In praise of idleness

January 16, 2016

Nothing is more abhorrent to the modern age than idleness. Even should we take a holiday…it is NEVER to rest in the true sense of the word. Rather it is done solely in the hope and belief, when we return from our vacation…we would be in a better frame of mind to be more effective and efficient workers.

Can you see the irony….even when we think of taking a break from work, it is done with the specific intention to return as better workers.

Mankind’s infantile fetish with work and regarding it as the outer personification of his ego has transformed work into a veritable religion….in doing so….we have become the architects of our own imprisonment.

How very stupid!’

—————————————————————

‘For me one of the hardest programs to erase from my daily regimen was the idea of waking up early. It didn’t really matter what time I went to bed….I had through the years convinced myself into seeing thru this ridiculous idea….I have to always wake up at this time!

If I don’t then…I am lazy…a good for nothing..a poor example to others….indiscipline…..unworthy….half man…etc etc.

Without realizing it then, by investing so much of my self worth, identity and ego into this ridiculous ritual….I had painted myself into a corner.

It was only when I began to live in a tribal society deep in the jungle that I was able to witness first hand how crazy this imposition really was….how senseless it really was and most importantly how damaging it is to one’s physical and mental well being, if it was allowed to persist.

I began to grow conscious of my ridiculous daily ritual only because no one in the tribal setting could understand why I had a habit of waking up so early, despite having so little sleep!….you see in tribal societies, there is absolutely no guilt associated with sleeping in….none whatsoever – to people untouched by the corrupt hand of civilization….sleep is the most needful and natural thing that one should rightly prioritize above all else. Only after this basic life need has been meet 100% should one consider doing other things.

At first I found it quiet impossible to switch off this program in my head – Every time I rested on the straw mat when I was supposed to be working…I felt a profound sense of guilt along with feeling unworthy and shameful as if by just heeding the call of my body and mind to rest – I was some how guilty of some sacrilegious crime!

It took me many years to undo this program – as the conditioning must have been imprinted so deeply into my psyche.

Even today there is still a residue of that corrosive programming somewhere in my head – it may only be a faint watermark now, but nonetheless it’s there.

As despite my best efforts. I haven’t been able to wipe out this destructive programming completely and whenever I find myself sleeping longer than I think I should or deserve too – I will automatically feel guilty and shameful…..only these days since I am conscious there is such a destructive program lurking somewhere in my head that influences and modulates my thoughts concerning rest. At least I am able to make a conscious effort to override it…..even today, it’s an act that involves considerable effort and dedication.

This just goes to illustrate how so many of our behavioral scripting and conditioning are often so well and truly embedded in our thinking and at times intractable – that one has to really make an effort to reclaim the self.

Today I am not so sure that I am completely free from guilt and shame whenever I over sleep or sleep in – but at least these days, I have learnt to be kinder to myself by setting aside these feelings by assuring myself – I have to first be attentive to the needs of my body and mind and not be too bothered by some stupid scripting that has managed to encrust itself into my thinking like barnacles on a hull of ship.’

Not very long ago a man who claims to pray one million times a day came to me and exclaimed, ‘that infidel is insulting my religion again.’

So I look questioningly at this man who claims to pray one million times a day and in a while…he went on to elaborate further.

‘He says he doesn’t believe in God and that is the highest insult to my faith…..as he is saying there is nothingness!’

That was when I asked the man who claims to pray one million times a day, ‘did he really say, he believes in nothing…’

The man intoned surprisingly, ‘No! He didn’t say ‘nothing’ specifically….but if he doesn’t believe in the idea of the creator….then isn’t that as good as believing in nothing?’

The question hung for a very long time as I feigned disinterest, then as if wishing the man who claims to pray one million times a day, bye bye. I told him.

‘Maybe when he says, I don’t believe in a creator. He is not saying, he doesn’t believe in anything. Just maybe he believes there is something more significant than the idea of a creator?’

—————————————————————————–

‘It seems mankind cannot live without illusions – the idea of mankind clinging to illusions to render his otherwise unbearable life bearable is not unlike Linus’s curious attachment to his blanket in the comic strip Charlie Brown….this is not an ordinary blanket….not to Linus…to him it is a magic blanket.

So it falls into the same category of necessaries like oxygen, water and food….without this ‘magical’ blanket, Linus will die!

Even if this blanket is momentarily detached from Linus…he will go into a mental tail spin!

So wherever Linus goes…the blanket must follow as well…it is like Velcro.

For mankind today, the equivalent of Linus’s security blanket is irrational faith in progress….this is the only way to describe it.

And the only reason why I have seen fit to use the term ‘irrational’ is because this whole idea of religion has become so encrusted with so many supposed cures for our sick society – that faith is often marketed as the only effective antidote to cure everything ranging from poverty to nihilism.

Without the security blanket of hope i.e tomorrow will be better than today, life would simply be impossible for the vast majority of humans.

Paradoxically this is what many deluded people consider to be emancipation and freedom. When in truth they are sinking deeper into the quicksand of hubris.

As by clinging steadfastly to the dogma of their religion that gives them hope. All they are doing is imprisoning their minds. It’s the same with politicians, those who belong to the right, middle and left are just clever peddlers of the same security blanket mantra – tomorrow will be better than today.

And if for some reason we are not wholly convinced by the dazzle of post modernist religion. Or consider politicians as untrustworthy . Then the skeptics amongst us can always worship science and technology as mankind’s deliverer.

You see in this crazy age that we live in – there are security blankets for every category of mankind…you can have it in any color…short, medium or tall….high to low thread count…natural of microfiber also can – but this hardly requires any elaboration to the perceptive reader, because only he or she has noticed the glaring contradiction in this blog entry….the unexplainable which is simply this – no one actually says, you can go through life meaningfully without a security blanket!

That….I have always considered as the ultimate paradox of mankind.’

The Phantom Mirror

January 15, 2016

The image that you are likely see reflected from the phantom mirror of yourself will not always be a handsome or beautiful person – very often it is an image of those who we may secretly despise, hate and even loath.

But if a person can bear the ugliness and miserableness of this unflattering image long enough – he might. He just might be able to come to terms with WHO he really is and not what others think or say he is – this is really the skeleton key that allows this man or woman to open the door to real and meaningful opportunities for bull shit free self improvement.

However if all that we can do thru out life is to turn away from this mirror which reflects the truth at every turn and opportunity – one can never come to terms with reality…without reality as a bedrock in one’s life, it is impossible for a person’s mind to grow strong….it can only weaken thru the chastening passage of time and even if one seems to making progress….it is really just like a car driving at full speed off a cliff.

Choose reality over a life of lies….this is NOT optional!

—————————————————————————-

‘The hardest thing for any man to do in his life time is to come to terms with his uglier and darker side…..and I see this from time to time in the corridors of power…men who will declared in a righteous and sanctimonious tone, ‘if I did not do this or that…then it would be far worse.’

These men are always justifying their acts and omissions under the name of the common good….but by indulging in this ego stroking exercise where they keep telling themselves and others….I am correct…I did what was painful, but necessary…it’s not as if they gave me a choice…..all they are really doing is devising yet another clever way to avoid the reality reflected from the phantom mirror…it’s just another clever way to run away from the truth.

That is why very often it is almost impossible for these people to change their ways, methods and thinking….it’s impossible. That is why to me the truth is not merely optional, if the imperative is to live a meaningful life…it is a matter of strategic precondition.

Once people develop this habit of running away from the truth all the time – by embellishing, mythologizing and exaggerating the reasons why they do the things they do – their point of view is set in concrete…it’s hard and implacable…the opposite of fluid and open.

These are very dangerous people. Not only to others….but to themselves as well. As when a man can lie to himself again and again at some point, even the truth will have to say, ‘I am so sorry, but I have to go now!’

Let me be frank. Life for the young entering the job market these days is exceptionally bleak. Salaries are nowhere near where they used to be…wages aren’t keeping pace with the cost of living…..it’s conceivable, if one takes out a study loan these days, it pays out such a lousy ROI, it’s best to give tertiary education a miss….and even if you have a degree, so what? Everyone these days is a graduate….and things will get bleaker!

Whereas during my generation – I know we had it much easier.

As during the 20th century the business model was very employee centric -companies that brought in the most money also employed the most people.

For example, in 1962 General Motors was one of the top five companies by market capitalization and employed more than half a million workers. In fact, four out of the five most highly capitalized companies that year employed more than 100,000 people each. The fifth, IBM, had over 80,000. But the 21st century has seen a reversal of that pattern. By 2012, only one of the five largest companies by market capitalization (Walmart) employed more than 100,000 people, and it had way more—2.2 million. The other four—Apple, Google, Exxon, and Microsoft—had a combined total of just 300,000.

But today things are very different. It’s conceivable mankind is already entering the age of the ghost company – that doesn’t need to employ many people, yet it’s capable of growing along with fulfilling all the criteria of market demand.

This may be great news for people who buy the stocks of these firms. But it’s as good as dropping an atomic bomb on the middle class.

After years of high unemployment and persistent underemployment, job creation—especially of full-time, adequate-wage jobs—is critical.

With the advent of this digital laced business model – it’s conceivable there will be less jobs in the future.

—————————————————————————-

‘I am probably from the last or maybe second last generation where if a man works hard and doesn’t make too many silly mistakes – then everything would take care of itself and fall into it’s rightful place….that could well explain, why I still haven’t amounted to very much as well. But I digress…

These days, I am not saying La Dolce Vita model is not as self assured, confident and robust as it used to be…..what I am saying is it has been well and truly satayed (spit roasted) and vaporized!

It’s gone!

There are many reasons why things have changed…..why so many set pieces that were once regarded as timeless and universal has all but disappeared. We can of course list out all the causal factors, drivers and preponderant events like bullet points…..but I will leave that part to you to ferret the WHY’s yourself.

Only understand this! This trend is irreversible…we are not talking about some distant dystopia future like watching a sci fi movie where everyone jumps into flying cars. This is not an AKAN DATANG! (Coming Soon!) thingy….it’s already bloody here! Full frontal in your face!

For over three thousand years of recorded history, mankind has taken refuge in the irrevocable belief humanity itself is the greatest fortress that machines can never hope to conquer. This goes all the way back to the invention of the printing press.

And today it is no different either – if you ask your friends will machines take over humanity…..they would probably snigger behind your back and say you watch too many sci fi movies. That is because deep down, we believe people’s capacity for compassion, deep understanding, and creativity are inimitable.

These are things that machines cannot do! But you know what? Machines don’t need to do all that to take your job!

And the really scary thing is this…because they are free from the emotional baggage of humanity, they can actually do a better job than humans!

A human pilot can hear voices. But a computer that flies a plane or will drive you along the ECP one day is incapable of human error precisely because it is free from all the variables of the human condition.

I have no doubt whatsoever machines will overtake us – I don’t believe in the crumbly idea humanity is necessarily a fortress that machines cannot overcome!

