Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'The Power of Now - revisited.

So how do i spend my money, a question we are all haunted with all our lives as we wheel and deal with others to always get the best out of the less. What did i do with all the money I had? Where did it all go? The left hand hardly noticed what the right hand received or so it seems. Money, a subject i have often tried not to justify in myself as I, like everyone else, am always in short supply of it or barely making it at best, or so it seems. Schools are created on the subject of money management but I did not take those classes, could not handle math or anything that demands adding and subtracting.So till this day I handle my expenditures through the theory of, taking care of what is most immediately needed for myself or for others who are under my care in one way or another, my loved ones. So I bought a new Lap Top for my daughter and paid half the payment for a new washing Machine the house is in need of. my car repairs took a chunk and then there is the day to day expenses, like gas and food and socializing with friends (coffee shops mostly).
I can tediously go into the gory details of how and why but I will save myself the tedium and instead enjoy what money has let me enjoy. It is this moment in time and space that money has brought me, to be here in the Now and relating thoughts in the form of a writing, recording every feeling that is eager to be exposed or need to be confronted in my head. I am here now experiencing the past, present and the future in one single moment and am saying so as my fingers move from key to key on the keyboard. I am here now listening to my friend Salim performing his Asar solat or the late afternoon prayer in the next cubicle of his. Remembering God brought me here.Are you with me? Do you see what I see, feel what I feel? or have we been so far apart that we cannot understand one another anymore even if we try; I am you, you are me; We are the Universe.
being in the here and now....i AM THAT, I AM.

So how does one justify spending? Spending more than you make definitely not kosher, not having having an income of one sort or other is not kosher, well that leaves but one choice stop attachment to it, give it up, let it go, become independent of it influence over your life, it is there and it is not, it comes and it goes, it too is your own manifestation,

Eat when you are Hungry,
Sleep when you are sleepy,
Sit and get in touch with your fingers and mind coordination for the mind has much more to is inexhaustible.
Or you can just sit and watch the grass grow.

Life is fleeting, transitory, ever changing in shapes and forms even as we sit and touch each other right now through these endless streams of words, life is happening and each and every moment of happening is just as fleeting, now it is now it is no more. We cling to the impermanence in life while the truth of our being of we truly are is being compromised at an alarming scale where humanity is concern; we are in the danger of missing the truth or our collective Being in this Universe of ours and become victims of our own self generated desire for self destruction. We become territorial warlords out to prove who is the mightiest, the most in power, the mighty Ego in town. Our minds are being constantly drawn towards its self fulfilment, that is of self destruction. The human race if it does not take heed of the discoveries made by the Masters of old and contemporary on the nature of the human mind and spirit, we will head towards our doom sooner than we would love to.
Today Arms sales has become a highly celebrated affair all over the free world, it is like a flea market that crops up everywhere there is money to be made, rulers and dictators to be kept in plenty of supply; we are collectively insane. The sooner we admit this to ourselves while looking into the eyes of our children the better. Or the sooner we awaken to this reality the better, our egoic mind has led us here and from the ways things are happening it is not a pretty scenario we are facing of our collective whole; we are headed towards a collective melt down. We live dominated by the feeling of fear, we become aggressive and over protective, we  view others even our neighbors as a threat to our well being, our security our survival. This is driving the price of arm sales up as  nations scramble to become more secure, to feel safe from attacks; we live in paranoia delusion; we have become cancerous.. But do we know this? Are we aware at all that we are not who we 'think' we are, that we collectively can awaken from this Nightmare on Elm Street that we are sucked into.
Is it possible to educate the collective mind as a whole such it will spontaneously awaken from its slipping into darkness unconsciously, can we heal the collective mind before it does too much damage to itself that cannot be fixed except through total annihilation of the specie if not the planet itself. Humanity needs a miracle and it is at their fingertips, the keyboard to this PC is my way of shaking the world to awaken, if i can convince five, I am very excited even if by just being moved to read...iqra, or listen, and those who have understood the Way will share through skillful means what they know with those who normally will never be exposed to such ways of looking at what is not real.We are living 'The Life of Pi', drifting in the ocean of Conciousness, in the company, our worse nightmare in the form of a very scared and hungry Bengal Tiger our only hope of survival is  in learning about who we truly are.

"The world as it appears to us now is, as i said, largely as a reflection of the egoic mind. Fear being an unavoidable consequence of egoic delusion, it is a world dominated by fear. Just as the images in a dream are symbols of inner states and feelings, so our collective reality is largely a symbolic expression of fear and the heavy layers of negativity that have accumulated in the collective human psyche. We are not separate from our world, so when the majority of humans become free of egoic delusion, this inner change will affect all of creation."
                    Eckhart Tolle--"The Power of Now"

For every single bullet we spend on, whether it be for a pistol or an M-16 or machine gun mounted on a Apache helicopter is meant to kill a man women or child. Sadly if not insanely enough many countries' economy would collapse if we start to think in these lines of thinking.But the truth is still that we are soldiers of fortune with windmills running round and round in our heads; we are the only specie that kills for  the money alone, we take pride in this giving it all we got to become the experts at killing.and we train our children to become the demons on earth taking lives without recourse or compassion. We take pride in becoming inhuman in our need to survive, turning the other cheek or loving thy enemies is not an option; our egoic mind is will defend its hold on our consciousness  and bent on leading us into deeper sleep of the darkness of our being. We need to wake up, how much more can i keep saying this without sounding like a broken record; we need the birds to keep repeating to us to remind us to wake up and stay awake for the fate of our Universe is at peril  while in our care; we the appointed Khalifas, the guardians, the watchers the caretakers of this planet and all within it. All creatures large and small are at our mercy and if we fail to exert a shift in our consciousness towards being more positive and compassionate we fail ourselves as humans we fail God; evil wins darkness dominates at the End of Days.
It is only through an awaken state that we can enlighten the collective spirit and and for that to happen we have to awaken our individual selves and remain in such an awaken state that we will not digress into being in a mental state of egoic delusion; unconsciousness.. We must make every effort to free ourselves from being trapped in the collective state of the unconscious. Even as one historical Buddha, or the Christ or the Prophet of Allah was able to change the collective spirit  of the world so can each and everyone of us if we are concern and compassionate enough. The Masters have set the lessons through their personal experiences and teachings and they have forewarned of the dangers that will befall man if we fail to become aware of our own as well as our collective predicament. It is up to us to take action to detach ourselves from our thinking mind and our mind created existence; or at the very least acknwledge that we are faced with a dire predicament. Liberation from self created prison is our prime motive in being who we are; to understand our true calling in the scheme of life at the collective level. We owe the planet nothing less than  our complete enlightenment while still existing in this form; the human form: we are awakened from our delusion!. Although we can have little hope of totally eliminating the dual thinking mind from consciousness, we can at least recognize it for what it is, a tool a highly sophisticated tool like fire; it can help or it can destroy; it is for us to find the best means. Gog Willing. Insha' Allah. .


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Road to Find out...

