Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

Yesterday the last day of the fasting month proved the hardest for me and I almost gave in and had me a good drink of cold water from the cooler at the MGTF kitchenete,but I hung in there by taking a short nap instead. Hunger was not the issue so much as the thirst and the migraine headache was. Paid my 'zakat' or the Muslim equivalent of the income tax for the year for the year which was very little indeed compared to the regular government's chew of your income. Hence by doing these two precepts, the fasting as well as the zakat one has automatically fulfilled two of the five main precepts of Islam. Off course the first has already been covered as soon as one professes the faith or better known as the Shahadah which states that "There is no God, only Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." The second which is the five times a day performance of 'solat' or prayer Iam having a tough time with I am ashame to admit but I still try and no doubt I envy those who do. The last is the performance of the Hajj that is going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Two of my elder brothers passed away without the ability to fulfill this precept and me, I still owe my car payment among other costs of living, Mecca is a wish full dream. However one never knows Allah's Will, with the All Mighty anything is possible: He did gave me an Emerates Airline Pilot for a son! Then again its His cosmic joke for me to perhaps ponder upon as my is not a Muslim and his priority I highly doubt covers his father's trip to the Holy Land at present.
Perhaps I am not ready to be forgiven for my myriads of transgressions as a Muslim or maybe Allah does see me fit to visit His Holy land just as my two dead brothers before me, who knows His Will or His scheme of things and not every good Muslim gets to go to Mekah even when they pray night and day for this to happen in their lifetime. Then there are those who visits the Holy Land every chance they get as they can afford it, its like a vacation-land for them and you can see it their eyes all bright and bushy tailed from the 'Holy Experience'. The Airlines and the travel agents makes a killing while the Saudi Government roll in the Rials as the price for visiting God's Holy Land keeps on increasing every year. How fortunate it is that only Muslims are allowed to enter the Holy Cities otherwise most of the farmers and fishermen who spent lifetime saving for this event in their life would still not be able to afford it. God works in mysterious ways indeed!

I visited a few of my cousins homes with my son and daughter ate lots of good cooking and renewed bonding with many good friends and relatives. It is an odd feeling to be among the oldest in the gatherings as you are greeted by toddlers who calls you grandpa or grand uncle. At my age I have to play a whole new role of appearing and presenting myself like a respectable elderly gentleman while in my heart and mind I am still struggling with...Who Am I?? When I look at the others of my age around me I wonder how easy and natural it seems for them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

UN-Educate Yourself

I have very little faith in education as it is today and much lower regard for what the institutions of higher learning has to offer in terms of what is taught especially when compared to the amount it cost for a student each semester: education it seems has become yet another lucrative businness a sure income maker for institutions and their stake holders. A student today will almost have to sell their soul if not their physical bodies to see themselves through four years of college and what they are being taught is no gaurantee of their success in life after. it is almost a syndicate how today's higher education is being run especially by private institutions vying for as many students as they can harness. luring them with all kinds of enticements towards acquiring a certificate that is supposed to assure them their future. It is short of criminal breach of trust how most of these institutions operates in cohorts with their foreign counterparts and the vicitms are parents who wants what is best for their child. Sadly enough, parents are mostly so conditioned that it almost sacrillage if not irresponsible for a fahter not to make sure his kid gets good education, it is frowned upon by society not to mention relatives and friends Hence the guilt ridden parents are forced to send their kids for higher educations
What is best for the child is not necessarily what is best for the institutions they attend to and most have set curiculums and and students pretty much have little choice in what they study.That the students are forced to abide by regardless if it benifits them in the long run so long as they fit with the program they belong just as in the Marine Corp of the United States recruit. The whole idea is to churn out so called educated minds, as many as possible to fill up the job market.

