I am beginning this post on the 31st December, 2007 @ 9.52 p.m., Singapore time.
The weather has been well, though there is a little too much of humidity; the night sky is grayish, with clouds pressing down on the atmosphere. There may be rain in the coming hours, or the early morning of a brand new 2008 year.
1st January. What a beautiful day it is! It is a day that holds everyone's breadth and binding every human's attention altogether. It is a day that marks the beginning of a whole new year, a time that signifies the revival of a whole new self, and a moment that speaks of a whole new chapter in the history of humankind.
It is one single event that does not need explanation or elaboration. Everywhere one turns to, every person one meets, and every corner of every city, the first day of the first year always evoke unspeakable and unexplainable sentiments. It is a day which everyone wishes each other the best in the coming year, a time where everyone greets each other with smile and kindness, and everyone prepared to open his or her heart for each other, which may have been shut close all the while in the year.
It is primarily a time where humankind is ready to shed off her old, heavy self in replacement for a fresh, light and new one.
Introspectively, human beings are always attracted to matters that bring and bind them together. From ancient times till this moment, from the heavenly bodies of the Sun, Moon, clouds, lightning, to the natural manifestations like the blossoming of flowers, falling of petals, swaying of trees, descending of snow flakes, all of these mundane phenomenas capture and captivate the outer expressions and inner sentiments of humankind. There is a river in all of our lives, a garden with full blown lilies or roses, a mountain with majestic peak, a reverberation and echo of wings flapping or birds crying, all found and contained in the folded layers of our consciousness.
Similarly in nature, when the first day of a brand new year arrives quietly and serenely, it is of the most natural instinct that one would look up to the night sky, and all around him or her, that the heart beats a little faster, and emotions rushing up to the eyes and the mind. It is a time when one is connected to everyone and all.
It is of this significant moment in time that humans always come to return to their primal core; a centre-spot in their lives that they come to feel and sensitize the every single element around, above, below and inside them. It is a time that they return to their original identity as compassionate creatures of this planet that they are awakened to their own inner Universe - a Universe of Life.
It is with this realisation that one comes to remember and recall of that he or she is indebted to. It is with this wellsforth sense of gratitude that a fresh determination is born, concurrently arriving at one's heart as the day of the new year descends. It is a time when one is fully reborn with the new human year.
The world has not stopped revolving, and I have not stopped observing. From the United Nations to countries of United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan, they have all seen a new leader for themselves. Thailand has ousted their leader to just replace with another unwelcomed one, while the nuclear-held Pakistan came to experience one of their worst and most tragic loss of political leader in the final hours of 2007, with chaos and unsettled, raging hearts ravaging the land still of this moment. What stability one country is enjoying would just be a contrasting reflection to another country's karmic turbulence.
At a time when the world needs more awakened souls and enlightened lives than ever before, I pray tonight that the coming of this brand new year would mark a grand significance for the entire humankind to rise above her old, painful past to fully embrace the golden rays of a brilliant, happiness-filled future.
Monday, December 31, 2007
I am beginning this post on the 31st December, 2007 @ 9.52 p.m., Singapore time.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
This entire period, from the month of October till the arrival of 2007 Christmas, has been a very testing one.
In the midst of arranging and settling my mind down for preparation of my assignments, toward the goal of my Masters academic level, I experienced my first ever love break-up. From the age of 27, I had met her and, walking side by side, hand-in-hand, we both travelled for four years, through the thick forests and thin trails of human emotions and sentimental memories. At the age of 32, seemingly unbelievable but genuine, my first heart-wrenching break-up occurred.
Ahh...what more could one ask for, where in this tumultuous and turbulent era, one life is dedicated to caring for another.
Retrospectively, I could perhaps now really come to understand why people would end their lives due to love, or the loss of it. It is one element that absorbs wholly the entire living force and consciousness of that person. It is one single huge force that one has to resist and fight it with his or her entire being in order not to be drowned and lost forever in the abyss of hopelessness and miseries.
While preparing my mind for the continuance of my long suspended and semi-completed assignment, I retreated into my aimless internet search for matters that would trigger a slight sense of excitement in me. By my fortune, I came across one article, which I deemed a special dedication to my current weak self.
Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART By Chieko Robinson For The Register-Guard
My first big dream was to climb Mount Everest. After three years of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (or daimoku, the core practice of Nichiren Buddhism), my dream came true.
My boyfriend organized an expedition to climb Mount Everest. Just before leaving for Nepal, he confessed that he had another girlfriend, and later I found out he was actually engaged to her. I became desperate and felt deadlocked. All I could do was chant.
The next day, I saw a beautiful sunset. I felt I was absorbed into the vast universe. Then I felt a strong, pure life force arise in me. I felt that the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was limitless. The thought that I was in a deadlock was delusion.
I determined to challenge all obstacles to my life and dream again. I went on the climb, and the night I reached base camp at 17,500 feet, I wrote my boyfriend a letter to say "thank you." Because of him, I was able to realize my dream. I started to chant for his happiness. Appreciation completely purified my life.
On the way back, I got high altitude sickness and almost died. The sherpa, sherpani and kitchen boys took care of me. My ex-boyfriend realized his dream to reach the summit of Mount Everest, but he never came back. He died on the mountain. I chanted that he would attain Buddhahood, and through my agony over his death, I determined to change my karma.
However, after a physical medical examination, I was told I had a diseased ovary and that if I did not have surgery, it could get worse and I might die. I did three 10-hour chanting sessions.
During that time, a longtime friend asked me to go to Japan with him in order to see family. While there, I had another exam, and no illness was found. There would be no surgery! Now I am happily married to that friend and have finished my second dream to get a master's degree from the University of Oregon.
In Nichiren Buddhism, we seek the solution to our problems or sufferings inside ourselves. When we tap our inner wisdom, compassion and courage through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we open our unlimited potential and are able to see the truth. Using our innate wisdom, we can correct our negative ways of life to a positive and better direction. We are in harmony with the rhythm of the universe.
After surviving Mount Everest, I shared my Buddhist practice with friends in Nepal. When I saw them become happy through this Buddhist practice, I felt great joy. In Nichiren's writings, he says, "Joy means that oneself and others together experience joy."
Now my dream is world peace. My mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda (the third president of Soka Gakkai), through his tireless dedication and efforts for world peace and happiness for all humanity, opened my eyes. I have great confidence that all my future dreams will be fulfilled and we human beings will achieve world peace.
(Chieko Robinson is a member of Soka Gakkai International, a Buddhist lay organization. She chants with other members at the local SGI Buddhist community center).
When all is said and done, and at the end of the day, it will just be me and my inner conscience in facing the question of 'how would you move on from here'. The appreciation for life's upheavals and downfalls could not be stronger in saying a 'thank you' to those who have hurt us the most. In that respect, the act of chanting for that single person whole-heartedly would mark the exact compassionate spirit that is so needed for the hurt soul and broken heart to heal and beat again.
It is one act that befits the entire entity of Buddhahood residing in the depth of our existing beings.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Love is a four letter word. Yet it carries one of the largest seed of human suffering and pain. It contains unseen limbs and tentacles, reaching far and deep into one's soul and strike a deadly blow of pain and misery when the person is of the most vulnerable, weakest and unguarded.
It is such a seizing sensation that millions of people worldwide, everyday, every moment, come to fall for it: they know fully the negative consequence and outcome, the almost unbearable heaviness of weight and pressure, but still they would step up and forward, ready to commit their whole being into falling in love.
It may be as much the pre-historic adventurous, wild, emotive and animalistic nature as the ancestral tamed, refined, logical and scholastic selves we inherited from our ancient forefathers that we are all spurred and agitated, propelled and compelled, to find that single, matching and eternal-bound life-partner amongst the five billions of human population residing on this beautiful planet.
It is such a journey, in this world, in this lifetime, that millions would come to conclude that with this undying love found, life is thus worth living for, and at times worth dying for.
To fall in love with someone! To be loved by someone! To be cared for and nurtured, like a child in warm, protecting arms! How much of a beautiful entity can one's life be, the moment he/ she is falling in love? In that life-changing and soul-exchanging episode, nothing else matters anymore. In both of their eyes and lives, their union of hearts at that moment contains the entire fleet of human passion and beauty, logic and emotions, beginnings and destinies. For once, they would care for someone not because they are asked to; they would be refined and contained not because they are required to; they are beautiful and joyous not because they are instructed to. From the depths of their lives, everything suddenly has its meaning sprouted; everything has its beauty shines forth; and everything has its happiness illuminated.
Those who have fallen in love are indeed happy people. To love, and be loved. What more would one ask for, in this lifetime?
Against all odds, and however, it is always in the midst of such happiness that suffering and pain seeps in, disrupting all senses and capturing all hearts with disarrayed orientations. It is one moment which is most heart-wrenching, most heart-piercing, most heart-suffocating. It is almost as if the world is coming to an end, and that there is simply no more hope in the next moment. It is one moment that one would consider meeting death in order to release that unbearable, unbreakable, unforgiving pain spiralling in the innermost core of the heart. Certainly, physically shattering the flesh-and-blood heart is surely one way to free all built-up and pent-up tormenting weepings and torturous cryings. It is where one would consider freeing his suffering in order to free his soul.
