Sunday, February 23, 2014

Am I not afraid of being alone at night?

Fear of  the unknown has always been man's natural infliction that takes many forms in as many different cultures and in no culture is this phenomenon more apparent than the Malay culture. Perhaps there are other cultures more paranoid when it comes to dealing with things that goes bumping into the night or the presence of Jins and Shaitans, this hantu (ghost) or that as there as many different ghouls out there according to the Malays than meets the eye. Talk to any Malay friend and he will definitely have a story to tell, an experience to share when it comes to having to ghosts and happenings.
I have one or two to relate myself, un-explainable occurrences that till this day still I have yet to understand and accept as a rational explanation. Sometimes these experience returns to haunt me especially when i am faced with being in places and moments when it is deemed to be the 'Twilight', times or places where one gets the hibbie -jibbies, when your hair rises and your body send out cold shivers signalling the something is just not right. Being in the places that i have visited the last two months I have come to again face these feelings of fear and trepidation, as though my life was being put to the test by the unknown. Yes later i realized perhaps it was just feelings, my own weaknesses and lack of faith in who I am. The Malays believe that you are most susceptible to being 'haunted by ghosts' or spirits when you have a weak predisposition, a weak mental state and negative self image and you have a lack of faith in the Lord. I have all of these every now and then although not all at once, but every now and then I have feelings that I am being targeted by the unseen forces just for the hell of it.
My personal 'Ghost Related Experiences' like the one I had while driving through New Mexico into Colorado of Highway 666, (narrated in my earlier entries) and my experience of "The Ghost ship' while piloting the Fishing Vessel 'Iceland' while commercial fishing in the Bering Sea, off the Alaskan Coast, (also narrated earlier) were among some of the vivid experiences of my getting too close to the unknown; that dimension which most men would rather deny or chose to lock it out of their consciousness if they can. Without knowing it I have place myself time and again in the path of danger of being exposed to the spiritual elements that live in their own dimensions parallel to ours and more than once I have had the privilege of witnessing an event or an apparition or manifestation of what seemed to be all i can say is 'Ghosts'. I have no other explanation otherwise or what to call what i saw as.
The experiences i had on my first two nights camping at the Muda Dam in Ghubir, near Belantik was something I would not want to go through again but I could have avoided the pain I suffered had i followed the instinct and left the camp site the second night, no, I decided to take it as a challenge and suffered the consequences. Perhaps it was all in my head, that there was no one or nothing taking a stroll around my pitched tent and running its finger nails along the canvass as it stroll by. Perhaps it was just pure coincident that I fell asleep like a log as soon as my head hits the pillow in my tent to wake up to my tent about to burn down by the two candles i had place nearby my feet to read because i thought i was going to face yet another sleepless night. I ended up burning my three fingers at exactly midnight, what are the chances at that?
When I was married the first time my sister in law came to visit my wife and i from the United States and we took her to Port Dickson and stayed at an old Hotel that could have been a colonial building at one time. Three of us slept in the same large bed and in the middle of the night i woke up seeing that my sister in law was leaving the room to go to the toilet or so I thought. Then i fell back to sleep but before i dozed off i noticed a lady with long black hair sitting at the edge of the bed and looking at me. I looked to my side and noticed that my sister in law and my wife were asleep and when i looked back at the figure sitting on the bed it was no more there. I did not think much about it nor did i tell the to women about it till we left the hotel the next day.
There must also be something about me that is as equally strong in nature that has repelled any extremely dangerous situations, something that threatens my very life. I noticed that i have been spared on many occasions of what could have been a fatal incident causing harm although having fire in my tent and burning my fingers came close, but i attributed it to my own carelessness. Over the years I believe that I have for lack of better explanation a guardian angel watching over me if not the All Mighty Himself as i always evoked His aid whenever I feel the threat of the unknown and it has helped me more than anything else. I always say out loud that i take refuge in the Lord of Power and 'The lord thy God is Power' as a verse from the Quran reads. "La hau;la wala kuwata illa Billa"

