No Gain=No Pain

No Gain=No Pain

The old adage of ‘No Pain, No Gain’ centres a lot on our masochistic nature to push ourselves above and beyond. This sheer bravado is dangerous as it teases the ego to carry out whatever the pain threshold, just to get a little gain. And reinforces the concept that pain is good, as much as gain is.

The thing is what can we gain out of pain, really? What have we got to prove? We are tougher? We are tougher than the other guy?

We all have our breaking point, all of us, we will break at our given level. So sometimes, we can go beyond the pain, to gain, but what we really potentially can gain is irreparable damage.

So what we gain instead is pain, long term suffering.

Aikido, as with most spiritual endeavours, is about abandonment. The relinquishing of our hold that binds us to our suffering. Hence, the opposite is true, what we gain in value, causes us no pain.

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

Think of the fats we gain, and our attempts to go to the gym to work it out and get that perfect abs. In order for us to ‘gain’ that six-pack; we ‘pain’ ourselves with 1000 sit ups, brain washing ourselves with every rep, ‘No pain, no gain!’ Who are we kidding?

We need to put the cart in front, and be mindful of what we gain, we will still gain something and we cannot help it. And those that we have gain, causes us pain, we have to shed them, before these gains turn into real pain.

So had we prevent our mouths from gaining access to that delicious donut, we will have saved our entire body the pain of losing it later.

Photo by Tim Samuel from Pexels

So the more mindful we are about what we gain, the better we get at reducing our pain.

Posted on June 13, 2012

Stop writing!

Stop writing!

I’ve had a chat with Sensei again about writing up Aikido stuffs last evening and he, this time around dissuaded me from doing so. He is not keen to have his legacy written down and does not believe in having a legacy.

Personally, he feels that that is nothing much to be written about that which is already confusing enough. He has always been saying ‘Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.’ In the same spirit with that phrase, he is asking me not to write about him. ‘Stop wasting your time,’ he says, and continues to digress about the current state of affairs. All writings can never tell the whole truth, so why bother?

According to him, he sees the current trend of logic and science as bringing about the messy state of affairs we are in. not so much for the economic rather the climate. Sensei is very much like ‘O’ sensei, and other people who have great affinity and sensitivity with mother nature, he sees the current generation of the human race as too materialistic and even if I were to write something about him, and about Aikido, it will not be of much use and understanding.

To him, there is only one Aikido founder, O’sensei and the rest is not much to write about (including himself). He is not keen to explain or discuss Aikido matters, and prefers that we practice and train diligently.

The current generation of people are misguided and has too much ego in them, what he wants for us to do is not to be the best, or strive for the best, simply to live and enjoy what we are doing.

The chat was very profound and I am indeed very grateful for having this chat with him. He’d freed me from the burden I created for myself. If I have to undertake writing about him and his Aikido, the onus is on me to reproduce his words and teachings in full fidelity. He remarked that I cannot even do my technique right, how am I supposed to understand him? and what he has come to understood? As much as I would like to argue on that, he is quite firm on it.

He has his reasons, and I can understand why. He is not a person who sees a big ‘ME’ in the ‘Harry sensei’. He is not overly attached to himself, and sees himself merely as a medium for Aikido to flourish. He sees himself very much like a messenger, simply carrying a message, irrespective and carefree about the immense ‘value’ that is attached to that message. Its like delivering a diamond, knowing that it is immensely precious, and yet not caught up by the preciousness of the item.

He also frees me from his teachings and encourages me to look at the far larger picture. and the best part is he is asking me to see the world with my own eyes, not with his.

Posted on August 4, 2011

Who’s your Guardian Angel?

Who’s your Guardian Angel?
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

O Sensei has a guardian spirit, ‘Sarutahiko O-Kami’, also known as the Guardian Deity of Aikido.


Makes me wonder, who is my guardian angel, deity, facilitating my sixth sense, third eye?

So who’s your guardian angel, do you have one, know one to begin with? And how does having one or not having helped/ impeded you in your life and spiritual growth?