How magical yet dangerous can love be? It is one ancient question no philosopher can answer.
Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International, ever said this:
We can lose ourselves in romantic attachment, but the truth is, the euphoria is unlikely to last for long. Indeed, the likelihood of undergoing suffering and sadness only grows over time. As long as we remain unable to redress our own weaknesses, we will be miserable no matter where or to whom we may take flight. We can never become truly happy unless we ourselves undergo a personal transformation.
True to this words, life is in actual fact like a mirror, a magnet. It attracts what is stored in its own inner realm, reflecting selectively by what is found in its own shell. Thus we see lovers of all sorts of types, coming together happily but yet ending up miserably or even tragically. It is because they would only choose what they wish to see - be it the other person's strengths or weaknesses. It is during occasions of happiness that one's strengths and positive side arise; similarly it is during moments of negative downhill that weaknesses are detected and surfaced.
The illusion and distorted visions of love generated befits exactly the eternal saying, " love is blind". No one can escape this, and no one would disagree it.
To love oneself, to love one's parents, to love one's family, to love one's environment, to love the community, to love mankind, and to finally love the world-at-large. How magnified can one's love be? It will all be depended by the depth and width of one's heart. It is the exact hallmark in determining the fundamental spirit of being a human. It is from there that genuine, undying and life-space penetrative love can be given birth and grown.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
One's character can always be seen by the type of friends he mixes with. It is in fact a reflection who he is, what he aspires to be and where he has desired to head for.
In short, it is a direct, symbolic and personified entity of his life.
Thus we would always consciously or unconsciously delve into the comfortable zone of deducing or even judging what kind of person is one from the types of friends he stays close with.
From the types of friendship he forges, or relationships in the context of a wider and more complex setting, we would be able to catch a glimpse of how this person comes to view, weigh or even value friends. It is in fact the heart of this person that we are attempting to read.
In the world of frienships, my mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President of SGI, has this to say:-
"You cannot judge the quality of another's friendship by superficial appearances, especially when things are going smoothly. It is only when we have experienced the worst, most crushing of times—when we have plumbed the depths of life—that we can experience the joys of genuine friendship. Only a man of principle, a woman of resolve—a person who stays true to their chosen path—can be a trusted and true friend, and have real friends in turn."
While many would request others to be truthful and genuine to them, my mentor single-mindedly pointed out that the truest core of a human friendship lies in the inner resolve one has built and constructed, a towering citadel of hope and strength, that rightfully attracts the same degree of calibre of like-minded people. It is certainly from one's inner depth of life that wells forth the determination and courage so needed in facing any crisis in life that these exact elements are the ones that call forth others of the same soul and nature to come together, lending support and illuminating each other's path toward the uphill battle of victory and happiness.
This, in the eyes of my mentor, would be a true, genuine friend who would not retreat even in the face of a deadliest test. It is a relationship that transcends life and death.
I have met one long-time friend James Ng KY earlier today. He has put on a little weight, and is now a father of a beautiful girl. As of all meetings of long-lost or -time friends, I have always felt that there seems a presence of a mystical pair of hands taking two parties to come together. It is never by coincidence or of meaningless event that two persons, having made friends with each other and departed to their own paths later on, come and meet after a long period of disconnectedness.
James is of the same age as me. However he has gone through and encountered some obstacles in his earlier part of his life. The major test of his faith and life came when he was the captain of the Singapore Navy ship 'RSS Courageous'. On the fateful night of 3rd January 2003, he together with a co-captain, were on board the ship when it collided with a 52,000-tonne Dutch container ship ANL Indonesia. Not only was the Navy ship totally wrecked but three navy officers were killed instantly as a result of the collision, with another body never found.
James was thereafter wrought of guilt and pain. He could not avoid the unspoken verdict of him being the cause of his four fellow subordinates, while at the same time he would not wish to relent to the mounting pressure from all sides to have him placed on the stand for an explanation of what had exactly happen. It was a fearful tug-of-war between the official responsibilities and moral obligations he has held closely to his heart, as a captain as well as a good friend, colleague and supervisor to the officers.
Along that unforgettable path, he has been at times unforgiving, and other times uncompromising, both to himself and others. It was truly a hard-fought battle to pull through, for him and his family, with every ounce of his strength and resources utilised to have the case concluded, and finally leaving everything behind. A bitterest winter storm is over, and the warm light and fresh cooling air of Spring has finally arrived.
In our short conversation we have talked a little of everything about ourselves, but just not this matter. It is a deliberate attempt on my part to not bring up a matter so tragic and unfortunate to him, whom I have lost contact for a long period of time. Our conversation, regardless of the duration, should certainly be allocated for a more joyous and meaningful talk. It is, after all, a happy occasion to meet a long-lost friend.
No one knows how a seed would struggle to survive and whether it blossoms in the end; likewise no one in this world can tell how a friendship would come to evolve, and where it will ultimately lead the two persons to. In this aspect, as many would often remark, "only time can tell," we shall let it pen down every single episode of our living and pulsating friendships we have come to plant and nurture. At the end of the day, when one looks back to all that he has sowed and harvested in his life, the rewards are certainly the unseen yet tangible 'fruits of life' that he can savour on. It is certainly a life filled with splendid flavours and unforgettable memories.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I have received a set of pictures via my e-mail sometime ago. They were forwarded from my colleague, where I have come to acknowledge them as 'casual mails' - mails which are not of importance, but are informative and entertaining nevertheless.
In the midst of a hectic or lethargic schedule of the day, receiving such mails do awaken one's senses to read them with interest and attention. Given my curiosity for the wondrous and mystical aspects of astronomy and cosmology, receiving such attachments of pictorial images certainly captured and captivated my whole conscious mind instantly.
The stars are not unfamiliar to me. In my much younger days as a child, I had been fascinated with our galaxy, and with every book that describes the details of these heavenly entities that came along, I had attempted to not only grasp the knowledge of recognizing them but also the inheriting of pure, simple and innocent joy in reading about them. Till this very day that excitement still reverberates in me whenever I come across news about or information of discoveries of our galactic heavens.
In viewing these pictures, however, I was not only fascinated or joyful. I was overwhelmingly awed by the sheer amount of difference between the largest star in our solar system, i.e. the Sun, and Antares, a Red Giant, expanding in its final stage of life and ranked 15th by brightness in our Universe. No one can possibly ever imagine, without the assistance of astronomical knowledge, a planetary entity of such magnitude and mass. As one scrolls down, one picture at a time, Earth shrinks further and further and ultimately, it is lost in sight, in space. In this simplest and most direct presentation, man's existence is faced with a most upfront confrontation of his significance and presence. Till the end, we humans are nowhere to be found.
Buddhism, which was originated from Hinduism, incorporated the latter's time system to substantiate its own Buddhist cosmology. From the period of formation, continuance, declination and disintegration, our Universe is believed to go through these four stages, each lasting 20 small kalpas. Humankind is originally born with a lifespan of 84,000 years, whereupon after every 100 years one year is deducted from it. This cyclical occurrence will repeat itself till mankind reaches the lifespan of 10, where for every 100 years passed, one human year is added back till they reach the age of 84,000 years again. The length of this total incremental and decremental shifts is considered 'one small kalpa'. A rough calculation of this one single shift came to a numerical figure of about 8 million human years. A small kalpa thus is about 16 million human years.
Inclusively a medium kalpa is made up of 20 small kalpas, while a total of four medium kalpas make up one major kalpa.
The concept of kalpa is further elaborated in other sutras with the following similes: a kalpa is longer than the time needed for one to remove all the seeds, one seed per 100 years, that filled a city of one cubic yojana (about 7.4 cubic km). Similarly, it is longer than the required time for one to brush a piece of rock measuring 40 ri (one ri about 450 meters) on each side, once every 100 years, with a piece of soft cloth until the rock is completely worn off. The scale of space and time as expounded by our forefathers of ancient civilisations certainly reveals the deep relationship between the eternal, compassionate wisdom residing in one's life and the infinitely grand, spatial dimensions of the Universe existing in the external realm of our galaxy.
In the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, a famous revelation by Shakyamuni of his own enlightenment presented to us a concrete concept of space and time, where thousands of years later, scientist Einstein came to expound his famous space-time relativity theory.
Suppose one is to take five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million nayuta (10 to the power of 11) asamkhya (10 to the power of 59) major world systems, with one major world system equivalent to one Universe, and grind them into dust, which are atomic particles by modern definition. Moving eastward, he would drop each particle after passing five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya worlds. He would continue this journey until the last particle is dropped, where he would then gather all the worlds he had passed, regardless whether they received the grain of particle or not, and grind them all into dust again. If one is to let each particle be one kalpa, Shakyamuni's enlightenment is five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya kalpas more distant than the immeasurable number of kalpas generated.
