Monday, May 26, 2008

How to stay in the Now.

I picked up my car from the repair shop after almost two months since tha accident, the body job looks great but the engine does not sound the same anymore and as i was driving here to the USM Gallery the car stalled on me at the Gelugor Roundabout. Nope not the same car anymore and as to be expected i suppose. The Museum Gallery and its Staff too are going through some changes with new faces and renovations and so i will need to find a new place to work from soon snough. My artistic creative output is being put on hold as i have run out of juice or inspiration to do any work. t

I have decided to work with the shots I took of a street side 'Sunday Market' which I happened by while travelling in North Sumatra someityme in 2004 . These pictures were taken with my digital camera an olympus and they came out quite good. I like to capture people in these circumstances doing their daily activites. Capturing their colorful cloathings and their natural postures from varuious angles makes it a n interesting composition.
Lightung also plays a vital role for me when I take a snapshot as it enhances the compostion by rpoviding strong contrasts of the colors and shapes.

good company of friends like i used to have in the past, those who were of simmilar energetic thinkers and movers, those who were creative and aggressive when it comes to making things happen, those who force one to think and act with their charisma. Maybe this too is an indication of the aging process part and parcel of getting older well if it is then I will have to change my plans and start looking into more drastic solutions towards making my future more challenging and less tedious, like start my painting on a grand scale for my upcoming shows. Get off my arse and start l;ooking into things that I have put off eversince my car was hit. My sabattical is over, back to work and time to give em Hell!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What's Happening?

I have been taking it easy or kind of forced to be laid back due to the lack of transportation and financial constraints, hence my long break from updating my blog. i know i am writing pretty much to myself like most who began keeping a blog years back, however i find the exersise pretty rewarding especially in my ability to type out the words alot faster than i used to and with lesser and lesser errors in spelling and gramar. I enjoy getting my thoughts across the net zone into the no man's land of universal consiousness ans sometimes when someone writes a response it is a pleasant surprise. Yes I do miss writing for the last few weeks and i do feel guilty for not keeping my blog updated.

Much of my time is spent at home hanging out with my two children mostly watching DVDs movies a few of them for the sixth or seventh time while at the same adding a bad influence on my son who has become a DVD addict, but i dont really mind as i much rathe he becomes a movie eddict than a dope addict and he is with me at home most of the time. My daughter has got the book reading bug just like her dad and is often in her room buried in some novels, thank God! I have stopped worrying too much about their future as i am beginning to see that their future is where they are at and it ain't too bad. By my being able to hang out with them most of the time I am beginning to see the wisdom of what it means to spend quality time with the kids although quality time is relative to each parent and i do it my own way mostly teaching and preaching, nagging and bribing, threatening and awarding accordingly. I find the most effective lesson is that I set the example by living my life as i choose to and they are welcome to pick up on what or how i deal with my life. Not all that i do may be examplary but I do my best to become a good role model to my children.

The last few weeks deprived of my car due to the accident has allowed me some time to be away from my on going art projects at the University Gallery and this is good because i was running out of enthusiasm and original ideas. I have opted to focus my mind on enhancing my spiritual practices and getting to know myself up close and peronal in relation to my Creator. Alot of Zikhr and meditation and attempts at fulfilling my five times a day of solat or obligatory prayers. Staying up most nights reading or meditating and performing the sunat or tahjut prayers I find myself feeling a little less rattled by what life is dishing out at me and my family. It is okay! It could be worse but thank the AlMighty that we are not in Miyammar or the earthquake region in China, or we could have been Afganistan or the hot spots in the middle east or Africa!...nope, we are in Malaysia where the weather is getting all ixed up and the biggest concern right now is that the Durian trees are not producing like they should this year and the biggest national concern is that Dr. M has left the UMNO party because 'they will not listen to his words anymore'. Malaysians are being entertained by by an ongoing politcal drama played by all the political leaders who has anything or nothing to contribute towards the nation's wellbeing while the food prices are rising and country is facing an economic woes ahead. In other countries famous actors like Philipine's Ex President Estrada, or Arnold Schwartzenegar the Governor or California becomes political heads while in Malaysia political leaders are becoming characters for the 'Bangsawan' or Soap operas.These days there are a great deal of opposition and alot less propositon and it seems like the country is becoming one big stage production where the actors and directors cannot get their acts together.

