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.

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