" It had become clear to me that I had no hope of the bliss of the world to come save through a God- fearing life and the withdrawal of myself from vain desire. It was clear to me too that the key to all this was to sever the attachment of the heart to worldly things by leaving the mansion of deception and returning to that of eternity, and to advance towards God most high with all earnestness."
                   Abu hamid al-Ghazali, al Munqidh, p.98 Eng. trans by Watt.
                   'The Faith"

Like the Buddha several thousand years before him, al-Ghazali acknowledges the problem of ' vain desire''; this is the second principle of the Four Noble Truth of the Buddha. That suffering is caused by desire. This realization is what frees man from the chains of this material realm where nothing is permanent and all is but fleeting mirages, clouds in and empty skies. In Zen practices the mind is being put into very close scrutiny by not entertaining its prescience, by not validating or giving it added values or judging it for better or worse; the is no desire for attachment or detachment from it, the mind is our source of desire; thoughts and consciousness happens endlessly every second of our daily life but we are unconscious to realize this and thus become influenced by them unconsciously, they become a part of our dreams. In Zen practice we sat and watch the mind with bare attention. When the mental activities of the mind subsides from our consciousness we find the peace in between the 'gap' that allows for one to catch a glimpse of the truth or one's original nature.
Why is this understanding so crucial to me? It is the culmination of my years of study, it is like graduating from one level to the next in spiritual sense; knowing a little more. Detachment from the material world is not denial or negating what is, but acknowledging what it is not. It took me many years of my life to arrive at this simple fact of life through two diversely different teachers of faith each tried to awaken the sleeping multitude of their times from the darkness of ignorance and unconsciousness; the Buddha and the Prophet of Allah (PBUH).
Hence the crux of the matter is for one to read! Iqrar!, learn, come to understand the deeper meanings of your life, that which is hidden from you through neglect and unconsciousness; veiled from that which is the original you, that which is the Atman, the Ruh, the Soul, the Center of the Universe; "That which is a Universe far greater exist within you, and you think you are small and insignificant," The Prophet's nephew Saidina Ali (RAAH), was said to have said this and Ali is the Key to Knowledge said the Prophet (PBUH) while He himself is the Archive. Read! Elkhart Tolle or Jedu Krishnamurti, read Huxley or The Dalai Lama, read the Holy Books, see how similar they all are. They preach and lead to one final destiny, that of Peace among all mankind, to promote for less suffering and more happiness among humanity such that the world can take a rest from the rock n roll it has been subjected to by man.

I spent many a sleepless years in trying to make sense out of this non sense that we call life as we think it to be. Sometimes I feel like I am a man possessed and obsessed with my own mind, my thoughts and perceptions almost on a day to day basis sometimes even to episodes by episodes. I watch myself or my mind replaying and reliving moments in order to make it right, to learn from what transpired no matter how subtle or insignificant the even might be. The more significant the event the more insistent it would be for discussions in the head until a possible explanation or justification is arrived at then the episode would retreat into the back ground to be replace by another topic, episode. I believe this is pretty much how most of us walk through this life looking at it from inside through multiple lenses and in a state of unconsciousness. Many years ago I while I was going through a painful process of divorce I was saved by someone who pointed me to further my education. I have related this story in my earlier blog so I stop short. Nothing is resolved in the thinking mind it is all filed away into the memory bank to be excessed at will. Sometimes information would materialize on their own when you least expect and oops! More ramblings, more discussions, arguments, judgements and conciliation's... a never ending story.
This has been my His-Story, the way I found my home base, my platform my Dharma position my place in the sun my sanctuary, living among my relatives and friends who has come to accept me as I am; I feel free to continue my research into life even  as I no more feel the need to do so. I will keep on blogging for so long as no one stops me and for so long as I still make sense. lt is my way of letting go of all that has been cluttering up my mind, the years of accumulation of knowledge and experiences, good and bad habits, the years of living life here in the East and the West and having to make desperate decisions often times; this is all that I am sharing with my readers if it makes for interesting reading. As I have often said it is s journey of one man's self discovery albeit in a roundabout way through the side and back doors of religions, I have embark into the realm of spirituality where I will keep on walking into the unknown where the mind is no more. I will find my way through with complete awareness unveiled from ignorance and unconsciousness. I refuse to be led by the nose towards my hole in the ground or like a cattle to the slaughterhouse. I wish to die of my self before I am physically dead.
That which I call my self is still that which my mind had thought it out to be, i cannot shake it loose from my sense of perception; it is who I am a thought created image of a man who thinks he is not really who he thinks he is.
Yes it is a long long road indeed, one that will see no end until the Fat Lady sings the Blues and all cards are being laid on the table, while your past, present and future are exposed before you in a flash and you are no more, what do you say then? See i was right, you were wrong, now see what happens...oops! Will the mind continue on even beyond the grave in the same manner as it is now or will we grow wings and fly into heaven like lobotomized angels? Will the two Angels meeting us in the grave be such terrible creatures whose purpose is to scare the living daylights out of an already insanely insanely scared shit -less mind or would they be gentle and merciful to look upon that fear will leave us alone? Who knows what happens when you die what lies in the afterlife but when i do not even understand my life in this present state how could i ever understand the afterlife as promised in the Holy Scriptures?
So this has been the journey to find out. It is the gravy train which i took to ride through this life making it as much a test and a study of mine of what it is all about and in the process spell it all out for all to share on the Internet. My thoughts are never mine, they are echos on great minds way, way before me and many who have attained to Buddhahood even in my lifetime. The great Muslims I have come to study, the Sufis and th Walis of Allah, my teachers and spiritual guides both in Islam and Buddhism, I dedicate my journey to All who assisted me while on this journey.

Stop my (Dual) Thinking Mind.

Today I put the finishing touches pf yet another of my "Space series", which sadly enough was covered thick with dust and dirt from being poorly stored; but but the time I was done it came out just as it was suppose to. I thought I had given up painting, at least for now, but what is now but a moment in time. Whats is now but a fulfilling of one's sense of being in the sea of life. To remain afloat one has to know how and it is best if one can dive and swim at the same time while drinking the water doing it; this is life. Why limit yourself when the whole spectrum of existence is out there for you to walk if and when you want to. If you can give up your sense of security, your clinging on to life, you might be able to detach your self and float away to the next unknown destination where everything is new and fresh to deal with. But most of us have our feet nailed to the floors in the form of routine ritualistic existence of a bread winner and home maker.which not at all bad but it has its limitations; our movement is restricted, we have others to answer to, our responsibilities to fulfill; we are the lay people in Buddha's reaching.
To be free from having a baggage on one's back can be the beginning of an enlightenment  practice regardless of who one is whether religious of not, all one has to do is live for now, keep being in the Now, this moment in time in our life. Let us sit and watch our minds at work while we observe it with bare attention. Non attachment of thoughts no matter how profound.Letting go of thoughts and its discursive nature can help ease our emotional baggage; we have come to think too much. Finding the gap of silence in between our every thought is like a hopeless cause but not impossible if we decide to make it our practice. Our practice simply is to try to find the ways and means to create the gap of silence more and more often and to make such moments last a little bit longer when found.
" Eat when you are hungry,
 Sleep when you are sleepy,
 Sit, and watch the grass grow.
                                            A Zen saying.
This is the art of non-doing, (wu wei) or inactive action, this is form in emptiness and emptiness in form; this is Being (here in the Now). This is the tiny gap that had been open through Right Mindfulness i8n action. Brief as the flash of a lightning, narrower than 'Siratal Mustaqin , this the window that the camel has to pass through; the eye of the needle. This is Satori, the brief moment of awakening of the the subconscious, Moksha, the death of the ego the stopping of the thinking mind; It happens.