I have no faith whatsoever in most academiciams; it is today mostly economics. Teaching is a job that earns money and respect for most teachers and schools are where the children are being exploited to conformity for the benifit of the whole, the government the society to be more precise; work hard boy, you will have a job like mine. Education is one of the most lucrative industry in the market today and the cost of a complete set of education per student is phenomenal. Most parents, who were victims of the educational institutions themselves spend most of their lives worrying over if they can afford to educate their children just like other children so that they will not be left behind or out of the job market.
Children for the most enjoy their lives being a part of the educational system as it allows for them to become a member of a group, be able to hook up with others of their age group and spend time hanging out at classrooms and cafeterias while the teachers are busy with their preperations. The genuine and hard core students as are teachers are mostly far fewer in number and these. they see education as a means towards a brighter future or a better placement in the job market. They compete and are ruthlessly competitive by nature and would go to extremes to stay ahead of the game.
My daughter goes to the MMU(Multimedia University) which is also fondly known as the Money making University. This could imply both ways graduation or that the University is making money out of the students, either way it is still all about money. She has incurred a RM20K loan for her studies which is complete in three years. This includes her living expenses and travelling and to date I have invested over five thousand additional amount to cover for when she is short of cash. This semester the University have an additional"Adjustment" cost added to the regular
fees and at RM500 a head the University does not need to explain what this "adjustment" is. Upon moving out of her hostel the University owes her RM350 for the deposit still pending for the past three months but, hey! pay us 500 more if you want to sit for your finals!
Now let us find out what is the real meaning and intention of education. Can
your mind, which has been conditioned by society, the culture in which you have
lived, be transformed through education so that you will never under any
circumstances enter the stream of society? Is it possible to educate you
differently? `Educate' in the real sense of that word; not to transmit from the
teachers to the students some information about mathematics or history or
geography, but in the very instruction of these subjects to bring about a change in
your mind. Which means that you have to be extraordinarily critical. You have to
learn never to accept anything which you yourself do not see clearly, never to
repeat what another has said.
It is highly doubtful that the institutes of higher learning today has the capacity to handle this type of education for the future generation of students, not in the climate it is in. Too many students in one lecture hall and too little interest and time for the teachers to fulfill each students' need, too much beureaucratic mismanagement among other excuses stands in the way. The Malaysian educational system is considered on of the best in Asia led by the Deputy Prime Minister himself, however it is still going through constant change and needs strong policies to ensure that the integrity and purity of institutions delivering is maintained: it is a huge task that is paramount to ensure the success of this country's future.
So, the question is how to bring about the right kind of education so that the mind can withstand all temptations, all influences, the
bestiality of this civilization and this culture. We have come to a point in history
where we have to create a new culture, a totally different kind of existence, not
based on consumerism and industrialization, but a culture based upon a real
quality of religion. Now how does one bring about, through education, a mind that
is entirely different, a mind that is not greedy, not envious? How does one create
a mind that is not ambitious, that is extraordinarily active, efficient; that has a real
perception of what is true in daily life which is after all religion.
Being a multiracial society this issue is critical for us to dwell upon and we cannot put off for a latter date to understand and accomplish the impossible. Our children today are far ahead in their grasp of knowledge in this 'Age of Information' and we especially those involve in education have to remain awaken and proactive in our approach to cater to their need. The old school paradigm is no more legitimate; we have to un-educate our minds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Krishnamurti on Meditation re-visited

Jedu krishnamurti talked a great deal about what is not meditation or what is meditation as it should be praticed and over the years eversince I came into contact with his teachings on this subject I have been intrigued by his thoughts. His perceptions are far out there beyond the understanding of most common man or a non practitioner, but for me and most probably for those who have been doing some form of meditation in their lives, Krishnamurti's obeservations on the subject warrants serious reflections.

I consider the essence of my meditation practice to be that of Zen Buddhism in style and technique and i have been doing this going on more than thiry years if I were to include that of my years of yoga style of meditation techniques during my initial years and as taught to me by my father. However I am not a devotee, I do not subscribe wholeheartedly like a Sadhu in th Himalayan cave or a Monk in the Monastry, I meditate mostly on my bed. I sit just before i sleep and I sit just when i wake up, and i do sit whenver time and place allows me to do so like when i have to wit at the Mall while my wife, daughter or whoever is shopping, I sit while waiting for my turn at the bank or the clinic...but i seriously sit when I sit...when asked i use 'taking a nap', as an excuse.

