January 24, 2012

Emptying my cup

Nan-in, a master, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

I've seen so many people having disputes about their doctrines or ideologies. Liberals against conservatives, one religion against another, theists against atheists, the list will go on as long as human being exists.
We are so full of ourselves, believing what we know to be the absolute truth. I plead so guilty of this. I was a radical science and history worshipper, defending my 'freethinking' ideology, idolizing the mind power and human intelligence.

One day I was having a debate about evolution and the infallibility of the bible with an avid believer of the holy scriptures. Needless to say he disregarded every argument about us sharing the same ancestor with apes. Every apparent oddity which denies his belief of the bible is dismissed as translation, error contradicting his own doctrine that the Bible is to be taken literally.

Just an innocent oddity I took from Genesis.
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Since this is supposed to happen before the creation of Eve, it means that God is androgynous, isn't he (0r she)? Boy, did he get upset of my blasphemy, and rationalized it as a translation error and figurative speech. How do you decide which line should be taken figuratively and literally? I guess it depends on whether or not it matches the doctrine.

Anyway, this guy then argued that there're gaps and missing links in evolution and human history, asking me how I know that the written history as we know it is true. I wasn't there to witness the events that took place some thousand years ago. He then added that I'm too close-minded and bullheaded to understand the scriptures.

This came as a shock to me (not the close-mindedness part), and I started to ponder, he's right. Why do I believe in the written history? There's no absolute truth in history either. It can be fabricated, tampered with. A mere propaganda, an illusion.

If I look back at all the history lessons about the indonesian communism taught in the school, I realized it was all attempts of propaganda, made by the ruling regime to justify their power coup. Just as some believe 9/11 is an inside job, moon landing hoax, etc. Another example, if you grow up in Japan, you probably would deny the massacre of Nanking. If you're a Chinese, then you'll be taught about the gruesomeness of the same massacre.
*I'm not saying anything about science, as this is not my area of expertise.

I then come to a conclusion that he and I are both close-minded. Since I do not have the control over other people's mind, then let me change my own way of thinking.

"Can one talk about the ocean to a frog in a well or about the divine to people who are restricted by their concepts?". We are all frogs in the well.

Most of us have a certain shape/box of idealism in our minds. His is rectangular, whereas mine, circular. We wear different coloured lenses in seeing the world. We force things we saw to fit into this idealistic shape of our mind. As the result, we tend to reduce, compromise, ignore, cherry pick.

If both of us see an elephant, his elephant will look rectangular and green (seen from his green colored lens), whereas mine, circular and pink. We ignore the fact that the elephant is neither circular nor rectangular, pink nor green. To make things worse, we refuse to take off our lenses to see the real elephant. We only see what our eyes and brain want to see.
As the saying goes,"Ignorance isn't only about not knowing things, but also about refusing to find out about the unknown".

Speaking about arrogance and ignorance, I overheard some guys debating on whether or not his church is the real one. At one point the more outspoken guy attacked that the other church is fake because they hold their worship service on Saturday instead of Sunday and their spoken tounge differs from his. He then said,"It's satanic! God rests on the 7th day, which is Sunday, not Saturday! And their tounge is a manifestation of Kundalini ghost."

I almost laughed out loud. Do they even know what Kundalini is? Honestly, I'm not sure. Why would a fundamentalist christian explore about other spiritual practices? And I'm pretty sure as well that they never heard of Constantine who moved the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday in regard to his devotion to the pagan sun god. SUNday. SONNtag. See the relevance?
The jews, still holding to the laws of the old testament, celebrated the Sabbath from the sunset of Friday to Saturday. As was written in Genesis. They count Sunday as the first day of the week. If only those fundamentalists were humble enough to check on their own history..
Oops! Here I go again. Me and my box :D

This goes for atheists as well, who are so confined in the "outbox", believing that there's no divine existence, calling religious people stupid fools. Ok, maybe this is bitterness after being constantly harassed by the religious fundamentalists out there. But seriously, you can't answer all of your questions either, can you? I do not believe in a personal god either, but how do we prove the nonexistence of God, Hercules, unicorn or the Loch Ness monster?

The bottom line is that I am ignorant. I'm trying to be less ignorant, stripping off my arrogance and being aware that I know nothing about anything. Just bear with me if I'm standing at a nihilistic point, trying to empty my teacup.

January 20, 2012

Why do you keep crying over the same thing over and over again?

Dedicated to a dear friend, who keeps crying over the same thing again and again. Hope you will stop towing around the past luggage someday and start living your life.

January 17, 2012

Why is everybody happy but me?

Ok. Three posts in a day are definitely too much, but well, I'm sitting here in a cafe, waiting for a friend and got nothing better to do.

