Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How I Live

I live moment by moment.

We live as long as our next breath. This is the harsh reality. Hence:
Live like there is no tomorrow but plan like I will live forever.

Life is as meaningful as the things we are doing now. But, if this is not going to be our last moment, we have to make sure that:
(a) what we do now do not have an adverse repercussion on ourselves and those around us in the next moment; and
(b) if possible, to make sure that what we do now have a favourable impact on ourselves and those around us in the next moment.

Monks and nuns who strive towards the void would do nothing so that there is no repercussions whatsoever on themselves now or in the future. But somebody got to feed them, though.

For us lesser mortals, we have to feed ourselves and our parents and our children.

Livelihood and Living

This is why for families that are used to reliance purely upon themselves and their own efforts, they have to fully aware of the economics of life and living.

There is a cost to everything, and every thing earned must be saved. The art of life becomes one of how to get by with very little in the midst of plenty, even in the midst of our own plentifulness. This is where I think the culture of honesty, hard work, humbleness and generosity comes from - the realisation of an uncertain future.

It is therefore drummed into children like ourselves that we have to study hard (for those of us lucky enough to study) and get a job - and we right away suffer from mid-life crisis the moment we have managed to pay off our mortgage. For after spent nearly a whole life preparing and working, we find ourselves without a purpose in life.

My solution to this little problem is to integrate my working life into my life. I do not differentiate the two. After all, one of the great masters of zen said: "A day without work is a day without eating." My work is my life - the way I work is the way I live.

It is only when we differentiate life from work that there is this thing called "retirement from work" so that we can have "leisure to do our own things."

It is because of this idea of retirement that we all strive to earn and save enough for retirement and in the process go to great length (to try) to amass great wealth and in the process learn to be less honest and less hard working and more greedy and more ruthless in our dealings with our fellow human beings.


I try to exercise a certain degree of autonomy in my life.

Armed with an academic qualification, I am an ordinary member of the workforce who has to get a job and live a life.

There is a decision to be made about one's employer. The employer is probably one of the most important entity that is going to influence our lives, so we better get a good one.

I was oblivious to pay at first, being keen to get into the areas I was interested in. From one institution, I went to the next one - with the purpose of learning and finding out the things I was very interested when I was studying the subject. I was (and am) devoted to my subject or object of study, and I have no allegiance to persons or ideas or institutions.

In the institution, my allegiance is to the institution and not the person I was reporting to. This is important for avoiding fraud, and shows the importance of choice of organisation especially its vision and mission. If I don't agree, I leave. Even when I was working in the midst of the so-called greatest casino in the world, I was still able to hang on by a thread to the sense of integrity and autonomy that I had in myself - by being very very good in what I did so that I could be useful to our clients by giving good advice.

At the end of the day, the one thing I have left after years of working is a house, my EPF and my sense of my place in this big wide world. No big titles, no grand assets.


But autonomy requires courage. We have to get round and then stand up to the authorities that are set up to govern us. We shape our own destiny, not the authorities. If we end up being a member of one of the authorities set up to govern ourselves and others, we have to have courage to change things if things are not right.

We are all caught up in the Matrix. The Great One teaches us how to get out of The Matrix. In the meantime, the only thing we can do is to make sure that, while we are in the Matrix, we are not sleeping on the conveyor belt - we try to find our way around it and out of it.

Creativity and Resourcefulness

Necessity is the mother of invention.

At the end of the day, the whole objective of life is to solve the problems of living. (Some suggest we solve the problems of living by solving the problem of life by self-annihilation and becoming non-self.)

Life's many problems are mundane. This is where the provision of goods and services in the economy try to solve. A good product is one that solves one or several of the problems of living, at a cost to be paid with cash or debt or one's life. A good product therefore provides a service to the consumer. The consumer buys a product and pays the sky for it because he or she thinks that it is going to bring him or her heaven on earth, a dream come true, a desire satisfied. Clever but greedy producers create not a product but an addiction. This is the Matrix we are all trained to create for ourselves by the great institutions that we have erected to give structure to this society we are enclosed ourselves in.