In detailing this extraordinary simile, Shakyamuni successfully opened the eyes and minds of the assembly to the great, boundless state of the Universe's life, as well as his own free state of joy and will. Not only did they, for the first time, realised that Shakyamuni was not just a Buddha who gained his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree but aeons and aeons far back than anyone's imagination, the great assembly of bodhisattvas and arhats came to be enlightened that beyond the gigantic scales of space and time, there lies an immovable entity grander than the two aspects, and originating moment-by-moment every phenomena in the Universe. For once they could visualise that Shakyamuni's distant enlightenment had originated from a concrete and tangible source.
Friday, October 26, 2007
It is 2.52 a.m. by my computer's clock.
In this quiet night of 26/10/2007, I am staying up late in preparation for my exam, which will commence in less than 24 hours.
The feeling of taking any test or exam, for me, has always been an unsettled one. Looking back through my academic years of foundational and tertiary studies, I have certainly come to acknowledge the fact that I am no 'exam-orientated'. While I may do much better in researching and writing textual assignments, I have always grappled with the uncertain mood of anticipating what questions would be asked.
It is a familiar feeling for sure, as I have always experienced it throughout my studying years.
Concurrently, whilst thinking back the years of my struggling growth and pursuits, I have also wandered along the path of wondering where would this paper of my current undertaking lead me to. Would I successfully enter a large corporation, one that recognises the fact that I may not be adequately experienced but pays well nevertheless, or would I be allowed to join the United Nations, a place I desired and dreamt about quietly, and work for the well-being of the humanity's community? At the time when the surrounding is almost entirely asleep, my future is as elusive as the night's starlight.
Incidentally, in the midst of this mind-wandering journey, I came to this enlightenment that the 'desire' I held closely in my chest is none other than my own destiny in this lifetime, my very own mission I have promised to appear in this world, at this time, to fulfill. It is the very primal point of which my existence comes to blossom a whole new, entirely different meaning.
I have heard people asking about the way to understand or realise their 'missions'. I myself have met this wall of resistance before; one that hinders the inquirer from proceeding further in realising what has been 'stored' and planted in his life. Along the way, through struggles and unforgettable episodes of secular changes, I realised that all that I have gone through are directional signs, preparatory lessons and life-guiding events to lead me to where and who I am today, in full order for me to evolve and revolve closer to what I am suppose to be. That futuristic self is no where else but installed right in the depth of my heart.
It is thus so rightful that the lotus flower represents the ultimate truth of life - in a full-grown, fiercely blossoming flower, there already lied a seed right in the middle of it. Standing right in the middle of a muddy pond, it is also ironically that the muddier the pond, the stronger the fragrance and beauty of the flower.
Our lives are exactly as such - we are all born with all the inherent strengths and weaknesses, elements which are essential to nourishing our lives for the revelation of our authentic selves. However, through the course of our temporal appearances in this world, we become accustomed to our inner negativity and, increasingly giving in to these elements, we began to lead a life of superficial, shallow and unmeaningful existences, gradually falling trapped to the inner voices of arrogance or ignorance. In the end like a lotus flower covered with mud, we unknowingly come to dispose and shed off our true, innate identities we have promised to adopt a long long time ago.
This is perhaps also the very reason why my mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda has been encouraging the world to stand up and fight all evils that torment the lives of the nameless humanity and faceless victims of karmic winds. It is because right in the middle of that tumultuous storms of injustice and suppression, that life-threatening waves of terrorising violence and fear, and that base and unforgiving sacrifices made to power and greed, that one will find his or her exact role in this world. It is a war waged not only toward the external devils of this world but the inner forces within that the transient self, for once, will come to give way to the true, purposed entities of life. For that matter, it is only one role where he/ she can fulfill.
To arrive at the realisation of one's mission, the only way thus is none other than to conduct an inner journey of examination and reflection. It is from here that one will come to understand how he has walked on the path of growth and development, and what he has become. It is in fact a close observation of one's opened and exposed soul, where everything would be laid before his very eyes. With this understanding, he would then travel even deeper to search for that flame of desire, that torch of hope, that light of truth. It is at that point, in his own life, that he will come to return to his very primal point, the very spot where he stood before his pure self since time immerorial to declare a specific role of objectivity and purpose in the distant future, a unique identity only he can live through and fulfill.
From here one will be able to see that right in the midst of living out the life of a mundane human, he carries within him a supra-mundane identity also; right in a single moment of time, his body of five basic elements contains the present, deluded self as well as revealing the future enlightened one; and right in the place where he stands, the surrounding is both the land of the common mortals as well as the buddha. The only thing that would stop him from fulfilling the dream would be his own, personal struggles. From then on, whether he succeeds or fail will ultimately depend on his own will of courage and perseverance. However, without a doubt, upon reaching that pinnacle of hope and dreams, his life will shine with brilliance, embracing all who are protected by him.
It is then that one's mission, in view of the macrocosmic platform, be truly fulfilled and realised. It is a path my mentor has trail-blazed and offered to the world. While some may regard it as an optional trail, it is in the truest sense a golden track of life-fulfilling and enlightening journey. It is in fact the only way for anyone to live a life through and through, as a human being, for a human being.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I caught up with a long-time friend in late September last month. He is one whom I have gotten to know through the activities of our Buddhist faith and practice. Along that jubilant path of pure, simple joy, we have had encouraged and supported each other, and memories of these life's episodes have certainly engraved in my mind till this day. Against the current socio-geographical background of our hastened societal-evolutions and calculated deliberations, I conclusively felt that friendship of such nature has become harder to come by. Of all possessions one has in this world, genuine friendship is perhaps the one entity that would mark the depth and magnitude of one's life. In a dark, night sky, it stands out like a blazingly shiny gem, adoring whoever has possession of it.
It is also because of such consideration for the evolvement of time and space that I hesitated for a moment - undeniably I have doubted whether he would still remember who I am, or the memories and struggles we have had before - that whether I should step forward or not. When I decidedly went up and greeted him, I instantly knew I had been overly-suspicious. He is still the same old friend I knew of.
In the course of our interaction, he made a seemingly common yet strikingly significant inquiry - how should one go about writing a blog? Though simple in meaning, its nature nevertheless encompasses a rightful direction one should take when penning down and publishing posts of thought and sight. Factually, in the world of technology and trend, this activity has been a popular hobby amongst the younger generations of our time. Blogging, or as some refer to as 'on-line diary', has been widely regarded as a freewill platform to express one's own thoughts, record events that happened, review actions taken, and/ or relive past, occurred experiences. As one has full ownership of the blog-site, unimaginably large numbers of blogs of different compositions have also emerged daily. Those that shed light on one's own life events to those that speak of societal occurrences; those that delve into personal issues to dealing with matters of the world-at-large; those that are morally-friendly to others that are ethically-repugnant; and those that explicitly express a whole range of human emotions for matters of varying importance.
Just as the sutra expounded, in a single ichinen, or human thought, of a single fleeting moment, it inherently contains three thousand realms in the universe. A whole lot of gigantic arrays of human thoughts and emotions have certainly been flowing fluidly in the enormous technological rivers of internet, manifesting the inner dimensions of the human lives.
Throughout this whole blog-writing period, I have walked on this quiet path alone. Pondering over the significance of it, I realised that whatever one has put onto the site, he has in fact bore a definite vision as to how the world and all those who come across the posts will come to perceive him. It is thus from this point that whatever positive or negative submissions of words or pictorials, the emotions, thoughts, ideas, sentiments or beliefs found within are in fact mirroring images of the inner realms of the latent minds and consciousness.
Simply put across, for those who admire a flower, there must already have a universe of flowers simultaneously springing forth from within the depths of their lives the moment they lay their eyes on it. On the contrary, those who fail to capture the fragrance or beauty are, in actual fact, those whom the universe fail to wells-forth in them. While theory of such seems simple in content and definition, this expounded analogy practically applies to every single matter and phenomena throughout the ten directions of our present world. It is one that speaks of the very relationship of the inner mind and the outer world.
As much as one wishes to vent all frustrations of temporal daily life or trying, painful permanence through their blogs and posts, leaving behind a trail of defeated emotions and negative outlooks not only come to hinder one's inner growth and humanistic development, but enhances and multiply these lower life-conditions in the end as well. When one looks back to all he/ she has written, the writer would inevitably come to be surprised either at all the authored and published posts of wilfulness and ignorance, or the sparkling, crystal-clear appreciation and gratitude for one's past and present undertakings in life.
It is said that a wise doctor could diagnose a patient's illness from the reading of his pulse; similarly the Buddha could know the past, present and future fortune and misfortune of a man just by studying his entire being. Furthering these truths, I would believe that from one's blog, one's views toward his own self, the relationship of him and his family, considerations of and for the society, to the desire for and interpretation of this world, can all be deduced without much discrepancies. As my mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda says, "a strong person is also a happy person." Certainly, one who is happy and strong will never come to author and publish posts of self-pitying sadness or wilful arrogance. The theory of 'Oneness of Body and Mind' speaks of a uniformed manifestation of the inner thoughts to the external realm. One who harbours unhappiness in his mind or is ugly at heart would never come to write posts of genuine happiness or beauty. The strict relationship between inner life-functions and outer projection simply doesn't allow permanent fabrication; at some point in time, others would certainly come to detect the facade that attempts to cover up the negativity.
