Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Rhythm of the Universe

The Rhythm of the Universe

It's been a long time since I wrote anything about Sukarno. I'm not going to start now, but allow me quote from his famous "Year of Living Dangerously" speech, delivered on Indonesia's national day, August 17, 1964:
Revolusi adalah satu proses. Puluhan tahun kadang-kadang, berjalan proses itu. Pasang-naik dan pasang-surut akan kita alami berganti-ganti; pasang-naik, pasang-surut itulah yang dinamakan iramanya Revolusi. Tetapi gelora samudera tidak berhenti, gelora samudera berjalan terus! Iramanya Revolusi! Iramanya Revolusi!

(Revolution is a process. Sometimes the process takes tens of years to unfold. It will rise and fall in turn; this rising and falling is what we call the rhythm of revolution. But the waves of the ocean do not cease, the oceans churn continuously. How rhythmic is revolution!)

Like revolutions, our lives too unfold in a rhythmic wave-like nature. Expect periods of highs and lows. The important thing is not to be too demoralized when things are feeling down. We need to stiffen our resolve, hunker down and weather those down times so that we are prepared to spring back when the first opportunity arises.

When we are at our peak, we must also realize that the experience will not last forever. Having reached the top, we feel very self-confident. This self-confidence must however be tempered with humility so that we are not carried away to the point that we forget that there's still a lot for us to learn, and that there are always higher peaks to climb.

The ability to master the rhythm of life--this up-and-down nature of everyday existence--is the key to a peaceful life. If you are at sea long enough you will get a feel for its rhythm--you know when the waves are coming by smelling the air and feeling the subtle vibrations that enter your body. You can then take better advantage of the currents to take you where you want to go.

Over time, with age, we get a better sense of rhythm. Some people have a better knack for it than others. We all know how some people are hopeless at the dance-floor simply because they have no sense of rhythm. This sense of rhythm comes from an ability to feel the music--to enter into the emotional flow of the song and to allow all bodily movements to blend gracefully into its pulsating beat.

By being sensitive to the natural rhythm of our existence, we face less friction in our daily lives.

How do we become more attuned to this rhythm?
By silencing the noise that's in our heads.

How do we silence the noise in our heads?
By listening to the sound of silence.

If you listen hard enough, you'll hear the rhythm of the universe.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Past, Present & Future

Past, Present & Future

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That's so long ago, I don't remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.

- Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz.

The present is the key to success and happiness. Our past has driven us to the point where we are at now. Like it or not, where we are all the cummulative results of our past actions. We take the responsibility for it. We accept it and we learn from it.

The future has not revealed itself yet. But what we do for the present determines how the future will unfold. Maybe we cannot control all the factors that determine the future. Luck plays a part, as does fate.

But the things that we can control make all the difference. We can determine how we react to the world. We determine what action to take in response to a situation. We become a victim of fate only when we lapse into "unconsciousness"--when we are not mindful of our words and actions.

When we do not try to consciously fill every present moment with thoughts and actions of our own choosing, our baser instincts will gladly take over--we become slaves to emotions such as anger, fear, hate or jealousy. When that happens, we are merely a conduit for the painful energies of the past to continue influencing the unfoldment of our future in a negative way.

Start with forgiveness. Forgive ourselves for our past failings and forgive those who have hurt us before. The act of forgiving is a powerful one because it frees us from the painful energies of the past. Once we are free from the contaminants of the past, every moment that presents itself becomes virgin soil, full of nourishment and promise. We can then seize it and attach a seed to it--a positive thought or action--that will bear us fruits in the future.

That's all we do: we plant the soil of the present with our seeds and Nature will do the rest. A seed does not need to plan how to grow into a tree. It merely grows into one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Weapon that Women Wield

The Weapon that Women Wield

My friend R., an American who recently returned home after living for over a decade in South East Asia, e-mailed me recently to tell me that he is struggling to adapt to life there. He wrote: "The women here are fat and always look 10 years older than their age".

