No straight lines

No straight lines

Nothing on Earth travels in a straight line, everything has a curvature, even a seemingly ‘straight’ line. Take any given ‘straight’ line, magnify it 500x, and you’ll see features and landscape that ebb and flow like any other terrain, magnify it yet another 500x, your straight lines will vanish into microscopic images.

Point in case, my eldest son asked me a very, very good question.

Son: “Pa”

Me: “Yes?”

Son: “The Earth is round right?”

Me: “Yes, of course.”

Son: Why don’t the people staying at the lower parts of the earth feels as if they are upside down?” (While I’m sure there is a perfectly sound,  scientific explanation for that, but it struck me as a pretty darn good question!)

Life is always delusional, and it will always be a horizon. we can see the horizon as a straight line, but we all know by now, beyond that ‘straight’ line, is the curve of the Earth.

When you think Aikido, it is precisely that, a straight curve line. It is grounded in a spherical nature because that is ultimately, how thing, in nature is, a curve, a circle. Sometimes, the circle is small,very, very small, sometimes it is very big, as in 365 days orbit-ally big. Some times even larger, many lifetimes larger.

So we need to see things in a bigger light. Aikido, to many, appears on the surface as a straight line, we look at the technicalities of it, the effectiveness, and the this-versus-that argument, well that is all straight line talk. Aikido is a curve ball no one can see coming, and yet it has no secrets, all you need to do is endure the travel of the curve, and the teachings will always reveal itself, just round the curve.

first posted: Jan 24, 2015 1:54 AM

Death

Death

We are all here on borrowed time.

Dear boys,

I had a ‘taste’ of death.

It happened to me when I was still staying with my mum, back in Woodlands. I think I was already in my National Service. probably 19 years old. I can’t specifically recall what was it that triggered this epiphany, but it goes like a kind of dream.

The problem with words is that words are very poor messengers of life. Like this episode, I can’t tell you if it was a dream, or what.

It happened when I was asleep at night.

I usually tell people it is some kind of a message. But it was more than that, the feeling hits me in the depths of my soul.

It simply said that ‘We are all here on borrowed time.’

That’s the crux of the ‘message’ I got. What I knew was when I woke up, I felt the severity and seriousness of the message. And saw the world in a different way.

We are indeed living on borrowed time.

When it’s time for payback, we go, just like that. Everyday, every minute, every moment is time on loan to us, we don’t really own this life we live. We have it, and the next moment, we will not have it anymore.

It changed my life, and until now I’m still messed up trying to figure out the whole idea of what happened that night. The fact that I’m still alive means that I have a little bit more borrowed time to try and figure what that was all about.

The Scarcity of Death

It does darken my personality sometimes as I think about the scarcity of the whole idea of death, I will probably never get to finish what I wanted to do, and I might expire before my endeavour sees fruition. So why start?

Thinking about it, also spur me to do things, because there is somewhat a mentality of urgency, I have to get things done, before I die. Then the other side hit me, why start?

I’m kind of glad that I got that ‘message’. Since 19, I’ve gotten my life’s perspective right. Stayed happy, worked hard, I got a good sense of what is right and wrong, and somehow did what is mostly right, and stayed away from the wrong. When I want to die, I have to die right.

And I know now since we are on borrowed time, this life is a one way ticket with no return trip. I have to look forward, and when I die, I damn well be doing the things I love. I want to die with a smile on my face.

That doesn’t mean that I am always trippy high, not worried about anything in the world. I don’t try to cheat Death. I don’t fear Death, I won;t say I know Death, but I think I know Death a little better than the people around me. Sometimes thinking about it puts me in a dark place, and I can stay there thinking about death and the dark energy it brings. Sometimes, I’m bright and I want to be bright until I die.

It’s not here…yet…

As I grow older, moving into more borrowed time, I can get a sense of Death, and it is not here yet. But it is also not far away.

death-wallpapers20

The Aikido ecosystem

The Aikido ecosystem

When you come to class, and train with your fellow Aikidokas, you are not training only with that person. Like I mentioned earlier, you are training with the person’s parents, carrying their aspirations, dreams and ideals.