Again, this is about a friend who told me, she wanted to love others around her. She would like to devote her life to make others happy. Her dream is to build a shelter for underprivileged children and to teach them. I really think this is very noble of her, but since I know her quite well, I know that she has a form of depression in which she chastises and hates herself. She thinks that human beings are evil to begin with. A concept fairly strange to me as I always believe that human beings are goodhearted in the beginning. What changes them, us, is circumstances, necessity, wounds, bitterness.
Ah, forget about me and my perception, this is about her.

Then I asked her cautiously,"Wouldn't it be better to learn to love yourself first?"
She answered,"Nope. Others come first. This way I will feel better"

The last time I heard, she let many people down and turned her back to people who love her, including her family. So much for her devotion to other people. She was severely depressed. Her insecurity and self hatred made her uncapable of loving. Her negativity drown her and others around her. I kept thinking how she should've focused on her own healing. Beggars can't be givers.
I do sincerely hope she'll get through the depression phase and start learning to love herself, which will give her the capacity of fulfilling her noble dream.

I happened to stumble upon this,

"why is everybody happy but me?"
"Because they have learned to see beauty and goodness everywhere." said the master.
"why dont I see beauty and goodness everywhere?"
"Because you can't see outside of you what you fail to see inside."

So very true..

The Word Illusion

A group of people used to be bothered by the way I talked. I could easily call myself "rubbish", "bitch" or "pig" which is apparently troublesome for their ears. They told me I should have more self respect. I still remember the time they heard me saying "sh*t", they went mad and told me it's a pity that a lovely girl degrades herself, throwing pearls before swines, in their own words.

They judged me based on their own assumption and ignorance. According to their mind, they knew that I had no feeling of self worth if I laughed about myself. Well, as for me, I don't care if you call me a swine, bitch, etc.. My self worth isn't defined by words. And what does a word mean? It's man made. You can call a twenty carat diamond "crap", and it's still a diamond. Call a dog "cow" and he still barks.

I think they were so bothered by words because they have not learned how to accept one's self. They let themselves be distorted and defined by words which meaning is a mere illusion. Call them "monkey" and they might probably feel they're monkeys. Well, I don't. Along the journey I've learned to recognize who I am, I'm proud of my achievement, of my positive qualities. At the same time I learned to laugh about my flaws and mistakes as well. I can't really fathom, why do we let ourselves be limited by literal labels? A human being's existence is simply larger than words. If we have the awareness and will to strive for a bigger heart, small stuffs just won't matter anymore.

Ok, to be fair, maybe it does matter to other people, then just tell me upfront that it disturbs them, maybe I will take their feelings into consideration, but quit pretending to be concerned about those precious pearls thrown before swines and stop telling me their ways to boost my self worth. The fact is that calling myself pearl or swine won't change the way I feel about myself.

If you pour vinegar into a tiny cup, the water inside will turn sour. But if you pour the same amount of vinegar or even more into a lake, the water remains fresh.

Serenity prayer for those hedonists out there ;)

Grant me the stubbornness to change what I can,
the laziness to accept what I cannot,
and enough beer to sit around and endlessly discuss the difference between the two.

Dick Dunn

January 13, 2012

Hello, responsibility!

A good friend of mine is very stressed out at the moment, as his mom's suddenly diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer grade 4 and will undergo series of chemotherapy. As the only child, he has to quit his current job and start to run his mom's business.
I can still remember two months ago, he was still laughing and told me that he wanted to enjoy his life as a corporate employee with no big responsibilities for at least the next five years, before actually having to take over his family's business. Well, things change.

We went out to drink last week and he said, he wouldn't be able to go out so often anymore, now that he had to work hard and take care of his mom. I didn't know what to say, so I just smiled and patted his arm,"No worry. You'll get through this. Just call me if you need to talk or hang out."

We always have excuses when we're really not that into something, or when we're afraid of what the future may hold. "I'm not ready", "I can't do it", "Maybe later", but unfortunately life won't wait until we're ready. Sometimes we just have to jump off the boat before we even learn to swim, but maybe that's the fastest way to learn to swim, isn't it? If we keep saying "later", we probably won't learn to swim afterall.

It reminds me of a time when we went to a club and the club was closed before our alcohol effect wore off. Seriously, it sucked. But what can you do? Well, in this case we could just move to another club. But sometimes we just have to shrug our shoulders and get sober.
A kitsch german music video about some guy who doesn't want to stop when the party ends.

Nein man, ich will noch nicht gehen
No, man, I don't wanna go yet.

Ich will noch ein bisschen tanzen
I still wanna dance for a bit!

Komm schon, alter
C'mon, dude.

Ist doch noch nicht so sp├Ąt
It's not even that late yet.