A blog is a reflection - it is a struggle one must wage to overcome all inner devilish functions before penning down any word of thought and action. It should be a living entity born by the conscientious search into one's inner life condition which consequently will come to reflect that particular state of life. While one can and is allowed to publish anything he feels good or right, blog-writing should, in the truest sense, be the invisible struggle between the forces of good and evil. The moment victory eclipses over one's mundane sentient being, every word that follows will come to tangibly reflect that triumphant soul.
At the end of the day, we are our own final reader for what we have written in our blogs. At the end of our lives we would be the very last audience to proof-read what we have committed throughout the course of our journeys in this world. To that end, a blog can be said to be a detailed record of a long chain of incidents that have had happened. It is therefore up to the writer to decide whether it is of a victorious one, or a defeated, sad one.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I have not been in the right condition recently to read as much as I desired. Some events had occupied my mind and since taken much of my mental strength to delve into other issues and matters.
While one may read secular events of worldly nature without much burden, to press on and reach out for these reports when encountered with resistances requires additional conscientious efforts. I do believe though that it is right at this critical juncture that those who are submerged in their personal worries would come to be separated from those who struggle to keep their life-condition afloat and buoyed. The seed of victory or defeat is planted in a single moment of conscious decision.
15 September, 2007 - Tropical cyclone WIPHA, a woman's name in Thai, of category 4 passed over Ishigaki (Japan) and headed for Taiwan and Shanghai, a city of 35 million. 1.8 million were evacuated thereafter by the Chinese government in preparation for one of the strongest storms seen in years.
16 September, 2007 - Against a weather backdrop of heavy rain, strong wind and dark skies, a Thai passenger plane, operated by budget carrier 'One-Two-Go' (or 'One2Go') and carrying 123 passengers and 7 crew, crashed and burst into flames as it landed on the resort island of Phuket, killing 87 people including foreigners.
18 September, 2007 - more than 300 monks took to the streets of Myanmar's main city Yangon, drawing hundreds of other people, in a rare display of defiance against the ruling government of Junta, which had placed Myanmar under their militaristic ruling since 1962. In the same breadth of courage, the monks were led by one who had his begging bowl upturned, and of which all refused alms from senior military officers, sending a strong dissenting sign of protest to the government.
Termed as <<袈裟革命>> by the media, or 'Buddhist-Robe Revolution' literally, the monks, who are deeply respected as parents and teachers to the lay believers, were armed with nothing but their robes and chanting prayers, some carrying religious flags. Traveling barefooted for almost 10 miles, some 1,500 monks marched through the flooded streets of Yangon, sometimes in knee-deep water, sometimes in raging tropical downpour.
22 September, 2007 - Some 500 monks were given an unexpected allowance in marching past the house of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been placed under house-arrest in 11 of her 18 detained years. Appearing 'fit and well', this 62 year-old Nobel peace laureate came to her gate and greeted the Buddhist monks with pressed palms and smiles, while the monks, in response to this serene gesture, offered this indomitable leader with chantings of Buddhist prayers. In a defining moment, the secular heroine and the religious warriors exchanged their heartfelt sentiments through the air, carving out a grand, picturesque scene of humanistic dignity and compassion.
26 September, 2007 - Crackdown was launched, where at least three monks were killed and others badly beaten, including hundreds arrested in Yangon and Mandalay. At least two monasteries were reportedly raided, including one in Yangon's northeastern satellite town of South Okkalapa, where about 100 Buddhist monks were arrested and eight people shot dead after protesting the action. Innocent citizens and other monks were believed to be brutally gunned down or savagely beaten or tortured.
27 September, 2007 - Mr Kenji Nagai, a 50 year-old Japanese video journalist of a video and photo agency based in Tokyo, was reported to be killed in protests in Myanmar by a stray bullet. Video footage and post-mortem however showed otherwise, where he was seen to be shot intentionally point-blank of about one metre, resulting in an instant-death situation. In his final few moments, this heroic champion of journalism attempted to take a few last shots at the crackdown with his camera before slipping away into eternity, displaying an almost super-human strength of courage and spirit.
Friday, October 05, 2007
I was walking in a mall yesterday when I heard a familiar song. Instantly I knew that it was a popular hit in the early part of 2000, or even earlier. It's titled "The Day You Went Away", by this beautiful group called M2M.
M2M was made up by 'Marion Elise Ravn' and 'Marit Elizabeth Larsen', who are two Norwegian girls. Both were born in a small town of Lørenskog, Norway, where they met each other and, through the passion and love for music, became what they known as, 'best' friends'. In their mid teenage years, they formed a band and began writing and singing songs, enjoying the first fruitful and spiritually rewarding years of their music lives. When they were being approached by music company later, they moved out of their band and created what was known as 'M2M'.
With a strong chemistry between the both of them, a rare musical presentation of playing their own instruments, and all the more a sense of grounded maturity unseen in many teenage girls, these two shy and sweet gals began a world tour when their first and second albums became hits in places like Asia, Australia and even U.S. On stage, behind the scene, on and off camera, and moving or switching roles during performances, their instantaneous eye-contacts revealed and bespoke of an almost perfect synchronisation and understanding, mutually supporting and wishing each other the best. In an unspoken manner, they have shown to the world that above everything else, friendship between two true friends holds no bounds, and certainly no grounds for any tainting. They really sang with their hearts and souls as two best friends.
However, as of all beautiful matters in this world, good things often come to an end too swift, too soon. Upon the release of their second album, their music company Atlantic Records decided to split them up, with an ironical offer to one of the gals - Marion, a one million-dollar contract. She took it up, reportedly with the blessing of Marit, and began her solo career. Till this day, they have both cut their own albums, and was heard to have not contacted each other much.
Ahh..how time and tide swirls and twirls men and women of passion and purity! They were so young when they stepped into the competitive world of music-making, bringing nothing along with them but their friendship and support for each other, and written so many wonderful, memorable songs for so many people from all around the world! In between every line and breadth they made and took they captured thousands of hearts of all those who admired their rare mixture of country simplicity and modern maturity. When the world is just about to be offered a colourful gem of talent and innocent beauty, humans' crafted interventions discarded and aborted it, terminating once and for all a chance for the world to be submerged in their innocence and gentleness.
While listening to M2M's songs, all memories of what I have experienced and felt, seen and heard, remembered and faded, in my early schooling years, came back flooding and overwhelming me. It was then that I realised that when something is so close to your heart, it actually fuses with your soul and life, and remains there undetected for many years. It's like a key to a lock that puts away countless memories for good, temporarily. Along the long course of our river of life the key was buried deep down by forgettable mundanities . We then lost touch with all that are buried in our hearts - the joy and pain of having the first crush, the instability of stepping into a new class, the uncertainty of facing tomorrow, the insecurities of making and meeting new friends...all of them carving deep cuts into one's conscious being in one way or another, leaving indelible markings in the depths of our lives. Finally, we began to close ourselves up and tell our hearts that there could not be beauty and simplicity, joy and harmony, and true friendships and honesty in this world anymore; certainly not since the days we shared all our laughters and tears with our childhood pals or 'best' school friends.
In the voice of M2M, I have found my own treasure case, locked up and chucked aside since many years ago. It was when opening it that I realised, after everything has been said and done, nothing else matters as much as true, simple and pure friendship. It is in fact the hallmark of a human being - to be a true, honest friend to another human being. As I delved into all memorable emotions of my early youthful days, I re-visited an old friend of more than fiftteen years in the evening earlier. This is perhaps the first step of the minimum I can do to answer to my inner urgings to cherish what I have on hand right now. It is a call of my own humanity to blossom and flower, treasuring what I have been endowed with and returning what I have possessed.
Capturing M2M's shy, gentle faces in my mind, I moved on with a renewed dtermination in not allowing my friends to slip past me, and history, again.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Below is a list of summarised facts and figures about this nuclear issue the humanity is facing right now, as copied from SGI Quarterly (July):
Who has nuclear weapons?
- United States* 10,000
- Russia* 16,000
- U.K.* 185
- France* 350
- China* 130
- India 50
- Pakistan 60
- Israel (undeclared) 100-200
- North Korea appears to have tested a nuclear device in October 2006
* The permanent members of the UN Security Council
Countries which had nuclear weapons and chose to give them up:
- South Africa
Countries which had programs to develop nuclear weapons which they ended:
Number of countries that have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: 177
Number of countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: 190
- The uranium bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy," that killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima had a yield of 13 kilotons (one kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT). Modern-day hydrogen bombs can have yields measured in megatons (one megaton is 1,000 kilotons). The largest ever thermonuclear bomb was tested by Russia in 1961. It had a yield of 50 megatons.