As most jobs out there in the world – don’t nearly require you to be creative or for that matter even dexterous at using your brain – they simply don’t….if most jobs require exclusively high performance human brain power – why is it, when you phone up a government agency in Singapore, you end up having a conversation with a machine…and when the machine ask you whether, you want to speak to a person and that connection is made…how do you account for the phenomenon, that civil servant whose humans responses exactly like a machine….the only reason why humanity likes to believe we can never be replaced by machines is because it makes us feel important and of course it’s incredibly edifying to believe – we are special! And irreplaceable.

But that sadly is not the truth….as technology is changing the very way we live, work and play and these shifts are often violent and precipitous like how The uber app is displacing the taxi uncle who drives a comfort cab.

And it’s so clever that it even render many of the set pieces we take for granted obsolete over night…it’s happening even as we speak….it’s not just happening to physical stores…it’s happening to everything from how you book a holiday to hotels….and it will continue to happen…I am not saying machines and their cousins, apps and software will take over the world…they don’t need to be able to do all the things we can do 100% to displace humanity – to render us museum artifacts in the history wing alongside the Dodo bird…all they need to do is 50% of what we do! That’s 20% more than what’s necessary to destroy the value chain and renders any business model that relies heavily on mankind a pretty lousy business proposition.

I don’t believe for one moment. I am being audacious in my projections. If anything it’s a highly conservative estimation of how things will turn out – as to be quite honest with you….most jobs out there require the same processing power as tying up your shoe laces…now you know why politicians all come across as people who read the same book or share a common program..even when they keep reminding people, they are actually working really hard to make a better tomorrow for you and your family…..this lends credence to the reversa of the Turing test viz-a-viz when you cannot tell the person from a machine, then it must be a machine. A derivative of that idea presupposes, being brainwashed into believing nonsense is also a form of computerization – so when I use the term, ‘machine’ this does not necessarily exclude humans per se!

Truth of the matter is machines will overcome humanity at some point – we like to take comfort in the idea….they (the machines) can never be like us….we lull ourselves into a false sense of confidence by proclaiming proudly – we are alive…….they’re just a facsimile of life…..we are real….they are faker than fake! We have a heart…they only make do with circuitry….

But we don’t nearly give machines the credit, they rightly deserve.

As when one considers how in such a short period of time they have whirled their ways into our life and changed every aspect of how we relate to ourselves and others along with altering every facet of life, work and play ….I don’t believe for one moment computers are unable to encroach further on other areas previously considered the human preserve.’

The return of Boonyi

January 12, 2016

At mid day. One of my harvesters informed me in the field. A giant eagle was seen circling my birdhouse in the plantation and shrieking loudly – all the dogs were barking like crazy as at times this eagle would swoop low as if it was searching for something or someone….when I went to investigate…it turned to be Boonyi. She has returned after a two and half years absence. The giant spinster eagle.

I am very happy to see Boonyi again. As since she is an unusually large female bird, most male eagles shy away from her – so for many years, it was so very difficult for Boonyi to pair up with a mate. But from what I can make out this time…she seems to have a boyfriend.

Boonyi is one of my first wild pets I raised from a little chick no larger than a tennis ball – her mother threw her out from the nest. I caught her in mid air. Sometimes nature is like that. So I became her surrogate mother and fashioned an artificial bird head with a sock and beak out of plastic bottle cut outs to feed her.

Three years later after Boonyi had grown up. She was still hanging around my plantation. One day she was blown right out of the sky by a hunter who bore a grudge against me (you can see the video of me pulling out the shot gun pellets.) – fortunately, she had the common sense to crash land nearby my house which allowed me to promptly patch her up and in no time she was up and running again.

Since them I have not seen Boonyi for over two years – so to be reunited with the giant eagle again fills my heart with joy.

But this is also a bitter sweet moment. As Boonyi’s return presages the coming of bleak days…it is not a good sign – eagles are like elephants…when they sense danger…they will always run back home as fast as their legs and wings can take them.

I know Boonyi is afraid of something….I can tell by the way she dips her wings jerkily when she circles high above. I even know what it is. Only yesterday a Tamil boy from a nearby plantation insisted he saw elephants. Naturally most of the villagers dismissed him as an idiot. As elephants have not been seen here for decades. But I know this to be true – as I have seen elephant tracks along the riverbank as well just the other day.

Why are the elephants coming down from the mountains?

Something evil comes this way….I sense Mother Nature curling her fingers to make a claw so very slowly as she readies herself to strike…..it is so strange to feel happiness and sadness all at the very same time.

My god it’s so bloody hot these days!

Late last afternoon during the hour of the cow – the bomoh (village shaman) paid me a visit. As soon as he laid eyes on me. The bomoh revealed to me in a tone of profound sadness, he had lost all his magical powers. I asked him how can you be so sure. He said, he knows…as he can feel it…..he read the signs….they have left him.

In the past, when his magical powers were at their height, he could weave spells to walk on water. His link to the supernatural was so strong then, he could even walk effortlessly through walls.

After a long pause….I told the bomoh…..don’t worry, you have not lost anything that cannot be replaced with something much better….he was surprised….that was when I shared with him my perspective on the matter…..why would anyone want to learn how to walk on water if he can just take the ferry….why would anyone want to walk through walls if they can do the same by walking thru a door?

So tell me why are you crying over the lost of all these nonsense?

—————————————————————————

‘Mankind is really like a wide eyed kid with a crisp $50 note in an amusement park….he is always hopping on rides….he is always chasing thrills. Always running from himself. Only a few months ago, I came across a girl who told me in a frantic tone, I must go to Paris….I must go to Paris. I asked her why is there a rush to see the world? I then asked of her is the Eiffel Tower rusting away? Is the leaning tower Pisa, leaning too far that it may collapse like new world hotel? Is King Kong going to climb and destroy the Empire State Building? Has the state of Nevada declared that the Grand Canyon is just a giant sink hole and decided to gazette it as a landfill?

So tell me what is the rush? Why do you need to be so kun cheong (five chili anxious) to take in everything in at such a short span of time? Why don’t you save your money and put it to good use instead of just spending it as if you will always have a good job? After all Paris…Milan and New York is going nowhere…it will always be there.

Besides even should you be able to stand before these beautiful sights and sounds – they will all be meaningless to you. As to truly appreciate a thing for what it is requires one to first know more of the oneself and the way of the world…so why the rush to take it all in one bite?

After all even should you stand before the most beautiful fresco in Italy where Michelangelo once painted the ceiling….as since you have not lived your life and experienced the entire range of experiential hemispheres life can offer you…it would really just be a giant comic book to you.

So you fly here, there and everywhere….you take a lot of colorful pictures…you post it online and tell everyone, I have been here like Kilroy. But tell me what is the whole point of it?

You see, but yet you are blind….you are right there, but you are also nowhere…you can touch, but you cannot feel. As you have not visited the most needful and most important place of all – yourself. So tell me what are you trying to prove?

I then went on to share with this girl who wants to go everywhere, why don’t you dedicate yourself first to seeking financial liberty. Don’t you think it is strange that so many people online are screaming for freedom of this and that, but the irony is they don’t mind going on holiday on a shoe string budget staying in the YMCA and grubbing on sandwiches….isn’t that freedom denied? Start saving money when you are young. Invest it wisely so that your nest egg multiplies and pays out handsome dividends. Go and buy property. Dedicate yourself to something meaningful, could be pottery or even painting, dancing or singing, that way, at least you have begun in earnest, the journey inwards into yourself….which is the first place you should first visit and see…otherwise it will just be a great nothingness and if you take the trouble to observe carefully – there are many many people doing just that, chasing nothingness…dedicating themselves to nonsense…what are you trying to prove?’

Yesterday in the kopitiam (village eatery) I overheard a knot of villagers complaining about a man…he is so different….he seems to be in his own world…he does not seem to care very much for our ways…neither does he seem to respect us…otherwise why would he choose to be so different.

When one of them asked me for my opinion – I asked of them…tell me how wise is it to expect everyone to be like you?

Now consider this! If you can accept no two things in this world are alike even if they SHOULD be alike – like two dogs of the same breed who may have completely different temperaments, two trees of the same strain where one blooms earlier and the other latter, two siblings from the same parent, where one is an extrovert and the other withdrawn, two cups of coffee prepared by the same brewer where one cup is more powerful than the other, two servings of chicken rice from the same hawker and so on and so forth…why then do you all have so much difficulty in accepting the idea, no two persons can ever be the same even if they SHOULD be the same?

And even should you all encounter difficulties in coming to terms with why he is the way he is – why can’t all of you let him be….after all, the world is so big and if he is content to remain in his corner of the world being the way he is and not bothering anyone of you – why do you all want to find fault with him?

—————————————————————————–

‘When we ask ourselves why do we find it so difficult to come to terms with people who may seem different from us – it is simply because HOW, we make sense of the world is essentially determined by our scripting and conditioning by society.

You are not accustomed to the strong smell of spices, so when you smell curry when you are walking along the void deck, it comes across as poison gas to you! You have never ever used coconut oil to moisturize your body, so when you come across someone who uses it regularly in the MRT, again it’s like poison gas to you! You have never eaten food without cutlery cross legged on the pavement – so when you see others doing so…you say they are uncivilized.

My point is it is NOT you who really thinks and believes all these things! If you believe it is really YOU, then please stop reading this now! I have to insist and please go somewhere else….I must insist….please….I mean no disrespect…as if you actually believe that is really YOU, then you have scientific proof you are already brain dead! Part of the zombie nation.

And I can even prove it scientifically. Because had you been brought up in that same social and cultural environment as those people who are accustomed to cooking with strong spices, moisturizing their bodies with strange oils and eating their food without cutlery….then all these will NEVER come across as odd or peculiar to you!

So it is NOT you who finds all these sights and sounds alien. It is your scripting and conditioning – your mind. The de facto representative of society that is thinking and responding to all these stimuli’s – the silently proxy of society that is hiding inside your mind is doing all this! And if you do not constantly remind yourself – your thoughts are NOT always yours, that they cannot always reliably serve you well….that there is always a secret agent of society who is always scuttling here and there in your brain conspiring to bring out the worst in you…..you will end up existing instead of living….you will hate instead of love etc etc.

This is how sectarian, religious and racial divisions take root. This is why, there is so much hatred, enmity and endless disagreements in this world.

As since the mind has been conditioned by society; society has subliminally implanted many things in it – the process is so subtle…you are not even aware of it, unless of course you make an effort to remain conscious of this insidious process.

You can observe this in children in the kindergarden playing with other children – they don’t care whether the kid they are playing with is a Indian, Chinese, Muslim or Eskimo. They care even less about faith or whether their parents do hand stands or chants yabadabado before going out into the world…that is because at that young and tender age, the scripting and conditioning of the mind has not begun yet….this is why children do not know how to hate, despise and ostracize others.