"You should know that the most comprehensive and inclusive formula for expressing the repudiation of one’s own claim to power and ability is La hawla wala quwawata illa billah (there is neither power nor ability save by Allah)."
 This is my shield, my personal power especially against any situation that i cannot deal with physically but have to rely on the laws of divine faith or the spiritual laws. I truly believe in it and on many occasions has put it into action. I surrender myself completely into this 'Mantra' and let come what may as death is the only final consequence and if my time is up there is nothing i could do to avoid it. But i surely would not die without standing up to my right as a man, as the son of Adam at the hands of that which I cannot see, I cannot die with my tail between my legs, in other words. But all these thoughts and ideas are foreign to those who are already dfeeply buried int he world of dreams and senselessness, those whose lives lacks the awareness of the existence of that which is beyond human perception. Those whose lives are totally dominated by the egoic time space plane where the mind has become petrified by the pursuit of material gains and worldly pleasures.
I try to walk in all it makes my life a little more exciting if not challenging. This is why i live as i do always on the fringe of life itself as most knows it.
As a friend once said, "I fear what I can see than what i cannot." 
The element of 'Compassion, Right understanding and self confidence through experience is the key towards being free from fear itself. Through the destruction of the forest and thus the ecosystem of the seen and unseen one cannot help but feel infinite compassion towards the denizens of the forest in all its shapes and forms. being in touch with one's own feeling of love and compassion and seeing the bigger picture of man's compulsive sense of destruction one develop a sense of being a part of the whole which includes ghosts and demons and what have you that often creates havoc in your imagination and fear of that which you fail to come to grip with. By not seeing or encountering the paranormal realms and entities does not mean that they are not there, you are fortunate in some way not to be able to encounter such events.
My brother Lee asked me one evening "Why is that Malay girls are most succeptable to mass hysteria?" I had no immediate explanation and this is in fact a real phenomenon in this country especially among school girls in dormtories  My rationalization over the matter is that Malay girls are mostly spiritual, in that they are practicing Muslims..Hence they are more conscious of or in tune with the spiritual realm of existence than most other races .The western dominated thinkers would brush off the spiritual nature of mass hysteria as superstitions but not to most Malays. To them mass hysteria is the cause of spirits that possesses the young victims often 'Jumping from one to another' causing a chain reaction of a kind.. A spiritual healer, a bomoh or an Ustaz (religious teacher0 is called to  expel or remove these spirits. often the cause is being attributed towards the general surrounding environment where the school was being constructed or the fact that spirits like to have fun sometimes too. However the more serious of these incidents has resulted in a permanent damage to the victims psyche often turning her into a vegetable or zombie like.
When I was visiting Bali I had the opportunity to attend a 'Kacak' performance whereby at the end of the performance there was a group of performers trying to pierce their chest and stomach with the Kris or daggers. They were collectively being in a state of being possessed according to a Balinese friend. The human-spirit world connection is much more prevalent among the Asian especially the South East Asians societies albeit in the form of mutual aid or aggression. The unwritten rule of thumb is that there is mutual respect and acknowledgement of each enttitie's presence where the protocol is observed for each encounter in the forms of rituals and in some cases offerings. Islam prohibits such practices according to the Ulama's or religious authorities..      

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Reflections on SRI LOVELY

The land mass of the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Borneo is considered to be one of the oldest land mass on the planet and thus it harbors some of the oldest surviving creatures some species yet to be discovered while more and more are headed for extinction. A typical Malaysian forest today is home to lesser variety of flora and fauna than it used to be as the jungles are rapidly being cleared by slash and burn and the earth being bulldozed exposing the top soil and causing massive soil erosion especially during the rainy season causing the rivers to be polluted and the build up of sedimentation. The burning of felled trees and underbrush like those of  bamboo clumps have caused the wild to recede further into the deeper forest being driven from fear of the explosive sounds like rifle shots made by the exploding bamboo stems when burned. Sometimes it seems like there was a battle going on in the hill when the bamboo grove is being burned to the ground. Needless to say, that the death to untold number of species of wildlife in the ground and above is phenomenal although one could not see it happening by looking at it.
Life at the edge of the Forest..

Malaysia takes great pride in her bio-diversity and spends millions in advertisement to promote this fact for the tourism industry, however, the sad truth is Malaysians are blind to the fact that their rain- forest is slowly being replaced by cash crops like rubber and oil palm among the major agriculture industry dominating the landscape in remote areas of the country. The use of chemical fertilizers and poison to control various insects and rodents, to curb the growth of unwanted undergrowth is killing the very earth that these crops are sustained on. Run offs from these pesticides and other chemicals used in the plantations find their ways into the streams and rivers killing fishes and other creatures in the vicinity; gone are the days when you get to see a cluster of butterflies crowding a water hole creating a beautiful design of colors; perhaps you can still see this deeper in the forest where man rarely gets to.