To picture the amount of TNT needed for a 5-megaton explosion, imagine a 1,000-mile (1,600km) long train filled with TNT.
What happens when a nuclear weapon explodes?
- The temperature of a nuclear explosion is several million degrees centigrade. The explosion creates a fireball of white heat. Intense heat and radiation is released in winds of around 1,500 kmph. The mushroom cloud effect is produced by the powerful updrafts lifting debris from the ground up into the air. The top of the cloud can be several kilometers wide. At Hiroshima, in the vicinity of the hypocenter, all that remained of some of the people caught in the open were their shadows burnt into stone. Under these extreme conditions, the human body is vaporized. Those not in the immediate area of destruction would suffer from non-survivable burns, would be blinded and suffer terrible external and internal injuries. Almost all rescue and medical services would have been destroyed.
Further away from the blast, survivors would soon suffer varying effects of radioactive fallout. High exposure levels would cause bleeding from the mouth and gums, gangrenous ulcers, internal bleeding and hemorrhagic diarrhea, vomiting, fever, delirium and terminal coma and death within days. For a lower level of exposure, the longer-term effects for survivors include: fetuses in the early stages of pregnancy being born with deformities, damage to the immune system, major scars and the risk of developing cancer. The next generation would also be at risk to cancer and birth defects.The amount of fallout depends on whether the bomb was detonated in the air or on the ground. The area covered by fallout will vary according to wind speed and direction.
Accidental Launch Risks
- There have been over 30 accidents, false alarms and malfunctions involving U.S. nuclear weapons. Several of these have almost caused a nuclear war.
- On September 26, 1983, the Soviet nuclear early warning system showed that the U.S. had launched a nuclear attack. With only minutes to react, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, the officer on duty, decided that the system was in error, saving the world from a nuclear holocaust.
- In 1995, Russia mistook a Norwegian meteorological rocket launch for a nuclear attack. President Boris Yeltsin activated his "nuclear briefcase" for a retaliatory attack. Minutes before the launch of Russia's nuclear arsenal, the alarm was determined to be false.
- Thousands of U.S. and Russian nuclear missiles remain on hair-trigger alert today. Once launched, they cannot be recalled.
- It has been estimated that since 1945, 50 nuclear weapons have been lost and remain lost at sea.
- Stockpiles of loosely guarded nuclear weapons materials are scattered around the world, offering inviting targets for theft or sale.
- There were about 1,000 offers to sell nuclear materials in Western Europe and Russia in the period 1991-95. In 1995, German police recorded 35 cases of offers to buy fissile materials.
- The U.S. spends $100 million per day on maintaining its nuclear arsenal.
- In the Marshall Islands, from 1946 until 1958, U.S. military scientists tested 67 nuclear devices with the equivalent explosive yield of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs per day for those 12 years. The testing exposed the people of the Marshall Islands to radioactive fallout and contaminated nearby atolls, rendering them uninhabitable.
- Radioactive waste, produced at every stage of the nuclear cycle, from the mining of uranium to the production of weapons or energy, can be radioactive for periods up to hundreds of thousands of years. Indigenous people have been disproportionately affected by the international nuclear weapons and power industries.
- A 1991 study by the IPPNW predicts that radiation from atmospheric testing will eventually have caused 2.4 million deaths from cancer.
Humanity has come to a crossroad - either to carry on living his life in a fleetingly shallow and temporal hedonistic way, or to rise above all else and be awakened to the truth.
More often than not, truth is always a bitter pill to swallow, and along the way heaviness and sensibilities seep in, waking the person up and crashing him down to ground from the air of mundane joys and excitement, all in a flash of a moment. For once, he feels a sense of strange sentiment never felt before; something tinkling in his veins, playing tunes in his mind, and setting his gazes on horizons never set on before. This we would presumptuously named it as 'awakening'.
Education since ancient times hold significant positions in societies. From farmers guiding his children in the work of sowing and harvesting to professors imparting knowledge in lecture halls, education epitomises the very light of being compassion. Its very centre core mission would be to lift one unrefined human being out of his own delusions about the external world and his own inner Universe, to a state of being keenly aware and sharply sensitive toward them. It would be an almost noble sanctity of purity and love, for only a human can teach another human; just as only a life can polish another to become a shining gem.
While we were at schools, we were taught the dangers lurking in our surroundings - fire, electricity, flooding waters, deadly poisons, steely knives, they all pose inherent but imminent dangers. We were all taught to stay away from them. And what about strangers? Not to follow them, not to accept their offerings, and not divulge our particulars to them. From the haven of education, we learn how to protect ourselves, and the very important aspect of our presence called 'safety'.
However, and sadly, we stopped short in teaching ourselves the greater, all powerful and an overwhelmingly pressing danger - nuclear weapons. Does it not occur strange to one that while we are instilled with knowledge of safety and danger for ourselves from our very youthful days, reminded constantly of the content, and thereafter impart them into the next generation, we choose to conveniently overlook and ignore the basic yet most important issue facing us all? Does it not occur weird to him that little has been mentioned about this one single, massive and devastating threat, ready to ignite in any second and terminating every single life-form on this planet, including the very existence of this planet itself? Fundamentally, if something should ever happen, no one would even survive to tell the story beyond. Against the background of our uncertain future, this is one thing for certain.
Irony has its own workings amongst us; we have become short-sighted and be overran with concerns only for and of ourselves. Sometimes a little more encompassing and we may robe in and share our friends' joy and sorrows; at other times we have visions only for our own future.
Nuclear weapons and wars are ironically the best and worst element to bring humanity to come together. No other such entity comes close to adopting this role. In the face of this common danger, humanity must be awakened to the dire consequence, should one deluded human being decides to use it and have the launch button pressed. No amount of protection, no depth of underground tunnels, and no distant retreat into the woods, would ensure anyone any rate of survival. It is almost a sure-death situation that humanity faces, in comparison to matchstick fires, electric short-circuitry or traffic disobedience.
In another round of irony, it is perhaps also in this worst situation that hope is found in restoring not only strength in fighting against this gigantic threat, but also the essential lesson about the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human race.
It can almost be likened to one being turned off by the stench and sight of the mud, but captivated by the fragrance and beauty of the lotus flower. They are both mutually exclusive, yet intricately supporting each other.
While nuclear weapons are created by humanity's basest self, it must then be humanity's responsibility to ensure they are returned to that devilish function, unused. In the wake of the 62nd anniversary of the droppings of atomic bombs, humanity is faced with her greatest threat and ironically, the greatest chance for securing a lasting peace and an era of life.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
August is a month I would not forget. For one, it is my birth month. Secondly and ironically, it is the death month of my father.
Incidentally, it is a month that bears witness to the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr's "I have a dream" declaration, but yet also carries the unimaginably heavy load of deaths of the Hiroshima's and Nagasaki's people.
Humans are born short-sighted. Physically we are only capable of seeing a limited distance, usually not further than 500 metres. Given some good weather and environmental conditions, we may see more than we normally do, but that's all about it.
Mentally we are not spared from such an inborn dysfunction - we more often than not fail to grasp and understand matters and issues that are far away from us, though they may be directly affecting our very lives. It is always the eyes that are playing tricks on us, telling us only to believe what we see. When we do not, our minds would comfort us back to the relaxed, carefree joviality.
This is perhaps why we all need education. Not to impart things we are not known of but to merely re-awaken those senses which we have long forgotten, and re-kindled the sensitivity that is found inside us, since time immemorial. Campaigns are one such medium in fulfilling these objectives, for they place matters right before us, our eyes and reflect to us the messages of truth and reason. In one way or another, our lives are directed and/ or re-aligned by those messages.
Till date, there are about 20,000 nuclear weapons held collectively by five nuclear-armed countries: China, Israel, US, Russia, UK and France. While these weapons are more than sufficient to disintegrate Earth more than once, the figure is still expanding. Humanity could not be further from peace and security, and closer to 'total death' and 'pure destruction'. Nothing would survive from the blast.
However, there remains a shield of barrier, constantly obstructing one to be truly awakened to the severity and magnitude of this issue. Why is this so?
The reason, as I suspect, lies in the returning of an awakened life back to the 'microcosmic' self, a more shallower and superficial entity. Overwhelmed by his own personal interests and pursuits, the devilish functions hidden in the mass arrays of nuclear weapons would soon be undetected and unguarded. Unknowingly, we have let this devil slipped past our defences and took root in our hearts. Unconsciously, we have allowed the pain and misery, which had had happened to thousands of humans, and more rightly so to be happening on us anytime, to fall into unawareness and lifeless repetitions. In short, we have lost touch with our innate humanity, the very breadth that propels us to live, think and behave like human beings. Once lost, we are really not much different from those robots or toys manufactured from factories and delivered to racks for display. They too are not endowed with humanistic qualities and consciousness.