I have experienced the same vein of innocence and purity with tribal people deep in the jungle – there was a time when I could only be terribly vexed and irritated by their ways. As they always seem to take my things without bothering to first ask my permission….it was only much latter when I spent more time with them cataloging their language, that I realized…there was no word for ownership or possession in their vocabulary and that was the key that enabled me to reach this realization and insight…the reaction of getting irritated and angry was NOT triggered by what the tribesmen did…it stemmed directly from what I perceive to be scripted and conditioned understanding of disrespectful and rude people who would usually take my things without first bothering to ask my permission…the catalyst of getting frustrated and angry was a bi product of HOW I see the world! Hence, I have imputed that social convention on them which is in effect alien and unknown to their tribal culture, where there is no such thing as ownership and everybody shares everything.

Hence by cultivating the good habit of mistrusting your mind….slightly….by constantly interrogating and auditing it with the free and natural unscripted and unconditioned mind…and if possible by coming to terms with the awful reality – your mind may NOT always serve you well! As since it is already programmed by society, it can only function first as a servant to society, thereby leading you to serve society’s or other people’s specious ends!

You are able to adjust your response and alter you thinking to see the truth in this world for what it is and NOT what others say it is.

Very few know of this simple truth – that is why whenever mankind is baffled he will first misunderstand. Then transform his misunderstanding into an abstraction, where only a few might claim to understand, only to end up politicizing it so that all others may understand his misconception as something sensible…level head and even sound….and when that happens you have taken a position on the issue…it is set in stone, like I don’t like cauliflower….I don’t ever take creme with my coffee…..and when you take such a strong position – no matter how well crafted your arguments, or how clever you are able to convey your views concerning your objects of interest….all you have done is cut off the fields of possibilities, worst of all, you have proven, despite your best efforts to come across as an original thinker – you are NOT your own man!

You are just a proxy of society…a cheap lobbyist whose brain has been gazumped by the collective consciousness of the faceless!’

Let me put it simply this way, if enough passengers on a cruise liner believe the ship they are on board is tilting. Even if it’s squarely dead level. Then it makes perfect sense to talk about how to survive the frigid waters of the Atlantic by drinking your own urine….then it makes perfect sense to go to bed with your life jacket strapped on….then it makes perfectly good sense to even draft your last will and testament on a paper napkin in the dinning lounge.

And should someone hear someone shout out ‘the band is shit! And mistake it for abandon ship….then it makes perfect sense for everyone who has always believed this ship to be tilting to run as fast as they can to chope (reserve) a seat on the nearest life boat….and when the people who have always insisted the ship has always been rock steady and has not tilted so much as one degree since the voyage see so many people rushing frantically to abandon ship – then it’s perfectly logical for them to also believe the ship is sinking – only for them to proceed to join the rest as well.

The question in my humble opinion has never ever been – whether 2016 is the year of the mother of all economic meltdowns that will make the Great Depression look like an accounting aberration…as it remains a question of HOW MANY people today can still continue to believe we are NOT already in a recession.

That is the question…the only question.

—————————————————————————-

‘Economist like to point to the four sins which they claim will enable the Great Recession to occur: greed, low risk management, inadequate regulation and of course Santayana’s famous aphorism, folk who simply don’t learn from their past mistakes.

Greed has always been there, it’s like nitrogen in air. Or sugar in Ribena. So it’s an oxymoron to believe you can ever get rid of it….to me greed has always been an indelible part of the financial psyche – so when people say markets should not be greedy, it’s very childish. As it’s like insisting vampires should settle for bloody Mary’s instead of the real thing etc.

As for risk management and regulation – those two terms has always been an abstraction to me, it’s like taking off my watch and asking me to watch a movie while I am puffing ganja and asking me thereafter? How long was the movie? the short answer is…anywhere between three to fifteen hours…its a term of relativity.

Besides managing risk and regulating what’s kosher and out of bounds is really only a function of how strong lobbyists and weak politicians and those who fund them are prepared to circumvent rules restricting what they can and cannot do.

Risk managers are no different. You can’t blame them for pushing the envelop of what they can and cannot do, whilst trying to figure out how to remain technically within the ambit of the term compliance. As again it’s childish to assume the profit motive does not feature strongly in the decision making process.

So long as high risk pays out the highest return on investment in the short term – then it’s good to go….so what if some people crash and burn…no one remembers those who didn’t make it.

As for voters…they will always continue to suffer from an incurable naïveté concerning the mechanics of politics and power of how vested interest and the elites use it to perpetuate the status quo ante in the name of a better tomorrow for all – again this has been a constant since the dawn of mankind.

So to me the four conditions which economist continue to insist have to be manifestly present before one can even moot whether there can be a recession has already been fulfilled. It’s conceivable this mythical point was reached two years back ago when the FED came out with new words like quantitative easing to describe printing money!

The last throw of the dice is HOW many people can continue to believe in the great lie that all is well and it’s business as usual….and the answer to that question is really shocking – as the short answer to me at least – is it’s pointless to debate whether we are in a recession when all the signs clearly indicate as far back as one half years ago that, that has already happened…to me when I talk to economist or anyone from the banking community about this term recession…they always seem to suffer from the idea, we are still heading there like a train…like we haven’t yet reached that station yet and that’s why I think they’re in denial …that is something that I don’t wish to discuss for the moment.’

Train, train and train

January 10, 2016

There is something underneath the frond stack inside the parameter fence….could be a snake, monitor lizard, rodent or even an assassin out to do me on a lazy Sunday.

This is a drill all my dogs know by heart.

The rules of the game are simple. Make as much noise to disorientate, confuse and cause pandemonium to flush out the intruder, so that the big dog at the far right can take it down when it bolts out into the open.

Everyone knows the drill…everyone knows their positions ….they all know what they and others are supposed to do…they have all trained hundreds of times for this and on practically every single occasion the outcome is exactly same…the intruder gets disorientated, panics and bolts into the open and it’s surgically taken down by the big dog….it’s the old classic one, two and three….you down for the count!

But this is Kutty’s first time. She is the one wearing the bright green float running all over the place and sticking her nose into everywhere. She’s still seems to be relying only on her dominant sense, smell which means she will stick her whole head into the pile…this is a big no-no in this exercise. As all she is really doing is painting a big bullseye on her forehead….while the more experienced sweepers are relying only on their power of sight and busying themselves with creating as much noise as possible to flush out the intruder…..I can tell the rest of the dogs are getting awfully frustrated with Kutty. As they keep giving her a ‘WTF are you doing’ look all the time. As not only does she not seem to know the rules how to play this game. But Kutty is also ruining the rhythm of the entire pack along with throwing their game.

As for the big dog, he’s like one of those battle hardened centurions, he knows from just watching Kutty – this is going to be a giant waste of a good Sunday and has decided to wander off to take a nap instead….I don’t blame him.

Kutty has a lot to learn….and she doesn’t have much time…if she can’t cut the grade by the end of next month….I may have to drive her back to the city.

—————————————————————————–

‘Singaporeans are soft targets for criminals whenever they venture out abroad for business or pleasure or both. To a degree that’s a function of the effectiveness and efficiency of the security services in Singapore – the police and clandestine services in Singapore are basically a no nonsense outfit who take their job very seriously and that means Singapore can really only be a very safe place to work, live and play.

As a consequence most Singaporeans see no need to switch on their radars and dial it to ultra sensitive mode. It’s so safe, many even stand down their situational awareness to zero or it’s permanently on stand by mode. As they literally take their safety and well being for granted. That’s only natural…and it’s really a function of conditioning.

I can understand.

But that is also precisely why when Singaporeans venture out into business abroad con men and trickster like to prey on them – and whenever, they are holidaying, criminals see them as easy meat.

And that is precisely why as well, Singaporeans need a paradigm shift in the way they traditionally perceive and respond to threats. The case is especially urgent in this age of cross border terrorism – as the threats are real and hardly imagine – people can’t just go about work, life and play with a bochap (ambivalent) attitude where they outsource everything to the security services. That’s not efficient. Neither is it realistic. They need to cultivate a sharp edge when it comes to certain scenarios like bags being left in public places along with get up to speed on a whole range of skill sets. If you don’t take this serious….they’re really just asking for it.

The way I see it, it’s not whether, but rather a case of WHEN and WHERE evil people will strike….and when they do, one needs to be able to bring them down without fumbling with the basics, where the gold standard is one shot, one kill lah! TO GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME! ALL THE TIME…EVERYTIME. Anything less than this is no bloody good! After putting them in a NTUC plastic bag, then only go to the UN.

To accomplish that sort of cutting edge preparedness, one needs to train, train and train as realistically as possible. There is no other way.’

Strengths and Weaknesses

January 8, 2016

From time to time in the kampung (farming hamlet), it’s not uncommon to come across lynch mobs gathered around people who many believe to be mad and dangerous….as these ‘mad’ people claim to be able to talk to trees.

I have a lot of sympathy for these people who everyone fears and considers crazy….It must be terrible I reckon to be always marooned in one’s skull, to be ostracized, sneered and laughed at, only to feel the shards of loneliness all the time.

If there is such a thing as redemption amid suffering. Perhaps it is in the idea that the first lesson a tree imparts to those who claim to be able to talk to it, is – how to be alone.

————————————————————————–

‘Anyone who has ever set his eyes on a solitary tree longer than all others…can only end up venerating trees.

It’s like most things in life really. If you look at something really long enough…then you’re bound to see things in that thing that no one else can ever see. Like when you have just learnt a new word only to come across it, it lingers like shadows in your head as you say to yourself, ‘I know the meaning to that word…..I just got to know it the other day…how strange to see it in this book or to hear it being used.’

Trees are no different. It takes patience to sit down and still everything to a crawl and bear out what they have to say.

Trees….set against the backdrop of faceless buildings…trees making a neat line along pavements…trees in the forests and groves….even if they can’t say booh! To scare the shit out of you…don’t they at least embody the physical qualities that we should cultivate….if we genuine want to live meaningful lives?

Not all trees perhaps…certainly not the crispy pine trees four days after Christmas that’s so famous for spontaneous combustion along Orchard Rd….but what about the tall and silent one’s.

Especially those trees that stand alone set against the blur of perpetual motion in cityscape Singapore – these are the preacher trees. The ones who I revere most. As they are like hermits. Not those who run away and shut out the world because they are too fearful to face themselves. It’s the opposite with these solitary trees, to them solitude not a militant act of renouncing the world. Rather it’s how they chosen to live…..under their own terms…you can see it in their shy defiance. Their aloofness from the world. Even in the way, they exude a certain quiet confidence and self assurance like men who are so comfortable to solitude only they seem to be only ones to stand all alone in marvelous completion….no desire to prove a thing. It matters little to them. As if deep down, it’s enough for them to know what it is and not bother too much about what the rest or world says or think – no yearning to belong. To be part of…as if they some how found a place called home in loneliness.

They just are…

Preacher trees are like that…they all have that seasoned sheen about them, like things that you know can tell you long stories that stretch thru the night into the morn – the worn out patina on the breech of rifle…smells of civet and musk when old leather is brought to the nostrils…old knives that are ground and used so often, they look as if they grew in the field rather than rolled out from a factory ….preacher trees are like that.

These solitary trees to me will always be like frontier men who know only too well, they have to see their lives thru to the very end. It’s written in their seed.