Off course this is happening all over the world where ever there is forest to be cleared and money to be made and ther is little that one can do to slow this down much less put a stop to it. It take more than a 'Rambo' kind of action and it would take much more than creative imagination of  James Cameron to combat the desecration of the rain forest and other such similar habitats. We have become insensitive towards nature and her plight; we have raped our own environment, crapped onto the very plate we eat from. How soon will wake up from our sleep of ignorance and discover the nightmare that we are creating all in the pursuit of our own sense of wealth and happiness. Corruption is the Mark of Caine within just about every government department in the country and especially the forestry and land distribution departments. Logging and poaching of wild life is an ongoing lucrative business that lurks in every corner where there is land and tress and wild life available for the taking. Rules can be bent and eyes will close to allow for illegal as well as legal pillage of virgin forests, undetected until to late.
The Malaysian government is just as busy as any government elsewhere but it is too busy playing political squash and badminton, standing and defending religious dogmas , and making efforts to curb crime and corruption to have much time left in taking care of the environment. Noting that this country has some of the worse cases of polluted rivers in the world and landslides and floods has become a way of life for Malaysians just as discarding still born babies and raping and torturing of children is.We are becoming a mindless society that lives our lives at the expense of other; we are self serving, self profiting, self centered egotistically motivated group of homo sapient, Like a cancerous virus, we live preying upon our host till there is nothing left that it can give to sustain our insatiable life style, our Greed, our Hate, and our Ignorance.
Perhaps it is never too late to instigate the process of healing, the process of reversal revitalizing and re-energizing of our environment and perhaps much has been done in this direction through volunteerism and the spirit of mutual survival. Perhaps there more and more individuals and organizations in the country that are spearheading the 'Environmental Jihad', these are way too few yet to make a dent upon the damage that has already been done  The lure of the city life and the attraction towards Western Glamour and the influences of the rapid technological exchange of information on the Internet has driven the young into the cities looking for excitement mostly finding decadence. The erosion of manpower from the remote rural areas has created a vacuum whereby the land previously slated for cultivation were abandoned by their owners. It is these abandoned pieces of land that is now being taken over by the Belantik Corporation to be re-cultivate after being left dormant for over thirty years most of them. The owners became shareholders in this corporation while the local government agencies afforded whatever help they can if forms of grants and equipment, technical as well as management guides.
Moon over Lintang

The primary idea of the 'Korporasi' is to carry out pure organic farming, the return back to 'Nature's Way', of cultivating a sustainable agriculture environment that will coexist with the surrounding natural wild life habitat. It is the organizer's intention that these neglected lots of prime land be converted into an organic field research institute for those who seek to become involved in organic farming into the future. Institutions of higher learning have also become regular participants in the effort to promote organic farming, with students accompanied by their faculty members doing a research study at the farm. Through the involvement of these institutions more funds are procured towards project although there is never enough to make a great deference and most of the work is done by the few who had not abandoned the cause and have been devoting thier time working on the farm with minimum salary and persons like me who is a volunteer and only provided with lodging and sometimes food whenever available. Mine is the 'Jihad of the Heart' and it is in line with one of the principles of the running the farm that is, "Amal Makruf", simply means, to do good.
                                          Reflections at the Muda Dam.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rice growing- Briefly.

The pre -selected rice  is wrapped up into a bag and then soaked in water overnight with the bag hung while the water slowly soaks the seeds and allows it to germinate. The cloth keeps it damp through the night.  
An egg is used to help choose the seeds to make sure they are not just empty husks. Salt is being added into the water until the egg floats. And then the rice meant for seedlings are poured into the water and thosae rice husks that floats are removed.

Trys are being prepared by using organic waste matter found  at the roots of the bamboo clumps and mixed with some ashes from burnt dried leaves. These are carefully seived  to remove ant large sediments.

The trays are well smmothed outat the surface and when ready the rice seedlings are carefully scattered evenly all over the surface of the soil.

It takes allot of patience and some gentleness and care in this whole procedure, like taking care of little babies.

After a few days the plants starts to grow  happily. and later they are being transferred to the prepared plot to be planted. 

                                                She holds in her hand a bowl of rice that will feed someone when it is time.

Each seedling if planted into the ground individually guided by lines drawn in the mud.

A week or so late this plot looks like it is on the way to becoming a rice fireld.

The rice we eat daily are the products of many hands and each santient being has contributed towards its growth, for this we should ever be grateful and not let it go to waste.
Each step and process is an effort of blood sweat and tears, it is the effort filled with love and compassion. The hands that grows each grain of rice feeds the world.

Here the rice is being seperated from the stalks .

