Saturday, August 28, 2010

A serious question...

My friend Shamsul Ikhmar asked a very serious question on behalf of his friend who is doing a theseis on the Malays in Penang... Are the Malays being marginalised here? I felt disinclined to share my thoughts at the time but told him to ask his friend to read my blog, perhaps she might find a piece or two on what I think of the ethnic situation here.
Off course the Malays here are being marginalised but before anyone jump into conclusion and misquote me let me continue on to say that, mostly by themselves and among themselves. The temptation to point the fingers at other races over the matter is easy but to admit ones own weaknesses as an individual as well as a society is a bitter pill to swallow. I read somewhere in an UMNO phamplet or was it one of USM's publication the the defination of a Malay today is something like, he who grew up among Malays, know only the one Malay culture that he grew up in and is a Muslim, something to that effect, which incidentally qualifies Tun Mahathir and a host of other Indian Muslims and people like me whose fathers' ancestry in Seri Lankan. But what is a true Malay? Perhaps those who live in the central heartland of Kedah, Perlis and the various other states like Kelantan and Terengganu. However even these when studied deeper into their ethnocentric history will uncover their origins as mostly from the Indonesian, and Thai ancestry. Only the aborigines or orang Asli can claim to be the real 'sons of the earth' as the Malay had claimed themselves to be, and these includes those living in the Sarawak and Sabah.

Malays in Penang were mostly from Indonesia, with the settlement set up before the British made their appearence. Tok Janaton and his brother made the settlement at Batu Uban and afew other places in and around the island, they became the Penang Malays. Later on came the indians and Chinese as indented labourers to the East India Company which latter saw the opportunity to take every bit of advantage especially of ignorance of the the Malay Rulers in Kedah to colonize the Island. The British were like a deadly parasite were always and will always be in human history and they who had nothing to offer in terms of natural resources took everything they could through threats and cunning adventures. What the British own till this day that had placed them as one of the super powers were no less than the product from highway robbery and piracy of which great movies were made to justify these.

The British had no love for the Malays beyond tolerance of the fact that they were an easy race to manipulate and succumb to the least of enticements, like give a Malay a title and he is the rooster in the village. Pay him a little more than the rest and he is one humble and faithful servant ready to serve to the death. But who is the Malay who is one hundred percent blue blood and cannot be denied his right as the sons of the earth? One has to find this character and pin the medal on him to indicate his status as the rightful owner of the land. He is out there make no mistake about it and it is in his nature to make no claims about his rights. those who make the most noises are usually those who has the least of right to this claim. I do not need to spellout who they are today but read and you shall see for yourself.

An so if you ask me are the Malays being marginalised here in Penang, I would have to say yes definitely so and they will keep on being so no matter who runs the government, the opposition or the Barisan Natsional. The original Penang Malays is a rare specie and most can be found deep within the few remnants of kampungs like in Balik Pulau and Telok Bahang areas, a small group fighting for their survival in the Tanjung To'Kong area and the Jelutong and Sungai Pinang areas. These will last till the MPPP decided that it is time to reclaim their rights to the land as handed to them by the British before they left the country. The MPPP is the the real landloards of Penang and everyone in their right mind and right position has their hand in the MPPP coffers in one form or another. The MPPP and the PDC are siblings in business of selling this island a piece at a time to the highest bidder and it is not limited to locals who join in the bidding. Would a true blue son of the earth sell his land and home for a profit? Not likely even if you are a Chinese or a Hindu born and raised here. a true Penangite would rather live in poverty than give up and inch of his land to someone else for any amount of money,at least we still have our own home our own heritage. But Penang is a merchandise today and fetch a top value in price in the international market it is destined to become another Singapore or Hong Kong all in good time.
Who stands to benifit from all these so called developments and sales? The Malays? Who the Malays where the Malays? The true Malays, not the 'half this half that' Malays. The Chinese and the Indians? None of the above as we are all vicitms of our own dellusions whcih comes in the form of Politics! We ares till being colonialized by the few who holds the key to the seat of power and holds a stranglehold on us through their pitching us one against another... if there is no problem lets create one kind of pitch. A lesson learned from the former colonizers... devide and rule only in a more subtle ways hardly recognizable. It is ironic that we hail ourselves a Heritage City while all we are doing is preseving the memory of our Masters, that we once were their indented slaves to the point that we could not have lived had it not for their being our masters.
Our forefathers sold out to the British everything worthy of our cultural and ethnic heritage to embrace theirs, the way of the West. Till this day we are still grovelling our way into trying to immitate their ways, always a step or two behind them in our effort to stay afloat in this world of globalization. Still the mental and physical slaves to their whims in the international scheme of things, beleiving that they have done us good and rightfully deserves to be honored if not respected.
We are a victim or our own dellusion, our own ignorance or who we are and who we could have become. We have sacrificed our nativity for the pittance thrown at us by those who kept us in bondage untill the Japanese decided that we should be freed from our shackles. But we were so engrossed by the so called good life under the colonial power that we would rather forget who we are and become what is expected of us to become. It is too late for what ifs and what could have been for us to ponder as our history has been and is still being written from the Western perspective. We have lost all our refferences other than that which has been set by the West and we ares till trying so hard to become the Malay, the Chinese and the Indians that we believe we are, what more we have become so obssesd with this ethnocentricity. We are back to our tribal ages where one tribe is pitted against another only now in a more politcally savey ways. We are no more free than our ancestors were, our minds are under the yoke of the Neo colonial era. We will always be puppets in the the scheme of life, our strings being pulled by the masters who lived on far distant shores our new masters.
So, Merdeka! lets celebrate our independance,our freedom from colonialism and mental dellusions, let us wake up once and for all and say hey! this is my land, my home, this will be my children's and theirs too, please make your second or third home somewhere else. You are not helpnig our economy but destroying our way of life, the very fabric of our society. Your prescence has made a handful wealthy but deprived the many their rights to live in the land they have called their own. Please look further than just what is there to be had for your comfort and benifit just because you can afford it, but look beyond, look at those your desires has helped to displace. Penang welcomes you and we bid you all the best while you are here, but leave in good faith and come back again dont get sucked into wanting more and more untill it becomes another lucrative investment to own a piece of the action here at the expanse of the people.
What has all these got the do with are the Malays being marginalized? You will have to seive through this blog and asnswer it for yourself as i am writing whatever that comes into my mind in the effort to ward off hunger and thirst in the month of ramadan.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Time After Time

