December 31, 2016
No matter how acrimonious a relationship may be in private life or in the full public view of business….when one has decided to say good bye.
It’s best to do so with the spirit that simply says – I wish you well. I bear no grudges…and you have my word. I will do everything to keep the peace.
It doesn’t matter how the other side regards you or decides to react to such a move – what is important is you are able to convey in very clear and unambiguous terms your sincerity to keep to your word.
Even should one be humiliated in this process – it must absolutely be done.
As when one walks in…it is thru the front door and when one departs it should be thru that same portal and never by the back door.
What others may say thereafter about your final curtain act is of no consequence – you did it after all for yourself and not them – that’s the way….the only way to close a chapter. Even an acrimonious one…with a smile.
As the end is not really the end…it is simply a punctuation mark somewhere along the line in the endless circle of time.
It’s really just the beginning.
‘We stood there, looking at each other, saying nothing. But it was the kind of nothing that meant everything. In his eyes, there were a thousand stories tracing across darkness like a meteor shower…each momentarily gasping at life as if to say, look at me! Only to disappear into the folds of a thick velvety darkness that seem to extinguish everything….leaving not even a trace of what had happened and I could feel something inside me break….as I knew then and there. He meant every word the night before when he had whispered, ‘forgive me…I must go and be a farmer..I shall see you in my next life.’
The curious thing was I never got around to asking him – whether he actually believed in reincarnation. Or maybe I don’t have too. We spoke about it. Reincarnation that is. Not directly.
There was one time when he shared a story about how he was always bumping into this girl. Or maybe it was the other way round.
It began innocently enough. They would meet mostly in the MRT which probably doesn’t seem improbable given how tiny Singapore is – but it seemed they even met in park connectors as well. Usually in between East Coast Park and Changi village. And it seemed even when they were determined not to meet by each changing their routine…they found out about that later when they sat down for coffee – they were still brought together. By what exactly he didn’t say…only he did mention by that time, a quiet understanding had formed between these two strangers where whenever one would chance on another – they wouldn’t have to go thru the ritual of mutual embarrassment of having to freeze and look at each other with that OMG expression plastered over their two horrified faces. Instead they both settled for a sort of detente – like two cats turning the same corner only to lock gaze and eventually move on.
Instead each settled on the idea – it was just chance…it had to be…Singapore is after all just a very small place. That was their mantra whenever it happened.
On one occasion the girl actually stopped and confronted him – maybe she had enough or maybe she was just curious – why are you following me? She threatened to report him to the police. Even insinuated that he was some closet pervert.
But I am sure even she didn’t believe that – he was always impeccably well dressed. Hardly the sort to fit that moniker. Or maybe the bough had just burst and both had both probably exhausted all attempts at trying to find ever more inventive ways to avoid each other. Or maybe they had both given up on the idea that it might all have been just the roll of the dice of chance and serendipity….something else was at work…something that neither could possibly understand.
Anyway to cut a long story short – they sat for coffee at Han’s just outside Bugis library. What each hoped for in this one encounter was never quite explained – perhaps they were both filled with a mix of curiosity and trepidation to really know what’s actually furiously and mysteriously at work. Then again since none of them could really quite understand what accounted for this strange series of accidental encounters to ask whether it might have been something else besides magnetism like how both objects are brought together. No resolution was reached.
Anyway to cut a long story short – they both settled on an agreement of sorts where he would take only this or that train at this time and place while she would do the same in the hope that they would never meet again.
I think it was more important for her than him – as she was engaged to this guy, while he was already married with three kids.
For a while, he mentioned it worked. Till one day when they met again in Moscow terminal. Not any terminal, but one of those places apparently that’s like a millionth to one. Followed by three million to one Helsinki, five million to one Narita and I think one hundred million to one back in Moscow again. Till she finally confronted him again with the same ‘why are you following me…again?’ line.
By then I guess he had given the matter some thought – anyone would and his only explanation was they were somehow linked together by some karmic force in their last life. I don’t want to come across as metaphysical or even religious – because that wasn’t how he recounted it. But he did mention a book once penned by a bizarre Japanese author – Mishima who wrote an equally bizarre novel – the sea of fertility where the narrative was along such lines.
Can you imagine. They’re at a terminal on the other side of the world – and he’s reading chunks of that book to this girl. As if to tell her no matter what they each did to avoid the other – they would always come together and that it would continue to happen whether they liked it or not. That it’s even conceivable they may not quite understand how or why it should happen – but since it’s happening….it’s best to just let it run it’s course and not try to fight it.
Because whatever it was that impelled one towards the other was infinitely larger than both of them.
The girl listened of course. She might have believed it was all hocus pocus – but she stayed and listened. At that point I think they both reached an understanding that it was futile for one to try to avoid the other…..it was after all something they both couldn’t quite wrap their heads around. The implausibility of it all. Nonetheless, she read that book that he mentioned along with the others that came thereafter.
I think that finally broke the spell – neither he or she saw the other again. Not even when he or probably she wanted to see the other. Later on he mentioned. Walking the same routes he would normally chance on her like some 18th century flaneur to find that mythical line where their lives would intersect again…but try as hard as he did….he never saw her again. As for her…she probably did the same.
After all how many men do you know reads chunks of Mishima aloud at airports to bleary eyed women who think they’ve been followed around half way across by perculiar men?
Latter on when I asked him what was behind it all. He merely quipped. Maybe I owed her a moment of understanding in my last life…that was the same look I saw in his eyes that day when we held hands without ever saying a word to each other on the way to Changi airport – I will find you thru the infinity of the ocean of time…it has no dominion over me!
It’s been six coming to seven years since he left Singapore to be a farmer – believe it or not. I do still see him from time to time in the MRT. Just flashes. An image on the window, a passing blur….but it’s never for very long. Just enough like running your fingers over a tongue of a candle – but it’s never him…never.
I wonder whether it’s the same with him?’
December 31, 2016
He’s an idiot….loose canon…unknown quantity. So they all say. He lacks the cool headedness and temperament to excel in the job. Again so they all say.
It seems….they all say it again and again that I suspect at some point – even if it weren’t all true, it would probably seem factual enough to pass as the truth.
I am reminded that’s how it is with the truth – it’s a fragile and crumbly thing – that’s to say if a lie is repeated time and again, it will be magically transformed into the truth.
That I imagine was why when the rest of the planters asked me in an exasperated tone approaching anger and incomprehensibility as to why I don’t seem to share their fears and anxieties concerning Mr Trump….and one of them even asked,
‘Tell us all one thing about the man that we do not already know about him?’
I could only say, he’s brand new….he comes into the most powerful office in the world without any baggages. Neither is he encrusted with old thinking to suggest all we might ever expect from him is to perpetuate the status quo.
That I feel has to count for something approaching the very rare and valuable in the cloistered corridors of power and politics in America.
As while the ‘expert’ can only see one or perhaps two ways to approach a problem – and even if the expert fails. He’s really only likely to fail traditionally or classically….the amateur doesn’t seem to be afflicted by the same thinking. Paradoxically in the mind of the amateur – everything is possible.