"Meditation has no beginning and no end; in it there's no
achievement and no failure, no gathering and no renunciation; it is
a movement without finality and so beyond and above time and
space. The experiencing of it is the denying of it, for the
experiencer is bound to time and space, memory and recognition."

"The foundation for true meditation is that passive awareness which
is the total freedom from authority and ambition, envy and fear.
Meditation has no meaning, no significance whatsoever without
this freedom, without self-knowing; as long as there's choice
there's no self-knowing. Choice implies conflict which prevents the
understanding of what is. Wandering off into some fancy, into
some romantic beliefs, is not meditation; the brain must strip itself
of every myth, illusion and security and face the reality of their

This like experiencing death itself if one were to look into it deeply a state whereby everything that one is comfortable with or that one is attached to or thought to be true is let go. 'Bare Attention' with no sense of being or non being, a state of utter liberation, free from any thougts or conciousness, just emptiness or void. The avergae human mind is incapable of experiencing this level of 'conciousness' or unconcious-ness without dropping off into sleep. However the idea or concept of what Krishnamurti has expounded here is as close as it can get to what is 'Right meditaiton.' One of the books written by 'OSHO' aka Rajneesh is called 'Meditation is a subtle death.'

" There's no distraction, everything is in the movement of
meditation. The flower is the form, the scent, the colour and the
beauty that is the whole of it. Tear it to pieces actually or verbally,
then there is no flower, only a remem- brance of what was, which
is never the flower. Meditation is the whole flower in its beauty,
withering and living."


"Our goal is to go from bright to brighter to brightest, from high to higher to highest. And even in the highest, there is no end to our progress, for God Himself is inside each of us and God at every moment is transcending His own Reality."

Sri Chinmoy

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reflections during Ramadan

"Our comprehension are limited by TIME, SPACE, MATTER, cause and effect which are just part of created things....matter, anti matter, space, wills and thought and even time, are all created things, all within the socalled four dimension. Allah's realm is in the fifth dimension, the realm of KUN FAYAKUN

HE is the CREATOR. We are just synonamous with that 'gold fish in a silver goblet rested near a windowsill in downtown Manhattan'. An example I gave in an earlier article on destiny a year back. We can hear the din of the city,crowd, trains and people down below. The best and brightest of us can theorise from those'din' and noise, and make postulates and hypotheses of the world beyond the goblet, but none us 'gold fishes' could comprehend what goes in the head of the owner of The White House, how he looks like, and worse still , the extent of his knowledge. Some of us may not want to know or refuse to aknowledge that he exist ! That in analogy is the level of our ignorance and 'kufrness' ! "

Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid, then He made you pairs (the male and female). No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge. And no-one groweth old who groweth old, nor is aught lessened of his life, but it is recorded in a Book, Lo! that is easy for Allah.

(11)Al fatir , 35 : 11

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Alif. Lam. Mim. (1) This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil). (2) Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; (3) And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. (4) These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful.

(5)Al Baqarah , 2 : 1-5

"Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe? And We have placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them, and We have placed therein ravines as roads that haply they may find their way. And we have made the sky a roof withheld (from them). Yet they turn away from its portents. And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit. We appointed immortality for no mortal before thee. What! if thou diest, can they be immortal! Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned."
22 : 30-35

Adapted from Pearls &Gem - Blog

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Malay Village is called 'Kampung'

A vanishing landscape is the typical Malay Village or kampung where coconut trees sway all around the houses and chickens runs all over the yard, the kampung will in the not too distant future be an endangered scenery...the old atap roof are already a thing of the past in most cases being replaced by zinc roofings.
A walkabout through a kampung in Balik Pulau would be like strolling through a ghetto area in Chicago but minus the threats of violence. This is more or less a modern day kampung with fancy cars parked in the yard and houses that could use better care.

