Thursday, July 26, 2007

A View Out The Window

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

A Time for Ourselves

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

Earth 07.07.07

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

Letter To Media

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.