That I feel is what Mr Trump brings to the table. It may well be a forlorn dream, but nonetheless it’s a form of hope that the world desperately needs and genuinely craves for….the promise that tomorrow can be better than today.
For what it’s worth….I hope President Trump succeeds.
‘At some point in a dangerous game involving sudden death – one would probably have to press the pause button and ask, what’s it all for? Where is all this going?
That’s really what I feel the game of global Realpolitik needs – I wouldn’t exactly call it a Nixon and Mao moment. But it wouldn’t really be far from it either. As what’s the alternative?
That America, Russia and China continue their ‘anything you can do…I can do better’ game – if it just involves them. Then I say play on man. The problem is that same game also sucks in other nations as well – forcing them all to play that corrosive game even if that’s the last thing they can afford to do!
Who wins? Besides the defense industries and people who sell body bags, caskets and headstones? If we are talking about loose change here – then it would hardly be an issue….but billions are involved. In some cases it eats right down to the bone of the GDP of smaller countries – money that could be better spent of alleviating poverty, health and providing the masses with further opportunities for social mobility.
Where is it all going? I mean even organized crime has the wisdom not to play this sort of destructive game – rival gamgs would probably sit down over a bottle of whisky and talk things over to find a better way to resolve differences without having to drive the other to a corner where they are likely to turn vicious….only because that’s what desperate people do!
That’s where I hope Mr Trump can come right in – to simply sit down with Putin before a fireside to ask, ‘what’s your beef?’ And for the other to probably do the same as well.
I guess many people would probably see this as naive and even an uninformed move….but I ask what is the alternative?
Surely it can’t be playing the same mad game all over again – that’s just insanity!’
December 30, 2016
The infinite man hid nothing from her. He flung opened all his doors….even the one’s that he hid from the world in darkened corners….everything that was his life was right before her like a luscious tapestry.
As she reached out to touch a flower on the tapestry of his life. Miss D cringed momentarily. Then as if impelled by an undercurrent she could no longer deny, not even to with all her powers of refrain. She ran her finger along the rich folds of the flower.
She felt a small tinge that radiated and swelled deep within her – a delirious sunburst….only to realize later that her finger had been pricked by the thorns of the flower.
How is that possible she asked the infinite man.
He merely smiled knowingly and kissed her hand.
‘In the fields she saw the way I worked alongside the farmhands. I told her, I am like Levin. Her eyes sparkled with understanding as she exclaimed, Tolstoy….Anna Karenina.
I noticed she had a dog eared copy of the Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Neruda. She could tell, I knew his work intimately. In the evenings when the sun dipped over the brow of the distant blue mountains. I told her in a whispering hush – the great poet wrote only in green ink, which was his personal symbol for desire and hope. She asked me why he the great poet who believed so much in hope never ever once used that word. I told her the story of Tentativa del hombre infinite and explained to her as in the novel El habitante y su esperanza, hope need not be expressed….not at all, it merely is….One day when the sun was like a disc of fire, she saw the farmhands chewing on sugarcane…I told her, chew only the narrow sections…it’s sweetest there….she asked, is it true…the rumours… that I once fought in the Ascension wars in Nicaragua…I merely told her I don’t remember that man who once stood on a rock promontory with a rifle slung on his back….I only remember the aching beauty of the Cordillera de Los Morbeilles set against the crimson sunset….I told her, I counted only six…though everyone said there were eight..she undertood…as that was what Neruda’s infinite man had once exclaimed just before a duel in the Ascuncion chapel in Leon. She wondered whether it was true that the Chinaman sugarcane planter once did same for the hand of a third generation Matizto’s landowner’s daughter in Managua….I told her it was very hard to tell.
On the fifth day when I told her how the swiftlets would fly ever so higher and in tighter circles as they instinctively knew it was time for the wind to shift the other way and they were preparing for their long marathon flight across the straits… she asked about the man who once wore flared ridding breeches, mirror polished knee high boots and always sported a shouldered holstered revolver…the Chinaman Cocoa planter…I told her, he must have been enamoured with Idi Amin, she laughed and mentioned…Uganda..I shouted ‘Uluru!’ She asked what is that, I merely mentioned that’s what the Matabili tribesmen would shout out when they spotted a tiger in the brushes….she said explain…. I looked her in the eye this time and told her… I counted only six…though everyone said there was eight….it was what Neruda’s main protoganist had mentioned just before he was betrayed in Santiago. She undertstood and looked down and shame swept across her face.
On the sixth day when I told her the Mai’a in Southern Sudan believe two cardamoms went put into hot tea could stop time dead in it’s tracks and the mythical door of secrets would swing open – it all spilled out…the beans…the girl told me slowly, she was actually sent by my enemies to find out about my plans…..there was no interest free loan…it was all an elaborate lie designed to entice me into an elaborate trap.
And at the end of it all, she merely expressed in a tone of abject resignation… I counted only six….though everyone said there was eight…after she finished, she looked up to me pleadingly and realized then and there…. I knew it all along…from her expression I realized it could only have been the face of Neruda’s infinite man looking back at her.’
December 30, 2016
I will be very honest. I have never read a single post or watched a single vid produced by Amos Yee. I don’t support nor condemn him. Neither do I support those who support, condemn or remain indifferent to his world view.
Truth is. I simply don’t know what he’s all about. All I know about Amos is he always seems to end up on the wrong side of the law in Singapore.
Amos is currently petitioning the US for asylum.
I hope he discovers his calling in life when he is in the US. After all his counter part Alvin Tan was reincarnated as a porno star in the US – I am very happy for him….if he is happy doing what he is doing. But even then it has to be a very big ‘if’. After all when Alvin was doing all those outrages things when he was in straight jacketed Singapore. I guess he must have felt like a captive all his life who steps out for the very first time beyond his 12 by 8 cell – imagine suddenly he comes into pure unalloyed freedom – imagine all that power pulsating thru his veins. While this man was in his cell, there were only two worlds for him – the world of the cage, and the world outside the cage. Now he is free. He feels he can do anything in this new found land called freedom. He goes on a rampage He’s wilder than wild.
Yet I don’t for one moment believe he can be entirely satisfied…not with freedom at least – for there is no third world that is neither the world of the cage nor the world outside the cage – and since those who put so much faith in external freedom secretly yearns to discover this alternate third world within the universe called freedom……they can only be crushed by the reality….that world does not exist – that is the paradox of searching for freedom outside the self in the external world, it can at times be such an anti climax and even heart breaking.
As true freedom can only exist within the self.
‘America is not an easy country to live in – it just seems that way because so much of what we all know about America is derived from movies, magazines and books. Unfortunately, there remains a big gap between reality and fiction.
Although the US is known world wide as the land of the free – it is without a shadow of doubt, the highest expression of the land of the fee.
As only the rich can enjoy freedom in America. If one is poor or doesn’t have any life skills that the market is willing to pay for. Then life in America can well be very hellish and miserable.
Worst still. If one is under the delusional belief being controversial can some how lead to fame and fortune – then one can only be sorely disappointed in the US. As since there are so many weird, outspoken and full frontal people in the US and some of them even make it to be Presidents – it is very hard for one to stand out of the crowd unless one is exceptionally good at that game.
