Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Is it a matter of 'Tail wagging the dog?

How to keep yourself motivated after all these years of running around trying to make sense out of non- sense? A great part of me wants to bury itself in a hole and never come out to see day light as it considers itself having had enough of this so called life and yet another part is saying it ain't over yet and it is as a matter of fact just the beginning; so stick around and enjoy the show. I have stuffed my mind with God knows how much reading and learning by watching and experiencing and am still not fully satiated . My mind's capacity to absorb what is being exposed to it from all the trials and tribulations life has to offer is something that cannot be fathomed and yet it is still conjuring up more and more images and perceptions of its own like it is an independent entity from who I am. I see this more and more so as I find myself awake at night from my sleep and sitting in meditation before I fall asleep again. It is like watching the Astro TV channels switching from one channel to the next and sometimes of things that hardly makes any sense at all.
It is almost impossible it seems to switch the TV off like it has a life of its own even when I attempt to disconnect from the source through my breathing techniques or my Zikr or chants; it seems like the remote control has no effect upon the TV set itself. So, I am finding my mind getting more and more busy as the days goes by with no respite. Sometimes I wonder if other's mind are as unmanageable as mine or am I suffering from some kind of mental diarrhea and need to find some sort of laxative to purge whatever is not need from my mental storage bin. I wish it is as simple as deleting items from the computer when they are no more useful. 
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
Control the mind, how does one control the mind? From the day someone told me of how to go about meditating and controlling my mind I have been struggling to do so to no avail and as a matter of  fact it really gets worse as the more i meditate the more busy the mind gets. Is it? Is the mind really getting busier or am I Just being deluded by my own perception and practice? I have a long time ago came to the conclusion that i can never control my mind, I can bring it to become still or quiet every now and then but i can never fully control my mind. Perhaps i am not as disciplined or strong as i thought i am. Or perhaps i am still not doing it right as it should really be done like the masters had shared from the past. Whatever the reason, i still am discovering more and more for myself of how i am being run by my own mind instead of the other way round. 
Is it a matter of 'tail wagging the dog', 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Death in Artistic Expression.

Woke up this morning with the feeling that i needed to change my lifestyle or at least my daily habits of doing nothing. I decided to end my consciously doing nothing experiment and drove to the University and while at it stop by at my mechanic friend's shop and see if i can do something there before i headed on to the University, the shop was still closed, it was still too early. So I headed for the MGTF or the Museum gallery at the university (USM). Saw the ongoing exhibit by two Iranian artists entitled "We Were There", Farhad Fakhrian and Elham Shafaei, both students at the Fine Arts faculty doing their PhD at the University Fine Arts department. 
Farhad Fakhrian works of photography were black and white pictures of his father's dead body of which he wrote," I tried no to cry, not because i did not want to but because I wanted to cry in my own way...I went to the bedroom where my father lied back on the floor and a small fan was blowing. His face  was pale and cold and his body was gotten tough. I kissed his forehead and started to take photos with my film and digital camera. I stayed with him until morning and continued photographing. I saved his death with the pictures! Next morning an ambulance came to take his body for burying in the cemetery and nobody knows i had buried him with my tears which dropped from my camera. I followed him everywhere and escorted him till the heaven's gate." His works was entitled; "My father goes to Heaven". The exhibition will last through 11th- 30th of January.

          Farhad Fakhrian.

Elham Shafaei - "I'm Still Crying..."
"I like to cry. Not because I am depressed or emotionally dysfunctional. I cry because I want to see the stain of life on my body and on the world. I cry because i want to feel and see the absolute proof of my life.
Yet, since tear is a part of the body that leaves its container, it is a form of loss. Similarly, since art emerges in the same manner as tear does, that is from within. and art exist as a form of loss. Following this logic then, art is mournful and therefore art making must involve a significant sense of melacholia. It is this relations or intertwining between art, loss and melancholia that i have been exploring in my art through various forms."
                  Elham Shafael


Saturday, January 16, 2016

On the Road to Meet death.

