Monday, 12 April 2010


To paraphrase from my favourite daily cup of Tao:

"For those who  yearn for a lot of gold;
is not then your precious mind full of gold?"

From Chozanshi's the Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts:

"I envelope the universe by means of my mind; and by means of the universe, there is nothing that obstructs my mind. Riches and honour, good luck and calamity are elsewhere. When you seek after such things, you may obtain them or you may not - this is not something that is guaranteed. The Greatest Happiness is within yourself. If you seek your mind wholeheartedly, you will obtain it for sure. Simply, do not seek after illusion."

"Confucius said, 'is human-heartedness so far away? If i seek human-heartedness, it is right here.' Human-heartedness is nothing other than the Greatest Happiness. When you pursue things, are unable to obtain them, and yet persist in desiring them, you merely torment yourself. You exhaust your life because of 'things', and will never know contentment... Those who don't realise that they are making their precious mind slaves to other things, will use their minds like this and exert themselves to the very end of the day. Nowadays people call men who are skillful in such matters wise. In the past they called them fools and men of little calibre.... Wise men know that such things are fetters and bonds... because what they treasured was within themselves"

- Meeting the Gods of Poverty in a dream

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Hindustan zindabad!

One of my favourite travel experiences is joining the Indian crowd cheering for their soldiers trooping off to the Gate with archrivals Pakistan in a solemn spectacle for the border closing ceremony at Attari-Wagah, 30km north of Amritsar.

A Sikh parade commander yells commands and legs kicking, feet stomping and arms swinging they march in pressed ceremonial khakis with peacock plumes on their berets and turbans to the wrought iron gate which cuts India and Pakistan - once one country.

Civility and respect prevail as the parade commanders execute a perfunctory handshake, before the flags are lowered, keeping diplomatically at the same level and the gate closed for the night. The tricolour Indian flag is then carefully folded and marched back to the border post by a proud young soldier.

Before the march to the border it was a party - jubilant Indians dancing in saris on their side of the frontier,  Bollywood hits pumping from loudspeakers. Tiny Indian flags and cold water are peddled to the swelling crowd by enterprising young man dodging lathis (rattan canes) of police officers. An army sergeant works the crowd from the army post, booming nationalist slogans and leading choruses of "Hindustan, zindabad!" (long live Hindustan) while tiny Indian flags flutter and wave in the swelling, bursting sea of people.

It was also, by the way, the closest i came to being crushed in a crowd.

This, by the way (again) was the VIP area which i managed to get into.

Peering over to Pakistan...

Fight club.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

the Office and the Beach

I just love forming juxtapositions during my free time at the Office.


In a cubicle, typing away (or pretending to for the matter)

Waking up with a hangover (the result of one too many gin and tonic last night) in magical Mirissa, the sun shining on another beautiful timeless day, walking down to the beach...

Taking the bus to work (again).

On a bus ride, somewhere, thinking about things, my life so far, replaying and reviewing scenes and conversations in my head, past lives, as the scenery changes outside the grimy window, from water buffaloes to verdant rice paddies to children shouting... in a language i don't understand, and yet in one i do - of joy, happiness, and innocence.

Reading newspapers on supposedly important and serious stuff like interest and exchange rates

Reading local newspapers waiting in airports, oscillating between bored and hyper-excited (even more so after paying extortionate amounts for airport coffee), waiting for my flight and getting all hyped up looking at departure boards (MH203 - CASABLANCA - NOW BOARDING)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

On expensive things revisited (Epicurus' take)

(sorry folks this font and formatting is driving me crazy too. its been at least 5 rewriting attempts and so IT idiot me now decides to give up and present it as is. Blame it on fate and Blogger then.)

Apparently Epicurus had, 2,000 years ago, reached a similar better conclusion:

That the ratio between Wealth or Expensive Things ("belongings" - which i find is such a sad word) and Happiness gained is heavily imbalanced, exponentially so as more emphasis is placed on wealth. 

(sorry still not very good at all at describing charts and graphs - it will have to speak for itself then)

Such that the "quid pro quo" of acquiring wealth beyond essential and necessary needs is often at no great help and perhaps even at detriment to one's true happiness (time with loved ones, appreciating what we already have, treating people fairly and equitably etc...)

As an aside, On work, i would like to be rewarded for my effort and hard work, not for my Machiavellian machinations and petty-minded bullying of others. I refuse to believe it is a zero-sum game. Life is not.

So is the pursuit of wealth worth it? Its your call. (we all have our different circumstances and trade-offs to consider after-all)

Epicurus does uses "pleasure" but one senses this has more a spiritual/mental, as opposed to material dimension to it. And spiritual pleasure (being rich in the spirit) lies in being Good, and living deliberately and consciously, thinking, and reflecting. And being at peace and accountable to oneself and one's principles.

For Epicurus himself said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life."

To end off, "One must regard wealth beyond what is natural as of no more use as water to a container that is full to overflowing" (and it is by no means a huge container...)

Khalil Gibran has this to add "And what is the fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst that when your well is full, the (very) thirst that is unquenchable?"

p/s: may i very self-indulgently add here: see what i mean by "cheating the system" and calling the bluff (saying enough is enough), because the greatest trick this system has ever played on us is that we will never have enough? Actually, for me, it is only now that i see it clearly and beyond doubt, after by sheer luck bumping into Epicurus.

Certainly not quite what the advertisers would have you believe an Epicurean life is about:

(to be honest, this made me lol. Rich folks are welcome to scorn me as a country bumpkin, by the way - it may be true, but what does it matter - does it make me a less-worthy person to be looked down upon? If so, so be it.)