This I feel must be the greatest irony for people like Alvin Tan and now Amos Yee – when the former was around in Singapore and Malaysia – doing what he did. I guess he always felt a deep satisfying rush whenever he could punch a hole thru the boundaries of what many considered normal and acceptable.
Imagine all that power going up to a persons head faster than even alcohol!
But I am sure after spending two and coming to three years very soon in the US doing what he does and realizing absolutely no one there even gives two shits about what he’s trying to prove to the world. Not enough at least to vote with wallets. Not enough to never take a second look. As it takes a helluva lot to shock the shit out of Americans…they’re the quintessential drama mama society – that I feel must come as a sad shock to even Alvin himself….the very idea that he’s so ordinary, normal even to qualify as perhaps just another Joe in America – tell me what is there to do after one realizes the game is over?
Where does one go after the road runs out?
Except maybe try one’s best to acquire some life skills by fitting night school somewhere between work, work and more work. To eventually hold down a nine to five job. Learn to say yes and no sir and hold one’s tongue. Avoid eye contact with the boss. Lease or put a down payment on a flat, pay the bills on time, shop for groceries on a weekend when they have ten percent off, learn to flip an omelette, sew a button, clear the sink of gunk, get by with superglue and duct tape, settle down with a girl and be like everyone else in America.
Yes be like everyone else in America….I think that’s the real irony of freedom and the trying to find that unquantifiable quantity in a place like America – it’s not really so different from anywhere else, not even Africa or where I am staying right now smack the middle of the wild where I don’t even see a human or car for months on end…I guess what I am trying to say is the realities of life will ultimately push right thru like how the Himalayans grows at least two inches skywards every ten years…it’s a powerful force – no one can possibly escape it’s hypnotic gyre…try as hard as you may…but like some invisible force it will always force a man into it’s mould.
That’s the dao of life.
That I imagine is what most people don’t ever care to know or even bother to think about when they’re young…everything eventually finds it’s equilibrium like water tumbling down a river with the fullness of vigor only to give all of it’s life force and grow so limp as it discovers something larger than itself…the infinity of the sea.
That really is how I see the chastening passage of time on the human soul – like I said, when one is young – these things no one ever bothers to think about – we all think we can live forever and life will always be like yesterday. But eventually when dreams give way to acceptance slowly the realities of life will begin to sink in and it can be very very sad and at times even heartbreaking….especially when one doesn’t know how the game is played – because you can’t come back home any longer…for better or worse like the Americans say, ‘that’s life folks!’
December 29, 2016
A man came to me a few days ago and asked – why have you withdrawn from village life to live like a hermit?
I merely told him, I have discovered something far more interesting besides the politics of village life.
He stepped forward and asked in a heightened voice, so finally you have meet a girl?….a nice one I imagine.
I half smiled as I continued hauling rocks on the wheel barrow as I was working on a section of road and replied, no…no girl.
Then what is it? I want to know. The man took another step forward.
I did not reply him and smiled and continued working.
‘The empty mind is not empty. Not at all. The only reason why most people assume it’s empty, is because they regard emptiness and nothingness as one of the same reality.
In reality emptiness is form – it is like a well manicured lawn, it only looks empty, but if you happen to have some rudimentary knowledge on agriculture then you might probably realize someone has carefully pulled out the weeds, trimmed the grass and even made sure the edges are all squared and tidy – but to the untrained eye it can only look empty.
In the same way when the mind is emptied – then it too has been meticulously weeded, tended and cared for in such a way where it is completely free from all nonsense that is so often churned out by the world.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a recluse or even hermit – I just believe very strong there must be a clear line between individual and world.
As if world fills the mind so completely. Then it can only squeeze out the individual – having too much of the world in one’s life is not the same as living full of life – it just means you’ve been invaded – you can no longer distinguish where you stand in relation to the world. Not clearly at least and it this blurring that is the reason why so many remained trapped in a self destructive vicious cycle. Where instead of growing meaningfully, they regress.
It just means you have left the back door to your mind so wide open that ten Amos Yee’s can around 24/7 in your head, spouting loads of happy nonsense that subtracts rather than adds value to your life.
If one is not mindful of how all pervasive the reach of the world can be – then the mind can only be so filled with the clutter of so many voices that it can only lead us astray and take us further away from who we are all meant to be.
This is what happens when the mind is the opposite of empty – it’s becomes like City Hall interchange one hour after five in the afternoon. All sorts of people are walking in and out of our minds – they are interrupting our natural rhythm of thoughts and even coloring the way we feel about others and ourselves to such a point where the mind is so thinned out that we all reduced to the sum of the parts of this ceaseless cacophony.
There is no centre….no anchor….no line where we can say this is where it all begins or ends….only chaos.
But in the empty mind – it is like a secret garden where one is perfectly comfortable with the company of the self. There is no need to prove anything to anyone here. That’s childish. No urgency even to win or to show off that you are better than the next person. No need even to sign up for competitive mind games that only consume your bandwidth which could otherwise be diverted to more productive endeavors. These things are very childish in this sacred place – all that is pure nonsense in the domain of the empty mind….as there is really only you and the marvelous wholeness of uncluttered emptiness.
Here in the empty mind all manner of things and thoughts can only acquire super clarity and sharpness and above all the truth….as a consequence one can only be in a state of profound peace.
Emptiness is not nothing…it is a form.’
December 29, 2016
Never try to be larger than life even when you are larger than life – as to do so will only invite attention and eventually trouble. Where possible pretend to be small and if possible insignificant to the point where no one pays you a second look.
When others insult you or try to put you down – smile and slink away…do not fall into the trap of reacting. Instead play dead.
Playing dead is incredibly easy. All you need to do is let it all slide. Go on…it’s so easy. Just let go and whoosh…Doing so removes all incentives for those who may not be happy with you to do what they do….in life while you certainly do not have the power to control what others may think or do.
You certainly have all the power within the four corners of your being to choose whether you want to participate or not.
Playing dead is most diplomatically way of saying – I am just going to do my thing and not bother too much about you.
Giving in or playing dead is not weakness – it is highest form of self control and the supreme acme of the art of war.
‘In the ancient martial discipline of Hon Kuen – there is a hidden chapter known as the book of the floating world that reaches to the heavens (fei siong tien). It’s better known in Hong Kong Kung Fu movie land as the drunken master style.
It is the only chapter in Hon Kuen that does not seem to contain any manner of instructions as to how the exponent should stand, fight or for that matter even defend himself – instead there is only a cryptic phrase…..give yourself completely to the way of the floating world. Do not resist it’s pull of a thousand contradictions…give yourself completely and without reservation to this force….
So perplexing is this one chapter. Most students turn frantically to the next page half expecting either a continuation of what appears to be an unfinished entry or perhaps they even expect to find a detailed explanation of what this means – only to discover a missing page….and that is the kernel of the lesson in the book of the floating world….yes, that is the lesson.
One expects…and in that expectation one is completely defeated by the unknown.
No…I don’t expect you to get it the first time. But I assure you. As you sit, reflect and observe all things around you – there is certainly a very powerful lesson there.*
Many things can be said about this one chapter in the great book of Hon Kuen – then again many things are better left unsaid.
