Sunday, December 21, 2003

Crossing the Poverty Line

Crossing the Poverty Line

I read a translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras when I was a freshman at the university. The Yoga Sutras contain 196 aphorisms that neatly captures the science and philosophy of Yoga.

When I first read it, it was quite difficult to understand. Now after all these years, the concepts have become quite clear to me. I have an audio recording of Vivekananda's commentary on the Yoga Sutras and it is my favourite bedtime listening here in Jakarta.

During my university years, I read a lot on Eastern religions and philosophy. I think one can still detect many of these influences in my blog entries--especially those about the mind. Perhaps my rather ascetic lifestyle nowadays can also be attributed to them.

I went through many different phases in my reading life. At one time I was also deep into western philosophy. My first introduction to it was Bertrand Russell's famous book: A History of Western Philosophy--the paperback copy which I bought for 20 ringgit at the university bookstore. I remember at that time I had to decide whether to spend the money on the book or to join the class trip to Port Dickson; the choice was clear to me then.

I consider myself lucky that I don't have to make such choices now. Even though I am not rich, I can afford to buy any book that I choose to read. In fact I once told a former boss of mine that I crossed the poverty line the day I bought a book without looking at the price. The scarce commodity for me now is not money but time.

Over the years, I have resisted indulging in expensive hobbies that friends my age are into--golf, cars and diving. I remain a boring bookworm. Books are expensive but they are not as expensive as a golf club membership. I am not keen to acquire all the trappings of wealth--they bore me, utterly. As long as can afford to buy the books that I want to read, I'll always feel rich.

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