"Moksha is attained by disidentification with the body and mind, which are temporarily and subject to change, and realisation of our true identity."...Wikipedia

"In Sikhism, one rises from the life of do’s and don'ts to that of perfection — a state of "at-one-ment" with the All-self. Secondly, the mukta is not just a friend for all, he even strives for their freedom as well. He no longer lives for himself, he lives for others."...Wikipedia

What is It that happens when the mind is silence? When there is no more dialogue floating around in the head, what happens? You as you think who you are is no more the same guy, the world around you is no more as relevant as it used to be, you step back into your inner being and view life with complete detachment, life is out there and you are in here untouched by it. This can be a very light-thing, enlightening, makes you feel lighter, and brighter. It is like a switch is flipped on in your head that was never there before. You see the external with a clearer vision of non-discrimination, non- attachment and bare attention (awareness).
Thought is the first habitual illness that man was inflicted with when he was sent out of the garden. ever since Adam could think for himself after eating the forbidden fruit and getting his butt kicked by God... it was our first awakening experience. From then on thoughts became history. Today we ares till trying to justify what went wrong and what really happened, what could or would have been: what if?  Most of humanity is not aware, nor care, most do not even venture to look within other than their tooth ache and stomach pains. The number that has taken upon themselves to investigate life and come to understand the inner workings or the human mind is growing all over the world thank goodness. We are starting to become more conscious of who we are and how we relate to the rest of the Universe. We are beginning to see that we are no more individuals bent upon our own personal survival but that of the rest of Humanity; we are humanity; I am Whole! That I am, One.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Islam and Buddhism - 4

Buddhism has its rituals and practices which depending upon the different schools, the location, the culture heritage of the community it exist in, the rituals varies in forms. Today some Buddhist rituals have become so for removed from the original practice during there time of the Buddha that one cannot tell anymore if it is Buddhism at all the is being practiced. The Buddha asked that His teachings be kept 'simple'. As a matter of fact simplicity is an essence of Buddha's teachings.
The full moon ceremony and the Buddha's Birthday celebration or better known as Vesak Day are the two major Buddhist ceremonies that would involved some form of worship; for lack of better way of calling it. The Full Moon Ceremony is more like a renewal of one's vows or commitment made towards one's practice and honoring the Buddhas of the past, present and the future, for their teachings. It was during such ceremonies that I question myself about performing the rituals such as bowing and prostrating before the altar where usually the statue of the Buddha would be situated; the Muslim part of my mind had problem with that. I had several private discussions one on one with my instructors with  regard to this matter and they convinced to see my own weaknesses and ignorance; I was entertaining my ego, my small mind. I was mistaking the wooden Buddha on the altar for something else other than what it is, a piece of wood.  I was adding form to the formless.
The purpose of the ceremony is to unite the community(Sanga) in a common act of 'worship ' such that the mind becomes humbled by the very action as performed wholeheartedly by one's peers and superiors. Once the mind is freed of itself, the act becomes more spiritual in nature and touches the spirit in more direct manner with the essence of the practice one seeks to understand. It was like getting in tune with the whole history of the teachings from beginingless times. The Bodhisatva's vows that we recited while doing this ceremony became more significant and refined; it touches the soul, that is Buddhism to me. Buddhism teaches me to know who I am and what my potentials are as a human being. In this human form the Buddha taught man can liberate himself from the bonds of suffering and especially ignorance. This to me is why Buddhism practices the virtues of karma and incarnation, the evolution of humanity from the depth of deprivation to that of enlightenment; every man has the potential to become a Buddha in his lifetime.

"In this human form, don't waste time!"
                                               The Buddha.

Whats has this to do with Islam? According to Imam Al Ghazali the great Muslim scholar and Sufi master, the cleansing and purification of the soul is our primary concern as human beings. We can achieve this in various ways such as through daily prayers and observance of 'Shariah' or laws. We can meditate (Tafakur) or contemplate upon the Al- Mighty through His Beautiful names (Asma' Husnah) or we can perform various virtuous acts toward others such as being charitable and kind. All these are grounded in the verses of the Holy Quran and the hadiths of the Prophet. By understanding the exemplary life of the Prophet one can also find insights into what it takes to become a true Muslim. I heard from one of my mentors in Islam that the Prophet when asked how many true Muslims there would be by the end of Days, He was said to have said, something like seventy thousand; in all humanity 70,000 Muslims worth being called true Muslims. I cannot ascertain the truth of this matter but knowing my mentor he must have dug it out from one of his numerous books on islam.
Islam is an Uncompromising religion, my eldest brother warned me this however having practiced Buddhism in its most refined forms i have come to realize that Islam is most accommodating and it is the Muslims that are uncompromising. It is due to the fact that Muslims in most instances are closed minded that they have a difficult time winning the hearts of the non Muslims to embrace the religion of Allah. Some twenty years ago someone closest to me declared that by Muslim virtue he could kill me for being an apostate or (Murtad). I was already dead when I heard this while driving with him is his car, it was like being stabbed in the guts by someone who literally shared the womb with me when I was born. Even as a Muslim I find it hard to forgive and forget on certain matters and this was one of them. Alhamdullilah, by the grace of Allah I feel much more a Muslim than I ever felt before; my anger over the matter has now been absolved. There those who inspired and led me towards Islam while i was growing up but none have made me feel deep within on what or where my faith lies in.
Being a Buddhist in a Muslim community and a Muslim in a Buddhist community had its ups and downs, but being in the latter situation was worse  than in the former, I came to learn. Why was this so? This is what this blogging is all about. This is what the Cheeseburger Buddha set out to find out and it has been a long journey of reaching deep within while travelling far without; a journey of meeting great minds and enduring great challenges that my life has been a manifestaiton. Far be it from being over and many a river yet am I crossing. Insha'Allah, God willing I get there and hopefully before I die.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Buddhism and Islam -part 3