Research and study this well. As it applies to all things in life.
*Some time back ago. A char siew pau woman approached me with a compliant concerning her wayward husband. When this woman asked of me whether I could have a word with her husband – as he has not been fulfilling his duties as the man of the house and since he does not seem to listen to her. This woman is at her wits end and believes I could perhaps influence him. I asked of her – do you know why he does not listen?
The woman looked dumbfounded. I went on to share with her – the reason why you can’t get your message across is because you don’t know how to play dead and give in.
She protested loudly, ‘you are asking me to give in?’ That was when I told her, ‘yes…either that or continue to jump up and down like a mad woman – as whether you like it or not, your methods of persuasion don’t seem to be working very well. Coming to think of it – how can it possibly work when all you seem to do whenever you see your husband is to give him an earful. Even before his feet touches the floor in the morning – you are at it. When he comes back after a hard day in the field, you’re at it again….tell me…do you want me to teach you how to play dead?
The woman nodded her head vigorously that was when I asked of her to put three hot chili’s in her mouth every morning and in the evening when her husband returns.
Thereafter I told her – say what you need to say only when your man is well rested and has had his fill…above all do the unexpected and not what you would normally do….you will find that he will be more receptive to your message and he will eventually come around very nicely.
Before the woman left – I told her….playing dead is not a weakness. Do not be fooled by mere appearances – it is both strength and wisdom….two in one.
Shortly thereafter I heard her husband finally came around.’
December 29, 2016
Someone asked me this recently.
The short answer is why be afraid of reading fake news from abroad. When there are already so many foreigners in Singapore – what sort of logic might that be to attempt to categorize local news as real and foreign generated news as fake?
Besides even with the media hankering over fake news and heralding the advent of the post truth era – everyone seems to be discounting one reality: Fake news is hardly new.
Truth is fake news has been around since news first assumed the mantle of the reliable purveyor of the truth and nothing but the truth – when the first commercial printing press was invented.
From the word go, news sensationalized, titillated, formented prejudices and served only the specious ends of those who wanted to stay in power.
This process of embellishing the truth, eliding details and only forwarding a sanitized version of the truth was known as propaganda.
Propaganda was the first recorded attempt by officialdom to pass off fake news as the real thing.
Those who rue the passing of the age of real news don’t seem to realize the only reason why real news is NEVER going to come back is simply because it never ever existed in the first place – as the primary drivers of commentaries on every conceivable subject of interest in this planet is NEVER a reflection of the the majority views of the population. Rather it has always served only the hidden agenda of the elites who want to hold on to the reins of power – this they all do by filtering information and massaging it as a means to achieve their ends.
If there ever existed such a thing as real news – it probably has to come out from the individuals brain.
As for the rest, it’s always been faker than fake.
That at least is how I see it.
‘People ONLY believe just because they have unfettered access to so many channels of news in the form of newspapers, radio, TV channels and the WWW, they will get an infinity of different opinions that will allow them to make an informed decision.
Then usually much to their surprise and disgust – they discover things are just the opposite or so far from their known understanding that frequently it provokes a deep sense of dissonance that can only infuriate them – that’s because a failing common to most people is to wrongly assume there is such a thing as objective journalism.
It’s only when people start to drill deeper behind the scenes that they will eventually discover much to their consternation: oh dear, you mean he or they owns that rag? I see that’s the historical profile of that journalist? You mean to say so-so is a major advertiser in that TV station? He what? He knows so and so? etc etc.
Eventually one invariably reaches a point of, I wouldn’t exactly call it understanding…maybe reconciliation that there can be no such thing as objective journalism.
It’s a myth – as we do to nearly live in a world where everyone works for someone or is at least accountable to some higher power to varying levels of degrees. That there may even be vested interest and governing philosophies determining what is right, wrong or round and square etc etc.
Hence with maybe the possible exception of reportage like who died, football results, and stock market tabulations. Apart from that the phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms – the only possible truth is journalist may still believe in that idea just as how cripples have to believe limbs are necessary only because they’re all have no choice but to go around in kinetically efficient wheelchairs – but even they at some point have to recognize their own conceit when they come before a flight of stairs.
The truth about the truth is one merely has the opportunity to seek out the truth – and even then, that power resides in one’s ability to remain discerning, perceptive and wise in the face of an ocean of lies – to always question everything at least three times and another for good measure. To always suspend judgement and take with a pinch of salt, even if it comes across as lucid and reasonable and above all to think deeply about things. It’s not something that you can just go out and buy in NTUC – as all that happens in between one’s ears. That’s really where the truth lies…..as for the rest it’s just lies and more lies.
That’s why most people prefer lies….it’s easy…cheap and convenient. As for the truth it will always be a time consuming, expensive and at times risky business.’
December 28, 2016
When a man works with his hands. He has to first trust himself completely and that can only mean – he’s actually working on himself.
As to work confidently, one requires a clear picture of how to go about the task. Only when one has a clear line sight between form and function can one begin to understand the nuanced interrelation of the sum of the parts to perform – the ability to proceed from theory to reality produces an intensely edifying feeling of peace of mind.
It doesn’t matter what the task is – could well be mending a fence, building a road from rocks, whipping up a meal, digging a hole or even working on shoes during the quiet evening in the plantation……I work alone. Usually in the penumbra of silence. Only the sound of tools and instruments and the rhythmic sound of breathe punctuates the emptiness – there is nothing in my mind whenever I work. Nothing specific at least. Nothing that I can actually call theory, formulation or even a hypothesis….it’s all cut and dried long before work began – except maybe a deeply immersive mood where one is in the groove of the doing – the really important thing is to transform one’s work into a thinking thing with the power of the empty mind – rather than just putting stuff together without even bothering to ask why?
This involves taking responsibility, learning about how stuff actually work and getting slightly better with each doing. Rather than proceeding unthinkingly like some monkey trained to picked coconuts – to always be curious and inquisitive about one’s work.
This way even the seemingly simple act of digging a hole isn’t the mere application of muscle and sinews….it’s something much more profound and deeper than just the idea of mere work.
As work is magically transformed from a dead to living thing.
Emptiness is not the same as nothingness – it is a form.
‘Many people have asked me how do I relate the idea of zen with work – usually I tell them, it’s not so different from driving a car – it’s an inside out thing and not the other way round – that’s to say. I begin first by accepting the idea – while I cannot control things that are happening around me. Such as crazy drivers who drive at 120 km per hour in the opposite direction or how when it rains that anecdotally render roads slippery.
I do however have 100% control how I choose to drive my car – I can respond to emergencies by taking evasive action etc etc.
My point is as you focus on becoming more peaceful with where you are and what you can do – rather than thinning yourself out on what the other driver should be doing or why he’s driving in the crazy way he’s driving – you will begin to find peace there and then.
Just focus on what you can control…as the rest you cannot hope to ever control.
That sets you in the right frame of mind to drive at the highest quality.