Shamsul Ikhmal (MGTF- media dept.), made a Videoprofile of me doing a few of the things i do in my daily life these days and we tried to get it loaded onto the blog but failed. Its entitled Time after Time and the background theme song is of the same title. I was surprised when I first saw the video and felt strange looking at me on the TV screen at the Muzium Tuanku Fauziah at USM. I looked old and for the first time noticed this in myself. It also felt like i was looking at the very personality of my twin brother in every movement and action..scary!! My children loved it, all of them the ones here and the one in Switzerland. I dont think the one in Dubai has seen it yet or i would have heard of it from him one way or another. He has been very occupied lately as he had just moved from his apartment to a bungalow type housing for the Emerates Pilots, what a life!! and all he does is bitch and moan like his Dad. He had to move a salt water fish tank the size of a swimming pool and a home movie theatre that had all the comforts of a mini movie theatre and then some and now has reconstructed a new one which is even more grand and not to mention lugging all his Ice Hockey goal keeper equipments and finding storage rooms for them.

Ahh... such is life...who would have thought that my life would be so full of dichotomy and paradoxes. I may be relatively a poor sod financially but time and again i have to keep reminding myself of how wealthy i am when is comes to my life experiences and what i have to show for in terms of my children. I may not be the most well behaved and debonaire of a gentleman often times but i sure had my share of the ladies both here and in the west. I may not be the most pious or holy guaka molly of a seeker but i have had my share of temples and monasteries, Teachers and Gurus in my days on the road to becoming who I am in my spiritual quest. This reminds me of a news paper article i read a week or so ago of one of my former Buddhist teachers is visiting this Malaysia and it would be nice to see the old monk again not that he would remember me as the man he assigned his 'Bell Master' when he carried out a Vipassana retreat at Green Gulch Farm cum Zen Center in Sausalito, California. His name is Thich Nat Hahn and everyone called him Tay or Teacher in Vietnamese. He lives in france when he is not hopping around the world teaching his 'Mindfullness Walking Meditation' to the spiritually hungry like me and has a center of his own called Plum Village somewhere in France. I would not mind visiting this old master to say." Hi, you know you have helped to change my life!"

Thích Nhất Hạnh (pronounced [tʰǐk ɲə̌t hâːˀɲ] ( listen)) (born October 11, 1926) is a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist now based in France.
He joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. The title Thích is used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan.[1] In the early 1960s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon. This grassroots relief organization rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools, established medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War.[2] He traveled to the U.S. to study at Princeton University, and later to lecture at Cornell University and Columbia University. His focus at the time, was to urge the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War; King nominated Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in January 1967. He created the (non-Zen) Order of Interbeing in 1966, establishing monastic and practice centers around the world. In 1973, the Vietnamese government denied Nhat Hanh permission to return to Vietnam and he went into exile in France. From 1976-1977 he led efforts to rescue Vietnamese boat people in the Gulf of Siam.
Nhat Hanh has become an important influence in the development of Western Buddhism.[3][4] His teachings and practices aim to appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds, intending to offer mindfulness practices for more Western sensibilities. As of 2007, he has been based at the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France [2], travelling internationally to give retreats and talks. He coined the term Engaged Buddhism in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.[5] A long-term exile, he was given permission to make his first return trip to Vietnam in 2005 and has returned regularly since.[6] He was awarded the Courage of Conscience award in 1991.[7]
Nhat Hanh has published more than 100 books, including more than 40 in English. A journal for the Order of Interbeing, The Mindfulness Bell, is published quarterly which includes a Dharma talk by him. Nhat Hanh continues to be active in the peace movement, promoting non-violent solutions to conflict.[8] He has also been featured in many films, including The Power of Forgiveness showcased at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival[9].