I do not write my thoughts down on religious matters to influence anyone including my own children but just to share my understanding of what i have discovered along my journey towards self discovery. If by chance whoever reads of my writings and gain an insight into what it is all about, Alhamdullilah! praise be to the Lord. Mine has been one long dark night of trials and tribulations of the soul, reaching out to make sense out of non-sense. The fact that I call myself the Cheeseburger Buddha is my way of reminding myself that i am living a life of dichotomy; a splintered soul seeking to become whole again.It is one long and tedious act of healing that which was from the beginning wounded by the circumstance of life and upbringing; by the grace and mercy of God I did not succumb to anger and despair. Instead i chose to look as deeply into the cause of my shortcomings and unravel my ignorance.
I am blessed to have been exposed to the teachings of the Buddha and Islam both at the same time and at a very age had become aware that there was a need for me to make my choices. I was also blessed by the fact that I had spent some twenty odd years of my life in the United States where i was free to study and understand both these religions without fear of being chastised by any religious authority. In the process I was also able to see myself becoming ensnared into my darker natures living no better than an animal when I discarded religions totally. I was a drunk, a dope addict, a womanizer; in short I was a sinner. My head was turned around only when I joined the Buddhist monastery at Green Gulch Zen Center in Sausalito, Marin County, California. It was then that i began to discover my 'self'. I found my strength with the help of my teachers and friends who guided me along the right path away from my ignorance and blindness due to my unconscious rage and anger from my past experiences. Even then I could not abandon all of my habitual baggage, I still carried with me my deep rooted twisted karma and till this day am still struggling to find total ablution from them.
Even as I am writing these words I am in the process of catharsis, letting go of and accepting that which I cannot do much about with thorough understanding such that with the understanding, it is hoped that will come the healing.My journey and my blogging is meant for me personally to observe my mind as it unravels itself in the form of writing it all down and in doing so it is my intention that I can catch a glimpse of my errors and my strength, my belief and understanding and hopefully one day my Buddha Nature.(that which was, before i was conceived to be born): my Soul. A process of rubbing the coal till it becomes a diamond or cleaning the mirror in order that one can see reality  as it its. Through this long process God willing I have found a little light shining at the end of my long dark tunnel: I ham beginning to find my way back home; to the One; to God. I have allowed myself to become a pauper in this life, living hand to mouth but I feel a whole richer in spirit than I ever was.
This I am ever indebted to both Buddhism and Islam as they complemented each other with one leading me to better understand the other. I took the Buddha's teachings to untangle this life of mine in this world and found myself at the doorsteps of the Lord of the Worlds: I have yet to be able to step into His prescence in total commitment and surrender but i have not given up yet my journey of seeking the right path; Insha'Allah I will. The lessons I have learned among other things is that to never close the door of knowledge based on your own personal prejudices but to investigate and pursue it to the end with clarity of mind and consciousness. It is the only thing worth accomplishing in this life; that which gives absolute peace of mind before one is called back to account before The Lord of Creation. Yes, I am a believer in the afterlife and the Day of Judgement in one form or another otherwise this life is meaningless is so far as to why I was alive in the first place; eat, sleep, shit and then you die!
If this lengthy discourse of my blogging has any meaning it would that I am trying to understand death from living this life with complete awareness, with an awakened mind, with making mistakes and wrong choices and with finding the remedies and the causes of my suffering. Yes, i fear death, I fear death because it is the most crucial part of my life, it is something I will have to experience like it or not. Will i cease to exist when my body rots in the ground or will I continue on to transmigrate into another life to continue evolving till I am fully awakened as a Buddha/ Will I be subjected to appear before the Lord of Truth at the End of Days to answer for my deeds while living on this earth and pay for my sins and transgressions or be allowed into heaven where all the pious and righteous will be gathered. A true Muslim will not even entertain such questions with doubts but I have yet to become a true believer according to Islam. 

“I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”

― Jimi Hendrix, - Axis: Bold as Love

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

― Mark Twain         

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Islam Vs. Buddhism - part 2

"In any future contest between Islam and Buddhism, Islam is bound to emerge victorious. ^=This must be so because of the clear superiority of Islam over Buddhism as a religion which is capable of responding to the awesome challenges of the modern age,-political, economic, moral, spiritual etc."
Chapter Ten,
Comparison Of Islam and Buddhism.
Islam and Buddhism in the Modern World.
By; Imran Nazar Hosein

Scriptural comparison;
                                  I do not doubt that the author must have done a great deal of research on the teachings of the Buddha and especially on the Buddhist Texts which he has himself admitted to be extensive and in two canons; that of the Pali and and the Sanskrit. The Buddha is said to have taught in the Pali canon originally and through His miraculous powers also simultaneously imparted his sermons in Sanskrit. The Buddha was a miracle worker just like the Christ and the Prophet of Islam; it is for one to accept the fact or not depending on one's prejudices. I grew up both as a Buddhist as well as a Muslim due to family circumstance and my sense of curiosity and the urge to know. I take to study both the religions very close through every form they present to me albeit reading, listening observing or worshiping and have come to realize in my own way what is for me the nature of their truths.
I do not claim to be an expert on Buddhissm nor Islam but i feel for both like they have been a strong part of my consciousness in Being who I am. I was born a Buddhist and later at the age of twelve converted to Islam, however i was exposed to Islam while growing up among my relatives and cousins who were all Muslims. In short I was exposed to the question of religious believe and of faith at a very early age and had I not the mind that could swim with the current of the time I would have drowned with insanity from struggling with the issues of right and wrong. Today I am still unveiling the truths that has merged from my quest to understand both the religions which is a part of me; how can I reconcile and justify to my Maker.
I spent two years of my life in doing a solid Zen Buddhist Practice in San Francisco where I was exposed to some of the most intriguing Buddhist texts and met some of the most outstanding Buddhist Scholars of our times. I walked out ( more like evicted) of the monastery awakened; at least i felt so even for a brief period of time in my life, I felt a sense of liberation from the bonds of ignorance, fear and delusions. This i felt grateful to the teachings of the Buddha and later when I stepped back home to Malaysia and took upon the practice of Islam I felt only sadness and slowly succumbed to rejection of what I see. Islam as practiced and preached by the so called ulamas and ustaz I came upon is far from instilling in me a sense of belonging, a sense of pride, or even a sense of truth. This was evideneced in the manner in which my late wife suffered in just trying to be converted to Islam in the Penang religious department, a day I would sooner forget. Then I came to realize that this is not the Islam that I have come to embrace, this is the Islam of the peddlers of ignorance whose intention is far from healing my splintered soul but cohesion and accusation through their own petty understanding always claiming their ways to be the right way and when in doubt throwing the holy verses or the hadiths of the Prophet at me to prove me in error.
I must admit that my knowledge of Islam or Buddhism for that matter is not perfect and far be it for me to claim myself an authority on both, but I am a seeker of 'The truth' and I have gambled my soul in the process. My knowledge and understanding of islam comes mostly from having read the translations and interpretations of great Muslim writers such as Imam Al Ghazali and Muhyidin Abn. Arabi, Muyiddin Shaikh Kadir Al Jilani and Al Rumi and the Ayatollah Hoemini whose works I find very insightful.  One of my mentor and religious teacher was my martial arts instructor,(Silat Seni Gayong, Malaysia) who was at the time i knew him was the Head of the Terengganu religous Department, Encik Abu Johan was a well rounded educated and an intellectual who had the respect of both the religious and the secular. Another teacher I had the privillage of learning from was my late mentor and friend Cikgu Yusof Ali who inroduced to me the ways of the Sufis.But these are my own personal understanding from what I have understood having read these teachers and I am not claiming that i have thoroughly understood to the point of being an authority or Islam. What I learned most about the religion is the feeling or the presence of my Lord in my hours of utter need or when in the nadir of my life when I felt lost to the point of despair. Then when I invoke my Lord's name I feel His Grace over me like a soothing shower, a healing, a forgiveness and acceptance, it is in these moments of challenges i face as a man that i find Allah: I am the prodigal son who has wandered far and returned to Islam through the back door of the religion.
I must declare that Buddhism has led me to Islam through the process of gnosis;
"Gnosticism (from gnostikos, "learned", from Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge; Arabic: الغنوصية‎) is the dualistic belief that the material world should be shunned and the spiritual world should be embraced. Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions[1] which teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or 'oneness with God') may be reached by practising philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence (as far as possible for hearers, total for initiates) and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.[2]"

