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

No off-days

No off-days

Garfield hate Mondays, just like many of us.  and when we reach TGIF, we all know what that means.

We all also know what it means when the holidays are here, birthdays, anniversaries, and all those special days.

Erm, wait…

Excellence and quality has no desire for a holiday. If you are good, you are good 365/24/7. There is simply no day offs for quality. If you think your life suck and you want the weekend to come quickly so that you can escape the weekday doldrums, then well, you are in for a jolly fool of a time.

I used to think that there is a ‘plateau effect’ in our learning curve. Sometimes when I was training, I will hit this feeling of flat-line, as if my learning is not getting anywhere. Or things seem to be turning into ‘SOS’, Same Old Shit’ mentality.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

There is no such thing as a plateau, flat line or whatever you call that. There is simply no off-days, if you are good, you will continue to be good, whether you like it or not. If you are bad, and you continue to train diligently, you will become good, at something you used to be bad at.

Hell, even if you are piss poor lousy with something, there is no off-days too! So since there is no off-days whatsoever, good or bad, keep going at it, like it or not. do not give yourself, the delusion of an ‘off-day’. No one has a holiday, even when you are on a holiday, you will continue to do what you are doing, your life never takes a day off. you will continue to carry yourself to wherever you are going, wherever you are heading to, so don’t lie to yourself, and give yourself a break. there is no such thing.

You only rest, truly rest, when you are  dead. As long as you are alive, continue to live, work on your bad, better your good.

Posted on November 13, 2012

The Truth is out there

The Truth is out there

Singapore is gripped by elections fever. There is so much being said and said about the sayings that it can get annoying at times. Thankfully, the politicians here are still rather civil and stick with war of words, verbal accusations, telling lies after lies, there are no political assassinations, overt political blackmails, and other more severe and darker forms of politics.

There is one thing that is going on though, the ‘Truth’. Well, it’s commonly known that truth is very different from facts. and what politicians like to do is merge the two so as to make facts and truths favors them more than it favors their opponent.

We, the general public, the very folks these politicians are trying to romance will be swayed here, there everywhere, by the truths and facts as spoken by politicians. Well, my personal opinion is that there is no honest politicians there as much as there are still Tasmanian Tigers roaming around in Tasmania.

So it interests me by certain comments and remarks posted in Facebook or some other public domain by politicians and common folks alike, cussing or clamoring the deeds and duties done and discharged for and by politicians. Politics is a dirty and complex domain, and it takes more than us layperson to understand and make sense of the underlying agendas these politicians have. Surely it takes more than fervent and fiery rhetoric for a person to fully understand the effects of politics on the general public.

Admittedly I am politically ‘atheistic’, if I may borrow the term, as I know that politics are well out of reach of my grey matter. All my training and orientations align me to the path of least resistance. the easiest of the easy way out. I can never work hard for the people, and I can never get people to vote for me, I’m not smart, neither am I handsome, so I can never win the popularity race to begin with. My policies and ideals mattered only to me and me alone. I am out to make my own life good, irrespective of the political climate. if the policy works against me, I’d find another way around it, or find another method. So it doesn’t matter who I vote for, I vote for my own effectiveness and ingenuity. The choice I make is the true spirit of democracy, if there is ever such a thing.

Plainly, politicians are nothing more than glorified washing machine sales people, and liars to the boot, it doesn’t matter which ‘brand’ they peddle, as long as they cannot get to the truths, there are a level of lying applied. I am as good a liar as any, so I don’t need to lie to myself by voting for a bunch of liars.

More fundamentally, I know for sure that the truths and facts spoken are much much more complex than what is being ‘sold’ by these politicians. Their policies will benefit no one else other than themselves, first, then whoever is left standing, thereafter. Everyone and everywhere works like that. And politics is the art of lying at its best.

Posted on April 26, 2011