They have no choice but to live their lives that way. Yes there is certainly a lingering sadness…..A suggestion of this feeling at least in the way a man who spends all his time at sea can only feel the pain that comes from yearning to see land…but that flitting notion never seems to last very long with me whenever I am around preacher trees.

As the smallness of this thought is always overshadowed by how well they seem to be able to stand their ground yet remain so tall despite their many travails.

One of the trees senses my thoughts, he whispers to another tree, ‘this man is thinking life is hard…life is easy….how childish he is….it is neither don’t you think so?’ Did you hear that – meanwhile the world moves on and around them oblivious….in their ceaselessness….purposefulness…as if it was only meant for me.

Their branches sway ever so slightly to the ceaseless chastening passage of time with utter indifference. Their leaves rustles high above set aflame by a corn colored sun, like distant creatures who are not beholden to time or place. Yet deep down hidden away, their roots drill deep and afar always searching for nourishment….always reaching up further.

And even as the world around them makes as much noise like a man beating at a drum – they seem unconcerned. They radiate a heaviness like purposeful men who seem aloof – the sort of who are accustomed to hardship and know that it is not how much pressure it takes to break a man in half. Rather it’s how the man scales what he has to bear and how he regards this weight – so these trees like those solitary souls set in the desolation of wilderness are like men accustomed to living their lives by their own laws – they dedicate all of themselves to the purity of their own form and symmetry like how the girth of a tree is always wider at the base only to narrow into a slender pine at the uppereaches where they reach out to touch the sun – and they assume this form with no pretentions whatsoever…no frills…no stupid paper umbrellas…it’s as if this what it takes like one of those very quiet men who always seem to be able to radiate a presence.

What a bloody contradiction…or maybe not.

Trees are like temples. To those who know how to speak to them. They can only learn the truth about life. Whenever they speak, they never require the vulgarity of shouting, stomping or raising their voices to convey what they stand for…they just are….it is what it is….just there….in the magnificence of their completeness and nestled somewhere beneath cool preamble of their shade…their silence is deafening.

When a man stands before a magnificent tree – it’s hardly a dead thing like standing before a wall…soon this man realizes the tree is whispering to him, ‘look at me, can you not see mystery is furiously at work all around me?’ My roots are searching out far and wide, so that I can reach up to touch the sun. A kernel falls from high above before this man’s feet, a man who is now perhaps not as self assured of his superiority as he used to be as suddenly it dawns on him – this tiny seed is whence this magnificent tree came from….for a moment he is seized by fear. But before this man like all men in this plastic two dimensional world can run…the tree shout out, ‘Be still! Where are you running too? Home is neither there or somewhere else. Home is within you.’

With these words, the man breathes a sigh of relief, looks at the seed in the palm of his hands….and he is at rest.’

My next door neighbor in the city marvels at the seeming effortlessness in which I am able to grow flowers and plants.

Most of the time when she chances on me, she will ask – why can’t I seem to grow flowers as well as you? She goes on to add rather regretfully. It’s not as if I don’t water them twice a day diligently. I never miss a day. If it doesn’t rain for two consecutive days. I even water them three times, as recommended since it’s terribly hot these days – even feed them fertilizer twice a week according to the recommended dosage, even go thru the bother of making sure the pots are not water logged every other day so that their roots don’t rot. But they always seem to die on me….while you hardly seem to do anything at all and your flowers and plants are all bursting with life…why?

That was when I said something to the effect….yes, that could well be why – they can really only die….how terribly sad.

——————————————————————————

‘Everything in this world is infused with a natural rhythm…for example, it takes nine months for a fetus to grow into a baby….it takes three years for a palm to bear fruit and so on and so forth.

You can’t speed it up…lack for a better word, the process can’t be rushed! It is what it is.

Call it what you will…a seasonal tide of time…the natural cycle….a way even. It matters little what you call it. My point is everything in this world has a natural rhythm that needs to be respected. If you don’t respect it – then instead of going with the grain, it could be said, you are never going to bring best out of it.

For instance if you want to grow healthy plants – respect their natural rhythm – after potting them…don’t fuss over them like a mother hen…don’t even touch them if possible…with plants…a little goes a very long way, that’s the rule of thumb.

Let nature do her thing. She’s the expert. Learn to delegate. But if you try to speed or help it along by doing either this or that or whatever, then nine out of ten, it will probably never turn out the way you imagine it to be….this is why plants die along with supplying a perfectly sound explanation as to why weeds will always continue to proliferate. No one if you bother to notice cares for the latter.

It’s the same with people as well. We are all born with an innate rhythm. For some people that rhythm beats faster than others. As for other people, it may be set at a slower pace. Some people bloom early, others take their time about it, but bloom they will, everyone has his or her natural speed and cadence.

Screw that rhythm up and it’s like two dancers out of synch stepping on each other’s toes. That can’t be fun at all.

On other occasions when the natural rhythm is turned upside down on it’s head like how the Americans and Australians once rounded up all the indigenous tribes and put them all into reservations….guess what? They all died like flies despite access to modern amenities and healthcare. Or became alcoholics en masse. That’s what invariably happens when the natural rhythm of a tribe is thrown out of synch with the natural order of their world and forced into alien drum beat.

For example. I am no good at multi tasking. As to be really good at what I do often takes considerable time for me to get into the grove – so if I am forced to work in an environment where my attention span keeps having to switch from this to that or some thing else – this can only diffuse my energy, destroy my attention span and throw off my focus…it’s no good for me!

That’s why I never make on the spot commitments…you will be able to get a definite yes or no from me on the spot. Never. As I am always mindful of my rhythm and much prefer to mull over it.

The problem as I see it is almost everything in the twenty-first century seems to be going in the opposite direction of where I much prefer to go.

I am not saying I am anti multi tasking per se, I happen to believe it’s a great idea to swish mouthwash and wash your clothes at the same time when you’re in the toilet…only when it comes to certain things like brain surgery, landing a commercial jetliner manually or perusing the details of a multi million dollar deal – all that requires focus and all your attention and it’s best to do one thing at a time and to get it right the first time.

There was a time not so very long ago, when I blamed myself for this what I thought was a lack. I’m too slow-witted, slow to evolve, unable to get into the program. But when I look around me, all the multitaskers I know – don’t seem to make very good decisions….the quality of their work is at best mediocre. At first glance, they may look efficient as they seem to get a lot done, but when you go thru their work, you will often find its so shoddy they probably need to spend extra time reworking it. The irony is they all end up spending more time old cho cho train me.

That’s why whenever I have to collaborate with others – I always spend sometime observing their natural rhythm first. As a rule of thumb, I do nothing except observe. I never just dive into the process as I am always mindful this will only cause grief for myself and others. Neither do I breathe down their neck and micro manage them – if possible, I leave people alone to do their thing. At their own speed and it’s only when they are comfortable that’s when I will step in to supply the directional and instructional inputs.

I reckon it’s the same with people as well. If you want to get along and bring out the best people. You need to first take the time to observe their natural rhythm and if possible go along with it – if you’re used to doing things supersonic fast and furious, slow down. If you’re the slow coach type like moir, speed up a bit so that you don’t fall too far behind – it’s not so different from ball room dancing I reckon…like I said it’s no fun when the rhythm is all out….it’s just bloody painful.’

Not everything in life is foreseeable. Not everything is always predictable. Life is intrinsically uncertain.

That is the Tao of life…

Of course, most of the time. We prefer to take comfort in the idea – so long as we plan well, work hard and don’t make too many silly mistakes – we are able to pass effortless from the land of theory to reality without too much grief.

Fortunately for most of the time….we do make it to the other side safely.

However there are many points in life when we simply cannot make out what awaits us just around the corner…..and that always makes us anxious and a bit scared.

Do not try to run away from this feeling. As it’s perfectly natural for one to feel that way in the face of uncertainty…..do not be ashamed….as this does not mean you are less of a man or woman….it just means you are well and truly part of the human condition – as the more you deny this feeling by resisting it or chanting meaningless words in the hope of fortifying you – the stronger it will swell within you only to eventually overwhelm all of you.

Give yourself to it – like how a once raging river finally ebbs and slows as all it’s energy gives way when it comes before the infinity of the sea

Just see it for what it is – something….that try as hard as you may to beacon out the murk, but it’s just a swirl. A blur….and it’s at such moments, when the road is so foggy that it’s impossible to make out what lies ahead, that you must be able to remain calm and still and simply sit down quietly and wait for what may come…..and most importantly hope for the best.

—————————————————————————–

‘Life is uncertain….unfathomable….and full of mystery. No one can tell what lies somewhere along the long road of life. One can only approximate and say given X or Y conditions – this or that is likely to happen. That is all one can really do….But my point is one can never truly be sure.

When I reflect on the smallness of my own life and ask myself – who were the people who nourished me most and gave me strength – it is always those who shared with me the gift of calmness and stillness….we don’t have to do anything memorable like climb a mountain or go hiking in Nepal. We could both be sitting on a park bench quietly somewhere in East Coast and wondering why the clouds look like galloping horses today instead of candy floss like they did yesterday. Or just cooking together. The sound onions being cut rhythmically against a chopping board. The aroma of garlic just before they turn transparent. All these things are very nourishing to the soul and spirit….as I believe when a person is able to remain calm and still, then he and she can face anything that life throws out.

I wonder sometimes is this why the condemned are always offered a last meal, cigarette and quiet moment of reflection just before they are sent off to face the firing squad? What accounts for the string quartet that played just before the Titanic turned turtle in the frigid waters of the Atlantic – what were those people trying to summon deep within their souls?

Or maybe they weren’t trying at all – perhaps deep down they were all just calm and still…..that I reckon is the best life insurance you can have in the face of uncertainty.’

Not very long ago I came across a group of kiddies who told me rather proudly – they had donated all their pocket money to some crazy man who told these kids a stranger who these kids hardly know loved them so much he once died for them in the name of eternal and everlasting love.

I asked of these children only one question – who gave you this money?

One of them answered, my father and mother. The rest nodded. That was when I paid a visit to this holey man and demanded the money these kids had donated.

I then returned this sum to the parents of these children and went on to say,

Grow up first. Get a job then you can even donate any amount you want to whatever cause. Doesn’t matter to me whether it is 10% or even 100% of your salary – that is your prerogative as a wage earner. I care even less where that donation goes….it’s good to go wherever you feel is right….even to the grand order of the planet of apes…..it matters naught to me…..but as long as you are still receiving money from mama and papa and staying under their roof, then they are your God and since you have not earned the right to donate anything yet. Then you must only use this money to eat well and grow strong in body and mind.

After that day the holey man went around village to village telling everyone I am the devil reincarnate.

But what the fuck do I care?

—————————————————————————–

‘Governments only want robots, not human beings, because human beings can think and let us be honest people who can think well can connect the dots and eventually become dangerous to governments – the same theory of engineering consent en masse applies to con men who claim they and only they alone can speak directly to God as well – the last thing they ever want is an empowered congregation that can think…..all they want is sheep that way it’s possible to create the conditions to always suspend disbelief – this way, both governments and religious charlatans can perpetuate their class politics and preserve the status quo ante.