Yes i had the opportunity to sit before this monk for seven days at a retreat and got to know him as much as he got to know me. Sometime on the fifth or sixth day of the meditation retreat I got tired and decided to play hooky and kept myself in bed instead of joining the meditation in the Zendo (Meditation Hall) where some seventy od people from all over the SanFrancisco Bay Area as well as those from as far as Germany and other countries to join in the retreat. I had a dream and in it I found myself sittin in a corner more like hiding or the Green Gulch Valley which runs it way all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Muir beach. I decided to give a 'Kia' or yell from the depth of my being, the pit of my stomach where my Chi rested and called out in Japanese "Uma'!!!" (means Horse) sedning my energy all the way across the valley at the low hills across from where I was hiding and where usually there were horses grazing along them. (In wakeful state my japanese friend Tsuyoshi Miyoshi and i would do this to challenge who could do it loud enough to stopp the horses from eating and raise their heads startled. That was what I was doing in my dream.
Then to my horror I saw the whole hillside streched in front of me began to shiver and shook and within minutes the part that reaches the sea began to crumble and sank into the waters! I said OO Shit! Now I have done it! Blanch (Blanch Hartmant) and Paul, (Paul Discoe) will chew my uts off!! However somewhere in my mind my little friendly voice was saying look at how ignorant you are, you are scared of these what these Practice Teachers can do to when you have the power to move mountains!! I snapped! I jumped out of my futton and dashed out of the gaitan ( living quarters of what ussed to be for cattles) and made for the Big Boncho bell. Grabbing the huge wooden striker i swung and struck the bell sending beautiful bell tones across the valley all the way to the ocean. I struck it seven times in a long sequence as we have been taught to strike to make a great impact. Then I went back to my little room and layed down. There i told myself quietly, i have got rid of my paranoia about being punished and turned away from my sense of comfort and security, let the worse come.
Sure enough after a while a gentle knock on the door and it opened slowly a little and the face of Paul peekd in funny with its thick round glasses that made his eyes twice their normal sizes and the bald head, "Sham! how are you doin? Are you Okay? Take a good rest and join us when you can.." He closed the door and was gone. The sitting session ended in the Zendo and everyone headed for breakfast. Everyone were silent at the Kitchen Table when i walked in, a few smiled and got back to eating the breafast 'minfully' as it was a 'Silent'Practice period, like no talking unecessarily. Thank God or the Buddhas i told myself for little practice favours. After the breakfast we had a short break and while walking back to our rooms a few of my friends walked up to me ans said thanks Sham! Bowed and walked away. One or two said hey man softly that was great! I began to feel funny at all these gratefullness what have I done? They were supposed to yell at me or threaten me! A day ort wo latter after the practice period of the Vipassana retreat I learned howed i had "awakened" a few sleepy heads who were having the toughest time keeping themselves from falling asleep or keeping their minds from wanting to give up from the physical torture of the six days of sitting meditation.
Later on when we sat in the Library to have 'tea' with Tay and a dharma talk, Thich Naht Hahn said to me, "So you like to ring bells do you?" in his small melodious Vietnamese voice." Well I have a job for you, duirng my talks as of now, you will ring the bell every fifteen minutes at which everyone will cease all thoughts and take a few deep breaths to return to their awareness like fully enjoying eating the tangerine or sipping this tea! You are my Bell Master!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Incorrigible Mind

not corrigible; bad beyond correction or reform: incorrigible behavior; an incorrigible liar.
impervious to constraints or punishment; willful; unruly; uncontrollable: an incorrigible child; incorrigible hair.
firmly fixed; not easily changed: an incorrigible habit.
not easily swayed or influenced: an incorrigible optimist.
a person who is incorrigible.

Thats what the dictionary said about the meaning of the word incorrigible and that was what one of my girlfriends accused me of when i was dating her in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She was no ordinary person and alot smarter than me to the point of being the assistant Dean of Students at the campus while i was there and also the International Student Coordinator. She tried her best to straighten my head but I failed her and till now the word incorrigible still reminds me of Bare Foot Lizzy. Whereever you are Liz, thank you and God bless your kind heart. last i heard she was headed to become a lawyer in DC so, I better remain on her good side!!