Death is something we all work towards having some form of understanding of in one form or another albeit in the form of a spiritual practice or a scientific explanation, in religious faith or philosophized belief. We create all kinds of excuses and and justifications towards why we do what we do in our lives when in actual fact we are all in one way or another making sure that when the time arrives for us to leave this life we know what or why and especially the how we can get through the process without freaking out of our minds. As it is most of us live in denial, why think about the inevitable we say to ourselves, when it happens , it happens, whether we are ready or prepared for it or not it happens. It is a blessing for those who can breeze through life and take on death with same similar attitude, but most of us cannot; we will fight for our lives.
Our subconscious mind has a build in system whereby death is a major topic that affects everything that we do or every decision that we make whether we realize it or not and no matter how trivial or insignificant the case may be, death is ever there as a factor perhaps unknowingly. Fear of death has kept man from taking life too lightly, mortality and the state of unknown of what lies beyond in the after life (if there is such a thing even) for some, is man's enigma. Hence the moment of death is the most critical moment of life itself; it is the sum total of what living was all about. There are those who dies willingly and those who will fight tooth and nail or even sell their souls to the devil to avoid death. No matter your origin or religious affiliations, your wealth or poverty, no matter your power or glory in life, you will face the eventuality of death and the question is are you prepared for the final cut.
It is with is in mind that the ancients, the masters, the saints and prophets, the yogis and the gurus have put some form of practice, some form of system for man to learn and understand for himself as a tool for his salvation when the moment arrives for him to meet the angel of death. In Islam it is in total and absolute submission to the Will of Allah, in Buddhism it is in letting go of the 'self' and embracing the infinity of what is. The discipline and the practice of most religions is to silence the thinking mind and as it is impossible to accomplish this especially in moments of facing death, thoughts are replaced by something greater than mind; a faith in something greater than life itself.
Death is not the end of consciousness, it is the total liberation of the entire content of the human consciousness when all barriers are being lifted and dam break loose where the mind itself is no more restrained by individual's sense of who he is and what he understands of himself. If he has always been the ignorant, fear ridden, guilt conscious, a man who has lived his life devoid of knowledge or understanding, then death can and will be a frightening event. However there are many of those who make it their life's quest to seek the truth about the mysteries of life and death, to these death is something to look forward to; it is part of the spiritual adventure that they have led.   

Who Died?

Who died? As I was communicating with my nephew while he was all curled up in a fetal position on the hospital bed I realized that I was also talking to myself. I was addressing my own fears about death and dying and as i whispered into his ears about taking refuge in Allah, (He being a Muslim), I saw how powerful an effect it had on this frightened young man about to give up his last breath. I tried to impress upon him that there is nothing more to fear or be afraid of other than God at the moment and to surrender oneself with every desperate breath is the only thing one can do as there is not a thing in the physical realm that can save you especially when the doctors have pulled out the plug and given you up. This is the critical moment when the mind plays such an important role in letting you go or freeing you from all the ties you have been clinging on to in this life.
In the Tibetan tradition death is faced in its last hours by a priest or monk sitting with the person dying and relating to him how to go about facing death, like a step by step coaching. The Bardo Todol, or the 49 days of the Bardo state is when the patient is being prepared to face the moment of death and the entering into the afterlife. The stage by stage process of dying is whispered to the ears of the patient instructing him or her what to expect and and how to react to what is seen or heard or felt in them moments of death. This assistance helps the victim to remain calm and as lucid as possible  so that he or she does not get lost in limbo out of fear and ignorance.
Most in Islam would sit around reading the verses from the Quran especially the Surah Yasin which is considered the heart of the Quran and it is hoped that this will help to keep the victim's mind focused upon his faith in Allah. I my experience I have rarely seen anyone talking to the dying in terms that they can understand, like do not fear anymore for all that you see and hear are just your own imaginations and mental states or that you are to remain in touch with who you are and your faith in God. The verses from the Quran may have its impact to sooth the soul of the departing but it does not touch upon the basic problem of how to not be swayed by fear and ignorance in facing the final moments of death. All one hears of the verses being read around you is just noises, meaningless because one does not understand what is being read in the first place.
Thus far, in less than a year I have had three of my nephews died for one reason or another and i was present at their funerals and except for the one died of an accident, i was by the bedside of two of them before they passed on. It has been an experience for me and perhaps at my age it is suppose to be so, that i get to be up close at moments of death as a witness. it is in this moments that i also come to realize how insignificant or how great life is to each and every individual. How important it is to live life as best you could and die with dignity or waste one's life away and die like an unwanted piece of rag cast away into the garbage can. As Mark Twain once quoted,"There are those when they depart from this life we breath a breath of regret and those who departs and we breath a breath relief".

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rest in Peace Junaid.