"Journey to the Lord of Power is the first English translation of lbn Arabi's twelfth-century text dealing with spiritual ascent Arabi, whose metaphysical teachings have had a profound influence on both the Muslim and Christian worlds, is known as one of the greatest writers of mystical love poetry of all time.
Written in answer to the questions of a friend, this illuminating guide describes the evolutionary path of our higher spiritual aspirations - the quest for the ultimate reality, the journey toward Cod. It is chiefly concerned with spiritual retreat, an advanced and potentially dangerous Sufi practice that aims at the attainment of the Presence of Cod through absolute abandonment of the world. Realizing the imagination's deceptive power, 'Arabi warns that this form of retreat should not be undertaken except at the order of a sheikh or by one who has mastered the self. Each stage of the journey is accompanied by a temptation which can be overcome only by an unshakable desire for Cod.
Arabi explains each step of the ascent leading toward human perfection. In this perilous voyage of self-discovery, the reader will encounter the Realms of the mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds, eventually reaching the Gardens and the Throne of Mercy. The traveler of the Sufi mystic path is called upon to cleanse his or her heart in order to safely reach the final destination - the Lord of Power."
                                                                                                translated by Rabia Terri Harris

My personal journey happened out of necessity from having to discover for my own sanity why I am as I am when it comes to faith and religions. I set upon the path of self discovery when I first went to college and stumbled upon books on Buddhism written by contemporary Budhist scholars such as Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Shunryu Suzuki, Daistz Suzuki, Thich Naht Hahn and numerous others. I took to reading them like duck take to water; I discovered the essence of Buddhism and what it was that the Buddha had intended for mankind to understand of himself. Mankind suffer from three illnesses the Buddha was said to have declared.; Greed, Hate and Ignorance. From this declaration alone one can see the errors of man that had caused Adam and Hawa to be casted out from the garden, to fall from grace. The Buddha's mission was to heal man from these three inflictions, to awaken man from their effect. Islam does this through absolute faith and total submission to the Will of Allah. The Buddha ask that we solve our problem here and now, that we liberate from the bondage or ignorance that we are not well from the beginning.
The question is how do we heal a sick mind and become whole in order that we may approach our Lord as a clean slate each time we face Him in worship? (five times a day). How many good devoted Muslims have erred simply because our Lord is Oft Forgiving and Merciful by indulging in all the transgressions believing that at the end of the day God will forgive especially if we go to perform the Haj? It is this error in perception and right understanding of the truth that many of us have strayed claiming our ways are the right ways so long as we perform the required rituals in our worship of God. God in His infinite Compassion has allocated us the time and space to exist on this planet as His servant... to serve Him and in serving Him we are served, but man has the idea of self serving as I and not God is Number One. Most Muslims today especially in my country are manifesting hypocrisy and using the religion as a crutch to survive and to hide behind. A true Muslim is a rare specie in this day and age but they are out there no doubt and that is why the good Lord has not decided to fold up His experiment and call it quit. The battle between good and evil, of light and darkness still raging ever more so as we head into the uncertain future and Iblis still is on the look out for his pound of flesh in the form of deranged or lost souls.
It is safe to say that the most atrocity committed by man upon his fellow man is happening among the Muslims all over the world, we are at war with ourselves and in the process has dragged the religion through the mud of civilization. If the Prophet of Allah were to be in our midst today He would cry bitter tears over what has become of our Ummah and yet we have the audacity to claim that our religion is better than others. I will have to resist from further pointing out the weaknesses in Islam as practice today by the majority of Muslims around the world for fear that i might be construed as an Islam basher. But suffice it is to say that Islam in this day and age can look at Buddhism and its ways of dealing with the human mind and consciousness in order that we may correct our own ways and better understand the teachings of the Prophet of Allah and the Holy Book. Islam is perfect, but Muslims has allot to understand about themselve in relation to their faith and belief.
 Islam may claim not to have monks and priests but there Muftis and Ulama's in Islam, and there are uniformed religious departments handling Islam which to me are no better than monks and priests; in essence monks and priests practice their religions to liberate their own minds from ignorance through the practice of austerity and so forth but none were required to become lifelong practitioners as nowhere in Buddhism is this mandated by the Buddha. Monks can return to their laity life after their ppractice period. The act celibacy is also not something imposed upon any in Buddhism but encouraged during certain times of their practice period as sexual indulgences are a hinder to the acquiring of knowledge especially in the spiritual nature. Most Sufi adepts practice celibacy while going through their rigorous training and this is common practice in Islam. The Buddha was no ordinary man even if the author refutes this and having attained to the state of Buddhahood He had transcended the human form and its base needs and his wife and son were among the first to follow his path. Mahatma Ghandi went through similar practice in his life and he shook civilization from its foundation with his abstinence.
Lastly in this entry I would like to declare that to me Buddhism is not a religion, it is a Way of life; a way of dealing with the day to day art of living. Buddhism is a healing process for the ills of man and his environment; it was founded as an agnostic approach towards the errors of the religion of Hinduism.

"In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities, whereas a theist and an atheist believe and disbelieve, respectively.[2] In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Islam and Buddhism in the Modern World - Imran Nazar Hosein