This is reality…the way I see it at least! Now you know why I never get too close to either of them. The relationship is always arms length….strictly need to see basis only!

This is why ALL governments and religious organizations seek always to control what goes into your mind – they are not coy about it either. They will tell you what is kosher, what is normal, what is acceptable, what is good and bad and so on and so forth and they will keep telling you to a point where you may even feel the need to put your hand up for urination breaks!

Only be mindful, if you listen to them without thinking….you can only become just like everyone else.

That is why when governments speak about innovation and creativity, it will always resemble a sort of caricature to me like a bald man trying to sell hair care products. I never take them seriously – as they have consistently demonstrated a failure of imagination to understand that to nurture a creative based society – first requires respecting the whole idea of individuality.

Say what you like of the West…they are decadent…they are constantly mired by the hubris of endless divisions brought forth by free speech and there are many thing in their social, cultural and political system that is riven with endless contradictions that may even all implode one day and cause their demise….but you cannot certainly deny, the West is a truly innovative and creative society.

Only the West has been able to continually maintain it’s intellectual primacy by consistently being able to yield the highest patent per capita.

They are also sublimely clever when it comes to creating value in virtually every aspect of life ranging from entertainment to designing rockets that can travel all the way to Mars.

That is why whenever I hear Asian leaders in both the public and private shpere talking dismissively about the West along with their disdain and suspicion for all things Western. To me these are super duper idiots – as they all resemble a bunch of cavemen living in a sort of deluded parallel universe as they turn to one another and wax lyrical ‘we are the masters of the universe’ not realizing they are facing off against a well disciplined battle hardened Roman legion.

You are so bloody owned by the West your ass is in shreds! And you don’t even realize it!

WHY?….because they fail to see the strategic value of creativity and innovation and worst all they do not have the imagination to harness this transformational power to better people and planet.

They cannot – because people who respect individuals can harness this power…only people who don’t feel threatened by diversity can step out of their parochial, insular and provincial small minded thinking can see the bigger picture….only people who don’t expect everyone to be the same as everyone else can weaponized brain power….only those who can manage conflict intelligently to even agree to disagree in a civilized manner and learn to live and let live instead of resorting to the cattle prop and fear can transform brain power into a wonder weapon. This way what unites them will always be stronger than what threatens to divide them…this is what makes the West great!

That is reality! This is also why Asia will continue to lag behind as well! That also is reality!

This is why the white man will always run circles around us Asians!

Why? Because we Asians cannot come to terms with this simple reality – you cannot have the blessing without the curse when one talks about the whole idea of a society that is driven by creativity and innovation – that is not possible.

That is to say, if you want to control everything including what goes into the mind of people – then it’s not realistic to expect a Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or even a George Lucas to emerge from the ranks of automatons and robots. Learn to live with your lot! The North Koreans have proven empirically this can be accomplished!

Accept it!

Worst of all we Asians have no faith in the idea good will prevail over evil when things are left alone to grow organically….we always have to control this and that….be mindful of this and that….it’s like the people who like to say Singapore is a small country so it is neither reasonable nor realistic to expect a nation with no critical intellectual mass to leverage on innovation and creativity – but if that is the case how does one go on to supply an explanation how Sweden a small country with a smaller population seems to be able to garner the highest patent per capita in the whole world?

Understand this! I am not talking about how many cohorts managed to score a double first in Yale or Cambridge….I am talking about the intellectual fire power to create competitive advantage thru innovation and creativity.

Where is it written critical mass requires anything in the way of numerical superiority, land mass or such a thing as a hinterland. That is old thinking….circa Adam Smith, it is museum thoughtware – if that were really true then Stuttgart with just a light weight population of about 600 thousand could never be the HQ of Mercedes Benz. That would be impossible. Neither can Munich with a population of about 1.2 million support BMW or for that matter assert itself as a cultural center of arts in the EU. That would not be possible either.

Then it would be impossible for you to go down with your family to Ikea during the weekend for a meal of Swedish meatballs or buy a nice rug as there is only 800,000 people that make up Sweden. No Swiss chocolates either. Forget the ubiquitous swiss knife or the complication of intercontinental banking as well. As Zurich only has a population of less than 400,000.

So don’t talk nonsense to me!

As you can see, it’s not entirely true to say that a constrain necessarily hobbles you down….that is only true at one level of intelligence!

As by leveraging specifically on a creative and innovative social base it is possible to create value where none existed before. This is not a new story, it’s been around since the dawn of mankind – what confounds me most is how so very little has been directed to this one area to create sustainable competitive advantage for Singapore.

Instead we seem to only have leaders who seem to destroy the value chain – and I will speak plainly in this regard – for example I have always believed it was a catastrophic disaster for Philip Yeo to wake out one day and proclaim like the Aga Khan, Singapore has no agriculture…only to shift the focus elsewhere. As I can argue, the core competencies needed to support commercial farming does not reside in the availability of land. Rather it is in the know how – if what Philip Yeo mentioned were really true, then all the corn and wheat grown commercially by ADM and Cargill would be farmed in only the US. But as it is for every metric ton of wheat that Americans consume, only less than 20% comes from the US. As for corn the it’s somewhere only around 30%. The rest comes from South America, Africa and all round the world.

Had these competencies been recognized as strategic and nurtured. Instead of being eviscerated and systematically driven out of the Singapore psyche…I have no doubt Singapore would be a regional if not a world leader in agriculture today. Our sphere influence would stretch from the cape of good in hope in Africa all the way up to Egypt and turn sharply left to the Ukraine and take a sharp dive to down the Andaman sea to the Indonesia archipelago….there will be no such thing as the haze…because it will be run by Singaporeans.

Do you see how the field of possibilities can close with a closed mind?

So as you can see…..it’s complicated whenever we speak about thinking and governments and religion…so very complicated and messy….at times I feel it’s best to just hold my tongue and if possible pretend to be dumb…which unfortunately, isn’t too hard to do these days.’

There are many things that are working against Kutty, the puppy. Since Kutty hails from the city. She needs to unlearn many of her bad habits before she can learn anything new – any where else and these bad habits would just remain bad habits….but in a plantation life is cruel, this means without the benefit of training and familiarization – it’s very unlikely Kutty will even make it to her first birthday.

For instance she relies too much on her hearing. A trait common to city dogs, but in a plantation that could spell doom and lead her straight into the jaws of a predator.

As when a canine relies disproportionately on hearing and is short on seeing in the field – curiosity will get the better of her…a rustle in the fronds and that grabs her attention and off she goes to investigate….if she keeps this up, she doesn’t stand a chance in hell. As most predators are masters of camouflage and practitioners in the art of invisibility…so doesn’t develop her sight acuity and only relies on smell and hearing. She would not be able to put together a shape or form in her head to distinguish friend from foe.

In a jungle setting, your senses depending on how you use them – can either make or break you in half!

This is why the survival rate for city bred dogs is only 5% in a plantation! Most don’t even make it to their first birthday. I knew the odds when I took on a city pup like Kutty that’s why she’s always by my side and seldom left alone.

To sharpen Kutty’s sense of sight. I have tied a plastic float around her neck. This will make so much noise when she walks that her senses must shift from hearing to seeing.

This is the first baby step. Once Kutty is heavy on seeing and short on listening – then I can train her on the next level – how to spot friend and foe and respond.

To bring out the very best in a pup like Kutty one has to be very incredibly patient…so very patient and gentle.

Three years ago with another dog named Jia Jia….life is indeed cruel.

——————————————————————————-

‘It has been drummed into our heads since the moment of our youth. We only have five senses: smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing. So we believe it!

But in truth, we have more than just five senses – I know this for a fact.

Just before a thunderstorm, swiftlets fly in figure eights as if they and only they can sense the microscopic alteration in humidity and barometric pressure. Or maybe they can even taste the nitrogen rich air thru their beaks – it’s hard to tell….but they seem to know.

Animals of all kinds grow restless just before an earth quake – that’s also a well known fact.

And if this is all true then it’s conceivable for man to overlooked many other less obvious senses he is born with – our power to intuit, foresight, trust, gut feel, imagine etc etc.

Are these not senses as well?

When we ask ourselves what really is the elemental difference between two people – can we not say, the only difference lies in how much each person is aware of his or her senses and how he or she might even be prepared to seek oneness with these powers to make him or her a more perceptive and responsive person?

I once walked into an art gallery in the city and saw an artistic rendition of a jungle – everyone looked at the same picture, but no one saw the mouse deer in the picture…on another occasion, a group pretentious art cognoscenti’s berated me and called me all sorts of nasty names and even insisted on my credentials when I told them all, there is a tiger in the picture….it was only much later when I traced the outline of the beast…that everyone exclaimed,

‘Oh my God, how could I have missed that!’

Closer to where I turn the wheel of life – in a nearby village I once heard of the story of a boy who everyone considered possessed by a malevolent spirit. As he had the habit of standing before palms and making munching sounds and whenever this boy makes these strange sounds, the rest of the villagers would hit him and his mother likes animals – one day a Brahmin priest asked me for my considered opinion concerning the matter – after observing this boy for a full hour. I told the entire village only this boy can tell which palm is infected with rhinoceros beetle as he is mimicking their sound as they chew the spear of the palm. Since that day, he works for the estate as a disease palm spotter and his skills are so highly sought after he is a blessing to his entire village. Today, no one dares to raise a hand or stick against this boy any longer and he is gainfully employed and enjoys a high level of respectability in the community.

Do you see how cruel people can be when they are trapped in ignorance and worst of all take false pride in their lack of imagination to see only how little they can see?

And this same blindness carries thru to the attitudes we hold as well – there are some people who come our lives, but because we lack the senses to perceive their real worth and how beautiful they are. Or what they hold out to offer us – we end up summarily dismissing them as crazies, weird and strange people….and as a consequence we end up poorer for it. As we only end up mixing with people who are exactly like us and that also means we all end up being exactly like everyone else.

But if we can develop our senses to render them keener….I believe we can see more and it’s conceivable our lives would be further enriched. As this can only open up the field of possibilities and perhaps even lead us to see the world slightly differently from the way we have always seen it.

For example some people have an uncanny sensitivity to sense human emotion – they can even register the merest suggestion of sorrow, regret, fear, anxiety and a whole range of other human emotions. This allows them to adjust their responses to put the other party at ease, to provide relief and lead them out from darkness into hope…these people gifted with the power of healing. I have even heard the Israelites actively seek out people who suffer from autism to help them decode ciphers.

Others are so desensitized to their senses they have as much emotional acuity as garden furniture – they don’t even realize by just the simple act of breathing and living, they are causing others pain, grief and suffering.

The paradox of modern living is these are the same people who regularly hold themselves out as role models and paragons of virtues that everyone considers worthy of emulation.

But that is understandable to me.