Lass uns noch ein bisschen tanzen
Let's dance for just a bit!

January 8, 2012

There is always an answer in simplicity

Too cool !! :D

Zen wisdom on letting go

Tanzan the master and young Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.
Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on, girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"

I had a big row with my mom recently, afterwards I was moody the whole day and kept thinking about the row. Though I know the theory of letting go of the past and emotional detachment, but it is so difficult in reality.
I wish I could be calmer in handling the situation and balancing my state of mind. I hope that someday my heart will be more like a deep ocean, where the storm can stir the surface but not shake the depth.

I am Ekido, who still carries the girl in his mind, even long after the girl is gone.

January 4, 2012

Requiem for my christianity

I think I've officially stopped looking for God and I stopped calling myself a Christian. Well, this didn't come to me as a shock, but still kinda surprising. It happened on Christmas night when I attended the mass, as we're about to say the apostle's creed "I believe in one God, Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, ...", somehow I couldn't bring myself to say it. I don't believe in it anymore. I don't believe in the Bible, that it comes from God, written by men inspired by holy spirit. I do not believe in Jesus as THE only way, the truth and the light.

I do believe that there's a bigger power out there that exceeds our capacity of understanding, maybe it's indeed an almighty god, the universe, whatever. I have no answer to this and I'll leave this question open. And I do believe Jesus existed in the first place. So I won't necessarily call myself an atheist. But I can't accept the christian dogma that Jesus is the son of God, that I have to believe in Him as my savior and my god to be saved from eternal hell, despite of all the good deeds that I've done. I just can't accept this concept of an egocentric god who forces me to shut down my brain, denies me of answers and expects me to worship him, or else I'll burn eternally. And seeing as he is supposedly to know what I feel and think, I can't fool him by playing hypocrite either, saying I believe just because I fear the punishment. Either way, I'm going down apparently.

I've tried hard to abandon my logic 'head' and to listen more to my 'heart'. You might say I didn't try hard enough, well, I did. I spent more than two decades trying to find him, and still I got nothing. Maybe my creator doesn't think I'm good enough that he has to hide himself from me. In the critical times, when I was about to leave my faith, I was hovering at the door for years, unsure if I wanted to step out or step back in, but he never stopped me from going, never called my name and asked me to stay either. Apparently I wasn't important enough, he was too busy tending to his other good lambs that he didn't notice me leaving the herd. Hm, to think that I would even be happy to receive a lightning strike...

And honestly, it's not my fault that I was born in the 20th century, with good access to knowledge, having read lots of books while having a dad who is rational and a devoted Buddhist in addition. It's not my fault either that I'm equipped with a critical brain, that tends to ask questions. My parents told me even as a kid, I had been asking about stuffs all the time, that they bought me sets of encyclopedia just to stop me from harassing them with my endless questioning. I never chose my family nor my circumstances. If he wanted me to be a deaf and blind believer, then he might as well put me back in 14th century or maybe in a christian fundamentalist family with no access to knowledge. I might grow up as an avid believer, maybe even a crusader.

But the problem is he's supposed to be the one putting me in these shoes and having known about the church, bible and it's history, I've come to a realization that the bible isn't a god-sent holy scripture anyway.
It's a collection of people's stories, written based on their own perceptions. And who decided whose collections were good enough to be put in the bible? The early church and it's consensus. And what drove them? Politics and power.
Who decides if Jesus is the literal or figurative son of God? Please read about the First Council of Nicaea. The concept of Jesus' deity? Ask Constantine who worshiped a pagan sun god.

So, based on what evidence can I say that Jesus is the only way, maybe he didn't say so himself. Maybe the politicians changed what was originally stated in the scripture. History is written by the winners, isn't it? If Hitler had won the war, he might've described himself as Gandhi. Who knows?
Is the bible absolute and correct? Yes.
Who said so? The bible itself. Paradoxical, for me.
Reminds me somehow of Kim Jong Il and how the north koreans idolized him.

Well, now I left. And when someday he realizes that I'm not in the herd anymore and wants me back, I guess he'll know where to find me, wont he?
I really like Jesus's teachings about love, but apparently my not believing in his status as Son of God makes me unchristian (as this belief is the core of Christianity) and if the eternal hell is my consequence, so be it. Hm if you think of it, if you really believe that the almighty is great, good and just, won't you think he would have his own judgment system, for me, for the good and moral Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, or gays out there? (who btw can't choose their sexuality and are doomed to deny their own sexuality for the rest of their life. Seriously, whoever said that this is a cross they need to carry are most definitely judgmental heterosexuals, who have never walked a mile in other people's shoes before). If that isn't the case, then come what may. As for now, the question of afterlife? Que sera sera.