Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Dance of Existence

Let me continue my meditations on this blog. It is always a joy to find time to write, though such opportunities do not come often enough. And since it is the last day 2016, it is a good time to reflect back on the year that's passed and to look forward to the coming one.

My last blog entry talks about creativity as a natural impulse of the universe. Destruction is part of the creative process. I've always believed that a life is like a small impulse of energy injected into material form at the moment of birth. The rest is just a process of unfoldment. The music starts playing at the moment of birth, and we the dancers improvise our steps as we go along.

Sometimes we dance well; sometimes we are completely out of whack with the rhythm. As the song goes, "guilty feet have got no rhythm" (line from Careless Whisper, a tribute to George Michael who passed away 5 days ago). To live is to dance to the music of life.

We are 'guilty' every time we are not true to ourselves. To be true to ourselves is to listen to that inner music that defines us. Everyone is born with a theme--like the soundtrack of a movie and one must know one's own very well. With each passing year, these things are clearer and clearer to me. In the end, everything is an expression of this musical energy. I've alluded to this in a few previous blog posts, e.g. here and here.

People listen to music in different ways. The young tend to be attracted by rhythm and lyrics. In general, people like 'melodious' music. Any song with a catchy tune is considered good. But melody is just one aspect of music appreciation. Music can be appreciated in many different levels.

I even enjoy reading music. Yes, I find pleasure in reading sheet music, especially those of classical music. Even now, I have 2 volumes of Beethoven's piano sonatas within arms-length. Tracing the notes while listening to the music gives me a better understanding and a better appreciation of the music. There's so much beauty in music and so much wisdom to distill from it.

Our taste in music is actually a good indicator of the inner music that drives us. Which is why musical taste is so varied. Certain types of music are harmonious with our soul; other types we find somehow incongruent. That's our personality. That personality--that resistance to certain things, and obsession with others--is the karma that we have to work out within our lifetime.

Life is a series of attractions and repulsions. This dynamic drives our everyday life. A melody moves from note to note, creating tensions and resolutions by cleverly moving through notes that are harmonious and discordant. The melody finds rest in the tonic of its key. It begins and ends there. In between is a journey, like the Hero's Journey, of which our lives are expressions of.

As 2016 ends and 2017 begins, We start another journey within a journey. We try to follow the cadence of our inner music and dance to its rhythm. We are compelled to dance as long as the music is playing. And in the end we'll realize that the dance is the whole purpose of existence; and we are all dancing, with the planets, the stars and the galaxies, within this pulsing universe that is but a gigantic Cosmic Fugue.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Supernova of the Soul

During the day, drowned in the incessant flow of sensory input we tend to forget ourselves, blocking the inner light of our soul which shines through the intellectual lens of the mind. But in the wee hours of the morning, like now, the mind is especially clear. Thoughts spring up from the depths of the mind unimpeded, untainted in the glory of their inherent wisdom.

I've been awakened early by a stubborn mosquito which had been buzzing around my head, rudely dragging me out of my peaceful slumber. Unable to sleep again, and being a bit too early for me to start the day, I had wandered back to my grossly neglected blog. And in the sacred silence of early dawn, thoughts began the flow.

How remarkable is this creative wellspring that lives within us! How unceasingly resourceful it is! I've always believed that if we are capable of allowing our minds to be quiet, creative thoughts will naturally arise. It is the inherent tendency of nature to be creative and we are but its instruments of expression.

As plants grow from the their nourishing soil, bearing their beautiful bounty of fruits and flowers, so does the human mind taps into the silent womb of creativity, bringing forth all the possibilities of life. To live is to be a true and authentic vessel of this creative force. It is this vital force, this sacred flame that drives us and make us who we are.

How true we are to the commands of this inner voice depends on our willingness to listen. The world draws us out into its many distractions; we end up having our energies dissipated, serving the many false gods of the material world.

Even the simple act of procreation is but nature's gross form of creativity. Form materializes, form dissolves. And this eternal dance of the universe continues with its myriad expressions. Nature cannot help herself but to create and in the process destroys existing forms so that newer ones emerge.

Every atom in our body are forged in the cauldron of stars. Stars explode and die, spilling its rich ingredients into the interstellar space for suns and planets and ultimately biological life to emerge.

We are all stars awaiting our supernovae. What kind of creative ingredients do we cook within our soul so that our inevitable extinction become the source greater possibilities? We just need to listen. And in that listening, we hear the stirrings of a supernova.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Fuels of Happiness

Today is Chinese New Year's eve and as always it is a time for rest and reflection for me. Most people will be away for an entire week and it is a great time to catch up on work. A certain peace descends on the city after everyone has finally made their way back to their hometowns.

It is a time I relish. It feels like I have the city all to myself. I was at the mamak cafe just now, enjoying a cup of coffee and the last chapter or Orhan Pamuk's The New Life.

Why, one might ask, indulge in such a melancholic read on the eve of Chinese New Year when every household is so boisterously happy and the expansive night skies are punctuated with bursts of celebratory fireworks?

Books make me happy, even a sad one. Every book, no matter its subject or genre, makes you a better person. To finish a book, having digested and integrated every thought and idea of the author into one's system is a great feeling. It is happiness of the most sublime kind.

Reading and writing to me are sacred activities on par with prayer and meditation. These are activities of the heart and mind and one finds tremendous happiness when these inner faculties of ours are engaged in lively interplay.

The pleasure of a writer, like that of a dancer, is expression. Allowing the vibrations of the soul to seek their outward potency. The reader on the other hand, derives his pleasure from absorption and integration of ideas and emotions into his inner being. It is deeply spiritual. And spirituality is but a form of yearning that is inherent and primeval in every individual, finding outward expression in the multitude of organized religions that we see in the world today.

Let me stay clear of the subject of religion for now as I have written a lot about it in the past and still have many unexpressed thoughts on it that I might want to articulate at a latter occasion.

And let's go back to the happy occasion of Chinese New Year. The ethos of the Chinese is growth and expansion. Gloom is anathema to the spirit of Chinese New Year. To move forward with a healthy sense of confidence and optimism is how one should lead one's life. Attaining prosperity and material success in this world is the happiness one seeks as a Chinese.

Such is the positive mindset of the Chinese that drives them towards such great heights of achievements. It is on occasions like these that I reconnect with my ethnic virtues and harness its motivational power. The outer motivation is the sunshine that makes the plant rise skywards. And my spiritual quests are like the invisible reach of its roots that seek nourishment deep within the ground. Both are fuels for the happiness of the plant.