But the truest innovation solves all problems of living at zero cost.

This is the innovation that is given free to the world, that rids the world of the addiction.


The simplest way to get out of the Matrix is to live simply. Depend, if possible, on nothing, not even oneself.

When we stripped ourselves of our bare necessities, we have only: (a) our work which is our life, (b) ourselves and family, and (c) our friends and community.

The only thing we worry about is our contribution to society - how we can contribute, how to make life easier, how to remove drudgery.

Process of Creativity

In trying to achieve simplicity, there is a process from learning to understanding to realisation and to actualisation.

The fastest way to do things is to imitate. This is what all creatures do. But human beings try to be creative, to do different things.

In a world where poverty is the daily grind, the quickest path out of poverty is the corruption of the integrity of an ideal system that we are trying to create. When this happens, our system collapses to the lowest form of a dog-eat-dog world.

To rise above the ground zero, we have to seek an upward process.
Knowledge: To know what we are looking at
Understanding: To understand the thing that we are looking at
Realisation: To realise what the thing we are looking at is all about
Actualisation: To assimilate that knowledge, understanding and realisation in such a way that we are able to act accordingly to that realisation, such as by doing something that is completely different from what is being done or to achieve a level of being that is beyond mere satisfaction of human desires

Sometimes, the solution to many of our problems in life is close at hand. It could be just be in our own mind.

Volition and Responsibility

I live with volition - I decide what I want to do.

This is my attempt to live my life according to my own thinking and understanding and realisation and trying to actualise that realisation in my life so that I live a life that is fully integrated with my own thinking.

Life is very complex because our thoughts are all over the place, I try to keep my life simple with minimal thoughts but deep thoughts on a few key areas. In this way, I can live a simple but meaningful life - to myself.

For the few things I do, I take direct responsibility. For the many things I do not do, I take indirect responsibility.

I have to subject my sense of being to my conscience.

The Few Things I Do And Think About

1. Reading
I read everyday to understand what life is all about. To me, the most important are the religious texts which contain the most profound wisdom and insights into the human perception of life. Second are myths which record our sub-conscious interpretation of what is going on around us. Third is history which is instructive. Fourth is literature where people from all walks of life write of their responses to their circumstances which are infinitely varied. Last are the scientific texts as many are wrong, and only a handful true. Economics is one of the most difficult subjects to understand properly.

2. Music
I listen to music to understand how people feel. We sing because we want to express our inner emotions. The most basic is the beat, the more irregular, the sadder. Harmony is a nicety enjoyed only by those with a narrow human experience.

It is too easy a trap to learn music learning to a hobby about hi-fi equipment which is more about having money to burn than about the integrity music. A large chunk of the integrity of music is in the mind.

I try to play music seriously(well, the electric guitar now) in order to find a way to express myself, and hence to understand my inner feelings. I find it all theory. Without a full understanding of the theory, I play the same old song. With some understanding, I plagiarize and play other people's song. I need to play my own music.

3. Photography
I try to take photography seriously in order to learn to look at the world as it is. An excuse to look up from my desk and my book or away from the wall. I have the picture in my mind first before I take the photography. I have to understand the mechanics first before I can configure to get what I want.

4. Beer
Beer is better than wine or hard liquor. I drink because I am happy. I drink to be out of control from reason. I drink to get away from logic. I drink to cool down. I drink because I do not take life seriously. I drink for the conversations.

5. Work
I do not work, I think. My job is to think and solve other people's problem. I do not think about my job.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why I Live

This sounds corny, but to go to my next post "How I Live" I have to do this one. And I have been postponing it.

I live because I am alive.
I live because I am not yet dead.

Truism. Tautology. Obvious fact.

All so true. So, there is nothing more to it. I shall just accept it as it is. No argument about it.