The common folks in the meantime are getting sucked into the production like unpaid extras watching form sidelines how their favorite heroes and villains fare out in this whole mess. The poor and the needy will have to wait for the curtains to be raised and the play finally being figured out as to who does what and gets what done. The Malaysian Political scene is a thing of beauty as far governments goes as very few governments in the world has such intricate combination of scenarios being put to play out. Racial, religious, cultural and a latest addition of the rulers and their parts is now a part and parcel of the script. Then there are the scandals and the corruptions, the disgruntled and the opportunists who are waiting for their turns to take a bite at the present ruling party. In all this there stands the PM always with his innocent doleful smile taking all the punches left and right with the patience and perseverence of the Prophet, Pak lah will always be my hero, he is my Mr.Deeds and Bill Gates, he is the Mahatma and Nelson Mandella all roled into one. Pak Lah is not a weak manager or CEO but hes has very poor and non functioning entities behind him in whom he has mistakenly laid his trust. Those who he has trusted has sold him out honoring their own selfish intrests and not carrying out his mandates as he had envisioned when he took over the role of the PM. So, please people stop blaming the man! He is only one man and he believed in himself but he also had to believe in those he had chosen to work under him and they let him take the fall for a failed election why?
Take a closer look I say at all those fingers pointing at this man especially the longest and oldest finger or the former PM is it clean? Is he so confident in his righteousness that he is ready to meet his Maker and declare that he is right and that Pak Lah should step down like He says? Who does he has in his mind to take over as the next PM? The present DPM another very clean figure with no skeletons to hide in his sarong? Or the former DPM the avenging angel waiting in the dackground for the moment to step into the limelight and take his proper place as the nations leader yet another squeky clean character with charisma and all. With all due respect towards all these characters I still believe Pak Lah for all his accused of weaknesses, is still lesser of all the evils that are prowling within and without the Parliament building. I trust in him because they say he is weak and I trust in him because he is naive and innocent in many ways I'd much rather trust a man I can predict than those that are too embroiled into themselves that it is hard to figure out what the hell they are thingking or up to.
if there is any change to be made I hope Pak Lah will continue on to weed out all those characters who are not performig to his expectations and the Nation's interest even those from within his own team especially those within his own team, even if it means sacking his own son in law if need be. Most of the weeding is already done for him in the past election and the thorns in his side were mostly removed by the people's choice but there are still those that are hiding behind his leniency and gentle character and thes whoever they are are more dangerous than the opposition leaders. The people still love Pak Lah, in the coffee shops and the streets but they want to see him put down his foot a little harder so that it can reverberate across the Parliamentary floor. Bring the curtain down Pak lah it is time and the hell with being right or wrong just act out what your heart feels the people will be right behind you and they matter more than those who are closest to you in the cabinet.

I shook Pak Lah's hand bwefore he became the PM in Kuala trengganu when along with Dato Idris Jusoh and Dato'Zainol Ariff were delivering their first meet the people address at the Primula Hotel. The first question asked of him was, "Pak Lah, Orang melayu Pulau Pinang tak boleh nak jage macham mane nok jage orang Melayu Trengannu?" Or Pak Lah, if you cannot take care of the malays in Penang how do you expect to take care of the Trengganu Malays? All three panelists were dumpstruck by the rudeness and the blunt truth of the question and i stood to answer the question just to save their faces and break the ice. Today as i had shaken the man's hand before i still feel like he is and ok guy but he needs all the help he can get and help is not what he is getting as most of those whose swore to carryout his mandates are wolves in sheepskins taking advantage of a sincere and honorable character. May Allah rolong his status and may Hu help him to deliver this nation is her troubled times.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's None of my business

The world is boiling down to a food crisis, shortage of natural resources, major natural disasters and i am worried about my son watching too much movies on CDs and DVDs and not willing to study for his upcoming exam. A man killed himself in his car by carbon monoxide inhalation leaving a note saying that he had enough of life in yesterday's News papers and chld prostitute declared that she could entertain seven clienst a day and make some tewnty five thousand Ringgit a month tax free. I am at the Penang State Library and a young Chinese lady sitting at the next cubicle is seriously studying her physics like her future depends on it. The country is rolling in a political turmoil and the drama being played out by politicians at the parliament has become one of the top TV entertainment only second to World Wrestling Federation series. Its no more mud slinging or character bashing, it has now come down to head bashing and throat slitting or just about downright balls kicking.

So what else is new? What else would make a difference? Would a WW3 make any difference to help to make us see ourselves through a cleare vision of where this humanity is headed or do we even care? Whaetever happened to the " look at the positive side of a man, or a politician or a turn the other cheek kind of philosophy, whatever happened to satiagraha or the do unto others law of humanity? Our long line of prophets and saints our men of sciences and creative thinkers are now probably turning over in their graves just from witnessing how bad a shape mankind is in today leading itself towards self destruction. The ancient greeks would most probably weep at the manner in which the Olympic flame was being smuggled from one country to another before it finally reached its destination, while the Tibetan Lamas and Tulkus of bygone era sit in deep contamplation over the fate of the Vajrayana stronghold of the Lord Buddha in the moutainous region of the world, are these the signs of time? The turn of Kalachakra, the death throws of the Kali Yuga, the beginning of the End of Days as prophesised in religious revelations, if so what can Pak Lah do about it?

