Call Me By My True Name

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Deformity of Information

I am at the foot of a bridge, more ready than ever to cross, less likely to turn back. Yet there is doubt, fear of what I would leave behind.

A few months ago I read an article regarding how Obama could not be the great president that America needed. In times of crisis, the world needs a great leader. But if we study the history of great leaders in times of crisis and change, is Obama too sane to be that great leader? If history is any indication, then perhaps the work of Ghaemi would prove to be sound – that, great leaders with a touch of mental illness tend to be more preferable. Specifically, he believes that mental illness confers its sufferer with 4 traits that are critically useful in times of change: realism, empathy, creativity and resilience.

In his first book: A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness, Harvard Professor Ghaemi has made this study more compelling when he exposes the profile of such people: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ted Turner, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to him mentally sane people tend to be more trusting, less paranoid, and overly optimistic.

“Mentally healthy leaders also tend to be less creative (think Richard Nixon) and less emphatic (think George W. Bush). By contrast, few would deny that Gandhi and King were among the most creative and emphatic leaders in the history of the modern world.”

Mentally unhealthy leaders, I think, tend to take in information very differently, to suit their own depressive realism. But these information do more good to mentally ill leaders than the mentally sane, because the mentally healthy leaders would be too sane, too equal to be able to do anything.

Information makes the sane more vulnerable, more oppressed, and chained. It deforms us more than it informs.

Mental illness is a gift, I think, when one develops it from first being mentally healthy. I don’t see it as an illness – perhaps in this way I am slightly ill myself.

Should I take from others who can take from others, and give to others who cannot take? Should I disregard situations, and harden this humanely soft spot that lies in the fabrics of my being?

I’d be cruel, and relentless at times. Yet I would be loving, emphatic, kind. I would be all that my soul is.

And I would sleep each night feeding myself with the illusion that we cannot help everyone yet, and that if we stayed behind to be with them because we are like them and we want to help and protect, then we too would be food. That life never give us what we cannot fix. That taking from those who can take is all right because it could teach them something, possibly. Life is, after all, easier to learn through hardship.

Society lives on the belief that we can live solely on doing good. But when the time comes, when we must carry a gun and shoot our neighbor to save our child – our neighbor who have played his role so righteously, caringly, who has fed, and loved and lived for those around him. Can you accept that?

So I am at that bridge. I seek opinions but I will give no voice. If I crossed over, to live life with little regards for anyone but my own beliefs and virtues, to depend solely on faith on my humanity to guide me.. would that be all right, mother? Father?

What would I be?

Note: I was reminded of the need for a decision to this from a set of lyrics my friend posted from a song my mother loved, and I have kept this hidden away in the corners of my mind for too long.

The more we take, the less we become.

Influence is immoral

English subject in Secondary School has taught me to begin writing with extremely catchy statements, and Primary School told me to stop starting with ‘One day’ or ‘Once upon a time’ which has left me in a rut quite often while being in between but here it is:

My soul is a prostitute.

It is a prostitute because influence is immoral. To influence a person is to give (I use give to support my claims that my soul is being a prostitute. Truthfully you can use ‘show’) that person your own soul. And if you’ve successfully sold your soul, then you have influenced his mind. Because you have disrupted him from his own natural thoughts, and his thoughts are not his, but essentially yours – you prostitute.

We influence with our voice, our expression, our minds, and not with our words. Great minds who have written books have expressed their beauty in words; readers have the choice to read and retain without the existence or the presence of the writer to influence them – which eliminates reading as a form of submitting yourselves to the influence of others. It allows you to think for yourself.

And for all these reason, to influence is to be immoral. (concept stolen from The Picture of Dorian Gray)

But my purpose for the post is not to tell y’all how cool I am for reading books; influencing is detrimental if you are not ready for it.

A common human trait (largely found in Singapore) is the need to seek attention and reinforcers for your intellectual claims. (or bodily lumps claim for guys who go to the gym to work on their figure)

But to influence others with your self-reinforcing claims when you have yet to develop completely tends to rob you off your focus: you would find men who would largely support your claim because you have done something they haven’t, and the more weirdly courageous it is, the more encouraged you become. Sometimes, you fall short from your true purpose simply because it is incredible enough to be where you are.

But to not do so is more challenging. It is easy to live after worldy opinions and it is also easy to live in solitude, but the great person is (s)he who maintains a solitary mind in the presence of society. That’s not quite an easy task to achieve.

So to everyone who have been selling their souls before it’s complete, shame on you, pros******. Look at how much of people’s lives you have destroyed.

“What the bananas have we been doing?”