The above statements are very profound to me. They describe plain and simple truth which I have no choice but to accept.

To ask why should I be alive, why should I live - to ask this question is to invoke a sense of ego which is the source of all the troubles which we face in life.

By simply accept things as they (naturally) are, I am allowing myself to be part of the natural world of which I am but a little part.

I live incognito within this larger realm of reality.


I am or try to be a-religious, although I confess I am deeply devotional. I accept all.

When I was studying in the UK, I was approached by evangelists. I was missing home, and my instinctive reaction to their strong sell was this:

"How can I love God whom I do not know, before I love my parents who do love me."

With that, I have come to realise that I had discovered a meaningful raison detre for living.

This has become crucial to me as I struggle through the puddles of this world.

Now, with a spouse and children, the meaning in my life has spread out from the parents to the larger family, and as the old disappears, the love I have gets spread out even more and defines the way I live or rather the things I do in life and things I try to achieve or the troubles that I am now taking in the projects I am undertaking.

At the end of it, there is nothing much to shout about in life. The quieter I live, the better it is for myself and for others. I find it incredible how everyone always seems to have something to say about everything all the times (and I reckon I am also guilty of it). Something it is good to lower the noise. However, it does nobody any harm if we try to do something positive for ourselves or for others (provided we know exactly what we are doing, rather than causing more harm than good).

So long as I have something that I want to do, then I shall live. Once I have done what I have set out to do, and I have nothing more to do, then I suppose I shall quietly go away.

I therefore live because I have something to do. (I suppose this brings me to How I Live.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

How I No-Think

When I learn to think, I realise that a lot of time is spent not thinking.

It is very easy to think we think when I fact we are worrying. How do we tell the difference?

When you worry, the same thoughts go round and round in an endless circle of arguments and counter-arguments with no end in sight. (Can I say Malaysians are a worried lot?)

When you think, you identify the issue or problem and define it. You apply logic to it, and out comes the conclusion. You may or may not like the conclusion - but that is the conclusion or the solution to the problem. That's it. The next thing is to act.

There is no right or wrong. There are consequences which you may or may not like.

Now, I want to elaborate a bit on the no-think or no-mind thing that I wrote in my last post.

Thinking is simple - it is logic: deduction from general principles or maxims or premises, or inference from particular cases. The trick is not to cheat by jumping a step or being too nice to oneself and not being strict.

With no-think or no-mind, I have to understand that there is such a thing as thoughts and an entirely different thing called mind. Thoughts and mind are separate, and the idea is to try to tell the difference.

In everyday life, we are so caught up by activities that our minds are in a buzz, our thoughts are all over the place and the body and mind do not coordinate.

Sit Quiet

The first thing to do is to sit down and be quiet.

This is not an easy thing to do - to sit quiet. We are used to lots of activities and we will soon realise that those activities are an attempt by us to run away from ourselves.

The idea is to keep the body still, so that the only thing that is left active are the thoughts.

The next step is to remove the thoughts. This is by far the most difficult thing to do. Thoughts come, thoughts go. All kinds of thoughts arise. Before long, you will get to thoughts which make you angry - usually thoughts which give you the idea that other people have done things which are unkind or unfair to you. You can get very angry. I did. When that happens you must quickly realise that those are only thoughts and not you. You do not believe it, but slowly you will have to come to accept that for a fact.

There is this stream of thoughts that come rushing round and round your head happily on their own, like naughty little children having fun and causing a riot. There is nothing you can do much about them. Let them run, until they are tired. Sure, they the thoughts or stream of thoughts will get tired.

But only for a fleeting moment. Then off they go again. Round and round.

The key is to catch that momentary pause in the stream of thoughts. That momentary pause is gives one the window to "nothingness of no thoughts." That gives one a glimpse of the "cloudness mind." That clear and calm mind. Mind without thoughts is a clear and spotless as a mirror in the Hubble telescope.