Pak Lah may not be able to stemm off the beginning of the 'End of Days', no sir Pak lah has got krpla Singh and Anwar Ibrahim to reckon with whilt trying very hard to keep UMNO and the rest of the Barisan Nasional from sinking into Political History. Pak Lah. So What if the Nation has a little bit of political unrest or that there may of may not be a shortage of nasi Dagang in Kuala Trengganu? Malaysians are still a lucky bunch with no major earthquakes or volcanic activities to worry about and there is always an ample surply of firewood from the forest nearby and plenty of fish from the nearby rivers polluted as they may be, Malaysians are doing OK by a long shot and we will most probably survive this wave of negative events sweeping the globe and would still be able to play good samaritan towards our not so friendly neighbor Miyamar now that the country has got a greater problem than just having a bunch of Millitary Generals running the country clean to the bones. Yes we Malaysians have go to realize that we have it made and that despite of what our heroic politicians have to do or say for us or about us, deep down we know we will ride this wave out just as we did the last Tsunami for God is on our side. This is one of the countries that can safely say the we have the most number of Gods being worshipped or are watching over us. This is the good thing about living in a Multi- Racial country!
With Blogging becoming the buzz word of the day among our politicians and the power that be and much interest is being given into how to curb and control this medium of expression it is time to move on into better and more secure mode of sharing my thoughts with myself. It is strange how someone at the end of the day or some institution or power will always assume that evertything and anything should and aught to be places in their field of control. Control is the antithesis of the freedom of expression or freedom, Period! Stop singing 'Born Free!', the only thing that is free is and worth doing these days is mental masturbation and even that with the encroachment of the Lords of Control into our minds we might just have to curb our thoughts. Let politicians into anything and they think they own you, they will soon come to believ that God had elected them to play Deities on this planet making decisions over human lives while at the same time taking everyone for a ride. The worse are those that assume extra intelligence over others having the ability to manipulate and exploit any given situation or circumstances, corrupted beyond reason and matining tha belief that they are immune from the devine justice. When God created hell He created a special place for hypocrates, now he has added another spot for skunk politicians especially those who uses His religion to pitch man against his brother.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Its all in the Tummy!

I wrote my blog yesterday afternoon while at the University Sains Muzium Gallery and was having such a struggle to get things down as my mind was simply not into it. Then i decided to write anyway just to break the lethargy and find oout the cause of my being in such a state of mental block,I did. By the time i was through I had written a lengthy discussion over nothing and managed to at least get my thoughts down into a more active participation over what I was doing. It was a very good exercise in pinpointing what was the cause of my lethargic feeling and at the same tiem i was able to look into my past actions of recent days seeing if I made any sense and where or what the devil i was into. Not having the car ready is one good cause for a little mental depression and not being able to be myself in creating my latest works is a major cause no doubt. However there was one immediate cause that i failed to take note of and it came to me later on after I had completed my blog.