As the vast majority of humans especially city dwellers. They don’t know anything about their inner senses beyond the five which they are told exist – this I imagine could well be the reason why the city is often adorned with only stuff that appeals to our five known senses and no more.

I remember some years back ago after emerging from the jungle after a very long time – and noticing for the very first time how so many things are dressed up as eye candy to mesmerize our sense of sight. I remember walking around as if seeing the sensing the world I had previously known for the very first time. I could sense everything. Hints of floral notes piped into air con ducts and lavatories to make people feel at ease and the opposite of uncomfortable. Flavors that were artificially heightened by men in white coats concocted in test tubes to make food delicious. Even the texture of leather on chairs in cafés to make us so comfortable that we may stay slightly longer for an extra cuppa.

But what of the other senses that we may be born with and may not even be aware of – how do we nourish these powers to heighten them to good effect?

How can we harness these powers to make us better human beings, kinder, gooder and more thoughtful people – when two lovers curl their hands together, can you not say they speak the length of a sentence? But to read these proses one needs insight…otherwise it is just two hands brought together.

When a woman’s lips loosens ever so slightly and parts like moist petals, does she she not exude all the fragrance of desire? Again all these nuances will be lost, if we did not have the heightened senses to perceive this subtle change…it would just be another woman smiling at us.

And when we see suffering and it strikes us like darts only to leave a bloody trail in our hearts…do we as humans not feel the pang of regret and pain as well? Or maybe not. As to see and feel all these hemispheres of emotions, one needs to go beyond the five senses….’

Morning Ritual

January 5, 2016

Wake up a full hour earlier than everyone else….never…never try to get out of the house as fast as possible. If you do that, your whole day will be a maddening rush, rush and rush.

Try to understand this is a spiritual exercise BEFORE the day starts….it’s like weaving a spell that will last the whole day.

Devote yourself to a daily ritual before you step out into the world. One that will instill calmness, stillness and composure…doesn’t have to complicated or even learnt like sitting crossed legged or doing head stands. All that is optional. Could well be eating your breakfast as slowly as you humanly can. Or reading the morning papers without rushing thru it, walking the dog or just wandering aimlessly around the garden to tend to the trees.

Once this daily habit becomes an integral part of your morning routine – you will discover something miraculous – calmness and stillness will follow you thru out the day….no matter how stressful. Or how many assholes you met. You will be able to remain calm and still like that sanctuary of serenity deep in the eye of a swirling storm.

Because you have set your preferred rhythm of how you want to go thru the day. Absolutely nothing can shake or push you off balance once you have done this – you can only be very calm and composed thru out the whole day.

——————————————————————————

‘If you allow the world to set your rhythm of how to work, live, play, eat, love or anything – you will be truly spit roasted fucked. I kid you not! As you will end up doing really stupid things like eat chicken rice out of a styrofoam box on the go while SMSing at the same time. Or end up so stressed out, spent and exhausted that you will NEVER ever be effective.

All you are doing is driving yourself full speed right to the very bottom of the pit!

Take it from me – calmness is strategic – calmness is tactical – as when you are able to remain calm, still and composed in the face of any challenge….you can only be very deadly and effective.

The first rule of being effective is to be able to proceed in this mad world under your own terms and this FIRST requires you to set your cadence, timing and rhythm as to how to you want to approach the many challenges you will face thru out a working day….doesn’t matter whether it is work, play or just managing yourself and your other half when she is SMSing you stuff like she want to poison you etc etc.

If you cannot or do not see the wisdom of setting the pace – other crazy people will come along and turn the dial for you. You cannot blame them! As you were lazy and did not see the strategic and tactical value of calmness and stillness – when this happens, you will always be a follower to the maddening drum beat of the world….crazy people will just come along and spirit you away with their own rhythm and soon you too will be sucked into their gyre of nervous energy that can only exhaust you and grind you to pulp.

But if you have bothered yourself with setting the rhythm in which you want to approach things…others will simply have to follow your pace. They have no choice….as calmness and stillness is a superior state of mind when compared to running around as if your hair is on fire. The former is proactive and the latter is reactive.

So a superior culture and better way of thinking and acting will always prevail over an inferior and pariah dog method of doing things – this is why when an agitated, anxious and nervous person is engaged with a calm and still mind – the former will calm down and eventually follow the rhythm of the latter.

The superior culture always wins over the inferior thoughtware….this is axiomatic!

Do this! Just this alone and you will find that you will be a calmer and stiller person – I used think the best way to save people and planet and yet be effective is to shout as loud as possible, to even sharpen my arguments like arrow heads so that I will be able to win all the time…..but these days I am not so sure that was right way to win any longer!

As if we genuinely want to make the world a better place…..by being able to manage ourselves and others effectively where they will always respect and give us the courtesy of good light to bear out what we have to say – then, that goodness, wholeness and completeness has to first begin from deep within us and only then can the healing calmness and stillness go beyond into the world to change things.

But if all we are doing is diffusing nervous energy throughout a day like headless chickens running in circles and trying to do ten things simultaneously, then although we may say to ourselves it was indeed a very productive day – what’s the point?

As we never once took the trouble to stop, appreciate the view, smell the flowers and above all enjoy the journey. Then it could well be said, we have missed the whole point of life. Enjoy it! As life is very short.

What is love?

January 4, 2016

What is love? This is a question that I get asked all the time. However this is not an easy question to answer….not at all…. as this word love comes encrusted with so many dimensions of meanings within meanings within ever more meanings and it goes right on forever – to seek an answer to the question what is love is to walk along an endless hall of mirrors of infinity forever and ever.

As the word love is used in every conceivable sense – everyone talks about love.

Politicians like to speak of love for country. The priest talks endlessly about everlasting love. Even the auntie who cleans up after you. After you have made a mess in the office pantry talks endlessly about how everyone loves three in one instant coffee….I love my iphone, I love quora, I love my pet goldfish, I love to travel, I love my job, I love strawberries dipped in chocolate, I love God, I love my new colored braces, I love my freedom, I love my boyfriend…etc etc etc.

But really what is love?

——————————————————————————

‘What is love? This has to an epic question I reckon, judging from the number of people thru the years who have travelled so very far and wide just to seek me out to ask this one question – what is love?

There was once a plantation lady who hired private investigators to ferret out where exactly the recluse who lives all by himself on a hill. One day when I was cycling as I usually do during the hot season – I was ambushed by burly men with no necks, brought before this lady just to be asked this one question….what is love?

When I told this lady….I do not know the answer to her question. She looked downcast and thereafter as if suddenly seized by an idea. She tried to bribe me with a huge sum of money….if only I was willing to supply her an answer to her question – what is love?

She kept insisting – I know you know the answer….Again I told her. I do not have an answer to your question – what is love! I even went on to share with this lady, a rich Russian tycoon once travelled all the way from St Petersburg to the depths of the jungle and sought me out, just to ask the exact same question and I gave him exactly the same answer – I do not have the answer to that question – what is love?

However, I did share with this distressed lady as I once shared with the Russian tycoon…..having said I do not know the answer to either his or her question….I do however happen to know what is NOT love!*

That was when the lady froze and suddenly as if hit by a moment of rare epiphany her once strained expression began to loosen and soon she smiled knowingly…..and murmured as if thinking aloud….yes, I finally see your point. I see it all so clearly now – I have been asking the wrong question all along, that is why I am going around in circles. As the question – what is love can never be satisfactorily answered – what you are saying is the question – what is love? Can really only be satisfactorily answered by knowing – what is NOT love?*’

* ‘Beware! As very often without you even realizing it – how you structure a question will produce the type of answer you want to hear, but it will always fall short of answering your question satisfactorily….consider this: if you want to ask a high yielding question then it pays naught to know absolutely nothing about it. You need to do your home work and if possible structure your questions narrowly enough to be precise, instead of spreading the net so wide and afar – like the paradoxical question: how do you grow sweet and succulent fruit? Will never ever get you the answer to enable you to grow sweet and succulent fruit? Never. It’s just a great opportunity for the farmer to show off and create myths about what a legendary planter he is. To me it makes far more sense to be specific and scientific if possible – what should you on month X,Y and Z along with what you should not do and what to look out for…if possible get exact units of measurements…everything from soil test, temp, ph ,gramme right down to milliliters….the difference is very subtle, but that is precisely my point….it has to be scientific.

Now let me share with you what I believe is NOT love. Notice the line of questioning is ultra specific…it’s technical. So a lot is going to be psychological and behavioral based….the direct opposite of fuzzy and an abstraction.

Are you ready?

Fear of loneliness is certainly not love, that’s just two insecure scaddy cats coming together in the name of love hoping to get emotional insurance on the cheap to cover themselves against the terror of loneliness. Could just as well get the same by developing schizophrenia – very easy, come to my plantation. Ride a mountain bike off a cliff a few times without a crash helmet. I will gladly set it all up and viola! You will no longer feel lonely anymore as there will be plenty of funny people who you hardly know running around your head….why even bother with the hassle of a relationship!

Being clingy like Velcro where you call your partner ten million times a day is definitely not love either, that’s just dependence…it’s no different from using a prosthetic to get from A to B. Or popping pills or downing two double whiskies just to steady your nerves to help you get thru the day – it’s escapism….denial of the self. Might as well just come over to my plantation for a week – I will teach how to make moonshine, the 80% proof variety where you can even use to fuel your car and save $ back home in Singapore. Why even go thru the bother of a relationship. Why?

Jealousy is also not love, as that is only a yearning to possess and since it is the opposite of appreciation – it is only really about satisfying your ego to control and dominate your partner inorder to liberate yourself from your own deep seated feelings of being terminally estranged from love. If you want to fulfill that emotional need economically…come to me again. I will sell you a puppy at a reasonable price. 100% cure. Can even take 20 voice instructions. Guaranteed. Or you get two nights free stay in my cobra infested plantation.

Neither is wallowing in self-pity love either viz-a-viz one is not able to love and be loved in return that’s just self flagellation. If anyone is dumb enough to love you on that basis. Or you are dumber to love than them to love them. back. You might as well go buy some leather underwear and whip yourself to shreds….that’s far more economical and funner.

Neither is love fashioning your partner into someone who you believe he or she should be. If you commit yourself to that version of love, it’s the clearest demonstration your love is merely a projection to escape from your own inadequacy by trying to fashion an alternate you thru the creation of your interpretation of what is an ideal person. A hologram of yourself clothed in certain forms according to what you think is good and wholesome; so when you say, `I love you’ that’s just code for I love myself! When you love your partner just because he or she fulfills all the tick boxes in your head. All you are really doing is worshipping yourself since you only love vicariously and conditionally – and believe me that cannot be love. You just need to stop watching those addictive Korean love serials where someone who can’t see or walk for years suddenly meets his or her dream person and they can suddenly see or jump thru hoops again…no love…only fantasy.

As that is really just a selfish and narcissistic way to derive joy from using your partner to fulfill your dreams on the cheap – usually it done by guilt tripping your partner to fulfil your fantasy of how you want to live……now this list can on and on…or it may be shorter…but what I have shared here is not written in stone…it’s not lexiconic….all it is, is an unabridged version of MY suggested solution based on what is NOT love.