The task from this point on is not to focus on the thoughts, but to look for that thoughtless gap with the stream of thoughts is tired and paused and keep prolonging that gap one time after another time.

When you have mastered widening the gap, you have found your real mind.

With body still, thoughts still, there is the mind - which is still. In that pristine stillness of mind, reality is reflected for you to observe.

This is all there is to meditation, in so far as I know it. Without any superfluous connotation whatsoever.

At that stage, one can live happily.

I invoked that state of mind when I wanted to quit smoking a long long time ago. I quit instantaneously, in a world of no smoke.

Technical Aspects of Meditation - By which simple things are made complicated


This is a Sanskrit term for focusing the mind.

As riotous thoughts rush about, one way to cut through those thoughts is to focus the mind. (My gap method is easy and faster.)

Some will tell you to focus on something - light, flame, symbol, image.

Once you are able to focus your mind and cut out thoughts, you have already found your basic mind.

There is all there is to it.

Some people wants to put in more layers of meaning, but I think that is not necessary.


This is a Sanskrit term for looking to wisdom.

The idea is that after you are able to clear your thoughts and focus your mind, what do you focus on?

The instruction here is to looking for wisdom. What is wisdom? Reality. Things as they are.

So, the exercise is to observe with one eyes and one's mind things as they are, and accept them as facts.

This sounds like simple, but it is not that simple.

Our minds are clouded by preconceptions and prejudices. Most of the time, we do not see with our minds, we filter things with our preconceived ideas. We often looks for proofs of our imaginings and gross generalisations and of course we find what we look for, usually, with things that are mental.

See with a clear mind, cloudless, colourless.

That's a lifetime of practice.

There is no need to sit and meditate in a darkened room with incense and low music.

Observe as we go about living our everyday lives, and become by the things we learn about ourselves, our friends, and our surroundings.

That's the truth.


Madness comes from greed. Do not practice samadhi or vipassana if you are greedy or vengeful. It can kill you. If you are obsessed, i.e., if you can't let go of things or let things be, then you obsession may kill you. For example, you hang on to a thought and won't let go. You follow that same thought every moment. That, to me, is the definition of madness.

Everything Will Pass

This is the ultimate wisdom - everything will pass. So, things do not really matter. Or rather, nothing really matters in the end.

This realisation comes heavily on us as we grow older and then old. When energy goes, and we accept things as they are, rather than try to change things to suit us.


I thought that I had better elaborate a bit on the no-mind stuff just in case there are a person or two who is curious about it.

As you can see, it is not complicated - maybe tedious and involved. The literature is all over the place, usually badly written by illiterates luminaries who speak in foreign languages through their toothless gaps in the middle of a jungle.

There are other books (Western) which makes things too simple - which learns one to pamper oneself unnecessarily.

I don't think these things as I have written above are a big deal. There are just a skill that can be learned, like typing on a computer or using the iphone. The trick is not a make a big deal out of things.

I shall next write on Why I Live, and How I Live. I am inexorably going into a situation which I am reluctant to enter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I Think

I think intuitively.

Let me explain.

Early in my life as a student, when I was learning to think, it dawned on me, in the late hours in the dead of the night, that intuition is nothing but logic operating very quickly as if instantaneously. I think it was after reading Bergson.

Deduction, Induction

Logic is nothing but a very mechanistic way of thinking. There are two major approaches. Deduction is from the general to the specific. Induction or inference is from the specific to the general.

While these two approaches to logic look fairly simple and straightforward, their proper application requires a lot of practice so that one does not fall into the trap of "gross" generalisations or pedantic "frog in the well" or "frog under the coconut shell" mentality.

The common illustration of the problem of logic is the story of the black swans. In England at a time when they were beginning to think, they saw and concluded that "All swans are white" until they discovered Australia and discovered they are wrong when they saw black swans there. The truth is seldom neat and tidy.