After the blogging I had stopped by the mini-library that the Muzium has in the front corner room of the building and ther are some collection of books mostly on art and philosophy. I was browsing along the shelf of the books on Islam and islamic Philosophy when I cam across a book by Imam Ghazali the Muslim Philosopher and religious Teacher. After having read through about two chapters of the book which is in Bahasa Malaysia I discovered the answers to my mental and physical predicament that i was experiencing: over eating! From reading the book I come to realize that my stomach was full to the max and thus my mind had become slothful and was incapable of being creatively active and this has always been the case in the past which i had failed to address. The Prophet (SAW) was quoted from His hadith on numerous occaisions about the ill-effacts of over eating and the virtue of hunger and fasting. I would loved to have shared a few of these had I the book with me right now, however suffice to say that nope, eating too much does not do good for your creative mental state, maybe good for your slothful sleepy state. So today i decided to eat less and still feels like my tummy is bloated and my mind is not as up to par for any intelligent relfections. And why is my yesterday's blog not entered? Good Question but bad karmic answer, I was too greedy, I was trying to add tose quotes from the hadiths and imam gahzali's words on over eating that somehow i lost the whole blog! I was not pissed or disappointed because it seems to be okay now that these things happens in my life.
But one thing I learn and at my age an important thing it is, and that is watch what you eat and how much you eat as it has a very strong effect upon your temprement, your mental state and your emotional and psychological balances. Obessity is not the only problem one faces from overeating or eating at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. Sometimes we eat like there is no end to it simply because we can afford to or the food is there and sometimes we convince ourselves that we should enjoy it all while we can because when we are ill often times food is the last thing we can enjoy, so eat while you can and whatever we can so long as it is good and tasty and wash it all down wirh a good glass of cold drink. A Big Mac! A juicy KFC or a good plate of Nasi Kandar, a T-Bone Steak- meduim rare, Char Koay Teaow with shrimps and pickled green Chillis, Food! Marvelous food! A Pecan pie, a Macadamia nut Sundae, a Good pineapple slush, a extra large bowl of Ice Kacang with Ice Cream! How great to be alive with all these food available to you. I have been blessed when it comes to food for I have tasted just about every western food and Eastern food there is to taste as I have lived in both the East and west of Malaysia as well as of the planet. The best food I have enjoyed most was when i was living in the Zen Buddhist monastery in Sausalito, Carlifornia.
At the Green Gulch Zen center the food was totally organic and prepared by the community at the center and the food was totally vegetarian.Most of the vegetables if not all were grown right at the farm. Potatoes of all kinds of varieties found in the Western coast of the US, lettuces, cauliflowers, brussel sprouts, beats and spinach, cabbages and carrots and just about every kind of herbs and fruit trees all from the fields and garden of the Green Gulch Zen Community and all grown with love and tender loving care of Zen Practice. Waht made the food more tasty was the fact that they were consumed with a great sense of heightened awareness, the result of spiritual practices such as meditations and holistic living. How interesting that the same vegetable would taste alot different prepared and eaten under different circumstances and environment. The name Edward Espe brown came to mind everytime I look back upon my food days at Green Gulch, one of my Zen Instructors and one tiem head Chef of the Greens Restaurant in Downtown San Francisco. Ed was one of a kind Zen Teacher whose sense of humor had kept us student from falling asleep on many Dahrma talks and he helped to make the Practice seems less tight and constricted with all its precetps and rituals. Ed can whip up a vegetarian dish like no one can along the Paciffic Seaboard. During my practice periods at the Green Gulch Zen Community I was given to wear Ed's First ordained robes which by then was falling apart at the seams but added to the aesthetic rustic look of a Zen priest.

Peter Rudnick was on the other hand the Baker of Zen Center and at the same time he was also the Farm head who knew the fields all the way from the one end of the Green Gulch valley to the Muir Beach where the Paciffic ocean meets the coastline of Marin County, California. Acres and acres of fields of vegetables was ploughed by Peter and his crew and when not working the fields he was busy toiling in the kitchen preparing his well known Tassajjara Bakery, bread and pasteries. At night when all is quiet, you might catch him in his small study pouring over his collection of the La Devino De Commedea or The Devine Comedy of which he had hundreds of books and I was the fortunate few to be allowed into this private world of his. Peter was one of the first Zen students that had studied under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and he was formerly a Jersey Boy whose father was a baker.

The Garden as it was known was often times during the summer months was a fairyland of flowers and of many varieties of herbs and fruits. Wendy Jhonson the white haired Queen with the greenest thumb cared for the garden like it was her life and practice. Working with Wendy was an inspiration in itself and anyone who had had the opportunity to have rubbed shoulders with this lady of the earth will leave the practice with an unforgetable experience. Whether it be hoeing or tilling the compose piles or transplanting the lillies, it was never just hard work it was every step a lesson worth more than money can buy. Wendy's personality was like that of a elder sister whose love and compassion towards everyone was contagious even for one like myself who was nothing but trouble for the community most of the time. Wendy and Peter had two children back then and how I miss them all!

Zen master Dogen was said to have said that."A day of no work is a Day of No Food."

If i believe in the workings of the Buddhist Karmic consequences I think i might be reborn into the realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Heavens Forbid! It may too late to repent now but I was a hog even when i was lving at the Zen Monastery then again who was not? Those who were not, those who had a handle on the eating habits back then, they were the enlightened ones and they deserved to be so, nver had I met and lived with so many enlightened beings, people who came and surrenderd themselves to the harsh and rigorous practice of Zen Buddhism in its modern age. I may never wade into the same river twice but if ever i get the opportunity i would like to sit again in the Green Dragon Zendo and look at my 'self' how far or how near i ave been since I left the Monastery.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Is my Creative juices running dry!!