That’s really how I see the concept of the empty mind – it’s not the idea where you’re evacuated of all consciousness and closing your eyes and the car is driving itself while you’re happily spaced out. Not at all. Rather it’s a highly focuses and alert state of mind where you’re first and foremost elementally empty of all extraneous thoughts about what happened in the distant past and what would happen in the future – instead so much of your being is where it should rightfully be, in the present of nowness – that it’s impossible not to drive well.
I think for one to work well – it follows the same philosophy of the empty mind.’
December 28, 2016
It seems my neighbor is so worried about what President Trump will do once he’s in control of the all the levers of power. That his wife has informed me – he can hardly sleep these days without disturbing her in bed.
She has even told me, her husband plans to be a prepper next year. And he has been researching on plans to construct a nuclear hideout – as he believes world war 3 will break out sometime in the middle of 2017.
Recently when the neighbor berated me for being apathetic as he summarized – I don’t seem very concerned at all – I told him, but I am…..I am very concerned about my salt intake.
He was flabbergasted.
‘2017 is likely to be a very nervous year. There is so many things to be anxious about – has the world tilted ever so slightly from it axis? Is that why we have been experiencing round after round of crazy weather? Will I still be able to enjoy my cup of coffee every morning next year? As I hear the Robusta bean harvest has been badly affected in S.America –it seems a deficit is forming. There could also be an increase for oils and butter as well, because processing has declined due to erratic dairy yields.
What about Trump? Is he a racist? Will he be the one to close the door shut on America? And what about China and Russia will they both gang up to create mayhem?
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg – it seems we are proceeding into a new year where the only certainty is there will be more uncertainty.
The world has never been so nervous before….will 2017 be the year when mankind all but destroys itself…will it be the end of the world as we know it?
I don’t know and to be quite frank, I don’t really care enough to lose sleep over those concerns – the great lie of this world is there are often many things we urgently feel we should be part of…only because others seem to show interest in it.
When in fact, we don’t really have to sign up for the deal at all – to me it makes far more sense to worry about mundane stuff – like making sure I cut my veggies without being too distracted so that I don’t hurt myself…or being able to sew a button properly so that I don’t need to throw out clothes that can be fixed…..to trying to reduce my salt intake. Those seem to me like realer threats.
Reducing all the complications of the world to the point where one can tell the difference between what’s important and frivolous I reckon is key to keeping one sane and healthy in an increasingly crazy world.
As for the rest it matters very little to me.’
December 27, 2016
In the first half of a man’s life. It seems he is content to always take, take and take. At times he takes so much, he doesn’t even know what to do with it – wherever his eyes rest upon, it’s as thought, he must take it. When someone pays this man a compliment, he takes it all in like a thirsty giraffe, savoring ever drop and even comes back for more. When a girl smiles at him invitingly, he takes as well and even sometimes goes out of his way just to take more. Even when others flatter him and it’s not real – it seems he will also take it. Soon this man who seems to always take, take and take reaches a stage in life when he finds himself in a frightful warehouse filled to the bursting to the seams with useless stuff. Some of them are perched so precariously one on top of the others, it even threatens to fall down and break his head.
In the second half of a man’s life – you will find he is always throwing away stuff from this warehouse that is filled with useless things. It seems at times, he even throws out valuable and precious things that most people aspire to own – when someone offers him something new and perhaps, even if it’s better than what he already has…the chances are this man will say, ‘thank you, but I don’t really have a need for it.’ At times you will even find that he throws out offers of companionship and even prefers to be all alone by himself. And what is most curious about this man in the second half of his life – he even seems to throw out the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and much prefers to remain in the shadows as one of the many faceless.
It seems this man in the second half of his life has nothing of value in his simple life. Yet ironically he seems to have everything. While the man in the first half of life, seems to have everything, yet he has nothing.
How very strange……
‘At some point in the second half of your life when you find yourself throwing away all the clutter that you have managed to accumulate like some Karang Guni man (junkyard merchant) – it’s conceivable – you will also throw out some relationships that you feel adds zero to your overall quality of life – you will be inclined to talk less and be less opinionated or even feel the need to defend your position vigorously…you want to win? OK lah….you win! – instead you will find yourself cultivating silence in all things that you choose to do and think – that may at first look like a form of withdrawal from all worldly affairs. But I don’t think that is so – if anything that state of mind is simply what you are left with after throwing out that which can give you no value in life.
At some point in life….it’s just conceivable, when you see something beautiful like a flower. You will not reach out greedily to pluck it in the name of mine one! Rather you will sit quietly beside this flower and simply feast your eyes on it’s beauty….it’s not longer about the act of possessing. Rather it is all about the art of appreciating without having to take…..the warehouse is very empty.’
December 26, 2016
Some people feel that I paid too heavy a price for peace with my business rivals – they say, you have no face now!
But I always ask of them – why do you fear peace more than war?…Tell me please – how much are you prepared to pay for peace? How far are you prepared to go for it.
Usually they can never answer my question satisfactorily as they’re too caught up with the idea of face….I suspect that’s because none of them have ever borne witness to the white knuckle terror of war….I on the other hand know this hell very well in my last life in Africa.
As for face… That is a meaningless commodity to me….what is important is I know who I am deep down in the marrow of my bones….no one can ever take that away from me!
That is all I need to win!
The rest is just nonsense.
‘I can’t help but feel, it’s very sad when a man seems to be able to dream one dream….it goes something like this.
A man is dining in the restaurant all by himself. There is nothing unusual about this. As this man is always alone. A assassin walks in – he bears a pistol, the other diners stream out hastily. A few scream. But most run as fast as they can – but this one man remains.
As the gun man approaches his table – the man puts down his cutlery calmly, wipes his mouth with his napkin and straightens his bushjacket. He seems to know the time has come. Nothing seems to surprise him. As he has probably replayed this scene in his mind eye a thousand times – he knows it so well that he even tries to calm down the nervous gun man, as he struggles with the safety by asking him in a calm voice – to proceed slowly….and please don’t make a mess.
When the gun is leveled at this man – he does not cringe. Neither does he show any resistance. Instead looks directly into the barrel and simply express to this lone gunman or maybe himself or perhaps even to providence – today is a very good day to die.
Remember me always.’
December 25, 2016
What is humility? What is it, at it’s core?
Humility is, in a sense a deep spirited understanding that you have an ego and it is conceivable that it may not always be your loyal servant to further your life goals. Rather at times your ego can very well lead your astray and even be your worst enemy.
Without this keen understanding there can be no such thing as genuine humility…it cannot come about – only the seeming appearance of a humble man who is simply using it as a mask to hide his bloated pride and arrogance.
December 24, 2016
This morning I went to a prearranged breakfast meeting with rival landowners – when I arrived. I was shown to a seat facing the east….in the language of the old country. This signifies my lowly status. Nonetheless I took my seat without complain.
When the food was served. I ate from a separate bowl from the others on the table, that signifies – my status as a ronin. Again I ate without complain.
When one of the landowners noticed my tea had not been touched. He gestured that I should drink – again I did not take insult and drank from my cup.
That was when I told the rest of the landowners on the table that I have come here to pay my respect before I take my leave for good – my cup was filled as the leader amongst them gestured, drink.