Yes many have accused me of being incorrigible and I most probably deserved it as I sometimes can get others pissed off with my ways. The problem with me was and maybe still is, is that it comes to me quite naturally, like out of the blue I can turn into a 'prick'. This might even surprise myself when it happens and happened it did on many occaisions and many lost great relationships. It seemed like when things got to the point of being real cozy and comfortable i would tilt the table and spill shit all over, doing it almost on purpose. This was one of the ugly steak i had especially when i was smoking marijuana, my favorite drug in the old days. Thats the curse of being an addict it gets you high and so high that you tend to forget the ground you walk on, the people who cared for you, often dragging them down with you. I was an addict for many years living in the United States, I experimented with my head or so i beleived.
I once sat on the desk in front of ninety students in a lecture hall and smoked 'pot' and aftert that gave a lecture on the pros and cons of a permanent and a temporary 'high'. It was in a class called 'Interpersonal Communication' ran by Prof. Jack Frisch, (he must be retired or dead by now so..).
Jack every so often would invite me to talk to his class for whever reason he had about my views about life and so there i was sitting in one of the cubicles taking a crap at the Studio of Fine Arts section of UWGB, thinking what in the worlld was i going to talk about the next morning at Jack's class. being done with my job I reached for the toilet paper and as i pulled on the roll something dropped to the floor bouncing all over the tile floor. I reached down and grabbed it and found that i was staring at a ceramic bowl or pipe for smoking pot. Yes someone had a few tokes in the toilet while taking a crap and left his bowl on the toilet paper, what a 'high!' I took the bowl home and bought me a stash of weed, boughts some Hindu inscense and borrowed a Ravi Shankar album with some classical sitar music on it. Took it all to the lecture hall the next morning and told jack i needed a record player for my lecture and also have some incense lighted around the room while i gave my talk. jack was the kind of guy who was game for anything out of the ordinary.
When the class was full i sat cross legged on the table got out the bag of stash and the pipe and started filling the bowl and lit it up. There was a mixed response from the students some giving a loud expression of shock and some who laughed no knowing why. I lit up the bowl and started enjoying my smoke, played the Ravi Shankar and distributed the incense to the four corners of the room. After I felt comfortable and reliefed that i was not being booted out of the hall or assisted by the security out of the building I proceeded to give my lecture. I talked for over tow hours on the virtues of a Permanent high verses a temporary one beginning with how i found the pipe in the man's room. Throughout my lecture I noticed only one student stood up and walked out at the beginning of the talk. late many of the students met me in the hallway to the Rathskeller expressed their appreciation of what i was trying to share with them and it included Jack who shook his head sideways and said one of these days Sam, you are going to get me in trouble, thank you.From that day on I had many students approached me to learn how to sit and meditate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dadaji- another great mind

Don't you bother yourself with virtue and vice. They are all mental constructions and have nothing to do with Him, the Infinite Ocean of Love. They are just actions and reactions ruling mental function. The entire world process is One. Only you take it in fragments.
"You are a role set by the Great Designer. Do play your part well, alive to the fact that you do whatever He chooses you to do. He is the Pilot of your life and you have come here at His Will to taste of His overflowing Love.
"Flow with the stream of life, without attempting to stem its tide. You are One with Him and yet separate so that you may Love-Play with Him. You can miss this Supreme Relish only if ego is allowed to wallow in self-importance. So, merge yourself into His All-engrossing Love."So goes his reassuring message. He goes even beyond, from Love-Play to pure Consciousness and then on to the Void of structureless Integral Existence. But, he repeatedly comes down to draw his brethren into his arms. He continues his liberating message:
"No human being can ever be a Guru. The Mahanam, which is your True Self, is the only Guru. You have come here wedded to that Mahanam, which is the Life Principle at the source of your respiration and is the warp and woof of all Creation.
"Submit to Him in love and confidence. Shake off all shackles of superstitions and taboos. Don't go against your nature. Let your inner drives lead your sense organs wherever they will. Be a passive spectator of the drama.
"No asceticism, no austerity, no penance, no physical calisthenics, no mechanical muttering of mystic syllables. All these are egotistic activities.
"Your inner fullness can dawn only when the ego is fleeced off. Only then are you in the wantless state. It is the limited mind that constantly suffers from wants."
Quoted by Henry Miller
Article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune
July 1979

