looked on with derision and contempt.

Can you now see how crazy the world has become? Or maybe you don’t – as the world has a way of rendering something mad as very sane…..witch hunting along with book burning was once considered perfectly sane!

Why am I sharing this with you? Because to only do one thing at a time and to only move on to another once that thing is completed is considered abnormal these days – so when you commit yourself to this discipline of life – don’t think you are walking beside many – no you will walk alone, neither will you find a ready-made path either. It is not cheap to understand the wisdom of this philosophy of doing only one thing at a time…..but that should not be surprising as for one to reach the ultimate realization of the truth usually it’s requires dedication and effort. But once you begin this journey, you would have created a path….start there….do only one thing at a time!’

The natural desire of the human mind is to become a rare, unique and beautiful person…this is natural….even trees and animals all in their own way aspire to such qualities – to become beautiful….considered exceptional….and special in the eyes of others – so it’s quite natural for man to aspire towards prestige, wealth, influence, power….just to be special.

Observe those around you….don’t judge….just look….everyone is aspiring very diligently to be special in his or her own way…the guy who pumps iron in the gym and admires himself before the mirror…he is working hard to be special….even the tea auntie who cleans up the office pantry and empties the trash…aspires to be special in her own little way.

That is the human condition – the mind is always shoveling coal into the furnace of the ego. And as soon as that things which one once covets or aspires towards loses it’s allure – then again the ego begins to find yet more inventive new ways to enhance the self – this is a form of religion….it even has a spiritual dimension to it….don’t think when a man or woman is just browsing a new iPhone – it’s just a product…or a thing. No! It’s much more….it’s a transcendental experience where he or she sees himself or herself as not just possessing an object with chips and wires….it’s an amulet of power….like the magic mirror….where one may ask – who is the fairest of them all? And the mirror can always be counted to reply…..YOU!

So now you see the illusion that is interwoven into the folds of human existence….now you know why people think and do the things they do.

By having this simple insight…the key to self discovery will suddenly appear in one’s hand like magic and one is able to unlock the door of mystery….and once one enters this special room of all desires upon desires……one can only reach the sudden realization – ‘hey! What’s the big deal? Then one will begin to rest and even take comfort and rest in ordinariness…..while everyone else in the whole world is running around like headless chickens.

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‘There are three qualities in a man that one should be mindful of – I say this for I believe be fact and as a warning to those who are running their own enterprise…..yes it is a warning….and knowing of thing, even a dangerous one is insight!

Just as a skilled swordsman never unsheathe his weapon wantonly or at the slightest provocation or to show off and ALWAYS keeps it in it’s scabbard….these are signs of a very accomplished swordsman.

Do not be afraid of the man who waves his sword as if it’s regularly used to chop firewood – he’s just full of hot air.

Be mindful and guarded of the quiet one…the silent one who pretends not to hear….listen or even see and is simply content to go about business.

In the same way in business and personal relationships, be very mindful of three qualities in a man.

The first is….this man is very comfortable with himself – that’s to say, you will rarely ever find him talking about himself…..instead you will find that all his attention is on ONLY you.

So the onus is on you to ask – how did he develop this skill? After all everyone aspires to be special…unique….loved….respected and some even like to be venerated even when they are dead…they still seem to live on like Elvis…..but this man is quite content to just be ordinary…why?

How did he develop this skill? Under what conditions are such skill sets necessary?

This is a sign of mastery over the self…this is a sure fire sign this man is also knowledgeable in the art of war. That is to say the enterprise of waging war is a theoretical science and he’s very accustomed to reining in his emotions be it in the form of impulsiveness and anger – so this man has bothered with the education of knowing himself….and IF he can do this, he probably knows you as well!

Every aspect of you! That is to say he even knows what you are likely to do under X,Y or Z conditions – that’s dangerous!

This is a very dangerous quality in a businessman….as their mastery over their thoughts is so total and complete that it is virtually impossible to entice him with greed, lust, flattery ,power, prestige etc etc….these category of men know ALL these to be what it is – illusions…..mirages….lies that have nothing whatsoever to do with the truth!

So they see the world clearly….objectively….without a trace of emotional…..it is cold…calculated and very precise.

The second attribute, observe his features…no I don’t mean just look causally, but really scrutinize every aspect of this man’s face – you will find many scars….they may be hidden, but it is all there….again this is a sign that he is accustomed to hardship and adept in the art of war. Never use threats on such a man….should you be foolish to be believe he can be broken….it is only because he is pretending to lick his wounds. When in fact this variety of man can just as well kill you and bury you in the woods and go back home and whip himself a delightful spaghetti and eat it while watching TV.

Remember a scar…is just not a scar….it is an experience that acquiants one with pain, deprivation and humiliation….that is why it is no accident why so many leaders have been incarcerated in jail or were once tortured…they all have many scars….so these men you must be careful of.

The third is the man who does not appear to care about wealth, prestige, influence or even power….when one looks at this man, it seems, he just wants to disappear into oblivion – it’s as if he has managed to successfully detach himself from even worldly affairs and is simply content to live one day at a time….this is the most dangerous category of men in business.

As not does this ONLY demonstrate he has acquired full mastery over the self….but most importantly he is the ‘awakened’ one – he is of this world, but he is also not…by this contradiction – I mean, he is there, but at the same time somewhere else. This concept is very hard to explain..zanshin…awareness……but in the way of the sword, Kendo…such a supreme state of mind is known as the shadow warrior mind…you feign an attack, he sees right thru it and doesn’t respond in the way you expected…….you search his eyes intently for purpose, but all you seem to be able to discover is your own insecurity and uncertainty as you struggle to find a way thru the impenetrable……it’s as if he knows you so very well that he has been there….yes, where you are…every thought that you are about to conceive before, during and after has already been rendered transparent…..that is why in the eight dan of Kendo – it is not unusual to see two exponents with swords drawn….yet they are not moving…they are static….but actually they are in another realm of consciousness where each is trying his very best to defeat not the body or even the spirit, but the mind – for many years I did not understand…I used to look at them and turn to the others and exclaim – what is this! Why don’t they get on with it!…and the elders will always rebuke me with stern disapproving looks. Now that I know – this speaks of supreme mastery over mind, body and spirit.

The awakened state…..complete…total presence of mind with the unity of body and spirit.

Beware of these three attributes in a man during your business encounters….and always remember business is war! It’s weirding ways must always be studied and researched diligently.’