The Buddha's teachings of detachment from the material world or as he expounded from the Mayavic (Illusional) existence is not the denial of life as we know it. Many contemporary Muslims and other religious writers seems to hone in on this issue as a form of escapism that Buddhism has laid down for its followers. Taken at face value it may seems so, however if the issue is studied in depth and with right understanding it is a fallacy an error of not looking at the teaching with an open mind but a mind bent on criticism and the effort to compare against as I found written in a book by Imran Nazar Hosein entitled ; Islam and Buddhism in the Modern World.
Having made it my effort to understand the Buddha's thoughts and teachings I feel that what the Buddha meant is like His quote, "In living life, it is like plucking a lotus without wetting your fingers." In order to do so one has to be more conscious and aware of one's activities in every thing that we do to not be attached to what we are doing. There is no doer or giver or one who receives, only action. When we do things without attachment we are free from claiming the result or denying it if the result is not to our satisfaction in other words the ego is not involved. Another teaching of the Buddha somewhat similar is the practice of what is called 'bare attention' where one acknowledges an event but does not contribute to it with our personal input or judgement, of right or wrong, we do not add to it our psychological or emotional energy, thus freeing our mind from making choices that we later have to answer for.
The author Imran Nazar also also lambasted Buddhism for its 'lack of commitment' to the nature of God and the afterlife, This again is not what it seems,as the Buddha was said to have taken the Noble Silence while not answering such questions. The silence to me was not to indulge into a discussion over matters that are beyond what was necessary at the time of the Buddha which was some 2600 years ago during the time when Gods were in abundance in the form of Hinduism.The Buddha saw life as suffering for the multitude of Hindus whose life was at the mercy of their religious institution. To argue about the existence of Gods and so forth would have been like to fight fire with fire.I see the Buddha as drawing the focus of the multitude away from the prevailing God dominated religion to that of the problem of humanity. 'The Gods can take care of themselves, it is man who is facing the suffering of being alive in this world.
The author also pointed out the fact that the Buddha's teaching led to annihilation or void which in Islam is called 'Fana', that is to cease to exist and emergence with God as One. The Buddha led a very systematic path towards the achievement of this state of final deliverance from being attached to this worldly life, a system based on overcoming one's ignorance in the nature of existence itself. During His time, one must assume that the common people were totally lacking in education or understanding and what was needed to lead them away from the horrors of Hindu practices was a simple truth, that life is suffering and how to step out of its clutches, out of the circle of life death and rebirth.If the Prophet of Allah had been there before the Buddha i am sure the Buddha would have no need to appear into the realm of man to help ease the burden that they were heaped with.
It took great wisdom to make no commitment in declaring whether there is or there is no God and this we have to give credit to the Buddha and not use it as an attack towards His teachings. I am one of those as a Muslim who would have no problem to accept the Buddha s one of the Prophets of Allah sent down in the times of darkness and ignorance as India was in those days.Not much for quoting the Quran, however i did hear it said that in the Holy Book it is written somewhere that Allah had declared that he had many messengers and prophets before our last Prophet, those that he has not named. Any great religion that professes Good and teach the nobility of human nature has to be fully respected and not use as a comparison much less a object of ridicule. I highly doubt that the Buddha had it in His mind to influence others to become Buddhist for the sake of 'winning' a cause. it seems to me Muslims like the writer of this book are more into trying to justify Islam's. As a Muslim I do not agree that Islam is a religion that needs to compare and compete at the expense of other religions; compare but with fairness may be acceptable. This is one of the causes of why Islam today is at loggerhead with other religions. Instead of comparing why not seek that which is similar in essence.
The Lord created this universe and All in it Islam professes, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and the rest of it is His creation. In times of dire need what is so difficult to accept the fact that the Lord sent down the Buddha or Christ and their teachings? Perhaps these awakened minds were part and parcel of what would eventually lead to the final religion of His in Islam. They were to pave the way for those who were living in ignorance such that when Islam does arrive at their doorsteps they would not find it too hard to swallow..

"The Islamic Philosophy of life revolves around the principle of unity (tawhid)....Islam's knowledge is absolutely unique and revolutionary. All knowledge forms one whole. All branches of knowledge are inter-related and interdependent..The perfectly educated scholar is he he who is educated in as many different branches of knowledge as possible, who achieves concordance of al this knowledge on the basis of the fundamental truths led down by the Qur'an."
                                               Islam and Buddhism in the Modern World....Imran Nazar Hosein

One need not point out the the Qur'an did not exist in the time of the Buddha as a point of reference is obvious that we need to look at it from a greater perspective than merely quoting western writers to justify one's personal truth. The teachings of the Buddha have evolved and today it is still as relevant especially in the west even if it is not exactly what the Buddha taught. Each religion when removed from its origin in time and place is bound to adapt to changes. Buddhism in China, Japan and America is much alive and thanks to it presence many find solace and comfort to ease their minds from not having any belief to follow. As for Islam right or wrong better or worse is a matter of personal faith and understanding, the greater in number does not signify this.There may be billions of Muslims on this planet but that does not mean all are true Muslims. I hope that the writer and those like him would look to promote the unity through looking at beauty of the teachings of other religions rather than the weaknesses; we have the devil for this.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What one would do for Money!

The time was between 1 and 2 pm and the place was at a Chinese school, that was where i was suppose to pick up my voucher for BRiM500 which the Malaysian Government had allocated for its citizen who qualifies. So for one not believe in being late i arrived at 12;30 and already thee was a crowd spilling all the way out on to the main road in front of the school. I found out that lines were arranged in alphabetical order of one's first name and so mine being 'S', i proceeded to join the cue behind two elderly ladies a Malay and an Indian. It was hot and the ladies shared an umbrella which I later offered to hold for them.
My initial reaction was to turn around and leave but the little voice in me chastised my lack of patience, " If all these people mostly elderly men and women can stand the line what is wrong with you doing it?" Ah yes, another challenge to the ego! Right! lets ride this out and see what gives; hot blazing sun! the stench of humanity and the chaos caused by haphazard mismanagement, so be it. You need the five hundred Ringgit more than you know. Three and half hours later after being aggressively accosted for mistakenly breaking in the line.  i came to the end of the line, gave the lady my slip of paper and was scolded for being in the wrong line!I walked out of the school building not saying a word but just thank you - Alhamdullilah! I said to myself, You are the Tester and I am at Your mercy...just don't let me loose my cool! 
Should I have trusted my instinct that said 'it is not worth it,'  there are other ways you can still claim your money and this is not it, not the time. I did not, I chose to observe my ego and its reactions and i paid for not listening to that little voice within. What did i learn from this? Not much other than the fact that it would have been better to be independently wealthy like the rest of my brothers and sisters and not qualify for the government's handout or it would be wiser to sit things out when the odds are too heavy against you. Whatever! The only consolation I had was the wisdom of having with me a book to read while waiting, a book by Imam Al Ghazali and his theory of The Soul. A heavy reading for a heavy situation, but it got me to focus away from the immediate chaos.
In his book 'A New Earth', Eckhart Tolle wrote of three 'Modalities of Awakening Doing' which are; acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm.
" You need to be vigilant to make sure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all--from the most simple task to the most complex. If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others. Whenever you cannot enjoy doing, you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance means; For now this is what this situation, this moment requires me to do and so do it willingly....I you can neither enjoy or bring acceptance to what you do - stop."
Perhaps my little voice said stop but i overruled it in order to not succumb to my ego which normally would walk away when things don't look right. In the process i also failed to enjoy 'Being there' and i retreated into my book of Imam Al Ghazali and worse into my internal moaning and groaning, which happens quite naturally despite my trying to be there. I was there, but I was not there, i was making believe that I enjoyed being there; justifying my need to be there: RM500 worth of enthusiasm! In short I did not want to be there but for the money I endured.
"Enthusiasm and ego cannot coexist. One implies the absence of the other. Enthusiasm knows where it is going, but at the same time, it is deeply at tone with the present moment, the source of its aliveness, its joy and its power. Enthusiasm 'wants' nothing because it lacks nothing... Through enthusiasm you enter into full alignment with the outgoing creative principle of the universe, but without identifying with its creations that is to say, without ego. Where there is not identification, there is no attachment - one of the great source of suffering."
      Eckhart Tolle.
      A New Earth.
Have i learned anything about myself? My RM500 is still out there somewhere!

Friday, March 08, 2013

The Initial Proposal for my MFA.

Title: Univeristy without Walls – A Concept
By; Shamsul Bahari

The concept of University without Walls was first pioneered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. I was invited to join in the program while doing my Bachelor degree at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay sometime in 1978.