Logical, No Truth

But logic is never the path to truth. Logic is just a method to ensure that a view or an argument is properly constructed and laid out - so that it can be communicated clearly to other people (most often for the purpose of trying to convince others to share or take up one's view). This is a very tedious thing to do - to work out each and every little step very clearly and linearly along a line (not necessarily a straight line). In modern day example, this is nothing more than just a circuit board.

What is arrived at is not the truth, but a logical conclusion. "If you build it like this, it will end up like that." And the "that" is not the only "That" but one of many possibilities that can be done if the logical sequences are constructed differently. A different route, a different destination. (In modern day religious endeavours, different routes, same destination, hopefully.)

So, then, what is truth? How do we know truth?

My proposal to myself is to be learn to think logically first - to be stringent in my logic.

This requires absolute honesty. Polite society calls it bluntness. It is very hard to be bluntly honest in the complex world of networking today. Each person holds a conclusion that is personally meaningful to him or her. It is dangerous to shake their confidence in the truth they hold for themselves. That truth may be proven to them by the beneficial effect that position they hold has on them - even if the logic of that conclusion may be very difficult or impossible to prove - on the basis of existing tools and concepts and understanding.

Completeness of thought requires us to accept that there are conclusions that logic can prove and there are also conclusions that cannot be proved by logic. It is the logic of all possibilities: the propositions and the null propositions.

The totality of things or everything is the truth or the reality. It is the most general theory or view that is the truth of things.

It may be a fool who tries to assimilate this total view, but to me this is absolutely necessary in order to be able to understand where I am today and to accept things as they are and to be able to anticipate where things will go in future and how things will transform from moment to moment.

The nature of each and every thing determines how each will develop as time goes by, by itself. The person who has understood the nature of things knows how each thing will develop and how everything will interact with each other. Laozi calls this the Tao or the Way. Some other clever chap even says "I am the Way."


How I think therefore is very simple and basic. First, learn to think logically. Then after, let the thinking go by itself and think intuitively without boundaries.

The mind will expand and then assimilates all that it sees and perceives. The processing of everything simultaneously and completely requires the mind to be undirected so that it is unprejudiced - and this can be done by letting thoughts disappear. The subsequent realisation is the end-result of that alchemical processing called meditation - the highest of which is a condition called no-mind. (I am reluctant to say "zen" because it is a well-known term that is easily misunderstood.)

Discrete and Continuum

Simple thoughts are usually categorical and boxy. "He is good." "She is bad." But all generalisations are false, including this one (as someone once said).

The reality is that we have everything in each of us - it is just a matter of cultivation and emphasis. But all blankness and all possibilities will be narrowed as we exploit our opportunities and take on a specific direction or path. Statisticians call this reducing "the degree of freedom." I call it "using up one's bullets." E.g. "You have three bullets. You have fired two. What are you going to do with the last one." Or, "you have one bullet, but you have multiple objectives to achieve. How are you going to achieve them all?"

We see the wonderful variety of life on earth and we wonder who create them all. But they may just spring into existence when conditions are right for things to come into being. Furthermore, this is only what we can see. How about those we cannot see - even with a microscope - the wind we create with the move of a hand. The Great One asked, "Where is the light when the flame is gone."

There is further room for thought when we realise that even the things we can see today are only those we can see today. It does not mean that other things did not exist just because we do see them today (dinosaurs). Things we see may just be things that have come to prominence as a result of long process of historical selection or preferences.

There could be a continuum of infinite human types in the male-female combination, including unisex and non-sex and everything in between. It is just a matter of the degree of maleness or femaleness in each of us.

If we extend this perception and think of the human race, we therefore realise a commonality among ourselves the variation of which can only be due to conditioning to external factors. We are all subject to the same kinds of concerns and problems. In the end, everything boils down to the issue of survival.

It is only by being able to think in a more general form can a person reach out and touch the universe. Be at one with the universe. At this point, we follow our hearts. It is only when our hearts are pure that we know truth.