Posted on July 28, 2010

The Earth was here first

The Earth was here first

The irony is that every time humans tries to better something on Earth, we seem to screw up more things. The more we try to better something, the worse something else becomes. We fixed what is broken, by breaking other parts which was not broken in the first place. the more we try, the worse it becomes, and it will be a long time coming before we realize that in full stupidity.

Hey, look over here, The Earth was here First.

Whatever we do, or don’t do, or overdoing, or ain’t doing enough, will not change the reality that the Earth exist first, long before you, me, our forefather, and before there was a country, before there was global warming.

As much truth as there is to us saving our world for our children and the children’s children, the reality is that we are all here living for ourselves. We are not saving anything for anyone else, but ourselves. So we can take care of us, the Earth will take care of itself, it has been and always will be for such a long time ago and will be for a long time to come.

And even if you spend your entire life saving the Earth, which say, a generous 60 years of adult living, what can we achieved compare to what the Earth has achieved over billions of years and will continue to achieve long after we are dead? So don’t kid yourself, saying that you can save the earth by recycling a couple of plastic bottles and tin cans.

And stop pretending to save the animals, save the sharks. Save the ecosystem, save the forest. and all those wonderful things out there to be saved. We simply cannot save anything else other than ourselves. And no matter what we do, species will go extinct, nothing lasts forever, evolution makes sure of that. Some species will die, some will thrive, too bad, no amount of saving will save anything else other than our own skin.

Photo by Marc Pell on Unsplash

So who are we then? We are all visitors to this great amusement park called Earth, so don’t waste you time trying to fix what was ‘wrong’, just hang around, enjoy the rides and shows, and please remember to take out YOUR trash when you leave the park.

Posted on September 24, 2012

The Path Leading to the Summit

The Path Leading to the Summit

We often use mountains as metaphors as our quest for human excellence and the pursuit of    self actualization. Maslow’s theory of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs)  already presents our needs in a pyramid, pitching the highest ideal as ‘self actualization’. As the triangle looked like a mountain, we can symbolically determine it as a kind of a challenge, a climb.

Similarly, in martial arts, we often diplomatically says, ‘there are many ways to reach the summit.’ which loosely means, we can train hard in Aikido, Karate, Kendo, and the ultimate aim is ‘satori’ (悟り), or enlightenment.

Surely it is an ideal pursuit, worthy of our effort. there is a caveat, i realised recently.

Are we climbing the metaphorical mountain, or are we building our own tower of knowledge instead?

One is the land, the other is the map to the land.

We are all living in a world full of information and knowledge, and yet, wisdom, is still lacking. We all study so hard, to earn our degrees, learned so much to know all that we can know, and yet, we get pissed off by the slightest provocation.

I’m not discounting that building a tower of knowledge. It take arduous effort, and one can professed an in-depth knowing of the hows and whys of a discipline, we become the proverbial expert, but that does not lead us up the mountain. We become experts, but we fail to become a master. More so, we are becoming more isolated by all our knowing, we know this we know that, so that is no more for us to venture for, since we already know what we know, if we don’t know something, we know where to go and find the answers. And hence, we build another layer on our tower of knowledge.

Knowledge does not lead us to the summit. Knowledge tells us, we can look out of our tower window, and gaze at the summit. No matter how high we build our tower, we cannot reach the highs of the summit, on the contrary, the high we build our tower, the more precarious it become, and it will topple in eventuality.

Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash

So in our modern world, all of us is in a tower. I can see that in the trains, in my work. Everyone knows a little about what they know, and makes a big deal out of it. People gaze into their iPhone and computer screens and tippity tap on their keyboards (like what i am doing now) and think we know all there is to know about the summit. But all we know about the summit, is not the summit. It is the map, not the land. We think we know about people, we learn about people, and yet we suck at socialising. We are virtually losing our ability to connect with each other, since we are more interested in connecting with the net, with the system, with the apps.