If you kill your partner, you literally destroy a universe, wipe out an entire ecosystem.

You are also training with your partner’s friends, siblings, relatives, cousins, uncles, the nurses and doctors that brought your partner to this world, the bus driver who sent your partner to Aikido, the hawker who sold delicious food, the cleaner who cleaned your block, your colleagues, the retail sales guy whom you bought your latest sandals from. You are training with a partner, who is a sum of a whole ecosystem.

Had there been a hiccup in that ecosystem, that partner would not have appeared in class. the bus driver fell ill, the bus wouldn’t have came. The cleaner failed to clean your block, you stepped on something filthy. fell and got hurt. Well, if that ecosystem collapse, your partner cease to exist.

So you are also part of your partner’s ecosystem too, if you hurt your partner, your partner will not be able to turn up somewhere else he or she is supposed to be.

If you kill your partner, you literally destroy a universe, wipe out an entire ecosystem. So that is why we have to protect and nurture life, it is so vital that we see that inter-connectedness. Everything is linked to everything. You are linked to the doctors who brought you out from your mum’s womb. You are linked to the production worker who works in a factory making milk for your mum to buy, to feed you. You are linked to the cows, who gave you its milk for your ‘calcium needs’. You are also linked to the future people you are going to meet.

So it is rather easy to look at an angry person and launch ourselves into an angry assault and quarrel, insult and belittle our belligerent. When we do that, their entire ecosystem shakes, and rattles, you literally insult that many nameless faces that has brought that person having that angry conversation with you. Sure, his or her anger would have shaken your ecosystem and insulted that many countless nameless faces too. But remember, those people in our ecosystem brought us into existence to be a decent human being, and being decent means not to anger, insult and belittle others! And certainly not to respond in kind!

We need to understand that, contrary to many success stories, where a person’s success is perched on the shoulder of giants, a more down to earth version would be that we are all standing, simply because we are held up by the countless of people in our lives, but to hold our head up, in pride and love, that is entirely us.

So never face hurt, anger, pain and suffering with ignorance, fear and delusion, those are closed loops. Open your heart, and in it you’ll find boundless love, energy, light, understanding, patience, and understanding, which are all timeless. Anger is timed, you have to be directed at a specific event, a person, a single something. but when you open up your heart, you can accommodate that. What we have in our heart is light that is so bright, hate, ignorance and delusion will vanish. Jodi Picoult says light triumphs darkness, that is why we need to face the world with our open heart, because we carry our eternal light in our heart, to close it, cannot hide the light, light will always escape, so why not fully open it, and let your light shine?

Your open heart may look vulnerable, weak and nubile. But it is far more superior to hate. Aikido opens me to that, love is eternal, it will always triumph over hate, which is limited in energy. Love soothes, hate comes in bumps. Once you have experienced love, you will not want to hate, or response to hate, with hate, because, once you’ve known and used a far more superior approach, why revert to plain, reactive hate and hurt? You cannot be hurt any further if you embrace love. Love will protects you, when you fully open your heart.

The Aikido Network- Our Gi

The next time you go to class, bring this to your awareness.

The next time you wear your Gi, think of;

the person who grew the cotton plants for the cloth;

person who harvested the cotton;

person who carried the cotton to the truck;

person who drove the truck transporting the cotton;

person to filled the truck with fuel to transport the cotton;

person who unloading the cotton;

person supervising unloading the cotton;

person who owns the factory that turn the cotton into your Gi;

person who stitch your Gi;

person who check for defects on your Gi;

Think of the person packing your Gi into plastic bags;

Think of the person who stored the plastic bags for your Gi;

person who make sure that your Gi reaches your martial arts shop;

person who opened the martial arts shop;

Think of the person who man the cashier and gave you your GI in exchange for a wad of cash;

person who designed the cash register to hold the cash you exchanged for your Gi;

person who is interested in robbing the cash register of the cash;

person who made the Law to protect us from robbery and thefts;

person being accused of robbery and theft;

Well, I can go on, but I think you get the picture, the next time let’s thing about how the mat we roll on came about.