I once quoted the words from the Road Less Traveled, mentioning the four different levels of spirituality. It has suddenly occured to me why Jesus or Einstein couldn’t convince everyone: they were not on the same ‘next’ level as everyone else.

If a person who is unaware and completely ignorant were to meet a passionate and knowledgeable person of a certain subject, would he have the means to convince and make aware?

Not quite. See, the knowledgeable person is far beyond the unaware and ignorant stage. The passionate being would begin trying to convince the uninterested and unaware person about how beautiful his passion is, how it’s worthwhile, and how he should do the same: join the cause, make worth your own time, do something meaningful. But what good does that do; he is simply unmoved, uninterested, and sees no value and belief in you or your passion.

That is why Jesus and Einstein had a hard time proving to people that they were great men.

The unmotivated non-believer can only be convinced by the person in the next level – that is, the unmotivated believer. He is not yet ready to be convinced by the motivated believer because there is no similarity, no connections left. The father says to the son, ‘I’ve been there, I was once a boy.’ but he is no longer a boy. His mind and body has taken a new shape, and it has covered the track from the old one because it can only have one track. But a teenager who says, ‘I am still a boy, and I am learning to be a man.’ can perhaps have a better chance at making the son want to be a man as well.

Similarly, a person who has at all NO interest in wildlife cannot be convinced of it’s beauty by a wildlife enthusiast. Therefore it seems that while the highest stage is the only worthy stage to us, we cannot take any shortcuts. Jesus could convince those who are looking for spirituality; Einstein could convince all faith-seeking science enthusiasts who are looking for wisdom and answers, but they cannot convince Hitler. Most of our current movements and NGOs are, in this manner, not progressing. The NGOs and the movements are at, say, stage 3. They are fully capable of pulling people into stage 3 from stage 2 – that is, interested and unaware people. But to advance into the next stage takes a touch of self genius and immense encouragement, and a pull by one who is there already would most definitely help. How does an individual NGO advance to the next stage on a big scale? It is impossible to solve a problem with the same mind that found it, and most of the key individuals in all movements concern themselves with spreading awareness, hoping that numbers and masses would *probably* bring about a bright new mind that is capable of bringing them up a level. Bringing awareness should not be the primary focus but this is the main focus of all movements. You cannot have half a mind committed to bringing awareness and another half committed to making progress: it is simply a waste of effort. Yet, we see it as progress when we achieve much in making awareness as well as new discoveries and ways for preservation. And we are getting nowhere closer towards goal that we desperately need because we are half-committed. So who exactly is working upwards? Or are we all still just sitting and waiting like we were a decade ago?

Edit: Getting people to go to talks isn’t considered advancing because the fact that they’re there is a truth that they’ve been interested but unaware, and you have simply made them aware. You are not ‘getting more people’, you are simply doing a head count.

80% of the earth’s destruction have been done my men, reinforced by governments or leaders who say ‘Yes, this is the way, as we know the way so let us lead.’

Now we are left with 20% (figuratively) and the leaders say, ‘Hey, we ought to stop. Let’s stop.’ And they wash their hands off the problem, leaving and supporting the minority of enthusiasts to find solutions and ideas with no means or power to enforce it. The leaders have enforced their reign, and have been exemplary in their roles that they influence and they trigger change. They’ve shown red to a bull that is as reluctant to stop as you are to killing yourself without purpose. How much can these people do? Are they actually finding a solution, or just prolonging life and delaying destruction? We have found solutions to most of our problems but we cannot find the solution to THE problem.

There is no head.

There is no one to pull us to the next level.

And we are all catching fishes through our publicity and awareness campaign, hoping to pull into our boats a golden fish to make us all rich and happy. No one wants to be that fish; it’s quite impossible because we have submitted ourselves to our society that gives you your value and entitlement, and they have done so very well. No one can.

The urgency in these matters have inspired me strongly to push forward more, but I would like someone with me. The members of the Singapore Zeitgeist movement is a group whose direction I love very much, but I just know that we won’t get far in our current state.

Now, I need to look for people from the different stage and to be able to identify and manipulate my way through the stages, but aside from that, I have another cause carved into my soul.

What exactly are you doing to solve this?

To rephrase (from understanding, it is not at all accurate) Antonis from the Zeitgeist Movement, “Years ago I was taught to have hope, that change would happen, that the world would be better and people more beautiful. Here I am years later, seeing that same hope being taught to the mini people. There has been no change. What the bananas have we been doing?”

(Antonis provided me with a different expression of how we may look like we are progressing when we are actually not, in his views towards the conservation movements.)