We need to come down from our ivory tower, walk the land. Walk with one another, and head for the summit, know the terrain, the soil, the animals, touch and feel them. Allow them to touch and feel us back. Because true knowledge is not in the knowing, it is in the doing.

Posted on December 28, 2011

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Dear Boys,

This 39th birthday I truly understand the meaning of family. It is simply because I felt a sense of abandonment from my mom and brother. I heard from my mother’s sister, my aunt, that my mother and elder brother has moved, she invited her sister to her house for some kind of house warming but she didn’t inform me. Given the kind of relationship I have with my brother, I can understand why she didn’t invite me, at the very least, tell me where they’ve moved to.

That is quite a psychological reality check for me, I guess I should have seen it coming, things hadn’t been the warmest between me and my brother and mother, but I still would think of them as family. The signs are there when I visited them one Chinese New Year and me at the gate, roused my brother from his slumber, only to hear him said, ‘Brother? I don’t have a brother.’ That was when I greeted him and asked him where is mum, and I’m his brother!

So now they’ve move, and without an address the cut is complete, and absolute. Perhaps is better this way, boys, I don’t know, things are always happening in future tense that leave us with little preparation in the present. The reality is that, I felt the loneliness in a deep and profound way.

So this birthday, it was a very small family affair, just your mum, and the 2 of you, there’s really no one else left who will remember my birthday, not to mention the mere celebrating the day. When I die, if anytime sooner, my wife will have her parents and little brother to remember her birth and celebrate with her, she has the both of you, that kind of birthday song, would sound a little louder.

For me, this 39th birthday for me, looking at the 3 of you, singing the song, made me really, really wish, and I want to hold true to that wish, ‘I wish that the 3 of you, sitting before me, will be by my side for as long as I live

Posted February 23, 2015

Stop at Success

Stop at Success

Dear Sons,

Your mum baked butter cakes yesterday. Twice.

For the first round, the 2 of you tried to help in the process, In measurements and cutting of the butter, it was good to have involved the 2 of you, even though you boys monkeyed around more than being helpful.

The cake wasn’t very well made, it rise in the beginning but the cake collapsed towards the later part of its time in the oven. Of course your mum, was dejected, it was a failure. The texture of the cake was too light, and it felled apart when we cut it and when we ate it, even thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t a ‘cake’.

I saw the opportunity and told her “Let’s bake another one!” I wanted to drive this point home, Do not stop at failure, stop only when you are successful. Later that afternoon, I went out and bought another bunch of ingredients and we tried at it again, and this time the cake turned out alright.

You see, boys, the difference is that if we stop at the first bake, what would have locked into our minds? The end process of it was ‘failure’. And if we do not correct that immediately, the feeling, the mood and the psyche of having failed at baking, would have sunken in, gotten locked into our sub consciousness, and the next time we bake, may be next week, next month, we will go to our sub conscious file and access the last time we tried, which was locked in ‘failure’. What a way to starting making something as beautiful and delicious as a cake! Will our next attempt fail again? I don’t know, but I’d rather start a new endeavor , with a past history and memory of success rather than having a last records of failure.

We also did something different the second time we bake, we wrote down every bit of the process, step by step. For the second time around, you boys were playing in the living room and had no part in the baking process, maybe the absence of you 2 monkeys would help in your mum’s concentration as well?

We wrote down every writable details of the baking, so that if we fail, again, we will know, more than less, how we can adjust our process.

The second time was a success!

And what a difference it made for your mum! From dejected, deflated talk of failure in baking the first round, she is now beaming with joy knowing that the second bake was a success. This is what I want to have locked into her psyche, that she can bake and baking is a process of success. And with the formula on hand, now she can bake and repeat the same success.

So boys, when you do fail in future, quickly dust yourself off and try again. Do not stop, never stop until you have successfully achieve your given tasks. Failure and success is nothing more than a state of mind, be careful at which state of mind you decide to take a rest, for it will affect you and your next course of action. so when you fail, do not stop, keep going, stop only when you are successful.

Posted August 12, 2013