Cheers.

First published  Jun 14, 2012 11:39 PM

Hurt or Happy?

Nobody writes a ‘self-hurt’ book and becomes a worldwide best seller. Everyone is cashing in on ‘self-help’, ways to find happiness, bliss, pleasure, and all the good stuff. It even appears that happiness is so hard to attain that you have to read a book to ‘learn’ happiness!

What about pain, hurt, hatred and all those unpleasant things?

We don’t need to learn them as it appears that we get hurt easily, we get hurt all the time, we experience pain frequently. Pain is easy, pain is commodity. Happiness is gold.

But the funny paradox is sometimes, we are driven by pain, hurt, and all those unpleasant stuff. We became masochistic, we derive pleasure out of pain! and suddenly, pain and pleasure seems all the same!

But it is not.

The other funny thing is, we delve a majority of our time justifying our hurt. We focus an inordinate amount of time getting over the hurt. When we get hurt so easily, we seem to have a problem letting go of the hurt, just as easily as we gotten them. It should be a case of ‘easy come, easy go.’ but it is not the case. We focus on the easy things, and forget to spend our time cultivating the happiness of things!

Happiness on the other hand, gets left out because we spend so much time commoditising hurt, and pain, we get so comfortable dealing with the quantitative effects of pain and hurt, we begin to think that we do not deserve the realm of happiness. We get so comfortable with pain, we are no longer comfortable with pleasure. So it become painful to be in pain, and even more painful to be happy.

First published Apr 9, 2014 9:29 PM

Rolling is hard!

Rolling is hard!

collage_fotor-3Dear Wayne,

Your mum and I has always know you to be an independent child. More often than not, you’ll be the one up to no good, and your elder brother is the one who has to give in to you. You are the one with the mischief. But we love you so, so much!

Happily rolling along

I wanted to learn some advance Aikido rolling techniques, so I brought out these colorful mats we bought some time back, and lay it out, just for this purpose. Not long after that, you boys invaded the mat and started rolling around, I have to end up teaching you boys a thing or 2 about rolling.

You need to get out of your way, and help other people.

We went into YouTube and explore some Aikido rolling techniques and some partner practice. This particular one is something like a circle roll, personally for me it is like a ‘bowl roll’. Imagine you tilt the bowl to its side and the bowl will roll on its curve. It is a basic Aikido roll. Except that this time I have you both seated back to back, in a coordinated fashion, Ian will roll to his left, and Wayne, you will roll to your left, if done nicely, both of you will roll and recover on the opposite side, taking over the pace your partner was earlier occupying. Which is what the YouTube video shows exactly.

collage_fotor

But that was not what you boys have in mind, or specifically what you, Wayne have in mind. You couldn’t roll properly when your brother is around. You could do quite well when you’re doing it alone, but when you brother came into the picture, you have a problem working with him. Having another person in the movement seems to bother you, distracts you, and you end up rolling into and clashing with your brother.

Me, Myself and I

collage_fotor-1So it was a great opportunity to bring to your attention, your egocentric self, where you wanted the whole thing to work, but you could not work with other people to make it work. More often than not, in life, you need to work with other people, and you always have a problem working with your elder brother. He has to give in to you many, many times. Which is fine, as that is what elder brother usually do. Sometime, things will not work even if people give in to you, Wayne. You have to learn to think for other people and work with them. You cannot solve problems simply by having people give in to you every, single time. And this was a great opportunity for you to experience that

You focused for a while and in your own words, you ‘shut the noise’ out and the whole partner rolling technique worked a little. Well, you boys are doing this for the first time, so that is no fault of the both that it didn’t worked out the way as we all wanted.

But is was a good lesson point, Wayne. You need to get out of your way, and help other people.

Ian Stay!

You even wanted Ian to stay at his spot while you do your roll. That would have been impossible as your partner needs to roll away, vacating that space, which you now needs to roll in and occupy. Well, we tried as your prescribed and of course, you rolled right onto your brother’s lap!

