Friday, October 26, 2007

The Flower and the Seed

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

Blog Writing - A Visible Flow of the Intangible Mind

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

For The Record VI - Of Turbulent Weathers & Human Events

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

Friendship and Memories

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. 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.