I can't blame him. When he was living in Bangkok, he had two young mistresses; he was living together with one and seeing the other whenever there's opportunity. His Thai girlfriends treated him like a king, even though they knew very well that he has a wife back in the States. A decade of pampering in the East has made it difficult for R. to adapt to life back home.

It is probably a bit surprising that there's indeed such a thing called true love, which ultimately binds a man and a woman together for life. Despite his infidelities elsewhere, R. still chose to return to his wife, for deep down inside he loves her. He could have easily chosen to settle down with a younger and prettier woman in Thailand but in the end, the strength of a relationship is not based purely on lust (though it often provides a good starting point). So my friend R. obediently endures a lesser existence back in the United States of America, because true love always triumphs over lust.

Conclusion: a man will always return to the woman he loves, even though he might conveniently hop into the bed of a few others along the way.

But hold on there: from a woman's point of view, that is not good enough. And understandly so. There's no question that a man will not tolerate a bed-hopping spouse; why shouldn't men be subjected to the same moral standards too?

Maybe the male-dominated world out there gives women a raw deal. I've blogged before here and here on how easy it is for men to stray, simply because whenever and wherever there's a need, there are more than enough willing suppliers. For the male traveller in a foreign land, sometimes it is easier to find women than food.

Should women then take all this lying down (pun not intended)? Is there something that they can do against this injustice? What weapon can women wield against men?

I belong to the male species, so it is politically incorrect for me to suggest anything :-) But one can find the answer within the problem itself. I have already given a bit clue in a previous posting.

Perhaps some words of wisdom from the Marquise de Merteuil, played by Glen Close in the movie version of Dangerous Liaisons, will serve to clarify my point:
When one woman strikes at the heart of a man, she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Body Talk

Body Talk

After taking my mind off work completely on Sunday, I feel a lot fresher and energetic today. Driving around town in the stifflingly hot weather last week had taken its toll on me. I felt the first rumblings of sickness creaping into my body. So I decided that a full day of complete rest would be my remedy.

And it worked. I'm back on my feet again, ready to pounce on the world. It also got me thinking: most of us don't really spend our weekends resting. Yes, we don't go to work, but we continue occupying ourselves with a thousand and one other diversions--shopping, movies, TV or clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. These things help us take our minds off work but unfortunately they don't help to rest the body. We are continuously bombarded by a variety of sensory input which automatically triggers a series of chemical responses inside us. Hence the body remains hyperactive. If you believe what Daniel Reid says in the Tao of Detox, the body needs at least a few days of complete rest before the elimination system can start kicking in and thoroughly remove all toxins from the body.

When it comes to health, we all have our pet theories. I am inclined towards the natural healing school, though I'm not fanatical about it. I dislike taking any kind of medication, even health food in tablet form, because I have this superstition that anything that's processed will have some harmful side-effect. Of course, I am not consistent in following this principle either (I'm too fond of Indomie and Maggi Mee).

I utterly dislike soft drinks (they are too sweet) but I'm fond of alcoholic ones. I like cheap, simple and unelaborate food but sometimes I think I stretch my luck a little bit by eating at visibly dirty places by the roadside. I cannot claim that I take very good care of my body (though I try hard to spend time listening to it), but at least I cannot be blamed for spending more money on my car than on my health. You see, I don't even bother to take care of my car at all! I consider owning a car a big hassle--I would rather do without it someday.

But I suppose we all can't escape from taking care of this all-important vehicle that we own--our body. If we believe what the Theosophists and mystics say, we have a total of seven bodies that overlap one another--the astral and etheric bodies being the most well known ones. Well, someday I'll blog about these esoteric things.

For the meantime, let's be grateful that this body that we possess is still serving its purpose well. Someday, we'll have to discard it, and when we do, hopefully we'll possess enough wisdom not to be too attached to it.