I arrived at Kuala Terengganu 3 days visiting my family, especially my nephew Junaid who is in critical condition awaiting death to end his lifelong misery having been a drug addict most of his adult life. I took my elder sister to visit her son at the hospital yesterday morning and it was not a pretty sight seeing my nephew with his bulging left eye staring out in fear and his chest hyperventilating as though he was running the hundred meter dash and the look of the silent scream written all over his face. After a while pulling myself together I reached out to talk to him quietly, I realized he was receptive despite the fact that he was left on oxygen and drips only, like he has been written off by the doctors, I am sure they know what they are doing.
I managed to calm him down and even told him to close his eyes and go to sleep instead of struggling out of fear. i talked him into surrendering to the Lord and to make his peace with the inevitable; how do you tell someone that he is dying. He seemed to calm down and slowly closed his eyes like he was falling asleep while his breathing slowed down. I revisited hi later that night accompanied by my close friend here, Mohammad Rafi and I noticed that my nephew had changed somewhat in his expression. I talked to him softly again and noticed that his left eye that was staring out of fear that morning has now become serene and bright almost childlike. His right eye seems to be infected but he showed no concern about anything anymore; I felt peaceful with him too..and my friend Rafi noticed the communication between us and told me he was impressed.
My trip was made possible by my friend Ah Huat the Auto Air Conditioning Artist. Ah Huat when I reached his place immediately asked me where I wanted to go as soon as he crawled from underneath a car he was working on. I was surprised like how did he know that i have been desperately figuring out how to come here to Terengganu and be with my sister in her times of need. I told him my intention ad immediately he started getting the car ready for the trip and ended up with replacing the two hind tires with new ones and on top of that handed me RM150 for my pocket money just in case. I said nothing except thank you and left the same evening driving the familiar East West highway no more in my little Kancil but an Ishwara  fully automatic; thank you Lord and thank you Ah Huat. 
It was a relaxing drive with the larger and automated Ishwara with that more solid feeling of being on the road instead of floating upon it like when I drove the Kancil. The weather was nice all the way and so I made good time and I also realized that my night time driving days are coming to and end as i found it much easier to drive in the daytime. My eyesight are no more what they used to be too and so I have to slow down and stay within my age group of driving habits; no more risk taking unnecessarily. The fuel consumption however is almost double of what it would take if I was driving the Kancil.
This evening on  I was informed that my nephew had passed away and that he will be laid to rest early tomorrow morning. Thus passed one wasted life that has caused so much pain and anguish to all those who cared for him especially his mother, my sister. The world is filled with such persons who reminds one of the fact that there is so much pain out there and most are self created. My nephew I felt had accepted the fact that his time had arrived but he was also scared out of his mind when i first saw him on the hospital bed; i assisted him the best i could to make it easier for him to face the reality of his moment. MAY Allah be MERCIFUL ON HIM.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Only God Knows.

Sometimes i find myself drifting towards writing like I am a Guru or a spiritual guide or something; I am a student. My journey my trip is to clear my own path, towards what some call awakening or enlightenment, some call it the journey of a seeker towards finding his Maker or his own true nature; whatever it may be i am not preaching to anyone, only pointing my own directions towards that which is my goal or better yet, salvation. To give meaning to my own existence even if it is self seeking and nothing more. I would like to feel like i made the effort towards understanding of mu human nature, its strength and weaknesses, its miraculous beauty as The Lord had wanted it to be, full of incredible mechanisms and with the ability to perform extraordinary feats that often defies imagination; my physical body is a Miracle in itself.
I find that as I am writing this late in my life and with an ongoing script about my self discovery embankment, from the day my blog was set up for me by my close friend Fadzly Mubin in Kyala Terengganu sometime on 2005, whose suggestion it was that i should keep an ongoing blog, I am assuming the role of a teacher when I write. It all happened over time and in progression that i write more directly without holding back my thoughts as though it seems i am more confident in my thoughts; i am saying what i mean and not merely intellectualizing. When i say I have had a spiritual awakening experience a few times in my life, that is what I mean; mini  Satori it is called in Zen Buddhist tradition and I have shared a few of these in the past. 
These realizations as i would like to call them helped me in healing my aging body and mind, it helps to maintain a good perspective of how far or how near to death. A simple act of sitting meditation or Zazen as the Zen schools call it will rejuvenate every fiber in my body through a steady flow of conscious breathing. It also helps to bring into alignment my body and mind and create a balance within and without of my consciousness by the simple act of letting go of unnecessary thoughts or any thought for that matter; finding peace and tranquility; finding rest. I am a student of Zen Practice and I am a Muslim too. I have been told that I am eclectic, that i pick and choose the best in and of all possibility to fulfill my goals. Yes I am and it is in my nature that I like to experiment with my life, I am constantly putting myself to the test...what if?
WallahuAllam! Only He knows.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

With Passion He Creates.