To be tripping into these deep spiritual subjects and honoring great teachers who had made an impact both East and West is not exactly what the fasting month of Ramadan is all about at least not to the devoted Malay Muslims i have grown up with. But is it necesarryly so? I find it hard and harder to pray in the mosque or otherwise and as a matter of fact i felt like a hypocrate performing solat to please others and not made any connection with the One who matters. If I had bowed down and touched my forehead to the carpet and felt the least of Divine presecence I would have cried in happiness, but instead when my forehead touches the carpet I found myself cursing the guy next to me for reciting loudly whatever it was he was reciting throwing all my reverence and feeling of awesomness out the window. There is no doubt that most of those who pray in the moseque suffers the same dilema but are more patient and perservering in their fortitutde to endure such agravating circumstances and still fulfill the call to pray.
At the mosque where i frequent even from my childhood days, the current Bilal is a character you would want to shoot with a shot gun and put him out of his misery for everytime I hear him call the faithful to pray it is like a long dreary moaning. He must think like it is sweet song the ears of those who have to bear the sound but such is. I dont think he likes me from day one as he had never in my entire visit to the mosque shown a genuine smile or welcome to the house of God kindalook about him. Perhaps one may say i am making excuses for not wantng to join the Ummah in conggregational worship. Perhaps i am overly sensitive to such human frailties or ignorance. Perhaps my ego is hurt when I am in such a situation and cannot handle it and perhaps there dozens of other perhaps as to why I am at my age feeling the uselessness of it all. Most of my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters would tell me to settle down and make my amends with my Maker as i an approaching the end of my days. One of them even suggested that a trip to the Holy land is what i need as i have much to ask for mercy and forgiveness... bad past records.
No!! Enough is Enough! I have danced to the tunes played by others far too long and most of these tunes were sad and depressing come to think of it, they stink of hypocracy and envy and they will influence me no more. If I die a pariah so be it and if and when i do attain to my goals whatever that may be so be it too. I am still groping for answers looking for that which may have been right before my eyes all these while but I am still living in the shroud of Maya and am still attached to my sorry sod of an ego ;ving in fear of this and fear of that. No! Enough is Enough. If the demons within me will refuse to surrender than i will learn to live wirth them and if my spiritual search does not bear fruits than i will live with that too, but I nkow that from all these crap i have been writing I have tried and keep on trying i will till the end of my days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Krishnamurti- the core of his teachings

Jiddu Krishnamurti
Truth is a pathless land

The Core of Krishnamurti's Teaching
The core of Krishnamurti's teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said: "Truth is a Pathless land."
The statement below was originally written by Krishnamurti in 1980
Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security--religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man's thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all mankind. So he is not an individual.
Freedom is not a reaction: freedom is not choice. It is man's pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.
Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.
When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts he will see the division between the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep radical mutation in the mind.
Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.
* * *
If there is any thoughts that had influenced my own thinking over the years, it is those that has been expounded by Jedu Krishnamurti whose works i first stumbled upon in a bookstore in Green Bay,Wisconsin. It was during my college years when i came upon one of his works and was blown away by his ideas. Till today I still take a peek into his mind through the vast library and resources of his works on the Internet whenever i find myself slip sliding away from reality as it is. This statement I found this morning as I opened his network and randomly serched for a line or two for inspiration to get my morning going. It is a kicker!
These are food for thoughts not for the lay person or those whose mind has been nailed to the past, to traditions and belief systems. It is not even for those who are half baked in their persuit of truth, it is dangerous for the unenlightened mind like my own but hey!, whats a little danger when one's ultimate freedom is at stake? To die without discovering the truth of what life was all about, is the ultimate waste of human existence and to die and not know who one is in the scheme of things is just unforgiveable, its a sin. Hell is for the ignorant and the deluded, for the lazy in mind and blindly follows and those who despair in the search for Truth.
I do not recommend Krishnamurti to just anyone, especially those whose minds are set upon and secured in a belief system, a religious faith or dogma. I advice that those who have no firm understanding in the meaning of what it is to be a 'seeker' to avoid delving into the teachings of this man for it can tear you and what you understand of who or what you have understood yourself to be, if you are not carefull. It might leave you hanging on a limb if not in limbo. Krishnamurti's method of teaching is what is potent about his ways, he peels away layer after layer of your preconceived ideas, your knowledge, your understanding untill there is none left of you, you are naked, stripped to the core, even your soul is left in jeopardy as to what to belief in anymore and what is scary is that he is right.
In the present generation when the planet is on the verge of turmoil and chaos, when nature is in the process of exerting her payback in the form of one disaster after another, when mankind is killing one another asthough life is of no value, the teachings of Krishnamurti holds true more than ever. Pakistan is in the grip of monumental catastrophy, millions are homeless and thousands have lost their lives, Haitti is still reeling in her effort to recover from the shaker that left the island nation torn to pieces and China is still being given the washdown as floods and landslides is claiming more and more victims while Russia is getting burnt and somewhere in Africa...the Gods must be angry! Pissed off!!The wheels of the Juggernaught has been set in motion and many more will be trampled underneath as they roll gathering momentum upon the face of the earth. Can we slow it down or even stop these wheels of time and destruction, the setting in of the Kali Yuga, the end of time, can man change the course of time. "Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowlwedge and therefor time, so man is always a slave to the past."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remember Tarawikth or the Special Ramadan...