When was the last time we feel death around us? Was it when we saw a dying bird, a dead cat or the passing of someone close? When was the last time we feel insecured? Was it when a fight had broken up near our house, or when our safety was threatened? And when was the last time we felt pain and emotional? Was it when we have hurt someone, or when we have hurt ourselves? When everything has been said and done, what is left behind is the underlying message, that for what we do not see or experience, they are all there always, existing around us and residing in all of us, be it the understanding of emotions, the realisation of pain, or the enlightenment to death.
Nuclear weapons are exactly of such: they require every one of us to understand, realise and be enlightened to the fact that there can be no tomorrow, no future and no life to talk about, if we do not care that much of this one single severity.
It has always been there, this issue of imminent threat and danger of highest level. It is just that this matter requries every single human soul to come together, and drawing forth that invisible threads of determination and conviction, to rid this single mortal devil off from this world we live in. Only when this stream of hope and awakening gathers strength and momentum that it would expand to become a substantial force of humanistic energy that humankind would be able to free himself from the long-overdue shackles of fear and instability. It is only when such a force be present in our world that this planet would be safe from total destruction and inescapable disintegration.
For this world really belongs to us, not them.
Monday, September 03, 2007
I have been doing quite a lot of reading lately, on the topic of 'Roberto Baggio'. For anyone who does not know him, he has been an Italian national footballer ever since he was young, till 16th May 2004, where he hung up his boots forever.
Roberto Baggio is born into a large family of eight on 18th February 1967, in a small town of Caldogno. Ever since he could walk, he had been totally immersed into the activity of 'kicking', whatever he could find and lay his feet on.
This probably laid the very foundation of his life, or perhaps a manifestation of his pure, genuine love for it, that we saw what had become of him in the future - an iconic, unforgettable figure that touches almost every soul that came into contact with him.
Baggio loves soccer. Undeniably, he loved this sport with his whole heart, mind and life. As he fondly recalled, there would not a single day where he did not find something roundish to kick and play. That was how much he had fallen into it. In the many years ahead, he would realise that passion and love have a price to be paid. And the collectors of these 'prices' were nobody else but jealous, scheming coaches who went all the way out to hinder, obstruct and defeat him.
Yet, once and again, he stood up, withstanding the pain of knee injury that tormented and almost crippled him for over three decades, he fought with them head-on, never begrudging his life, never waning a single strand of conviction, and never wavering the slightest in his courage. In the world of money, fame, greed, devices, politics and selfishness, Roberto Baggio's character shines like a brilliant star in the starless, dark, gloomy sky. Anyone who has taken the care to lift up the head, raise the chin and breathe the air would inevitably find that shiny star burning brightly and fiercely, unperturbed by any clouds of pettiness the least, to the point of almost intending to burn up the last ounce of his energy to blaze and light up the paths of those suffered and defeated.
Baggio's heart is as such. Throughout his entire life in the Italian league, he has displayed to the world a true soccer player of the highest class. Not only did he played for gigantic, wealthy and powerful clubs, he was equally at ease in playing for small, unestablished clubs, only to show his superb qualities as a mighty warrior and leader more. However, no matter what honoraries endowed upon him, no matter what decorations given to him, and no matter what awards bestowed upon him, he had but only one wish - to help his beloved country lift up the World Cup trophy.
This and only this permeated his entire being, entire life. Never would he leave this dream, and pursue this dream did he! From a small humble beginning he went on to play in three of the most prominent clubs - Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan. However, none of them had treasured him as much as his fans - the ever loyal Fiorentina fans who loved him dearly with their hearts. With their lives and his fused together, they painted a beautiful, touching canvas of 'player' and 'fans', lead actor and supporter, general and soldiers. They would support each other, encourage each other and brace forward with each other, together. It was a magnificently radiating piece of dazzling brilliance of loyalty, understanding and pure love.
Thus when Baggio was heard transferring to Juventus, the eternal arch-rival of Fiorentina, the city was erupted with flames of anger, leaving 50 Fiorentina fans injured. As he recalled in his autobiography, he had not wanted to leave Fiorentina, or at least not to Juventus. His agent had secretly formulated the contract, and he had no way to turn down that offer. Not at that time, not with his ability. There, he was left stranded, in the wilderness of loyalty and betrayal, support and mistrust, love and hatred. Bearing the pain of being mistrusted and called 'the Judas', he left for Juventus, only to be mistrusted by the Juventus fans there - in a match against Fiorentina, he had chosen not to take a penalty kick for Juventus. All the more did he enraged them when he picked up a Fiorentina scarf a fan had dropped to him while leaving the field. Torn in between the two clubs, he showed to the world what would genuinely make of a true soccer player - an almost steel-like determination for winning, but yet an immovable, humane side for beauty, loyalty and life.
Nevermind he is the first Italian who scored in three world cups; nevermind he being the Italian player who was awarded and praised by the Argentina soccer league twice; nevermind he being the one who almost single-handedly carried the Italian team right into the Finals; all it matters to him was to simply fulfill a childhood dream - to enter the World cup, and lift it up in the air. For all one cares, he is just out there to pursue something that has been flying in his mind like a kite since the day he knows about the world. No dreams are too bold for him, no aspiration to high, and no vision too grand. In his boundless heart of mightiness, the world is his stage of passion, love, victories and sorrows.
After all has been said and done, no one in this world could ever, ever be qualified to question his integrity, determination and conviction. In a world filled with craftiness and disgusting ugliness, his existence manifests a charming gracefulness and serenity, like his smile, like his skills. Indeed, he has shown to the world that right in the harsh, cold and unforgiving conditions of competitive sports, there lies life and humanism; right in the middle of the pitch where victories and defeats meant so much to so many, there is but friendship, dreams and beauty. Like a lotus flower blossoming ferociously in the muddy pond, his legacy illuminates fiercely like a shimmering star against a dark, stormy night sky. All in all, he has truly given his all to the world.
Thank you, Roby. Take care, and all the best to you, your family and life.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The clock in my computer showed 1.08. Morning, on this day of 28/08/2007.
As I quietly welcomed my birthday, I looked back at this road that I have traveled for the past 32 years.
How time flies, one would often hear another exclaims. Indeed, if I am to roll out my life's past events on a film, everything would seem to be blurrish and faded, some colourless, some fresh with sights and sounds, but mostly they move in slowed speed and fragmented episodes.
Have I become so old that I couldn't recall an incident with full entirety and clarity? Or have I become too involved with my daily rushes and pushes for me to forget something so easily? Between the jagged lines of memories and sentiments, I search quietly for an inner calmness to tame my unsettled heart.
It has been quite a few days, or perhaps weeks, that I ponder the arrival of this day - my birthday. This age of 32 has aroused quite a substantial amount of affection and yearning within me. Shakymuni was said to have attained enlightenment at 32 while Jesus was believed to have passed away in his early thirties. Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of my belief, invoked the phrase to the rising sun on 28th April 1253 "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" at this age, while my beloved Mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda determinedly assumed the role of the third president of Soka Gakkai at the age of 32 as well.
On a different note but of the same date, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, delivered his historically significant and culturally earth-shattering speech of his dreams and heartfelt desires on 28, August 1963. To a crowd of 200,000, he declared, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." These words certainly rang through the tunnels of history and echoed resonantly in the lives of those who received this declaration, until this very day.
Though decades and centuries have passed, and time and space have all shifted and evolved, this almost mystical significance of this date seemed branded in my life.
It was also in the midst of looking back at my own life, against the gigantic canvass of history and life that I asked myself: what have I done in the 32 years of this journey? That question is followed almost in a splitting moment by the very next: what have you done to realise your dreams and fulfill your aspirations, in this world and lifetime, which you have hold so closely and dearly to your heart?
These are questions that certainly drive a pain in my heart, for they all question my innermost being, of who I am, of what I have done, and of where I am going. They call forth my basest and barest emotions in viewing and reviewing myself in securing a concrete answer to these piercing inquiries.
But for what reason do I wish to submerge myself in this seemingly sorrowful emotions? It can only be due to the fact that I have let down too many people too many times. Far too long, I have made mistakes that I shouldn't have, took turns where I was not supposed to, set decisions which I shouldn't have. In short, I have thrown away the fortune that was endowed upon me since birth, time and again, and till this day, this time, I have not secured a triumphant victory that would me look back with pride. All the more so that I have to shamefully admit that I truly have let my Mentor down. Alas! All the promises I have made to him, in my heart, carved in my life; they all seemed to have been washed away. Would I be able to recover and actualise them? I do not know.
I have always cherished the enlightenment that everyone born into this world is of a mission, for a purpose. It is still so in my heart. But what have I done to make this enlightenment a concrete entity in my life, carrying it along as I travel in this world and through my life?
My Mentor is already old. He's now 87 year-old, tirelessly working for the sake of humanity, never resting for even a single day while I, young and able but fixated at the crossroad of 32 years of determination and delusion, struggling to keep my faith and belief ahead of me, disappointed that I have yet to live up to my own inner cries.
