Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Spiritual By-Products

Spiritual By-Products

Chinese New Year celebrations are always noisy and boisterous. The Chinese like things to be loud, grand and full of gaiety. Not a hint of gloom or doom is to be admitted during the festivities.

The Chinese would wish each other good fortune, good luck, great prosperity and wealth--never peace of mind or wisdom. To the Chinese, those things would come after one has made one's fortune. Money will buy you a secure future (= peace of mind) and allow you to afford a very good education (= wisdom). The Chinese are such successful emissaries of materialism because they are hardworking, practical and thrifty. These are all very good qualities that one should emulate. It is a very simple and effective formula for worldly success.

Being Chinese, I naturally would have these qualities in my "kernel". However I personally find the promise of material success insufficient motivation for me to wake up every morning with a great sense of purpose and enthusiasm. To me, anyone who is ambitious and willing to work hard will definitely gain some measure of material success. In a way, it is not too difficult.

Material success do provide us some comfort in life and one should never shy away from the challenge. However to me the greater challenge in life is to achieve worldly success without compromising one's peace of mind and to be able to achieve that as a by-product of one's quest for knowledge and wisdom.

Through education, we learn to turn information into knowledge; and by applying knowledge usefully in the world, we inevitably gain material wealth. It is a given. We fail only when when we are lazy, sloppy and allow ourselves to be sidetracked by a thousand and one distractions.

Wisdom arises when knowledge is distilled for its essence and absorbed into our system. When we have internalized knowledge as such, we no longer have to consciously think whenever we act--we can "feel" what is right everytime. That is wisdom and it is wisdom that brings us closer to of God.

Everything that I pursue in life: my love for the arts, my passion for science, my commitment to work, my interest in people and places are all driven by a quest that is fundamentally spiritual in nature. It is this spiritual quest that makes me spring with enthusiasm up from bed every morning. It is the spirit that yearns, it is the spirit that drives, it is the spirit that ultimately triumphs. The rest are just by-products.

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