Remember what I said in the very beginning – how you structure the question invariably produces what you want to hear, but may not necessarily supply a satisfactory answer to your question – if you can eliminate some of these illusions that I have just listed which are so often dressed up in the name of love, then what you are left with can only be as real and probably as close to unadulterated love as possible….only understand this!

This is my point of view about what is NOT love – I am not trying to accomplish the impossible by trying to answer the question – what is love. Because should I go down there….we will sucked into an abstraction…lacunae….hall of mirrors – you are not going to get a confirmation from quora or Wikipedia either if you approach it that way..don’t believe me. Go give it a shot….hence this is MY personal list of what is NOT love!

And that is exactly my point – if you want to be in a relationship that nourishes and grows instead of impersonating a bonsai where you going no where all the time and leaving you always exhausted….then you best come out with your OWN list of what is NOT love….rather than what you believe is love.

What’s the point of asking someone – what is love? Let me put it another way, what’s your chances of getting a straight answer by asking an abstract question? That just opens you up to abuse and exploitation and loads of mumbo jumbo, because some con man is probably going lead you down smoke and mirror land only to end up handing you a white envelop and tell some cock story someone who you don’t even know loves you that is why he died for you and off you go committing 10% of your salary to a lie! To be precise not just any lie but an elaborate lie called a fait accompli where belief first requires you to suspend disbelief.

Because let us assume for one brief moment – if there is such a thing as the truest answer to the question, what is love? It has to first shatter all the illusions that are so often associated with love.

The closer you are to the truth and further you are from lies – then whatever you end up with has to be a good one! As love here is not about power, it’s not about how well you can game your partner or maneuver him or her so that you can manipulate his or her feelings to serve your specious ends etc etc – since it’s essentially premised on spirituality and NOT power and control – you can only grow in that sort of relationship – and since it has less to do about possessing and owning like when you come across something really pretty and spellbinding you just need to take it home and put it on your shelf – I don’t think that’s possible to do that with something as big as love, you could perhaps do that with a really cute fridge magnet, but love is way too big – might as well go and try to put three minutes of a really spectacular sun rise in your pocket and see whether it fits and while you are at it send me a pic of your satay ass as well – as since love here is all about appreciation and not possessing that means mutual respect has to first exist between two people. Above all I believe love is really only about knowing deep down – what love is NOT first – otherwise it’s never possible to be really sure about the far more important question – is this the person who I want to be with…is this the best life decision you have ever made?

Now consider this as the coda of all questions – how are going to answer those questions, if you only know what love is, but you don’t know what is NOT love?’

Not very long ago a group of landowners told me in uncertain terms – they are going to make my life very difficult from now onwards…as I don’t seem to want to play ball with any of them. I told them all quite plainly, if playing ball means I have strip everything that is me right down to the bone and be someone who has to kow tow to all of you! Then please understand. I will be playing something else other than football….I will be playing the crying game…so Dowan lah! Go and die lah!(don’t want!)

That was when one of these landowners turned to another and exclaimed in frustration – I told you all nothing works with this fellow….we shouldn’t even have come here to try to reason with this troublemaker!

The conversation ended abruptly. Before I left I told them all, you may all not know this, but all you are doing is making in me stronger, tougher and more determined…..to put it another way, you are creating your nemesis….you are all going to be the architects of your downfall!

They glared at me as if I was written in an alphabet none of them could possibly read…however that is only be expected. After all how can they possibly understand what I mean….these are after all old men who have the maturity of twelve year old.

——————————————————————————

‘The mature mind never runs away from sadness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, anguish, pain or for that matter even death itself – Never! That is because the first protocol of the mature mind is ALWAYS to go inwards to seek oneness with the self to understand these dark forces for what they really are and not what others say they are.

First hand knowledge about a thing is key!

Pain or loss for example may well be inevitable, but suffering in every single case is certainly always optional…IF you know how to turn it around that is. The same goes for sadness as well. It may look undesirable, but IF you know it well…it too can be turned.

The immature mind will always run away from what it believes to be negative – when confronted with sadness and loneliness it will seek out like a desperate drug addict the narcotic of escapism, distraction or simply taking a holiday from the self.

But the mature mind is very different – he calls to these dark forces, befriends and even fellowships with them. At first this may seem like a very strange and peculiar thing to do…to court unpleasantness….but do bear me out.

Because this is a secret that I have discovered during my prolonged solitary existence in the jungle some years back ago.

As the goal of the mature mind is to always seek to understand the true nature of these dark forces and not what is imagined by so many people…it is only a matter of time before he will know their way, design and even strategy….soon these forces will all be rendered transparent to the mature mind.

Consider this! What after all accounts for fear – fear is simply a function of our ignorance of mystery furiously at work – but once it’s nature is understood. Once its inner workings is render transparent….suddenly that which once had the power to disturb and provoke fear losses all it’s fangs and talons.

At some point when one knows these negative forces so very well like old friends – one can only attain a very mature understanding – how best to deal with them…the solution is never to run or avoid them…this can only fuel and make those forces we fear stronger and render them larger than life.

Befriend them instead and you will eventually come to accept the notion, if you want to live in this world – then you must accept these forces will always be around.

Don’t fight or run away from them – if you do this, you are stepping with both feet into a mind trap….it is like the labyrinth of Crete where you will always be playing hide and seek with an imagined monster.

See these unpleasant characters for what they really are – after all the sum of all they can do to you is really only a matter of degree and intensity. A matter of gradation comprising of less or more, higher or lower, sharper or blunter, louder or quieter, heightened or lower….but these dark forces will alway be there like the sun, shadows, wind, rain etc etc.

That is life!

And since the mature mind knows each and everyone of these emotional characters so well- he accepts them and in some cases he even regards them as blessings in disguise. In the same way a mature man revels when he is able to feel an unalloyed pang of sadness when he is separated from his one and only love. As if he cannot even feel this one emotion canal thru his heart and leave a trail of blood, he probably never loved at all. Or worst, he is a psychopath who is incapable of loving anyone, not even himself…as if this man cannot feel pain – that is the clearest confirmation. He already dead inside and all that is left is a hollow shell – in this one illustration, do you see how pain that comes from sadness can nourish love with all it’s nuanced hemisphere of endless meanings to this one man….who is sad….in pain and yet happy at the same time.

Can you see the connection?

As for the immature mind since it is really only fixated on escapism and trying it’s best to run as fast as possible from these forces which it can neither understand nor comprehend as they can always only be so scary and intimidating…and that is only natural because the immature mind doesn’t see the wisdom to cultivate friendship with these dark forces….as since the immature mind only aspires towards perpetual happiness and fun and escapism …so tell me how can they possibly remain calm and compose when they are so busy running away from the forces that they don’t even dare to look at directly….how is that possible?’

It’s hot. May not seem like so back home in Singapore. As since she’s located at the furtherest end of the Southern tip of the Peninsula – there might still be rain. Not much, but enough to keep the weather balmy. But further up north where I am located, it’s very hot. The sun beats down hard and relentlessly – the last time I checked my home made weather station, it’s two degrees warmer than usual.

For the last six months. I’ve been playing a deadly game of Russian roulette with Mother Nature – the weather boffins have not been much help. They get it wrong more times than they do right. That’s no bloody good. As I suspect they may have premised so much of what will and can happen this year on the last El Niño evolution in 1997. But this time round Mother Nature seems to going her own way – there’s no discernible pattern, she’s really quite her own prima Donna this time round and without a reliable way to beacon out how this El Niño 2016 will unfurl…Most of the time, I am just taking my chances on the go.

As a result I’ve had to improvise. Firstly, I’ve thrown out the farming almanac and decided to go my own way by radically doing things differently. I haven’t for instance sprayed herbicide like I should this time of the year, instead I’ve allowed the weeds to proliferate. They will provide moisture I reckon and if done right stop or at least minimize the ground from cracking and violently tearing the roots to shreds. I haven’t broadcasted compound fertilizer as I should two to three months ago like most farmers – instead I opted for a series of trace elements comprising of magnesium, rock phosphates and finally Muriate of potash – all these don’t necessary bump up yield. All they do is nourish the trees so that they can be more drought resistant and buy them staying power….yield is the last thing I need now…it’s like expecting a man who has just completed an epic marathon to go straight from the tape to lift bags of stones up a mountain. You’ll just end up killing him or breaking him in half.

No! My expectations are very modest for 2016. I just want to slip thru the eye of needle like a silken thread….I don’t even expect to make any profit this time round…if I can just keep what comes in and has to go out just level long enough without having to stay longer than I want to in the red zone… I would have accomplished more than I can possibly hope for this year.

That’s life…some days it just flows sweet and clear…other days one just to suck it in and roll with the punches the best one can…there’s no point mulling over the bum cards life throws out. All that matters is today…now…like what I am going to do in the next thirty minutes…take good care of that and that alone….tomorrow will take care of itself.

—————————————————————————-

‘There is no way to remain sane in this modern age without a robust thoughtware. No way whatsoever. Not in my opinion at least. It doesn’t matter what you do or how big or small the stakes are – you could well be a minister hatching policies five or ten years down the line, a CEO of a Fortune 500 firm trying to outperform the market, an intern whose trying to get experience to spruce up your CV to increase your chances of landing that dream job or even just a taxi driver whose trying to get by without too much grief…..there is no way to remain sane in this modern age without something you can fall back on – you will just go crazy if you leave it all to providence. Or worst still decide to just follow the maddening way of the crowd.

Stop! Take a good look around you. There are so many people out there who are running around as if their hair is on fire….they have to be crazy…they all never seem to have enough time. Not even when they put in extra hours. Not even after learning how to eat chicken rice out a styrofoam box on the go while SMSing at the same time. They’re always tired. Getting by with less sleep and on a coffee high. Always here and there and everywhere, but never in the most needful place…..NOW…..the only reason why we aren’t really conscious or alarmed they’re crazy is because their lives mirror our own – you see it’s really like this. If you live in a mad house, you better pretend to be stark raving mad like everyone else even when you’re perfectly sane. Otherwise they will all turn on you and kill you!

That’s how it all looks to me sometimes as an outsider looking in.

That’s because too much is coming in fast and furious all that same time and if you don’t develop a tactical attitude on how to deal with this continuous torrent – it will overwhelm you…trigger a nervous breakdown or grind you right down to the bone.

You don’t stand a chance…it’s like trying to dodge bullets from a machine gun post right out in the open….the odds are stacked against you.

The only way I know how to deal with the unrelenting pressure of modern living is to discipline the mind to ONLY live within the moment – it’s easier said than done….living in NOW that is. That’s because so much of our mental conditioning and social scripting as human beings requires us to always have one foot in the past and another in the distant future….so it’s a conscious effort…it’s not something that comes naturally to me or you. Not at all.