"For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom? May you always ask yourself this question." As I proceed to venture into unchartered 32 years, I brace myself in engraving these words into my heart. In fulfilling my own destiny, in showing the correctness of my belief, and in proving the greatness of my Mentor. As the night seeps through the web of darkness, I travelled deeper into my own inner self in search of that pure conviction, joy and light I once possessed.
As the world sleeps soundly, awaiting gently for the the golden rays of a brand new morning, I settled myself in preparing for a fresh embarkment of a brand new history. Like a Lotus flower blossoming fiercely in the muddy pond, I pray to rise from the Earth.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda wrote an essay of the above title sometime in February this year. It was first published in The Japan Times, and later re-printed in April in my local mainstream paper.
Three months later in July, the Singapore Children's Society conducted a random, door-to-door survey that targeted children from private and public housing estates with regard to bullying. The survey, carried out in the society's 'Bully Free Week' campaign, collected responses from a total of 519 students, of which 129 responded to having had experienced bullying before. Amongst the 129, 37 were bullies themselves, with 10 of them attributed to their past, victimized experiences as the reason of turning into bullies.
Common tactics excercised by bullies are: vulgar language, name-calling, spreading rumours, insulting victims in front of others, throwing things at victims and making things up to get victims into trouble.
In a world supposed to be filled with friendships, trusts, mutual respect, sunshine-like smiles and joyous laughter, anger, sadness, taking revenge, loss of appetite and concentration on studies, and development of anti-social behaviour took over, as listed out by the survey to be reactions of victims to bullying.
Here is the essay my Mentor has written (copied from SGI's website):
Disturbing incidents of bullying continue to make the news. We hear daily of the tragedy of children who, unable to endure the harassment and violence inflicted on them by peers and classmates, are driven to suicide.
It is heartbreaking to think of the pain and despair that would cause a child to take his or her life, the devastating grief and regret of their families.
Bullying is not a sickness unique to Japan. But the kinds of extreme bullying that can lead even to suicide have as their background the closed and insular nature of Japanese society. People of strong individuality, who have some quality that shines or stands out, are often the target of jealousy, branded as different and strange.
As such, they may be subjected to an organized effort to ignore and ostracize them, leaving them feeling as if their very existence has been denied. Such isolation can be accompanied by threats, extortion and physical violence. Some children may become active supporters of the bullying while others, fearful that they will be targeted next, remain passive bystanders.
This dynamic reflects a deep-rooted pathology within Japanese society. It is rare for parents and teachers to muster the courage and solidarity to confront such bullying.
What would also appear to be unique to Japan is a particular quickness to blame the victim. There is a widely if unconsciously held notion that the victims of bullying are themselves at least partly responsible for their plight. This way of thinking acts to justify bullying as well as the indifference that allows it to continue.
How could anyone imagine there are people in the world who deserve to be bullied? Bullying is a base and vicious act that can never and must never be legitimated.
People are not bullied because they are weak. Rather, bullying reflects the inner weakness of the perpetrators, their inability to resist their own ugliest impulses. As Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, violence is ultimately born of cowardice.
The first step in dealing with bullying is to transform the cultural attitudes that permit it. This requires that we state clearly that the blame for bullying rests 100 percent with those who bully.
This further requires that adults--whether parents or teachers--who become aware of bullying speak up, demonstrating a model of courage and action to children. Equally crucial is the effort to become the kind of person that a child being victimized by bullying can turn to with confidence. We need to be able to discern the often silent pleas of such children.
Bullying came to light as a serious social problem in Japan in the 1980s. The various forms of violence that had plagued schools in the 1970s had been brought under control but, it has been suggested, the forcefulness of the measures used to achieve this left the underlying issues unresolved, pushing violence underground and inward. The aggression once directed against teachers and the schools themselves was turned against classmates.
The rapid changes in society have left children exposed to intense forms of stress. The cold and unforgiving logic of the adult world is applied unmediated to the lives of children, who are subjected to excessive degrees of competition, selection, ranking and standardization.
The dysfunction so evident in school bullying today thus mirrors the state of adult society, which is replete with insidious forms of bullying--detached cruelty stemming from cynicism and self-involvement, abuses of people's rights by the media, television programs that poke fun at the vulnerable, prejudice and discrimination in its various forms. To surround children with such realities while expecting them to adhere to idealized forms of behavior is hardly fair.
Urbanization and the collapse of the extended family have deprived children of the physical and social spaces where they are affectionately enfolded and can comfortably develop friendships. And parents are often so pressed for time and stressed by work that they cannot fully engage or interact with their children.
Many children who become violent carry a deep-rooted sense of being neglected and ignored. The healthy growth of children requires that they feel accepted and embraced for who they are. When children can feel acceptance, they develop a natural awareness of their own unique and irreplaceable value. They come to treasure and care for themselves. At the same time, this awakens feelings of trust and respect for others.
In the end, children desire but one thing--to be loved. This is why the family must be a haven of security and protection for children.
Rosa Parks once shared with me her mother's words: "There is no law that people have to suffer." Her mother also taught her the value of self-respect, to respect both herself and others. In these childhood lessons I think we can see the deep sources of courage and dignity behind her crucial role in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott that marked a historic turning point in the American civil rights movement.
Every child has the right to move proudly into the future, head held high. The horror of a society permeated by different forms of bullying is that it tramples children's sense of self-worth, robbing them of the light of future hope.
All young people need to be clearly assured that when we are suffering, although it may feel like the darkness will continue forever, that is absolutely not the case. Night always yields to dawn. Though the cold of winter may seem to last forever, it is always followed by spring. And those who have suffered most are best able to understand people's hearts. They have a unique and vital contribution to make.
Children are our only future, our sole, irreplaceable hope. Children are urging us--literally at the risk and cost of their lives--to become aware of the distortions of the adult world. Our response to their silent cries holds the key to healing the desperate illness of our times. Only by turning to directly engage with children, their feelings and their needs, will we redeem our own humanity.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The weather's been quite mild and soft on us, the people living in the near-Equator island of Singapore.
Usually, in this month of July, the harsh sunlight wouldn't be that kind and gentle, allowing the hazy clouds and occasional breeze to take the limelight and centrestage. Now with a heavy humidity and a grayish skyline pressing down, the weather couldn't be any more unpredictable.
I have gotten myself the precious time to stay at home today, and with no pre-conceived strategy I stepped up to the window and took a view out from my living hall. The view has certainly caught my attention. With a hint of inspirational spark, I took out my handphone and took a shot.
That moment of 'spark', to be more exact, is a thought that whilst I am born in Singapore, and living here in this area for more than twenty-five years, I have not actually taken a good view at my surrounding. True, I may have been familiar with all that are around me, and having seen and heard and know their existence for such a long time, their images would have long been imprinted in my sub-consciousness.
To see everything that is so close to us requires minimum effort and time; more often than not, we might even waive them away, assuring ourselves that they certainly do not deserve such amount of attention. It would probably only be when we travel to another new, fresh and unfamiliar place and territory that we find our curiosity triggered once again. It would probably be then that we begin to really open our eyes and actively search for things and matters which are alien to us, unseen, unheard and unexperienced before.
However, life always inspires us with unexpected twists - it is more often than not that the true meaning of existence lies not some faraway, secluded places, but very much near us, in our families, and definitely close to our heart.
Be it a call from a long-lost friend, the greeting from the hardworking road-sweeper for our neighbourhood, the fragrance of the rain, to even the daily limitless generosity showered by our parents, these elements are definitely true reminders to us of our own purpose in life - to make this world a better and more beautiful place, starting right from where we are.
While this view from my window has been with me for many years, I do believe anyone who sees it for the first time would agree that my living area, while is 'normal-looking' and plain, manifests a sense of grounded tranquility and peacefulness. Something I only got to see it today, after overlooking it for a long time. From here on, I shall be mindful and sensitive of my surrounding even more.
While chanting and offering my prayer, the pressing humidity gave way to thunder and rain, washing away the suffocating heat and pressure in the air. Darkness and gloominess gave way to light and freshness. The whole atmosphere changed in the blink of an eye.
It's certainly a beautiful world out there.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Time, something abstract and unseen, yet so powerful and overwhelming. It is practically the pair of hands that move and propel everything forward, toward all destined and decided venues of consequence and fate.
When one ponders over how this element of 'time' comes into play in the human drama of living and evolving, he/ she would certainly come to see that it the beginning, there had in fact not have any mention or inclusion of 'time' in the entire book of human history. Our ancestors, the Homo Erectus, evolved from their forefathers of Homo Sapiens, would not have any notion of what 'time' is. They were engaged in the mundane activities of survival, of birth and death.
It was when the world changed, when our ancestors came to be more acute in their sensitivities toward their surrounding that they began to realise that there seemed to have a fixed pattern, an invisible yet written destiny in everything around, and inside, them. They then realised that everything had to follow a certain rhythm, with nothing falling out of this loop, and no forces to counter it. When the weather turned cooler, leaves began to fall; when the heat retreated, the crops ripened; when the sky turned dark, the moon and countless stars began to appear and radiate. Even amongst themselves, they witnessed a similar pattern - once they were young and youthful, they had begun to experience strain and pain when they lived for long enough. Soon, one by one, they would stopped their activities totally, and slept into permanence.