The padi is later further cleaned by winoing using a large industrial fan which helps to further separate the empty uhcks from the good padi.

We use whatever is available and works to solve our problems.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Majestic Trees - From the voice in the Forest.

The coconut tree, how common it is here in the tropical country like Malaysia and how we take it for granted even though every part of it is being put to use by man from the fruit to its enormous trunk. Every now and then we should give this tree a hug, who cares if we are being accuse as a tree-hugger by those who see only profit at the end.

For how much longer will they endure, holding the earth together, providing shade and oxygen before they fall to the hands that wields the chainsaw. Every time I behold such awesome presence of a gigantic tree reaching into the skies, I am struck with  a sense of  faith in creation.

Every nation, every country every forest has its own 'King of Trees'. Here the Chengal and Meranti are among the Lord of the forest, just as the Redwoods are to California.  

Anyone who stands before a fully grown tall and majestic tree of any specie and not be moved by its presence ought to have his or her head examined.

It takes years and years for a tree to grow to such a height weathering heat and storms along the way and it takes less then an hour for it to be chopped down with a chainsaw.

What an empty sky it would be if not for the trees in its horizon.

If you look long enough at the formation of the branches of any tree one can see a design in it. 

Adi and his dream house. Quotes from Thoreau

This was how i found him very early one morning as I decided to take a stroll towards the hills from farm. I was attracted by the hammering and decided to have a look see at what my friend Adi was up to. Renovating you bungalow I said to him and he laughed. How about renting out a room for me? And another lauder laughter..

He kept on working as we chatted explaining to me the wood he used for pillars were the center of a larger tree trunk, very hard after all the outer layers being eaten away by termites. How long have you been living here i asked and he said since before there was the road that you see now. Were you not scared? I am more scared of what goes on outside than what is i here, he said. There is so much hate and people are just more and more vicious towards each other. 

I see you are extending your house, why I asked, getting married? He laughed. Nope, he said, just making room for more ideas to work with.

Dont see any tape measure or 'T square, I said. Dont need them, just eye-balling is all it takes.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Where is the water coming from? I asked. Up the hill, he said, used to get it from the farm but they decided to sabotage me by breaking the pipes and even cutting it off, people just are too selfish sometimes and i don't even know why, after all it is free water supply.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Lets have a cup of coffee shall we?
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quotes by Aldous Huxley.

"The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude."
There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.

A child-like man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm.

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.

Friday, February 14, 2014

And the Rape of the forest goes on.

When will we ever learn, that enough is enough?

When will we ever learn that every tree we chopped down took years to grow? 

When will ever learn that the planet is on the verge of heating up due to deforestation?

When will we ever learn that we cannot eat rubber?

When will we ever learn that no matter how hard we try we cannot create a blade of grass. 

When will we ever learn that there is only so much abuse that the land can take. 

When will we ever learn that the rape of the land has to stop somewhere.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Voice from the Forest.

