Friday, September 16, 2005

Total Living

Total Living

Another trip to Serendib awaits me. It's one week of sheer hardwork but I look forward to it as an opportunity for me to regain my mental fitness in real-life "match situations".

I've always been asked by people as to how I keep up with the rapid developments in the IT industry. Most IT professionals will tell you that it's a very tough thing to do. After a while they just "give up" or decide to just focus on a very narrow area of the subject.

I would love to do so too but unfortunately my natural instincts rebel against it. Furthermore, doing the kind of work that I do, I simply do not have the luxury to be a specialist in any area. So I've resigned myself to adopt a "total football" philosophy--one has to be willing to play the roles of a defender, mildfielder and attacker when the situation demands it in a match.

Such a role is also reasonably interesting for me because I don't get bored being stuck in one narrow area of specialty. I try my best to acquire sufficient foundation knowledge at least to be able to converse intelligently with any network engineer, systems administrator, storage engineer, database administrator, application developer or IT business manager that I meet during the course of a typical consulting engagment. Often I learn a lot simply from my conversations with them; I get to know what are the areas of importance in their respective fields and I follow up with research on those areas that I'm unfamiliar with.

I always do my homework before every consulting engagement. A good football coach will always ensure that his team has a well thought out game plan before every football match. One must understand the playing style of one's opponent and anticipate their every possible move. Ideally nothing should take you by surprise, but if surprises do come up, you'll know how to tackle them based on some clearly defined principles and strategies.

It's important for the consultant to read every signal coming from the client, to digest all relevant facts related to the problem at hand and never to leave any stones unturned. The only way to ensure quality delivery of one's work is to over-exceed the client's expectations.

I believe one should always stretch oneself in any kind of endeavour. If you don't you'll never grow. I've said it many times before: to learn and to grow is what we all live for. How can one live life to the fullest if one does not expand mentally and spiritually? Keep your waistline in check but let your mind and spirit expand continuously. That is what I call Total Living.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Creative Anger

Creative Anger

"Beaneath every experience of anger is a huge body of emotional experience"

- The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukav & Linda Francis
When we are consumed by anger we often act without regard for the consequences of our actions. How does one control one's anger? No, the question should be: How does one prevent anger from arising in first place?

No wave can surge above the surface of the sea without a concentrated movement of water beneath it. Anger is merely the tip of the emotional iceberg, exposing deep layers of fear and pain. The angry man may sometimes appear to be extremely brave and bold but the fact is, he is acting from an underlying weakness. An angry man can be defeated easily because he is often too blind to see his own weaknesses.

Anger can be a seductive thing because it gives us a momentary surge of fearlessness--the effect is almost like a drug. And it can be very addictive. We feel righteous and strong. But the feeling passes away very quickly, and one recovers from the experience full of regret and shame.

We see injustice around us all the time. Injustice can give rise to anger. However reacting to injustice out of anger is not the wisest thing to do. Of course, it is our duty to fight injustice, but certainly not at the expense of anger. Being human, anger will often arise within us spontaneously. Just let it rise and subside but do not feed on it. Feel its wave-like motion--rising, peaking, falling. And then when it is gone, analyze why it arose in first place.

Why does the situation provoke such anger in you? What fear does it stir inside you? Understand that fear. And then act with the full knowledge of that fear, without judgement or malice. That's how we learn from anger.

All of us like to think of ourselves as gentle creatures, incapable of drastic acts of violence. We'll never commit the kind of violent acts that we often associate with other lesser human beings. Think again. If you are capable of anger, you are definitely capable of violence. Every spark of fire has the potential to turn into a raging inferno under the right conditions. Similarly, under the right set of circumstances, our anger can also ignite into violence. Anger and violence reside in the same continuum--they are just opposite ends of the spectrum.

An angry man has a lot of energy. But unfortunately he is not using his energy in the most efficient manner. So often, this energy is used to destroy. If one is capable of so much anger, one is definitely capable of harnessing the same energy to create. Anger can be transformed into a beautiful act of creation.

When anger arises next time, ask yourself: Why am I reacting this way? What fear does it stir inside me? Why do I have this fear in first place? How can I overcome this fear? Can I use this anger that has arisen in a creative manner?

Harness this surge of energy called anger. Act creatively.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Spirit and the Flesh

The Spirit and the Flesh

Seeker: Teach me the way to liberation
Zen Master: Who binds you?
Seeker: No one binds me
Zen Master: Then why seek liberation?
In all spiritual endeavours, the greatest enemy is ourself. It is not the environment or the circumstances of our lives that we need to conquer, it is the our own mind, our own thinking that we need to overcome.

Like what the Zen Master was trying to tell the seeker, it is we ourselves who stand in the way to enlightenment or liberation. We think that it is something "out there" to be sought, like how we chase after worldly success; when in fact perfection is already there within us. Spiritual liberation is not a process of "accumulation" but one of "shedding" or "uncovering".

You see, deep down inside, the soul is perfect. We fail to see our own perfection because we are drowned in noise--the noise in our mind, the noise of our desires and the noise of the external senses that seek to pull us into a thousand and one different directions. We never bother to listen to the Sound of Silence that emanates from inside.

It is ironic that the greatest spiritual challenge that we face is not one that requires great external exertion but instead it demands us to "let go". It is a process of letting go of our attachment to the world of the senses, and allowing the soul to return to its source.

My my, the week is just beginning, I really shouldn't be indulging in so much mystical mumbo jumbo!

But then again, this seems to be my natural tendency these days--to view everything from a spiritual perspective. While I'm deeply mired everyday in worldly pursuits, I'm always conscious of my true quest within, which is spiritual in nature.

It is not an easy task balancing the material with the spiritual. To completely ignore the spiritual is to put oneself under enormous risk. We could so easily lose our bearings if we are not careful.

Ideally, it is the spirit within that guides our actions, the body merely executes. The body is of no less importance because it is the divine temple which houses the soul and the vehicle that allows the soul to interact with the world. Without it, the soul cannot dissolve the residual karma that binds it to the world. So take care of the body, like how we would take care of our house or car.

Which is also why I need to finish this posting now--my body needs rest! I'll have to wake up very early tomorrow to drive to the city for a conference. Have a good week ahead, everyone. Let's all nourish the spirit and learn to command the flesh!