Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Quiet Grace of Sattva

The Quiet Grace of Sattva

I'm keeping an extremely hectic schedule these days but hopefully this phase will pass and I'll get to blog more regularly. Finally, the city will be quiet for a week with everyone going back to their hometowns for the Chinese New Year holidays. It's a much welcome break indeed, but for me it's time to catch up on my backlog of work.

Before that I have to open my previous year's angpow! I have such a bad habit of receiving angpows every year and then forgetting about them until I realize that it's that time of the year again. I won't mind the spare cash though--saves me a trip to the ATM machine. I'm sure everyone noticed how horrendous the queues at the ATMs and banks have been these past few days. (Why do Malaysians use so much cash?)

Celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year is as usual a noisy affair. The Chinese are very rajasic people, that's why they do very well in business. The New Year celebrations is a time to stir up the yang energy so that the year kicks off with a certain expansive force. Everything has to be in loud auspicious red; every word, gesture, thought and action has to be forward-looking, energetic and progressive. The Chinese are the masters of positive thinking.

But I think the challenge that most Chinese people face is balance. In their zeal for material expansion, they sometimes forget that the yang has to be balanced with the yin. They want things to happen fast but don't realize that sometimes you need to let things find their own rhythm.

This unrelenting drive for progress is definitely the key to the material success of so many Chinese, but sometimes I feel they don't always see the price that they have to pay for it. I think a bit of Javanese ethic--alon-alon asal kelakon--would bring about a healthier balance in the Chinese soul. The Javanese mind is so full of sattva (calmness, serenity, purity), but the Chinese often mistake that for tamas (dullness and inactivity).

There are also people who think that they are full of sattva, when in fact it is just an excuse for indulging in tamas. That is something that the Chinese fear so much--perhaps too much. Inactivity = dullness, stupidity and uselessness.

The sattva state is not one of inactivity, but one of harmony and balance, of grace and wisdom.

While we immerse ourselves in the happy and boisterous celebrations to welcome the auspicious new year, let's all not forget also to welcome the quiet grace of sattva into our lives. It will certainly make all that material wealth that we strive so hard to acquire so much more meaningful.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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