Am having allot of pains in my lower back from the work and most probably from walking around too much doing my 'chores', which mostly is in keeping the grass alive and green and the dried leaves raked and disposed off. I have also been reflecting my situation which is seldom good because i keep looking ahead instead being in the moment and dealing with what is. I worry about my son and daughter in how they are fairing out by themselves even if they are adults now. The fact that my phone is not functioning as it should does not help either, but i hope and pray that all is well with them. As for me i have to keep on fighting the urge to give up this phase of my life and return, return to what?
It is hot and dry here and the forest is turning into a large dry wasteland with the trees being chopped down ans the hillsides being bulldozed for rubber trees. It is the saddest sound to hear one giant tree after another being fell to the ground ans it kept reminding me of the movie Avatar. Lately there were allot of fire crackers being let off all over the hills I suppose in the effort o scare away the wild life especially those that cause damage to seedlings being planted in the ground. Even the gibbons are no more yelling and screaming in the mornings and can only be heard far off in the distance if they are  there. It is depressing to witness this desecration of the forest and the hills, but such is...a man has got to make a living like everywhere else in the world where the natural landscape has to give way to plantations.
There is an air of sadness about and perhaps this is why I feel a little down myself. The fact that i cannot load my latest pictures makes also does not help. But I believe it is to be expected as there will days like this when things are just beyond your expectation and there is not much that you can do but just ride the wave till you catch the next good one. As I read abs watch the latest News around the country I feel even more depressed for it seems like Malaysia is being run into the ground by a bunch of corrupted politicians and religious fanatics which is actually nothing new but still one would think that in this day and age that we Malaysians would have overcome all these issues a long time ago. But it seems everyday there is something new for us to chew on, if not economically it is religious if not political it is murder and accidents. We live it seems in a drama filled environment and there is more of the bad vibes than the good in all these episodes, like we cannot write a positive script to live our lives by any more; where is P.Ramlee when we need him?     I do not know how much longer I will hang around here and if my body can take it, but i will try my best to be in the moment in time and give it all i have got and hopefully there will be a silver lining at the end of this dark clouds. I hope in the meantime that all my loved ones where ever they are, are riding this wave with not too much jolts and turbulence, I pray that they find peace and comfort despite all the negativities that is mushrooming around our lives today. It is a harsh world we are all riding into and it will only get more so if we do not look deep into ourselves and find that space where we can take a breather and make the right choices with wisdom and intelligence.
For those of us who have had the opportunity to experience life in its deeper levels and time, I hope that we will be able to speak out and let our hopes and feelings be known even if it makes little or no difference. The Universe needs our voices of conscience, our cries of justice and freedom, it needs our cries of defiance against all the injustices and wanton exploitation of our planet and its resources. Go cry it over the mountains and over the hills to let our children be free from our own ignorance, our own lack of faith and our own lack of wisdom. We cannot change the world it is said but we can change ourselves, each and every one of us, and we do make a difference no matter how small a change we make. I call out to all men of good faith, stand up and stand tall and deliver whatever it is that you have in your heart of hearts, let the world hear your cry of anguish before it is too late. For the love of humanity, for the love of our future generation let every voice of conscience be heard out loud for the deliverance of and the liberation from our own self ignorance. No matter our faith, our religious denomination, our creed or culture, let us wake up from this sleep of nightmare and reach for that which we hope for, Peace, LOve and Freedom!
This is the voice from the forest, in Lintang, Belantik, Sik, Kedah, Malaysia.      

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Lintang Revisited

It has been almost a week now that I have returned to Lintang Organic Farm my second phase of a retreat while working my butt off to keep physically in shape. I was shocked on the first day to find that all the greenery has gone and the place looked like it was slowly turning into an arid piece of abandoned property.. It is the dry season Mamu, I was told when i commented on the scene. The trees were shedding their leaves and so there was an abundance of dried leaves all over the compound and i decided that my task would be to bring back the greenery regardless if it is the dry season or not. I told the guys that if Dubai and the other Middle eastern countries can turn the desert into a park filled with greenery I don't see why the farm cannot given the fact that there is an abundant amount of water to be had. If only some effort is being put into proper irrigation and water being made easily accessible for watering the grass and plants.

So I spent most of my time the last few days trying to keep the grass wet but without a sprinkler the effort is twice as hard.ans sometimes I felt like I am fighting a loosing battle and the scorching sun is claiming its dues. The nights are cold I found out and my body has been in constant aches and pains when the cold sets in and i ask myself what the hell am I doing here. The answer is quite simple as always I needed to find my own sanity in this turbulent existence we call life. I needed to find peace and quiet and something worthwhile to put my energy and mind into practice for the benefit of others. It is my 'Amal Jariah' as the Muslim calls it or my service to humanity while healing myself. I have a new friend who also stays at the farm and he is also from Aceh. Indonesia, His name is Shawal and a very down to earth pleasant young man who was cheated out of his 10000 Malaysian Ringgit by his sponsor and now stuck in this country till his papers is being straighten out by the Immigration Department. It is the same sad story you hear all the time with migrant workers in this country.But being a good Muslim Shawal takes it with a big smile saying that it is meant to be.
Every so often I meet someone whose life is as uncertain as mine had always been and i can feel for them and they become a source of inspiration for me to do as much I can to ease their suffering by being there at the very least for them to pour out their hearts. I have been in the same boat while living in the US and I know that it is not easy when you find yourself stranded. Thanks to his very nature of being a warm and friendly kind of a guy Shawal has many friends here supporting him in one way or another.

Looking into my heart, that is what i feel like I am doing at the moment feeling like i am writing the end of my long and wayward journey. I miss all my friends and loved ones as I stare up at the half moon at night in the clear skies while listening to the songs of the forest.The loneliness one feels here sometimes makes one look back into life as it had transpired over the years, the people you met and the experiences you have enjoyed and all in all you say to yourself, Not Bad! Not bad at all! I may die penniless but all in all I live a very rich life most of which I achieved by stepping out of the norm and doing what i felt is right by me. As the song goes...I did it my way... The only problem I have right now is not being able to load my pictures into my Blog, but that i can do later when i have the chance to.