Thursday, December 31, 2015

Many New Days maketh a New Year

As always, a blog post before the year ends. A brief moment of reflection, a breather and a respite, an opportunity to reconstitute myself to face the challenges of another year.

How often do we look towards a new year with hope and optimism. We make resolutions and vow to be a better person. We dive gloriously into the new year, only to be sucked into its thick currents of turmoil and challenges and then emerge at the end of it, panting and bruised. We take a deep breath, and the whole cycle repeats again.

I've always had this resolve to be a better person today compared to who I was yesterday. Every day brings fresh experiences to us which shapes us closer to perfection. That is the paradigm that I choose to view life. Life is a gymnasium for the perfection of the soul.

A new day to me is more significant than a new year. We should be celebrating New Days everyday, so that we don't have to wait a whole year before we seriously reexamine ourselves again. What a miracle it is to wake up every morning and to find that we are still alive!

There's actually no guarantee that we'll be able to regain control of our mind and body again once we succumb to sleep. Yet we conduct our daily affairs, making appointments and such with the confidence that we'll wake up the next day alive. How strange it is!

Every night we die and are reborn again the following morning. So be grateful for the "reincarnation" that is granted us everyday. There is no reason why we cannot wake up and do better than we did the day before. We already have the lessons of yesterday fully digested and we wake up with the accumulated wisdom of an entire life behind us.

The New Year is nothing but a fresh series of New Days. If we falter for one day, we can pick ourselves up again and continue afresh. Dive into the New Year like you always do: with hope, with joy, with wonder and optimism. But remember: take it a day at a time. And celebrate each New Day like how you would this New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Edge of Epiphany

"This is the very perfection of man: to find out his own imperfections" - St Augustine

For a while I've been wanting to write. There have been too many things hovering in my mind and I want to put them into words so that I may transcend their apparent confusion and see them in the light of understanding. Furthermore, it is year-end and Christmas day--usually the time where I take stock of things, where I am now and where I will I be heading.

Or perhaps I'm just looking for an opportunity to rant. There have been things that disturbed me lately and I'd like to get them off my chest. As I write this, Christmas fireworks are going off in the night, redolent of many forgotten festivities of my childhood years.

I write these words here in my hometown--the house where I grew up in. The same table where I sat, poring over interminable pages of tedious textbooks, in preparation for many a dreaded exams.

I've come a long way since, and yet strangely, I'm kind of back to where I began. I was a boy, seeking the Truth. I am now a man with a glimpse of the Truth--like the astronaut Bowman of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as he make the final descend into the mysterious alien Monolith ("My God, it's full of stars!").

All of my life's pursuits--the science, the history, the travels and my entrepreneurial quests, are but attempts to grasp the Eternal Mystery. Everything I do has been, at its core, spiritual in nature. That is the inescapable conclusion that I've come to realize.

I see around me people who have found their calling in the religion of their choice. They have their moments of epiphany and then latch on to what they believe is the Ultimate Answer, one which gives them a purpose and a compass for living. Each believe that they are on the right path, and sometimes exclusively so.

My life's experiences have taught me that at every point in your life, you are like a mountaineer who has scaled what you think is the highest pinnacle, only to find, beyond it, are peaks much higher, with promises of even grander views.

Religion is like that. It provides you with the paths, the tracks, the ropes and harnesses to secure you up the mountaintop. You are promised great views from that vantage points, vistas that will bring tears of ecstasy to your eyes. And yes they often do. The trouble is, they tend to make you stay rooted to the very spot. You look down and yell at the people below you: "Over here, over here!". The view here is stunning. Follow my path; use this track; avoid those pitfalls.

Little do you know, that the journey has only just begun. How little have you seen. How easily deceived you have been with the little epiphanies that you've managed to stumble upon--like an astronomer who raves on the grandeur of the solar system without realizing the greater immensity of stars, galaxies and universes out there.

How important should religion be? As important as the scaffolding that enables a skyscraper to be built. The end-goal is the skyscraper, not the scaffolding. One must not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

What religion should teach us is humility. Humility in the face of awe. Humility in the light of insight. The humility to admit that we don't know more than the next person before us. The idolater is no better or no worse than the one who prostates himself before an invisible Almighty.

We are ultimately, all fellow travellers on the spiritual path. There are still many twists and turns on the path ahead. And when you reach the edge of an apparent epiphany, be extra careful: it could be a very slippery slope.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reflections on Simplicity

As always, Chinese New Year's Eve is a great time for me to pause and reflect on things. The city streets are so quiet today. It is great to be left alone in the city, far away from the madness of small towns and kampungs during this time of festive madness.

The quietness of the city and the look of joy on everyone's faces makes one feel very relaxed and at ease. I spent the day in the office, troubleshooting some technical problems. One makes great headway when working in such a relaxed atmosphere. The best time to enjoy a holiday is the day before it actually begins: the anticipation of freedom, the guilt and pleasure of slowing down coupled with a work-can-wait attitude is as close to real happiness as one can get.

I've been going to bed and waking up early lately. I like life that way: to keep life simple and strip things to their bare essentials. You need to start with simplicity always. Simplicity is the key for life has a way of getting more and more complicated over time.

To simplify is to keep track of one's original goals. Life diverts and distracts us from our real intentions. Time entangles us in its many obsessions. Complexity is the devil that lurks in every corner. Complexity kills.

To be simple is to live--to taste life in its rawness, in its most elemental form. Naked came I into this world, and of course, naked must I go out. The naked simplicity that is life, brings out our true nature. So much of life is avoidance: of pain, of fears and of uncertainty. To acknowledge simplicity is to do our best and let nature take its course.

Simple isn't it? We'll see. Let that proverbial happy and prosperous new year begin!