Prayers actually in honour of the Prophet and his successors, the four Caliphs of Islam? Well it has been close to one week now my son and i had been to the mosque to fullfill this non- mandatory obligation as a Muslim although my heart is not totally into it and i cannot say so for my son but he has already missed one yesterday. His excuse was that Liverpool was playing and so he and his cousin opted God for Liverpool. Me, I might as well not been there as from the very beginning all i was doing was the motions of the so called Solat Tarawikgh. I always started off with a determination to perform to the best of my effort, telling myself to see that God is there watching me along with all the Muslim Lineage from the prophet on down but I could not feel it. I could not stay focus on what i was doing as my mind kept spinning from one subject to another, like the guy next to me, a tall skinny kid all dressed up in white head to toe and performing the solat in all perfection like he had sinned most of his life and was doing penitants, I wonderd if he had sex yet or still a virgin or if he knows that his exagerated performance was causing the guy next to him to squirm. Then he left midway through the 21 odd Rakaats of the tarawikgh and to be replaced by an elderly gentleman who like to share his recital of the verses with his neighbours. If there is anything that would throw me off the spiritual plane while praying in congrigation at the mosque is to stand next to a guy who needed badly to show off his piety by making it known loudly. If i had not truly believe that God is there watching from whereever within or without Or the fear that I might incur the wrath of the 'Taliban' Imam, I would have reached over and whispered in his ears to pipe down a pitch or two so i can concentrate on my recitations. I am not good as it is with the verses in Arabic and whatever i have managed to learn over the years had been minimal, just enough to see me through the solat, but when I have someone mumbling under his breadth loud enough to be heard and not heard it is very irritating to say the least. So my solat was an incomplete last night. I resigned to studying the writings on the walls while listening to the Imam. I am sure that there is a humbling lesson to be learned from all these at the end of the day as the AlMighty is the ultimater Tester and the fact that these minor irritations got to me has significant impact on my own character no doubt.
I walked home instead of waiting for my cousin to ride home with him and while walking home I felt a sense of lightness of being as well as a sadness within me. I felt like i have won something and lost something at the same time. I felt like I had freed myself from the rituals of a institutionalised religion and gained a new insight into the nature God's mode of testing. I found it rediculous to fear God less than the man who was causing me the grief and aggravaton standing beside me proving that he was hollier than thou at my expense. But i refrained from taking any drastic action like telling him to keep it to himself purely out of respect for the congregation and for his state of mind. I took the blame upon myself and crucify myself for the lack of practice in focusing or being untouched by these petty distractions. I was in the house of God and yet i allowed little demons to shake my faith, who is sitting?Who is praying?
Yes the month of Ramadan stirs up alot of weary thoughts about my faith and my convictions and at my age, as the hole is inviting me close to it these thoughts are as real as my taking a walk home from the mosque instead of riding with my cousin. Ahmad Kalam, and insurance salesman, is a man of faith. Older than myself he is out to prove he can outdo me as a lesson in humility or genuine concern for the well being for my soul.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Now What next?

