Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Answers Within

The Answers Within

I know Chinese New Year is sometime this week but I didn't realize that tomorrow is already New Year's eve. These public holidays always catch me by surprise, as I don't bother to keep track of them.

I'm back to the rather depressing heat and humidity of KL but I look forward to the light traffic in the city during the holidays. It's unlikely that I will go anywhere as I'll have to be online most of the time, working remotely on a proposal with some partners.

Chinese New Year is a happy time for kids; when I was younger, I used to look forward to it. It was a time for reunion with old friends back in my hometown. But having shifted to KL for so many years now, I don't even bother to go back to my hometown anymore.

Come to think of it, all my male friends back in my hometown are already married. They are all preoccupied with raising kids, paying the mortgage and growing fat. Physically all of us might have changed a lot, but whenever we meet, we realize how little we have actually changed inside. We still talk and joke like young schoolkids.

We all choose our individual paths in life. Most would choose the path of the householder--raising a family and building a beautiful home. I would think that is a good way to work out one's karma if one does it out of a sincere desire to love and share. But many chose the path out of fear: of peer pressure, old-age and loneliness.

Peer pressure comes from giving too much weight to what others think about you. No one knows you better than yourself, and what's right for you. So your own opinion should carry more weight than others. Listen more to yourself and just imagine you are living in the Land of the Blind. You determine your own happiness and sorrow, not others.

Physically, we all see our youth fading with each passing year. Women worry that they will not be attractive to men anymore. Men worry about losing their hair and virility. But life is more than the physical layer. Physical decay is an inevitability; I don't want to bring up the Second Law of Thermodynamics again but to try to cling on to something that's beyond our control is a certain cause of sorrow. Botox injections and cosmetic surgery will delay things for a while but at some point we have the accept the inevitable--like how we all have to accept death. Acceptance is something so simple yet so hard to do. Acceptance is a spiritual skill that one has to master sooner or later--it is the key to inner happiness and contentment.

Loneliness is something I've written a lot about. We are lonely because our biological instincts drive us to seek partners of the opposite sex and also because emotionally and intellectually we yearn to connect to others, to feel a sense of belonging to the wider community. There's a void inside if we don't fulfill those needs. But we must also realize that the void exists in four layers. Meeting the right partner will help fill the bottom three layers to a certain extent. But the ultimate emptiness--the spiritual void--will need to be filled, not by someone else but by yourself, from within.

We live our lives seeking approval, friendship and love from the external world--a world which changes, decays, transforms and is ultimately impermanent. Sometimes, we need to look inside, for the answer to all our unhappiness often lies within.

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