The last few days has been a drag as I felt wasted with not being able to create or do anything worthwhile to justify my presence on this plane of existance. It has taken me a great effort to get myself here the USM Museum gallery and get this blog down but I fell asleep instead after the lunch I had in the back room. My mind will just not function hard as I tried to get it to express whatever that is causing it to become petrified with the hope that it will cause a release of any blockages. So I am writng it down this attempt to break the iceburg of slothfullnees and stagnation of my mind. Perhaps it has to do with the unevernfult life that i have been leading just worrying over petty issues of daily living, perhaps it is part and parcel of my ageing process, the mind is becoming lazy!Whatever it is i am going to crack it open and hopefully bring this cold spell to a halt and let in some sunshine
into what is threatening to become a dark spell.
Enlighten yourself I kept telling my daughter, make yourself light, let go of all the heavy stuff and dont let ignorance drag you down like a gravity. Thats what it means to be enlightened i told her,to become light to be free spirited, to be bright as in the limelight and not become a prisoner of dark and gloom. This i told my daughter when she asked me about the word 'Enlighten- ment' a couple of days ago. This is waht i have to remind me of my present mental predicament. I have to step into the light and i have to shep off this cloak of heavyness and gloomy clouds approaching on the horizon, I have to enlighten myself before it is too late. So I went to pray at the mosque last night for the magrib and the Ishak prayers and while waiting in between I sat and meditate and did my Zikr. I was hoping that whatever is riding my back like a camel into the desert of uncertainty will be ripped off by my being in God's house and reaching out for His intervention.
I have entrusted some artworks of mine with Lee Khai for him to have them framed if he finds them worth framing and also for his safe keeping at the Alpha Utara Gallery and we had a good discussion about how or what to do with my upcoming show at the Gallery in Late August or September. I was not surprised that he found my latest works especially those of my larger pieces in oils are too 'controlled and constricting'. He thought that i shouild let go and be free in my expressing myself like i used to do in the past as he thought my bold strokes are my strength. I agree with him to some extent but on looking back I realized that what he saw were not my latest works but works worked upon from the past few years ago. These oil paintings were done since 2001 while I was living in Terengganu and I had kept them as it was my believe that they are never finished and will be worked on till they are sold or destroyed or if and when the horses jump out of the canvass or the bird flew free into the night skies. I actually have no new paintings except for the ones that i am working on at the USM Museum gallery.
I told him of how i cannot afford to get me some new canvasses and materials to start on some new pieces and he agreed to get them for me if i want him to. I have to take on his offer and I hope this will lead on to a partnership between him and I where my works are concern. I am glad that my works will find a venue where tey will be readily able to be viewed by potential buyers as the Alpha Utara Gellery is one of the more well known Art Gallery in Penang.
Well not bad so far for a mind that is suck in a rut and not being able to let loose and come up with something creative for the day. This piece of writng itself is testimony to how and why if the mind is pushed it will perform no matter how trivial of boring the outcome of its producution is at the end of the day. having written this blog itself is a feat that not many who has not the ability to write will find it phenominal as it tkaes some doing mentally if not intellectually. It has also allowed me to see and express my thoughts over saveral issues that has been running in my mind and needed to be confronted. Yes these are petty- anny issues not worth a blogging, but what is the purpose of my blogging? I am not blogging to entertain anyone in particular and much less critisize or badger the government for its incompetenceies, no sir, I blog to unravel my thoughts, I blog to unwind my confused state of mind, I blog just to ramble on about my life to see if anything makes any sense in the long run, if there is any nuts and bolts that needs to be tightened or a loose wire that needs to be properly fixed. I have been blogging for the past few years and it has helped me to find my perspectives in life and not all these perpectives are right perspectives but they are still the perspective that i have been able to spot and noted just as the reason why I kept an on going journal in my sketching books. During my earlier school days my teachers had encouraged us students to keep a diary so that we can improve on our writing skills, I should have taken up on that suggestion.
This last piece of writing is added after reading a book caleed "Rahsia mengenal Nafsu dan Cara Mengawalnys" a book of Imam Ghazali's teachings.
After reading a few chapters of the book I come to realize where my fauult lies. I had eaten too much and my stomach was filled to the max thus causing an obstruction of my mental faculties!! Listen to this..."Barang siapa yang kenyang dan tidur maka keras membatu hatinya". The rsaul of Allah.
"Perangilah hawa nafsu mu dengan lapar dan haus,kerana sasungguhnya pahal mengenai itu sama dengan pahala dalam jalan Allah, dan saungguhnya tidak ada sabuah amalpun yang lebih dicintai Allah daripada lapar dan haus."
Rasullah (SAW)
I can go on with all the elightening quotes from the prophet of Allah on the subject of being frugal in food consumption and the wisdom of fasting of veing in a state of hunger, but time is running out for the Musium is about to close. So Asta majana!