The Ramadan is here!! Yippee-Ka- Yay!!! Yes its that time when my spiritual mind takes a warp drive into the realms of right and wrongs, of temptations and salvations or imaginary visions and virtual realities. Off course i can turn on the 'who gives a shit mode at my age, which by the way I celebrated on the twelve two days ago. I am now sweet sixteen or is it 61? Funny that i do not feel any different from the day i learned how to say,' screw you', which happened when i was alot less than sixteen years of age. The mind it seems stays almost in the same old track but only shifting in the manner of its expression every now and then. The body offcourse is a whole different matter although it too does not really change a whole lot when in connection with the thoought processes like back aches and tiredness comes alot more often but still not any more different from the past. What really changes is the view one has of the world as a whole or life itself as a whole and how one deals with people and individuals. There is this feeling of impermanence that is becoming more and more exposed or revealed, like it pops up every so often out of the blue. And this too will pass.. kind of feeling one day while driving and looking at the just the traffic, something one sees almost every day. is this the approach toward the end? This feeling that it was all fleeting images and of no significance, followed by a melancholic kind of feeling deep within that is like saying a good bye to a familliar scene or face or image.
Oh well and this too hopefully will pass.. dont want to keep dwelling on something so hopelessly 'happening' such as ageing. Although it is quite interesting to be able to watch the changes over the years in one's life and one's personal psychological, spiritual and physical changes. This the essence of this blog, as much as I strive to understand who i am learning who i have become over the sixty odd years is a crucial part and process. For example, how do i really feel about my last solo exhibition now that it is over? Do i feel disappointed that it did not fetch me good sales, make alot of money from it? Do i feel like I have wasted my time trying to convince myself that i am a great artist, a cut above others or that Hey I did it! I got it together and had over two hundred foreign visitors walk into the gallery and enjoyed my works, from Spain, to Lithuania, Korea to Venezuela, they came. So, what do i feel about my show? Have i achieved my goals?My intentions? Have I fulfilled my obligations towards society being 'gifted as an artist? Questions! and Answers! But these are the grist for the mill that churns out all the data that makes up the whole part and parcel of this one human mind (HUMIND - Scape).
Wise men said that to change the World one has to first, change. Not just change in time or gradually but change, like drop everything and anything that has to do with who you conceive yourself to be and become something else whatever that may be. Easier said than done, they also added, these wise men. Ironically the very effort you make to change involves thinking and it is thinking that is holding one to the present state of being. Thoughts, the product of time, of past present and future cannot instigate total or absolute change and for this to happen thinking has to cease. If by now you have lost me, stop reading, I am rambbling and I am drifitng into the twilight zone of my mind scape looking for what to say. If you are still with me, silly you, than ytou deserve a simple explaination of what is happening, nope its is not smoking the wacky tobackie nor sipping the Nappah Juice, it is the result of fasting! yes hunger and thirst, the inability to involve the mind in mental fornication and grandiose visions results in the mind puking out whatever it can on the subject of change. Why is it so important that we change our 'mind set' or set our minds to change? Our ideals our percetions of reality, of things we think that they should be as they are while we are not totally happy with the state of the world as a whole nor our life as it is.
Does it matter? is it a waste of time to write all these nonsense over the years and most probaly will end up being totally erased amounting to nothing? Perhaps it does not and it is an absolute waste of time and there should be a law against such wasted time, material and space. But it does matter if you want to change the state of the world! if you want life to be different from what you see it to be today or at least help to elviate the suffering around you or help to heal the broken hearts and ease the burden of the downtrodden, it matters if you care to care of what is happening with infants being dumped into garbage cans and man slaughtering his parents and siblings for no apparent reasons other than the Dog or God whispered into his cotton pickin ears to do it. It matters if you see corruption rampant from the highest to the lowest of the political heirachy and justice being manipulated so blatantly that even the kangaroos in the desert of Australia are laughing their butts off, in their court or law. It matters if you find one day that you are nothing but another victim of your own dellusions, of greed, hate and ignorance. It matters if you care about what is to become of your children and they theirs. Will they too become like you exisiting like hungry ghosts feeding off the ignorant of others and getting fat through deceit and deception with no end in sight till you find it too late, that it was all just another... brick in the wall.
So Ramadan is here and I am fasting.
Now What next?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So what can Art do for the Penang Community??

I have no straight answer for the question posted by Paradox Child.. whoever he or she is but thanks for reading my blog. However I can share my thoughts a bit over the matter from an individual artist's perspective having had the opportunity in associating with fellow Penang Artists and Art collectors, supporters and patrons of the Arts.
Art in itself can do nothing for the society that is worthwhile to mention As art is a matter of taste and both of the creator and the audience or viewer, if art is created for the finanacial benifit of artists and collectors than it stops being pure art for it is created with an intention as a means for a livlihood. Hence there is little difference between an artist and an engineer, a cobbler or a cook for that matter, each is an artist in his or her own right. When art is created purely for the joy of creation itself than it has a differant value, it is free from any form of commitment, or pressure to complete in time. These are the works of art that find their way into galleries as they most of the time are more expressive and original in nature. They were created to please no one but for the sake of creativity itself.
As an artist my comments are not meant to criticize the government of the day but to merely share my views and observations based on what i see and hear from all walks of life as being an artist has its advantage in that you are accepted by almost everyone as a neutral and a good listener, unbiased and creative. My comments is for the society as a whole not just those who are in office or runs the country, my comments if it is in the form of a criticism it s aimed at no one or any institution in particular but at the society as a whole. Artist in my opinion are more of an observer, a watcher, one who sees and listens with bare attention, not influenced or prejudice in his or her comments. I may praise you today and condemn you tomorrow depending upon your performance at the time. This is my birth right as a citizen and an artist a commitment to the society he belongs. Most of the time I maintain silence watching and learning and evaluating and coming to my own conclusion,right or wrong is still part and parcel of the process.Most of the time I make a comment even if it just in the form of writing my thoughts and ideas to be evaluated and judged, this is my contribution towards my fellow citizens.
If one or two individuals were to be awakened to the issues I am rambling about and agree or disagree then I have served my society. As an artist it is my intention and duty to bring the awareness of the whole towards what is being missed in the efforts undertaken, the changes being instigated or the ideas being evoked. Artists worth their salt are natural observers as they are able to see intuitively the bigger picture better than most. As I mentioned earlier i am not talking about those who paint for a livng claiming themselves as full time artists or those who teaches art for a living, but i am talking about the artist who lives life itself as an art. He who has sworn to discover himself through his creations, taken the Bodhisatva oath if he happens to be a Buddhist. The medium he uses then is merely a tool for his creativity and he claims no distinction as to who or what he belongs to whether religious or political, race or tribe. Artists strive to become a Universal Being, spiritually free of all entanglements and only in truly achieving this state of mind can he truly claim himself to be the Renaisance Man and serves his society as such. In all his actions, in all that he creates he reflects a free mind of a Liberated Being. I do not claim myself as having achieved this state of mind but it is what i aspire to accomplish as an artist...Insha'Allah. ...God willing.