Again I drank as the others talked and ignored me – after a while when I was given permission to take my leave.
I got up from the table. A single chopstick dropped on the floor – it made an unusual sound like steel finding something equally hard.
Someone on the table exclaimed…your chopstick?
I ignored him. As the rest of the landowners exchanged looks of quiet understanding on how politics is conducted in accordance to the ancient ways of the old country – when a waiter was about to pick it up. He was stopped abruptly with the words, leave it…he has no further use for it.
They all rose from their seats one by one.
I looked at them all, smiled and nodded curtly and walked into my new life.
It was a very beautiful morning.
3,000 years ago somewhere in China
‘Kwai Loong the greatest swordsman who ever lived was shown to his chair for a banquet with the Warlord of Yuen – despite being the East facing seat. The great swordsman did not take insult and humbly took his seat.
When the food was served. Kwai Loong dined on earthen ware while the warlord and his generals picked away on porcelain cutlery. Again the great swordsman did not complain or take insult and humbly ate his share.
During dinner when the warlord of Yuen asked Kwai Loomg whether the great swordsman had considered the standing offer of the kingdom of Yuen to join the ranks – the great swordsman said that would not be possible as he had retired as a hired swordsman…and all he wished for was to tend his small veggie plot and live the rest of his life quietly.
After delivering the message, Kwai Loong asked permission to take his leave – instead the warlord of Yuen filled his cup and said, drink….after a while. The warlord excused him.
As Kwai loong rose from his seat – his sword fell out it’s scabbard with a clang…one of the generals exclaimed ‘your sword’. Kwai Loong did not respond. When the general was about to pick it up. He was abruptly stopped by the warlord who rose up from his seat as if to say something. The guards at the fringe of the room stiffened taking one step forward….Kwai Loong scanned them all with knowing eyes – then as if struck by a rare moment of epiphany – the warlord’s shoulders sank as he realized the finality of the great swordsman’s decision and said it a voice of sadness and resignation. ‘Leave it…he has no further use for it.
As Kwai Loong walked thru the vermillion gate into the world – he realized it was the most beautiful day in his life – he felt some how lighter as if a huge burden had been lifted from his soul…and that was not unusual. Not at all. As that was the first of many days to come when Kwai Loong the great swordsman was not carrying his trusted sword.’
December 23, 2016
Sometime back ago. Since I happened to be the most dearly unfortunate to chance across a group of Christians spinsters whose car had konked out by the side of the road. I offered them all a lift – when they were all sitting somewhere amid the mountain of mess in my Landcruiser. One of them noticed that I kept a extra change of clothes along with a towel and a bag of toiletries.
I could tell from the evil looks they were giving me from the rear mirror – what they were all thinking – I don’t suppose they would ever believe me, if I told them….I like to walk in rain.
‘There is something valuable to be learned from a rainstorm. When it’s raining cats and dogs – at first one tries not to get too wet by scurrying beneath the eaves of buildings. But try as hard as one may….one still ends up with a soaking.
But when one is mentally resolved from the beginning to get wet – suddenly all that nervous energy of scuttling around like a rat settles down quite nicely – suddenly one is filled with an unusual clarity. And all forms of confusion disappears, though one will likely get the same soaking.
At least one proceeds steadily in this rain with a calm attitude that one is actually walking in the rain and there can really only be one outcome – we can only get wet.
There’s a certain beauty to this picture of a man who walks in the rain calmly as if it’s any other day….it is hardly the air of resignation that this figure radiates that completes this picture.
Rather it is the completeness of his understanding that he will get wet. As if he means to soak up every drop, while all around him, there is the blur of those who are scurrying hastily to do the opposite that renders this scene an uncommon beauty.
The philosophy of walking in the rain seems to extend to most things in life.’
December 23, 2016
They all say he is a quiet man who prefers to keep to himself.
I on the other hand would much prefer to describe him as a sustainable person.’
‘Some words are so politically correct that you feel the need to associate yourself with them to come across as hip and cool – the word sustainable seems to be very much in vogue these days. It’s a prefix that is bandied around to describe everything from the only way to farm to why you should start your day tucking into yogurt instead of three highly unsustainable Roti Prata’s.
But when one begins to use that polished word on a person – sustainable person…what does it really mean?
I guess what they’re trying to describe is someone whose got it all together. That’s to say someone who always seems to see things in only the correct perspective and scale and can always reliably plumb to do, say and think the right things.
But that’s not really the definition of the character profile that I regularly associate with a sustainable person.
For me it has to be an ideal that has to go beyond the superficial impression of a very likeable and politically correct person – who always seems to react, talk and think right.
The sustainable person is first and foremost an emotionally stable being who much prefers to draw nourishment from within rather than externally – that at least is how I see the ideal of sustainability in the person sense, it’s an psycho-mental ecology where I wouldn’t go as far as to say the sustainable person is someone who necessarily goes out of his or her way to deliberately fashion an identity that specifically excludes everyone or needs no one – but for a lack of a better word or phrase, that might just be what all sustainable people do exceedingly well!
They are very comfortable with the idea of being all alone by themselves – so much so, it even comes across as slightly scary and weird to most people. And that is only natural and to be expected. As the sad truth is, the vast majority of humans fear loneliness.
The paradox of our age is precisely because of this fear of loneliness – most can only be slaved by a powerful primal drive to connect with others for no other reason other the urge to make a connection.
As a consequence modern man inadvertently fashions himself to be a unsustainable person who constantly needs reassurances and a 24/7 emotional support from the external world – what’s really super five chili scary to me is these same people who suffer from the fear of loneliness actually believe if they can find someone who shares the same morbid fear of loneliness as them. They would actually discover some semblance of emotional wholeness or sustainability to go on living instead of being scared all the time. Not realizing all they would probably discover is another scaddycat whose just as shit scared to bits as them when it comes to managing their own fear of loneliness – result: now instead of one person being afraid of being lonely…there are two. And that is why I so choose to describe this in terms of what I can only see as a paradox.
Truth is whenever I speak or write about how to be alone and why it is so important to humans – it will always comes across as slightly peculiar to most people. That could well be because they haven’t really sat down and given the matter much thought – what is a sustainable person?
That just happens to be first question you would probably have to wrap your head around when you are all alone.’
December 22, 2016
Some time back ago. I heard of a man who had recently returned back from Singapore after being retrenched from a high paying job.
It seems this man is suffering from an intense sense of shame that comes from the failure of not being able to land another good job.
According to the old lady in the village who brings me fish from time to time – his family is very stressed. As even they don’t know how to manage his increasingly violent mood swings and they fear he might even be suicidal.
One afternoon when I saw this man wandering my lands with a bottle of buy one get another free double happiness whisky. I followed him from a distance. Eventually he came to stand before a promontory overlooking the lower section of my lands.
That was when I knew why he had come here. When I feigned a cough. It startled him and the man blurted out in trembling voice, don’t try to stop me. To which I replied calmly – it is my duty to inform you that place is no bloody good. You will only end up breaking your leg and inconvenience others. It’s after all the rainy season. The ground below is softer than frog porridge. I clucked my tongue and said again, no good. Thereafter I went on to recount to this man in a business like tone – follow me, I know of a better place where you can get the job done 100%. The man looked at me with a ‘you mean you’re not going to try to stop me?’ To which I responded in the authoritative tone of a landowner – this way please. We do not have much time. As it will be dark soon!