What is unique about these kampungs is that they are surrounded by greenery and thus are protected from the heat of the noonday sun. The air is fresh from ample supply of oxygen unless it is pervaded by the stench of garbage or poor drainage system which is a common issue in most modern day kampungs.

Asked why this kind of broken down structure is still attatched to what seemed like a newly renovated house,the answer was that the owner has not given the permission to do so. Whatever that entails houses like these are another common sight when you take a walk looking for oddities.

To say the the Malays are not health concious is not true as it is said that cleanliness is the way to Godliness, but the landscape surrounding Malay houses today could use a lesson or two from the Japanese in the art lanscaping.

This may not be true of all kampungs in the countryhowever and especially the ones that are found along the East Coast of the Malay peninsula are more cared for than what is seen here. Then there are those cared for the sake of the tourism industry, the good looks and the homestay business. The true spirit of keeping the kampung character of beauty and rustic elegance is no more a part of the Malay culture as most or the younger generations have opted for city dwelling. Most of the time during the festive months such as the Ramadan you can see five or six fancy looking cars parked all over the yard surrounding a kampung house,those living in the citiies have returned thus the term 'Balik kampung.'

It is sad to witness the demise of a way of life although there is none to blame but 'progress'. The traditional wooden houses of the Malays are being replace by brick and mortar and the surrounding trees are being removed for a driveway or a parking lot, we are not no more helping to deter global warming, we are becoming the contributors. One reason that wooden houses are becoming a rarity is that cost wood materiaols have skyrocketted, and why, because of export as wood fetch high prices overseas. To live well eat well sleep well and shit well, we have deforested our rich landscapes to the point of no return; 'well' is, a very deep subject indeed!

Balik Pulau - A walk by the riverside...

It's low tide, it's also the Month of Ramadan and everyone is fasting!

It's a mangrove swamp and you are likely to find mud skippers and an monitor lizard or two if you are lucky.

The river reminds me of where i was born and raised as a child in Sungai Pinang what is now part of Georgetown.

I can still feel the mud squeeshing in between my toes as I step through the swamp looking for Lokans a kind of large clamps tasty to eat.

For the locals and most Malaysians, this most probably is a common sight to behold, nothing special, but to people like my son Timo in Switzerland this would be a mind blowing experience. How we take what we have and experience for granted.

Just as the locals here would have had a heart attack if they were thrown into a snow country, those living in countries like Norway and Sweden would take a second breath had they been cast into this environment.

Whats the national flower? The hibiscus, or Bunga Raya known in Bahasa Malaysia (or Malay).

What does a banana tree look like and what's that hanging at the tip of the bunch of bananas? Click on the picutre so you can see better.

Foot and Finger Art.by Damia!

Say hello to these fingers! They are ready for action!
Why not lets make or break! Thats what its all about in spontaneous creativity and add a child full of vigour and spunk, we have art in action. Capturing time and space and the mind of a child and her father. This they will never forget for the rest of their lives even if the child is still too young to remember, this blog and pictures and her father will make sure she remembers.

I became a child too crawling on my hands and knees and playing with colours just as i once did when I was a child of 5 or 6.

What are you waiting for? Go on dive in and get your little fingers into the colours, I know you are eager to mess up my big painting!

OH, dont look so innocent! You little squirt!

Thats it one step at a time! Imagine you are walking in space leaving footprints in space!

It feels funny dont it? Dont worry we will get it washed after you are done! No! not on the floor, on that canvass!

No Mommy is not going to going to get her feet dirty not her style, you are the artist now, so go ahead and do your thing.

^That's right press those palms real good and we will see how it comes out.

Thats it clean your feet on the paper before we go to the bathroom and wash them. No you cannot walk there I will have to carry you oK?

Yep it's a dirty job but someone has to do it!!