"The spiritual man is he who does not belong to any religion, to any nation, to any race, who is inwardly completely alone, in a state of not-knowing, and for him the blessing of the sacred comes into being."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The end is getting closer...

It is almost a month now and my solo exhibition is almost over and so what i have learned from this last effort is sharing my creativity with others? Over two hundred visitors have signed and some didnt in the guest register and mostly were visitors from foreign countries- tourists. There were a few who genuinely were appreciative of my works especially the one hundred feet long sketches and the sketch books. A few took their time to browse through the sketchbooks and shared their thoughts and feelings over them. From this interpersonal communication I caught glimpses of what others felt about my works and how they too had wish that they had been doing the same.
As far as locals are concerned not too many showed up even those i specially called up and invited for the show, Insha'Allah was the common reply and remained as such as though God was unwilling for them to make it. From the financial point I must admit that I broke even what with all the expenses and my time spent at the gallery which otherwise would had remained closed if I were not around. The general feeling about Art shows in Penang is that there is pratically no buyers here and much less real genuine art patrons. To become a full time artist in penang is a financial suicide for those with little or no connections. More and more artists from China and various other countries like Thailand and Vietnam are finding their niche in the art market here through local galleries making it possible for them to penetrate the art market on the island scarce as it is. Politcally Artists receives lip services from the state government and practically shunned by the federal Government, we feel like step children where the only financial support we can expect is when invited to participate in the government's effort to make a showcase for the tourism department. In the past allocations set aside to help local artists sell their works to the State Art gallery ended up with the money lost in the cracks of buraeucratic magic acts. The funds was diverted into other activites said one of the State Art Committe member while another said that the money was used to purchase works from collectors who has strong connection with the Gallery Committee members. I have no idea what is the truth and really do not care but as far as justice is concern, I see Local Penang Artists ar getting the shaft end of the deal when it comes to funds allocation or getting any form of incentives for their very survival, and I am not speaking for myself alone on this matter. With the declaration of the World Heritage Status by the UN, Georgetown local artists can consider themselves as the prostitutes at the mercy of the pimps who run the funds allocated for the cultural and tourist events development committee members. It makes sense to spend millions repainting and renovating old colonial era buildings to remind us of our past historical bondage and it benifitted the few who landed the contracts in doing so. Now that the buildings are renovated and whitewashed they stand like monuments reminding us of how we were enslaved in mind body and spirit and that we are to continue on being proud of this fact.. sadly enough we still are slaves in our mentality on how we cheat eachother in order to achieve our personal triumphs in this material rat race of our so called life.
The very people we elected to run our affairs in the State are too busy chewing each others' legs every chance they get finding faults at every move and turns like a Chinese Opera with a never ending turmoil. When all else fails they turn on the population especially the downtrodden and those barely surviving to squeeze every dime and penny in the form of penalties and fines for every minor offences as this is the surest means of filling up the States coffer when it runs low. When the going gets tough the poor are hit the toughest being victimized by the very people they trusted. When there is times of plenty the carpet beggars move into the neighborhood occupying the luxurious homes build to suit the retirement age calling it their second homes...ohh we love Penang... yessir we do, with all her diversities and colorful people!!
Yeah, I love this Island too... I was born and raised here and so are most of my relatives and friends and if I raise a protest as to what is becoming to this Island it is my birthright to do so for if i dont I should be damned by my children and theirs in the future. The authorites whoever they may be can envision this island to become another Hong Kong or Singapore but from what i hear and see in the coffee shops and the streets the real Penangites are not sold with the idea of selling every inch of their land to those who can afford just for the sake of so called development which to me is the biggest form of disguise to enrich the few at the expense of the whole. The movers and shakers, the smart ones the slick entrepreneurs and sly politicians can wheel and deal among themselves in their elected capacity but the reality is here down in the sewers and gutters, the back lanes and slums, the vestige of remaining kampongs and low cost flats, this is where Penangites will rise from in protest when they have had enough. I have seen and experienced enough in my travels and i can feel the winds of change, when shit is about to hit the fence. Penangites will one day wake up and demand an explaination, demand their birthrights as citizens of the State.
This is what i have learned from having had this solo exhibition for the past month. An event that had allowed me to meet people on and off the street and talking about the state of affairs in this State. What i have expressed is not my own feelings alone but a reflection of the majority of those whose life is affected by what is going on...and do not in an instant believe that the people are not aware or do not care, they just has no means to express themselves other than among themselves.