I keep having to remind myself to be in NOW! As my mind has a habit of flitting from past to present – at times I find myself having to say this so often – I need to develop ways to bring back the focus…usually I concentrate on my breathing…the pace…cadence…keeping to the rhythm…that helps plenty. At other times, I am acutely aware of my surroundings…so conscious that I seems I can even pick out a solitary blade of grass out of an entire field and just rest my eye on it…that helps too.

My point is any bloody fool can write about the wisdom of why it makes more sense to live in the moment of NOW than the past or future – but not anyone can tell you how to accomplish this feat. They can’t. Because we are all different and what may work for me, may not for you – so finding a reliable method is key.

Sometimes that tactical key that allows you be in NOW and in the moment may be something so simple that it’s right before your eyes. I don’t think it has to be complicated, I don’t believe you need to do head stands or figure out whether you can sit on a giant lotus without it sinking.

You know, I once took a cab where the driver complained to me no end how he has to keep changing taxi firms every six months because there are so many bad drivers on Singapore roads, he always gets into accidents….The man patted a box like device on his dashboard – it was an expensive gizmo he just bought from ebay…some thing that goes beep beep and warns him of impending collisions or when a car is too near for comfort. He went on to complain, it doesn’t work….I still gets into accidents.

To me sitting at the back and listening to this man rant the answer is right before his eyes – yet he can’t see it. Here is a man who is prepared to spend $500 on a gizmo with a software to prevent car accidents, but he doesn’t see the need to buy into a complimentary thoughtware when it comes to managing himself to be a better driver.

Somewhere between two lamppost. I decided to step into his life and asked him to go make a $5 sign printed in bold letters, ‘please do not talk unless it’s necessary to the driver to reach your destination safely.’ I reminded him to have it battery lit as well, as he works the night shift during alternate weeks.

The cabbie told me his company will sack him if they know about this unauthorized sign. I said to him, well then you just have to take your chances and drive the best you can without getting involved in accidents all the time.

Eventually he worked up the courage to put up the sign right behind his head rest – and to the best knowledge for the last five years he hasn’t had a single accident. Not even so much as a nick.

Do see how sometimes to get into the moment of NOW all you need is a $5 sign?

I happen to believe this a great metaphor – as most of life I think is not so different from trying to get from point A to B safely in a car – you don’t need whole disquisitions of Nietzsche about existentialism to understand why it’s so important to live in Nowland instead of having one half of your mind somewhere in yesterdayville or tomorrow world…neither do you need to be well versed with Jung’s works on synchronicity to be internally convinced it makes far more sense to live in the present than netherworld. All you need to do in my opinion is to just develop an equivalent of an imaginary laminated sign somewhere at the front of your head that reads, Please don’t talk to driver unless it’s unnecessary – that way the only thing that occupies your mind is the moment…the NOW and nothing else.

That in a nutshell is how I get by most of the time – that’s how I remain sane and keep my cool under pressure when all others are running around like headless chickens – I just tell myself. Live in the now….yesterday is no more…tomorrow is yet to come….now is right here before me…this is where it all begins and ends.’

I can feel it. I can. For some paradoxical reason I feel it most acutely when I have to be around people…..I say have to be, only because my default position these days is I much prefer to be alone all by myself.

I much prefer the solitary embrace of living all by myself in the plantation. I especially like my daily rituals of preparing my gourmet coffee and playing with my dogs early in the morning. I much prefer the litany of fixing a laterite road or building a stone bridge with my bare hands – I proceed slowly, but I never seem ever want to slacken and break the happy rhythm of my pace…not even when the sun beats down harshly….why have I become like this?

Why do I feel suddenly a pull that turns me from the world? Why?

At first I was afraid of this murmuring call that came from the deep darkness of well within me. I tried to silence these voices in my head many times by making frequent visits to the city, but this only heightened my sense of estrangement from the world…..sharpening that inner voice that called from deep within and one day when I said to myself – I shall allow it to pass thru me like the wind, let it curl around my legs and arms like a vine….let it even leave a faint residue of whence it came from….to give all of my being to this strange and inexplicable call till it permeates and becomes the very essence who I am…..then and only then, did the voices in my head stop and grow so very silent…I am finally alone.

Till today I do not know what is this…..or even why it should come to me. I simply do not know at all.

—————————————————————————–

‘There is an old caravan story that is recounted time and again in the Sahara when men after a hearty meal gather around the embers against the backdrop of a magnificent star filled night – it is the story of a prince from a distance land who once gave a princess his most valuable possession. A great diamond of unsurpassable beauty, the size of a plum.

But as soon as this gift of absolution was passed to the hands of the princess, she sensed the great immensity of it’s weight and could not hold on to it only for it to slip out of her fingers and smash into a million shards – and that is why the heavens today are filled with so many sparkling stars of diamonds.

This is a very powerful allegory that can interpreted at so many levels of consciousness to carry with it so many morals and lessons about life – to me, the diamond represents all the prince’s worldly hopes and aspirations to be happy – it is his ambrosia of unalloyed desire as a man. But since there is no way for any woman, not even a princess or for that matter an Olympic weight lifter to support such a heavy worldly weight – it can only end in tragedy and slip away from one’s hand and smash into smithereens – that is another way of saying, no one can ever give you happiness except you and it doesn’t pay to place this burden in the hands of another – as even should that person who you give it to loves you with all his or her heart and wants nothing except to make you the happiest person in the world. He or she can never make you happy. As that person is NOT you! – to expect that is to impose upon another an impossible task…that is why the diamond can only slip out of the hand and fall.

As true and lasting happiness can only come from deep within oneself..it is neither reasonable nor realistic to expect others, not even those who love you dearly and want nothing but the very best for you to supply this thing called happiness – it will never come that way. Never! Only you can find this river of happiness that flows from within you and follow it till you reach the seat of that perfect diamond the size of a plum in yout heart.

And when you find it, it is not possession as much as it is about appreciation….so how can your happiness be put in the hands of another person?

If we truly want happiness…we must seek it from deep within and never look for it outwards or in others.

At times, we must still ourselves and listen to this voice and not be too bothered about what people may say and think about us – as only we know best. As only we are the true possessors of this diamond…it’s true custodian and not others….if we cannot find happiness within us. Then it is impossible to find it anywhere else in this world….and even should you come across it during a holiday that manages to spirit you away from your averagely miserable life to make you happy for a while…it is only a form of escapism. Or worst still like the foolish expect it from another, even someone who you consider your dream soul mate….it can only end in sadness and tragedy as this person cannot possibly hold on to such a thing without it slipping from their hands and when that happens…the sum of all your hopes and aspirations can only drop and smash into a million shards of light.’

True happiness can only come from deep within you…nowhere else.’

May the force be with you?

January 2, 2016

Just the other day. A lady complained to her group of friends during their weekly get together over tea and cakes – how enamored, mesmerized and smitten her son is about the new Star Wars movie. A lady added, that is dangerous….another went to add…not just dangerous…very very dangerous. Only for yet another to gloss it over with that word….it’s nothing short of cultist….. satanic even and soon they were all at the verge of pengshaning (fainting).

Then slowly one by one they all turned to me as if expecting an answer.

That was when I asked the boy to come over and said to him with that expression of cosy inderism that only two people know a thing intimately can express with their eyes knowing full well it is not a thing what others say or deem it to be…I told the boy in a sympathetic tone – it seems these ladies don’t know the philosophy of the Jedi….I shook my head and murmured…they don’t know..neither do they know what is the theory that accounts for the force either.

The boy nodded in agreement, looked at me seriously and exclaimed, ‘may the force be with you!’

I for my part did the same as with all the seriousness of a Jedi.

That was when one of the ladies turned to me and asked in a tone of utter incomprehensibility – why are you encouraging him to believe in nonsense?

I took off my sunglasses and looked at this woman sternly and asked of her, ‘tell me how wise is to put fear into a heart that is so tender and young?’ The lady wanted to say something. Anything. Before her thoughts could congeal into words. I flashed her a, ‘please think carefully before you respond…’ Look. At the corner of eye…I was mindful what the boy was thinking when he saw all this- ‘he’s performing a Jedi mind trick on her.’ Soon this woman fell silent drowned in her own thoughts.

After the tension had passed I went on to share with those fine ladies, they best concern themselves with real fears, not imagined ones…like how much processed sugar and salt goes into baking Black Forest cakes these days….or how I believe there is a global conspiracy by the coffee guilds to squeeze out Arabica beans with Robusta. As they are cheaper and produce higher yields….I went on to share with all of them in a calm and soft tone….I say all this not to scoldingly, but lovingly. As I believe if anything is going to do you in like a steel straight jacket, it’s never ever going to be a blockbuster Disney movie.

Rather it’s the mundane everyday forgettable stuff like – are you munching too much chips in between meals….how many cups of coffee are you drinking….why are you being a slave to your sweet tooth….as those things can cause type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or just going so fat around your waist like a walrus that no one wants to cuddle up to you.

Those are real fears…they are not imagined….they are very real!

To put it another way, fear the things that rightly deserve to be feared….after all you only have limited bandwidth. So why pack it with cookies? Never run with imagined shadows in the twilight of one’s head. Worst of all never follow fools who choose to lead you there.

Never fear, the only thing to fear is fear itself!

—————————————————————————-

‘We live in an age of profound fear. Not one of understanding or even wanting to understand. No! It is truly an age of fear which we live in that is why there is so much schism…hatred….intolerance….violence and stereotyping in the stream of consciousness of even ordinary people who we all consider level headed and well adjusted.

That to me is the really scary part!

As when a thing or for that matter anyone presents itself as alien….strange….peculiar….odd….or even merely just different from us.

Somewhere in our head a program is powered up like one of those killer robots, it’s turret rotates to acquire the target and shoots it down. Then when it’s all clear, it switches off to stand by mode again.

Even if we don’t know what it really is or even what it stands for – it’s a goner.

Shoot first, then talk later! The bloody program is automatic.

Why? Because when are fearful. And when one is griped by the death hand of fear, one can only respond in a primal fight or flee mode.

It is a pariah dog program….very very distant from how well adjusted and a balanced mind processes information.

To understand why we are fearful, allows us to switch off this auto destruct program somewhere in our head – as when we look at the codex of this programming in the way a watchmaker removes the back cover only to reveal the intricate complications of springs, cogs, levers and spindles – that is only when we will begin to see fear for what it really is – and how and why fear for a thing or person is simply a function of ignorance…laziness to understand….lack of imagination to see beyond the field of possibilities….laced with a bovine attitude where we much prefer to think, go along and believe what others may also think, go along with and believe as well…when we commit ourselves to this bochap (ambivalent) attitude towards all things and people….ignorance can only lead to anxiety….anxiety can only solidify into anger – and anger is the skeleton key that unlocks the door to fear.

That is the reason why whenever I see five chili stupid people putting the cinder of fear into the hearts of others….I always tell them in a calm and gentle voice. If you cannot give others the gift of self assurance and confidence…that is OK. I even go on to assure these erudite lot – as at times, I too cannot do that. Or find it difficult. But never disable the mind of another with YOUR fear. Never ever do that….because that you have absolutely no right to do!

May the force be with you this lovely weekend!’

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.