The program was to allow for outstanding students in various fields of academic studies to do independent or directed studies and research away from the regular classroom environment.


Independent studies are meant to give students the opportunity to tailor course work to their specific interests, talents, goals, etc., in ways that normal courses do not. They also allow students to work more intensely on a subject or in a particular field than a regular course does. This includes summer work. Thus, an independent study can allow a student who was introduced to a writer as part of a survey course in, say, spring semester to dig more deeply into that writer’s work through a summer independent study. For students with demanding jobs and work schedules, including TA’s, summer independent studies can help keep the student on track in progressing through the program.
Resource; George Mason University
Dept. of English
Independent Studies in Writing.

Students were chosen based on their good academic performances in their core subjects like basic studio classes and understanding of Art history and so forth. They would also have to achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 (negotiable?) after attending three semesters of introductory classes.
A letter of proposal was required to be written by the student explaining the intention of their chosen course of study and this will be deliberated by three or four faculty members to ensure the feasibility and accountability of the course.
After the deliberation the student will be interviewed by the faculty members to verify that the student has a good understanding and is capable of meeting all the requirements set forth for the course. This included the time management and fiscal cost of the action to be taken.
Upon completion of the process and thorough understanding of what entails was agreed upon the student will then make arrangements with the various class instructors for the subjects to be taken and how the credits would be awarded.

Each independent study needs one faculty member willing to serve as faculty of record. Early in the process of thinking about an independent study, a student should consult faculty members with expertise or interests in the area proposed to be covered and should let discussions with the faculty member help shape his or her ideas for the study. The student and faculty member should discuss ideas about what reading and written work is to be carried out, the criteria by which the work is to be evaluated, and the schedule for meetings. Dates for submission of work also should be determined. Fewer contact hours may be more appropriate for some independent study topics or work than they are for others.
Faculty members are not separately compensated for mentoring students in independent studies. While most faculty are quite willing to do independent studies with students, if the workload for them becomes the equivalent of another class, it can pose problems. Faculty who are most interested in the field of study or writing that the student is considering, or those with whom the student has worked in the classroom are more likely to agree to mentor an independent study.
George mason University
English Dept. Writing
Independent Studies.

The student will leave the Campus and carry out his studies as planned albeit leaving the country or doing his studies in another state for the duration of the semester.
At an appointed date the student will return with a completed project and make a presentation to the related Instructors for evaluation process.

Independent studies may be created for one to three credits of English 798. For the maximum of three credits, the volume of reading and written work to be undertaken should mirror the levels required in a normal three-hour course. While this is a variable standard, a typical graduate-level literature course will encompass ten or more books and require at least one major paper and exam or two major papers or a detailed in-class presentation and major paper or exam. Comparable standards for writing courses are even more varied, but in a writing-based independent study, a student normally would be expected to complete at least one major project of roughly the size of a small book or the equivalent, depending on the field (a chapbook of poems, for example, or a collection of four to six essays, or four to six short stories or a small novel or novella).
Work should be scaled from the three-credit standard to create two- or one-credit independent studies.

At the beginning of the semester students will be made aware of the offer for such a program in the form of bulletins and announcements which will explain the concept and its challenges.
Students who find it hard to endure or finds it boring in doing semesters of studio activities and have achieved the required the status prerequisite to do so may be advised to partake in the program.
Students who have the inkling to travel and explore the world around them and can afford to do so are also encourage to join in the program.
Students exhibiting independent personality and active mind are also invited to look into the program.

Having completed all the necessary procedures and requirements the student will leave the campus and embark upon his or her independent study activities.
Equipped with the number of classes in various chosen subjects and agreed upon number of credits to be awarded the student is on his own; however a close monitoring of his progress is kept through various means such as the Internet and so forth. This can be arranged between the instructor and the student.
As an art student I would advise that the student should keep an ongoing sketchbook/journal of his progress and this would be like his diary of daily thoughts and activities as he is being exposed to the outside world.
Upon return the student will hand in all his works to his respective instructors to be graded. He could even be made to make presentations to his class such as slide shows and mini – art exhibitions.

Students will return from their trips with a wider sense of understanding of who they are in relation to the outside world.
They will also develop a greater sense of understanding their vocations and their studies as they will inadvertently be exposed to encouragements and criticisms from strangers on the street.
Students will also develop a sense of responsibility in upholding their part of the expected performance and excel in being free thinkers.
The dependency on the instructors and professors would be less as they become more self sufficient and responsible for their own thoughts and ideas.
New and fresh ideas may even be discovered as the student is exposed to those who are established in the Fine Arts while on their journey. They might meet established artist or full time artists and learn from these individuals.

The prime motive of this program is to broaden the horizon of potential students and awaken their perceptive awareness towards their related courses.
New ideas and possibilities will emerge from their interpersonal exposures with fellow artists from varied backgrounds as they approach those who have established themselves in the field; like fellow art students and teachers, full time artists and even local college and university lecturers.
By visiting local galleries and museums or even libraries the student will again be exposed to the arts and cultures of any given area they had chosen to visit.
Having spent over five years of my time here at MGTF –USM as an ‘unofficial artist in residence’ and from my teaching experiences in Japan and Penang, Malaysia, I have heard and observed of students being bored with being ‘stuck’ in their normal day to day courses in the studios and lecture rooms. Most expressed the desire to be able to explore beyond the scope of the campus walls. In this day and age I feel this is a legitimate concern for any institution to look into and find ways to resolve to the benefit of both the system and the students. As my personal experience has been to travel while doing my school work I find it to be one viable solution to this dilemma.

The gist of my written proposal for my bachelor degree at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay was to be allowed to do my independent studies away from the campus; in essence to travel away from the academic surroundings of the campus and live as an artist on the street anywhere in the world. I was a part of the pioneering students accepted to do this program which was a concept being studied by the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

After being accepted into the program my first trip out of the campus was to visit London, England. Later I traveled through three states, that of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, in the United States. My next journey took me to Colombia and Ecuador in South America and on my final journey I returned to Malaysia. One of the major outcome of these travels was the keeping of an on going journal which I have kept to this date. I further enforced the act of keeping an art journal by blogging in the Internet of which I have thus far made 900 odd entries with 56000 odd hits and 33 followers. I am relating these information so as to add to my contention that the program I am proposing has its merits through my own personal experiences.

The reaction of my intended advisor is that i cannot leave the campus while pursuing my MFA degree. I have to be here to do the studio works, so narrow it all down to what I can actually do here as a program.
 Finding out the cost and registeration procedures is another hurdle as the graduate studies office at this unversity is run like a by people who is more in a hurry to get rid of you than to help you. So strike two against so far. Is it worth the aggravation?
 One can only keep on trekking to get to where one intended, after all what else is there in life then facing all the petty tyrants that stand in your progress if the desired goal is worth it.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

In the Name of the Most Compassionate and Merciful

There is not God, only Allah.
Mohammad, (SAW) is His last Messenger.

This I profess to be true, my Dharma position on the matter of my Faith to my Lord.. I have surrendered my will to His Will at a very early age in my life; my childhood life was as painfully colorful with twist of fate happening every 12 years or so it seems. If my brother's religion is Christianity, then I am a Christian to him and if he be a Buddhist, then a Buddhist I am to him, a Hindu, a Sikh...a Bahai, if but for the Will of my Creator none of these would have happened.