It was from first hand occurrences that they finally come to formulate what 'time' is - it's something unseen, but yet moving almost everything on a strict rhythm and at a systematic pace, with nothing and nobody left out of this invisible chain of forces.
If 'time' is of that strict and uncompromising, then the furthering implication for anyone to worth spending time pondering over would be: what is the purpose of having a human existing on this planet? What exactly moves in this Universe of ours to have a life generated and, taking the form of a humanoid, comes to appear in this world as a human being?
By the Buddhist perspective, it is 'karma' that propels a life to take the shape of a human and, carrying the baggage of two pools of positive and negative energy, this particular life takes presence on this planet. While the pool of negative energy marks the undesired episodes occurring along the course of that human life, ironically it also turns out to be the exact source of motivation for him/ her to overcome all misfortunes and mishaps, and emerge as a victorious champion of life, securing an unparalleled state of triumphant joy and immovable optimism.
From here, one is able to see that it is because of one's 'mission' that he/ she is born into this world - to reveal all potential and talents, uncovered, untapped and unknown even to the person concerned, and to fulfill the pre-destined purpose inherent in the depth of the one single human life. From here, the ultimate objective of a human's existence is affirmed, declaring the primary and most important goal of all - the completion of one's character for the accomplishment of macro goodness in this world.
In another word, one's 'karma', or misfortunes, carry exactly the seed of insurmountable happiness and unsurpassed victories for that person. It likened perfectly to the silent resilience displayed by the lotus flower, rising from the muddy pond and blossoming fiercely in the air and into the sun. So must Man rise from his own sadness and demeaning whirlpool to construct and erect a fortress of indomitable courage and spiritual strength.
We are all given the same amount of time. 24 hours per day. We are all given the same quantity of sunlight, rain and breeze. We are all endowed with the same capacity to breathe and live. Therefore, it can be deduced that we are also all endowed with the same mission to walk and live on this planet. And it's certainly up to us to come and be enlightened to our own innate call, that faint yet never-ending yearn to break free from our old, fatigue shells and rise to become the genuine heirs to the unspoken lineage of justice and righteousness. Ultimately it is really up to us to uphold that unseen yet blazing flame of truth to fight all evils that plaque and feed on humanity. It's really on our shoulders that the pillars of this world depend on, not anyone else's.
Our time in this world is limited. What we are here for thus becomes evidently clear. It is truly up to each of us to locate our own mission in this lifetime and begin this inner journey of external, active contribution of peace and happiness for humanity all around. After all, what matter would be more worthy, what cause nobler, and what action more honourable, then to offer one's life towards the construction of a grand, towering edifice of true happiness in every single life on this planet?
Against this ever changing world of mundanity, a moment dedicated to ourselves for the awakening is truly a time worth living.
Friday, July 06, 2007
I'm beginning this post at the hour of 10.37 p.m. of 06/07/2007, Singapore time.
The whole world is awaiting for the arrival of a once-in-a-lifetime date - 07.07.07. While this unique number will re-appear in every subsequent hundred years, everything would have changed over this long course of period. Once this day of 2007 is passed, most of us here would probably not live that long enough to witness the arrival of such a date, ever again.
Time waits for no man. In the face of this monumental significance, Man becomes ironically small, while the meaning of this phrase becomes unusually large and gigantic.
True to its entirety, no one can never hold 'time' in the hands, grasping and securing it fixed. It just somehow slips away through the finest gap and tiniest hole. This is all the more startling true the moment one's instinct of his/ her own presence is dimmed and blunted, overwhelmed by the thousands of occurrences taking place all around. As we live through our lives, and walk into the ever-changing world, our innate senses of 'time' and 'life' become weaker and weaker, constantly ravaged by the harsh circumstantial elements.
Until one day when these inborn senses finally wither and disintegrate, those who unknowingly went through this transformation would come to see that they are left with nothing but empty shells of humanoid forms that go through the lifeless motions of 'living' and 'breathing', forever unable to locate that primal spot of living consciousness. It is the very spot that allows one to be awakened to the inner ocean of humanism, enlightened to the fact that for every breath one takes, every thought one generates and every move made, the Earth is absorbing and responding to all of them - like a mother watching gently at her own wilful children and experiencing exactly the same sentiments as them.
It is, in a word, that the Earth is in fact sharing that same exact rhythm of which every life on the planet falls on and immerses in.
Therefore, at that most fundamental level of Life, there's no difference between a flower blossoming and a breeze blowing, the flapping of sea waves and a change of seasons, the rise of Venus and the fall of meteors. They all share an identical, unseen yet equal force of rhythm, all-encompassing and permeating.
It is here, in this invisible flow of rhythmic energy that humans come to realise that they aren't an independent herd of species, relying upon their own abilities to survive and prey, or to be preyed and faded away.
From the Egyptians to the Mayans, from the Chinese to the Greeks and to the Indians, these great civilisations had had all realised that they were not alone here, on this planet called Earth. They had all shared an unspoken linkage between themselves and everything around them, including the starry heaven above, and the earthed ground below them.
They drew inspirations from the stars, enlightenment from the formations, and deep understanding from the soil and earth. They realised that there was a constant flow in the seasons, a consistent move for the Earth, a periodic beat for the rise and ebb of tides, and certainly a fixed regularity for their own lives also. In short, they have come to be one with the Earth's rhythm.
It was from then that these enlightened humans formulated the calenders, charts for sowing and harvesting, time tables for sunrise and sunsets, formations and movements of stars, to even birth and death of their people. They certainly have had lived their lives based on this unseen force which had been so intricately and closely woven with the very core of their lives.
It is also with this enlightenment that they come to harbour deep respect and revered attitude toward the environment they lived in. Knowing that whatever they had were all given by the earth, they returned their gratitude by treating it humbly. From the woods to the rivers, from the soil to the fruits, these ancient yet wise beings possessed an almost religious disposition toward their own environments, protecting it from all unnecessary harm and damage, mending it with utmost care.
'Live Earth 07.07.07' is a 24-hour live performance that will be held in 7 continents, 10 countries and beamed across the world and believed to be watched by 2 billion viewers from all over the world, with an underlying message for environmental protection. While the world may be awed and impressed with megastars gracing the event, what they have perhaps failed to realise is that in every human heart there lies a piece of grassland urgently calling for protection and restoration to it's initial purity, and in every human life there lies a decaying spirit desperately yearning for an reawakening and rebirth of that humble soul. It is only with this inner transformation in human lives that Earth would really come to be alive, its soul restored by the fusion of Earth's life and Humanity's spirits.
It's 12.01 a.m. on my computer screen. Welcome 07.07.07, Mother Earth.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I have sent a letter of feedback to one of the papers. The issue is about hospitals not releasing and sharing patients' information and data on their past and current medical report. Instead patients are required to produce and declare all of their medications ever issued to them upon admitting into hospitals. Against the background of our current technological advancement, this move certainly looks ancient and out-of-time.
The letter has been published yesterday, with some admendments by the publishers themselves.
I refer to the report of Alexandra Hospital (AH) adopting this 'medical reconciliation' from the United States, that enable doctors and hospitals to compare the complete list of patients' current or even past home medications issued.
I am certainly perplexed to hear that at this point in time, with our current technological advances, doctors are still requesting patients to bring all of their medications to hospital for the purpose of verification and updating into the "national electronic medical record system". This contrast is even greater given the fact that should AH not adopt this system, "patients would have to be interviewed on their medical history upon admission", and upon AH's initiation, "other healthcare institutions have adopted the system", suggest strongly the weaknesses inherent in our present medical systems.
For all one knows, MOH has launched an Electronic Medical Records Exchange (EMRX) in 2004, linking all restructured hospitals, polyclinics and national centres in the Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) and National Health Group (NGH) clusters.
While AH may not be in the loop of this information-sharing, it is still sad to see that hospitals and health institutions not releasing and sharing information among themselves; information which may be trivial for the doctors but vital for the patients as, in your report revealed, saved on the cost of medications and reduce complications in the course of examination.
While family members coming forward to declare all medications would be a positive move, complications can arise when patients whom are aged or disabled to communicate, or homeless and without family support aren't ready to fulfill this responsibility. Vital information is thus lost along the way, with more time and effort incurred for verification of past medical histories and records. This inevitably pushes the burden back onto the doctors and health institutions concerned.
MOH should step in and ensure that all healthcare institutions have access to patients' database built on a national level, leaving no doctor and hospital out of the loop. Where assessment of patients is concerned, doctors should rely on this database as the primary source of information, complementing with the physical declaration of past medications. This certainly reduces the man-hour required for verification of medicines, duplication of medicines issued and tests conducted, and increases the safety level where drug allergies are involved. At the end of the day, the overall operating costs for the institutions are lowered, with patients benefitting hugely from this simplified system as well.