As we walked. I asked the man whether I could take a swig from his bottle. He obliged. That was when a conversations of sorts ensued – why are you helping me? I responded with a curt, ‘it’s win-win really.’ He stopped dead in the tracks and asked, ‘how so?’ I simply told him, ‘look here a lot of villagers already believe my land is haunted. Some even believe that devil himself stays here. Who will want to work here with you haunting this place. Besides look at it from a time management standpoint. What do I get from spending half a day filling up forms in the police station. Now please keep up and talk only when necessary.’
Thereafter we continued our trek which took us thru a thicket of bamboo groves up a steep hill – that was when the man told me, ‘I’ve changed my mind…I don’t want to end it.’ I looked back at him dejectedly to which he shouted out again – I don’t want to end it!
That was when I took off my shades narrowed my eyes and flared my nostrils and glared at him, ‘do you mean to say we have come all this way for nothing?’ To which the man shouted out angrily, I am not going to end it all just because I lost my job. I am certainly not going to that just because you want me too. No one can force me to do anything I don’t want to do! Besides I am still young and healthy as you can very well see for yourself…are you blind? (the man gestured some distance towards the direction of the promontory where we had begun the trek). Eventually as if exhausted by the effort. He sat down and muttered to himself – besides, I still have two hands and legs.
That was when I smiled knowingly.
‘There is a Cantonese idiom mah sei lok thei hang (when horse die, man continues the journey by foot) that is often used in half jest. Perhaps it is to make light of a dire situation. Could well even be a sort of crie de couer. A defiant snub in the face of crushing adversity. It is hard to say where this idiom came from as the author is unknown – harder still is it to capture the pathos and black humor of the mood this idiom conveys in English – something elementally of it’s spirit is definitely lost in the translation.
It’s spontaneous ease as it rolls off the tongue…even it’s sardonic nuances. As the horse to a Cantonese seldom features in their culture – the Cantonese unlike the rest of the other Chinese clans are coastal and river people who have always been traders in highly densely populated cities…hence the horse is often associated with prestige, high office and wealth.
In the Cantonese psyche the horse is not an auspices zodiac – it is often associated with false pride, prententions and poseurism. In the martial school of Hon Kuen – in the vermillion chapter there is even a stricture that specifically warns martial artist not to have the disposition of the horse mind if they are to win in combat.
But if I had to distill further into it’s very essence what this idiom tries so hard to convey – it is perhaps the Cantonese psyche of how good cannot exist without bad. Just as white would have no meaning in the absence of the color black – it seems to be a ying and yang contradiction that is quite unique to the Cantonese mind. And juxtaposed against this backdrop is black humor – the moral of the story is: when things don’t go your way, don’t ever take it personally…try if possible to stand back and look at how ridiculous the situation really is and if possible just laugh out loud at how seriously you seem to be reacting to the problem.
In a sense this humorous response to adversity is very unique and particular to only the Cantonese – as the Cantonese unlike the Hakka’s, Teo chews, Fook Chow, Hainanese have always been the mercantile class in China – since they were considered a crafty and belligerent lot by their Manchu rulers. They were never allowed to bear arms or own horses in ancient China. They were the only clan in the whole of China who were prohibited by imperial decree to own land beyond the pearl delta – hence the Cantonese have always had to improvise in the face of adversity.
They are like the Jews in Chinese society – no one in China has ever understood them. As till today – they continue to speak and write their own genre of Tang Chinese and reject everything that is Han….so defiance is very much an attitude of the Cantonese culture.
Harder still to convey to the western audience – is the idea there is no such thing as a total loss to the Cantonese mind…the very idea is anathema…it does not exist – as even when the horse dies, the main protagonist can still take comfort that the epic journey will continue by foot. We are not told what is the destination or even the motivation of the traveller – and that is because it is not important…I suspect. What is important to know like the man who is compelled to get off his high horse and walk – is providing one remains humble, grounded and free from all worldly affectations…the journey can still continue by foot.
So by the same logic if you happen to lose your job and fall on hard times – do not be consumed by the fog of despair. Do not allow your mind to play tricks on you by conjuring all sorts of reasons why it is you and not someone else….all these things are not important.
What is important is you are not in Interpol’s top ten wanted list. The execution arm of the state of Israel, the Kidon has not activated men with no necks to look high and low to double tap your dead. You don’t have stage two terminal cancer….the most important thing is you are still of sound mind and you have two capable hands….the journey will continue.
Pain at times may well be unavoidable, but with the wisdom of the man whose horse has passed on only to continue the journey by foot…suffering is certainly optional.’
December 22, 2016
Recently I presented two bottles of premium brandy as early Chinese New Year gifts to rival landowners. This is a very significant change in both attitude and strategy from preceding years in the past. As since time immemorial we have been at each other’s throats – where the roles we each play is not unlike the Looney tunes reenactment between the Coyote and the road runner – they try their very best to ruin me financially at every turn and opportunity, while I am content to hit them as best I can with my limited means on the run.
Hence. This is the very first time where I have acknowledged in such a public manner to all – they are my elders by offering them tributes of respect as a minion – it is an act of humility that says, I am so small compared to you all….and I hope we can set aside our differences and work towards some semblance of peace.
It is very hard to say how this gesture will go down with my business rivals – my greatest fear is it will be interpreted, as an act of weakness. But I do not believe for one moment, the level headed amongst them will necessarily see it that way at all – since thru the years I have waged a war of equal measure where I have been able to hit very hard despite being numerically outnumbered, having a smaller network and making do with nett value of a war chest the size of a piggy bank.
The second possibility is that it may be perceive as an attempt on my part of buy more time for breathing space. After all some of them suspect quite rightly – I don’t nearly have the capacity to wage a long and protracted campaign – I can certainly hit and run…but if I am drawn into a war of attrition. I am certain to lose.
But again it is unlikely they will come to such a conclusion. As in the past I have proven to be excruciatingly painful to their interest whenever they underestimate me.
The third possibility is they may believe this is yet another one of my super sly ploys to feign weakness in order to embolden them to launch an attack that I can easily blunt and wipe them all out once and for all – again this is a distinct possibility as in the past, I have often feigned weakness or incapacity only to turn around a bite them.
Then there is the final possibility – I may be reading too much into all this. That it’s all happening in my brain – that all this may even be a great diffusion of energy signifying absolutely nothing that can possibly relate to what might actually pan out in the real world.
I hope it is this final and last possibility – as I am genuine in my aspirations for peace in our time….I want to be able to hang up my sword and even consign my armor into the darkest recesses of my attic to just sit there and gather dust happily….It seems I have been fighting for so long…this is the only life I have ever known.
‘It is not important how others see me. What is vitally important is that I myself can internally convinced that I have done everything humanly possible to create conditions that is favorable to peaceful coexistence – even if my approaches are rebuffed, that is not important to me….as what remains vitally important is on record at least, I have tried and failed….whatever follows thereafter I will accept without complain – this is after all my lot…my karma.