Eckhart Tolle. author of the New Times Bestselling Author of, The Power of Now, is another one of my mentor like J.Krishnamurti and Alan Watts; I have never met the man but would be honored to.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit," Jesus said, "for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven" What does "poor in spirit mean? No inner baggage, no identification. Not with things, nor with any mental concepts that have a sense of self in them. And what is the "kingdom of Heaven?" The simple but profound joy of Being that is there when you let go of identifications and so become "poor in spirit."
                                                                                                               Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth"

Why Islam?
I was born a Muslim from my mother's side, My grandfather Paul Mariano was a Singhalese and married my grandmother who was from Medan, Sumatra; he became a Muslim. So I am a Muslim by birth.
Why Islam?
I can safely claim to myself that I have entered Islam through the back door, the front door had closed at a very early age in my life; I declared war on my Lord! I allowed my ego to run free with creating discord within and without.; I was worse than an atheist for many years of my adult life for I challenged my Lord...I point my middle finger at Him in anger and despair many a painful nights only He knows.

"The Buddha's Way is unsurpassable, I vow to attain it"
                                                                              The Boddhisatva's vow
I found the method through Buddha's teachings to clear my veiled mind and find my Lord. I healed my wounded soul through learning to love myself and compassion for others. I also learnt that I am merely an instrument, a flute in the hands of Lord Krishna, a Hammer in the hands of Thor, the God of thunder! I am Hanuman,and I serve my Lord, Ram! I am in servitude to my Lord even as I wirte; there is no more me, but Him. To me His sacred name is ALLAH; I pray I die like Mahatma Ghandi, calling out RAM! RAM! and I call out Ya-ALLAH as my final breath on this planet..

Well,,. Islam? The Truth being the closer I have come to understand who I am the more I come to know that I am not - a - thing special, nothing special. I ramble on and on like a 'reluctant Messiah' or Messy - ya... wannabe! Why not? It is part and parcel of my healing process. A process of coming to grips with who I am and what makes me. Slef introspection is one means to keep a close tabe on how you check you status in life, you sense of consciousness, being in the here and now. To better understand why Islam I have to approach it most of my life as why not, Islam: the mind is not capable of reaching a perfect answer.
I am not great at quoting the Prophet from His hadith or written comments, but somewhere i heard that He had said, " to seek knowledge even if It takes you to China"; but to know Allah one has to die in spirit. Fana', void, emptiness, empty of any Being. I and my Lord is One. However for so long as I am breathing in and out, I can only keep reminding myself of who I am in relation to my Lord. The scriptures have given analogies and allegorical as to how and why, it is but for the faithful to read, IQRA! With Right Understanding and practice the healing remedies of our forefathers as we are marched into the uncertain futures.
Most today are more quick to pass judgement or choose to not make any effort in understanding religions accepting even as archaic and a thing of history. Religions are the secure walls that keeps the insane within for without these walls humanities tendencies to destroy one another like we do now would be rampant. Life would be cheap and no more sacred and humanity itself would live in utter darkness as the light of religions has eventually been allowed to extinguished. Man will succumb his darkest nature as his ego rules accordingly; sadly enough it is already manifesting itself all over the world.
Eckhart Tolle calls it our 'Pain body', that which is inherent in us, the need the desire the wanting, the craving for inflicting pain in and upon ourselves through our ignorance of our true nature in the community at large and much less the propagation or dissemination of such knowledge. It is a consciousness that must be awaken globally in unison' We are the World. You are the world, anyhting and everything that happens in the affects you and your future generations , good or bad. The sooner we come to this universal realization the better as time is catching up before we loose our God given chance. NOW!
Wake Up! Stay Awake!
I am reminding this to myself more than sharing any fancy thoughts with others so bear with me as i ramble on. Malaysia is at war! The country is being invaded! Many lives lost, both sides! Tragic! More problems! This country was last threatened to be invaded was during the early sixties when Indonesia decided to raise the odds against Malaysia; it was called Confrontation or Komfrontasi! Being a part of the Commonwealth the country was immediately provided security by the Australian and New Zealand Military defence. However I do not think the Sulu - Sabah incident will warrant such moves as Malaysian Arms Forces is fully capable.
As my country is drifting into political chaos and on the brink of a critical election; why Now? I cannot remain silent but let my thoughts and feelings be out;I need to correct myself if I am wrong as I write or put my thoughts on paper. Is it because of our vulnerable situation that you attack the sovereignty of my country. This is the age of Information Technology, not the time of Emiliano Zapata or Panco Villa! This the time of shrewed lawyers, the best money can buy and the use of the media. Any Sultan, Sulu or otherwise should know this. The right thing to do perhaps was to sue for Sabah and not shoot Sabah.
What is most sad about the whole incident is that this is yet another incident od Muslims pointing guns at each other. However the Muslim blood has been spilled by his fellow Muslim brother and it lies floating in the drain...Allahu Akhbar! The Lord is Great!
I urge my fellow countrymen we who call ourselves Malaysians to again step back and take this event as focus on how or where we stand in our patriotism and love of this nation. Look to blame within yourself  from what you are willing to take the time tot see through and fully comprehend what our nation as a whole needs for us to do no matter who we are, rich or poor , high or low. We need to wake up! Awaken! from our sleeping state of self induced pain or ignorance. The world is out there, shit is happening elsewhere, I am safe for so long as I stay close to myself, that is who I am. This is the voice of the ego, the thought that arises from an angry, negative 'splintered spirit', a part of the subconscious mind. Yes there are a few running around up there in the head, going back and forth arguing and commenting making excuses and getting nasty. We all carry them in our own heads these voices especially when we are asleep even while awake. Our world is but a dream, and we keep on dreaming even into our wakeful state until 'shit hits the fence'!
We dream our way towards a nightmare all the time if we notice our dreams, they always starts off fun and beautiful but towards the end it all falls to pieces and again 'shit happens'! These are the moments of truth, the moment when reality reveals itself as a whole and for those who sees this or catch a glimpse of it will awaken to the truth of that moment, Satori, Moksha, Samadhi, Tafakur, the abode of silence, We are rudely awaken to this state everyday of our lives but we are too far asleep to notice it; today we need a slap in the face or a kick in the ASs, to be awaken and the wakefulness rarely last but a moment another thought runs s new reel of its own drama and the consciousness is gone, the mind drift into another episode unrelated to the previous event. And this is endless chattering of the mind that we humans have with us to a greater or lesser extent.
So when it comes to religious belief and Faith I must admit that I am yet to find my truth of the matter, I am a spiritual person and my spirit is already with my Lord, I am already submitted to Him and my will is His Will. I must also admit that although I have challenged God when in angry burst of energy, I am afraid for my transgressions, I cannot claim to be free from fear just as yet. I am still not absolutely liberated from the ties of material life nor is my knowledge and understanding capable of delivering me to the other shore without encountering storms and turbulence. So I will abide in being where I am at, at the moment in time. I am here Now.