So learn that it is not always about you. Learn to work with other people, which is right now your challenge. We know you’re a smart boy, you have ideas, but you have a problem working with other people. You can work hard, you are independent, you are tenacious, but sometimes in order for you to achieve larger goals, you need interdependence, giving up your own goals so that other people can help you get what you want in life. Because sometimes, what you want in life cannot be reached by you alone, and you need other to help you get what you want.

Life is communication

Life is communication

One flawed parenting script was to say “I never want my kids to go through the same hardship I did.”

Dear Boys,

I was wondering why are Hollywood actors paid so much? I mean, there is no such thing a Batman, and yet, Christian Bale are making tonnes of money playing a fictitious character. Why is George Lucas earning like crazy having created Star Wars from nothing. It is insane to earn that kind of money doing something that is essentially non-existent!

So are actors liars? They basically fake it to make it. So much props and effects to make something imaginative look real. Everything that is take as fake, people flocked to watch it. This can extends to business people, politicians, religious leaders, cult leaders, motivational speakers.

The I realised. It all boils down to one word: COMMUNICATION.

Nothing, absolutely nothing works, without communication. There will be no team work, no collaboration, no celebrations, no creation, no life, no nothing. everything; DEAD.

These talented people are not liars, they didn’t create nothing out of nothing. Everything that happens, brought into the world, are work. Work that people communicated with others, to get them to do the work in a way, one single person cannot do. Communication is the key to life.

It is not only our human dimension, communication on a broader sense, works in ways can cannot be seen. A flower, communicates with the bees, through their vibrant colours. All mediums possible are used for communication, sound, light, magnets, weather, radio waves, cosmic energy.

Interaction happens all the time, like it or not. It is only in our capacity as a human being to facilitate the interactions through meaningful communication.

That boils down to another important point, “SELF-Communication.”

If you boys has been brought up from birth, being told that you have been disadvantaged, bullied, the world is unfair, unkind, unwavering, all the messages you both will get is that, you need to be self centered, cruel, manipulative to survive. If the message is that of grace, gratitude and greatness, then you boys will be empowered, decisive and resourceful. The self communication starts with communication within the family. Sure; as your dad, I am also a human adult with my own limits, fears, flaws and pain. My own self communication is also a work in progress, but of course, I need to make my communication to the both of you a different matter. I try as much as I can, tell you boys stories, inspire you, motivate you, and keep my own demons away from your child’s purity. Sometimes I succeed, more often I fail. My dad’s communication with me wasn’t the most ideal, and most of  the things I’ve learned, I was glad I learned it from the good friends I had with me since young.

One flawed parenting script was to say “I never want my kids to go through the same hardship I did.” In fact, as a parent, your dad, I cannot fully protect you from all the pain and suffering in the world, that’s not a dad’s job. My job is to arm you boys with the right resources to deal with all the cruelties and unfairness the world is going to duke it out with you. You both is most likely going to walk the same path I did, faced with the same kind of shit I went through, I can’t stop that, but I can given you guys a better message in your head, than what my dad gave me. I want you boys to be armed with a superior mode of communication, a better way you talk to yourself, to get yourself out of limbo. You can walk the same difficult path as you parents did, with the limited resources, but you will know the path better, more prepared, we will help you along, but you, and you alone have to walk that path, with your own skill, your own level of self communication. If all your self communication is a constant berating, self depreciating, own-self  blame own-self type of mind script, then your journey will be difficult, no matter how much resources you have.

So there you have it, the fundamental difference between a Hollywood star and a Prison convict is that constant self talk in their head. One is able to skillfully communicate the emotions and roles so much so that the people watching it shed tears, paid millions, adored by all. Or one who is able to manipulate his/her victims for their own self centred gains, to succeed criminal goals, damage society, and hurt those people who loved them so much. More importantly, I hope I am able to arm you boys with good, quality self talk so that you boys grow up to become strong independent men, capable of inspiring people with your ability to communicate your goals and aspirations. That all starts from within.