As if I did not even once try – then you can say I am this or that – and maybe you can even say I did not avail myself to all the options that was available to me….but if I tried and fail..then who can blame me if I continue to wage war. Even then I do so with the hope that I can sue for peace.’
December 22, 2016
Last week. The eldest son of a landowner who I had never seen before. Whose father had passed on last year came in search for me – when the young man saw me. He dived directly to the point….my lands in the North have been overrun by thugs. My family is not respected by the local clans and we get little or nothing despite coming to this largesse that is my father’s legacy – when I asked pointedly what is it that you seek from me.
The young man handed me a chess disc marked soldier 卒 – my father told me before he passed on should our clan need help one day. All that needs to be done is to seek out the landowner who lives on the hill to the West and to present this to him.
When I saw the chess piece. I knew what was expected of me….it was hardly a matter of choice. I put my arms around the shoulders of the young man and we walked. In between the distance of two palms. I turned to him and said to him in a fatherly tone,
‘I shall teach you everything your father once taught me and much more.’
An old debt has to be paid in full.
‘The red or black soldier in Chinese chess seems to be an awfully sad character – it seems all he aspires to do is to cross the river when opportunity presents itself – even then since he can only move sideways one step at a time his chances seem slim to impossible. And even should he manage to accomplish this improbable feat and fulfill his mission – he never hopes to get promoted like other chess pieces that can always better their lot by seizing the high ground with daring and intelligence. The soldiers lot is a very miserable one.
That is why in the forgotten language and customs of the old country – it can carry so many layered meanings….it is a very powerful metaphor that appeals exclusively to the Chinese psyche. I don’t expect everyone to understand the gravitas of this compact – as today so much of the old ways has given way to the idea of the ‘me’ only society, where the ingrate is usually seen as a hero and the selfless man of duty is derided and even looked down upon.
But it was not always like that….
In the olden days whenever the empire was besieged by foreign marauders. And the center threatened to collapse. The emperor would dispatch his fastest riders to the very edge of the known world to seek out men who once served him valiantly and with distinction – when these men were presented with the red chess piece of the soldier. They knew what was expected of them. They would probably ask their womenfolk to prepare a family meal and present offerings to their ancestral shrine. During the dead of night when only the sound of sleep resounds – these men would turn to their wife’s – and whisper to them…I owe a great debt that must be repaid, I shall see you in my next life. In the morning they mounted their horse and rode off never to be seen again some times for years on end.
This is a very sad Chinese tale that is repeated time and again for millennia.
As there is no guaranteed prospects of redemption in this tale – no promise that it may even end happily for the main protagonist or that the lowly soldier can even return and grow old one day and say to himself with a satisfied tone before he goes over that other side – I have lived a full life…there is only duty to a way as old as the mountains and streams.
No man can escape his destiny. Just as no man can escape his debts….heaven and earth demands that the accounts will always be squared.’
December 21, 2016
December 21, 2016
The economy in Singapore will deteriorate. The aperture for new opportunities in the form of business prospects and employment will likely constrict further. Lean times lie ahead.
To break out from this rut – a new paradigm is needed.
It is conceivable the old way of solving new problems has reached a point of diminishing returns – it can no longer be a reliable purveyor of the good life any longer.
This old hat attitude must be smashed. The thinkers especially must all come out of their caves….they must not be shy or coy or fearful – above all they must come together in the spirit of brotherhood and elect a leader to lead us all from further doom and gloom….if this is all left to politicians…they will all take us to hell!
‘No matter how crazy your idea – share it! Because if we both stepped into a time machine and went back circa 1980’s to the heyday of hairspray, disco and the Marlboro cowboy and I shared with you – one day you would be able to snap high resolutions pics and even videos and post them for free in the time it takes you to empty your bladder – you would probably consider me certifiably insane. That just goes to show how crazy ideas can not only morph into a very serious business proposition, but it can also very well set the world on fire!
All this comes from sharing crazy ideas….it is conceivable the way we are accustomed to thinking is no longer productive or even gainfully useful – the thing to do is not to open our heads like a can to stuff in more information in the hope that something new will come out from this mental force feeding. Rather what would be more productive in my opinion is to unlearn many things that has managed to encrust themselves in our thinking that makes it old and useless.
Each of us must share his or her stories to find the next big thing! You know if you look at successful communities – they don’t ever think like normal people. That’s because if they did that – they wouldn’t be around for very long.
Take the case of Israel, she is a world innovator in defense technology and agricultural. Both are quite unnatural – when you consider the IDF isn’t that big. As for the climate and topology in Israel, it’s hardly ideal farming conditions as it’s very close to a semi arid desert. But it’s precisely because of these constraints that is why they have developed counter responses – as since everyone is trying to kill the Jew, he is always thinking how to kill them first along improving his odds for survival. So they come up with new home grown solutions that eventually find an exportable niche – I mean if you go to Jerusalem and talk to people about foreign direct investment – they will all laugh at you…the Jew will go hahahahaha and tell you straight to your face – who the hell wants to sink good money into this shit hole. They are prosaic, so they grow up believing no one owes them a living – and when the shit hits the fan, it’s pointless running to the UN, that they all call aptly the united nothing. Because they’ve been played out so many times by the international community.
My point is Adam Smith’s formulated basis for the wealth of a nation is fundamentally flawed – as a constraint or lack is what is actually needed for countries to be competitive. If you look at many gulf states. They are clueless what to do now that the oil prices have collapsed to a point where the cost of extraction is higher than what they might even hope to sell in the open market. They don’t have anything to fall back on – as for years their seemingly inexhaustible wealth just came right out magically from the tap.
Neither do I consider technology the much vaunted skeleton key to competitive advantage. Or for that matter high tech – if that were really the case then firms that employ people who run around dressed in white overalls from head to toe would logically be the best dividend yielders in the Fortune 500 circuit – but they don’t survive long that could be why you don’t hear much about Intel any more….the firms that do well – all leverage on only one thing – needs.
To be concise the fulfillment of needs to complete a task – like me, I am a farmer – I need a drone that can fly over my land and capture images to tell me graphically which area is parched and in need of water – I also need spectral imaging to inform me whether there is infestation that can only be performed with an eye in the sky. But I can’t buy these things – because no one manufactures them commercially.
Everyone it seems just wants their drones to take pics from high up and post them in Instagram to say ‘Hi’ to the world, but I need mine to perform task.
My point is the firms that do well regularly fulfill needs – and this is certainly one area to explore further. What I know we don’t need is a work culture like HDB – where everyone goes to work like one of those soviet era institutions that seem to have all the precondition of success in the form of economies of scale, monopolized market share and political patronage but they can’t even produce a hook locally for a fire hydrant. After so many years in being in business – the minister of housing can’t even point to one building in the whole of Singapore and say this and that was build this way and now we are exporting this and that to X,Y or Z country to do the same.
No one thinking – no one is really looking at things from the inside out and trying to figure out how things can be done differently – everyone seems to be just browsing thru catalogs which is a very different mindset.
And all that needs to change.’