Man has asked the same question time and again, 'What is the purpose of my existence?', "Why am I alive in the first place?" "Is this all there is to my life?" Personally i rare came up with a good answer myself and often enough sought out what the ancient wisdom  has to say about it, but ever now and then the mind when not so wrapped up in useless thoughts would come up with a surprise twist of an answer of its own. What gives meaning to life? What makes life bearable to live for some while for others it is a long and tedious waste of time that every so often ends up tragically with suicide. It is in our human nature to seek for peace and happiness all through our lives and sometimes we are willing to go overboard in trying to achieve these goals, like try to out run, out do, out play all those that stands in our way; we are even willing to gamble away our soul when all else fails.
Like music and art, religions and philosophy has played a vital role in keeping our minds with a sense of some purpose for whatever reason that we as humans are here to live out allotted years. They has given some sense of comfort and some amount of justification for us to keep on living despite all the trials and tribulations that we face while at it. Some are in the form of promises of future rewards while others the satisfaction being able to witness the miracles and beauty that transpires all around us to inspire us to keep on living. It no small matter when our very sanity hangs in a balance at times when we are confronted with life issues that is beyond our endurance; it is imperative that we find some truth for our selves on the reason why, why are we here.
We are here to fulfill a Cosmic Desire, the wish for the creator to witness Himself in all His infinite forms and attributes. Like looking into a mirror an seeing all this as life evolving throughout the universe and each and every entity having its significance to play its part with or without its own self awareness. How man has evolved to become a close to his Divine Nature or his Original Nature before he was conceived by his parents. Some have fallen along the way and succumbed to the baser or dark side of his nature that looses its connectivity with the whole, that is creation. While most has waded through thick and thin to fulfill the roles set for them and they passes on leaving behind memories for others to emulate or live by that the string of life keeps going on unbroken.

Instead of staying in monasteries like most monks, Ikkyu gave teachings in places monks didn’t usually go. He taught in the streets and in brothels. His students were hobos, criminals and prostitutes. A lot more of his students were laypeople than monks because he thought the Dharma was for everyone.
He created his own version of Zen. He called it Red Thread Zen. The Red Thread represents passion. He taught that passion could be a road to enlightenment. He thought that Zen should be life affirming and positive. He didn’t believe that the renunciation that many monks practiced was helpful. He had a great passion for life and said that we should too.
Passion for life is what most of us are beginning to lack as we let ourselves be sucked into the day to day mundane existence of the physical world. We have little passion for whatever we do and living has become an act that is imposed upon rather than that which is blessed with grace. We breeze through life pretty much killing time and occupying space while at time pissed mad at the very world we live in. Artists, poets songwriters, philosophers, and great men of science throughout the ages have been instilling upon us the need for passion so as to keep our spirit in motion towards greater heights of human glory rather than surrender to mediocrity.
Red Thread Zen was radical in its non-dualism. This version of Buddhism includes the entire world in its teaching, rather than being confined to sacred spaces. If all beings have Buddha nature, then enlightenment isnt a matter of lifestyle, it’s a living experience. When his teachers tried to get him to stay in a monastery, he wouldn’t do it. He wanted to be in the world, working for the Dharma.
When you have passion in what you do albeit cooking or cleaning, meditating or singing, when you are able to single mindedly perform your all your deeds, you will never fail to impress nor fall short of your goals. Your performance comes straight from the heart and you become the Creator or act in His Image. It take ultimate passion to create this whole Universe as it is with all its strength and weaknesses, all its faults and successes. I doubt that the Good Lord ever claimed anywhere in His good books that He was Creating a perfect Universe.; correct me if I am wrong I for one am for sure far from perfect.

Attaining the Perfection of Wisdom

There are just certain things that you are not going to be good at no matter what and for me it is selling; I am useless when it comes to any kind of business dealings albeit selling my artworks or flipping burgers. As my neighbor at the Food Court, the Satay seller commented to me last night, "You just don't have the "Aura" like your daughter. Yeah, I agreed with him, I don't have good looks and the charm, the warm customer friendly and easy to talk to traits like her Mom was.
To preach without becoming the preacher, teach without the personality of a teacher, to lead the way without assuming leadership is the Way of the Mindful. It is the Way of the man of 'Wu Wei' or inactive action, or detached involvement and the key trait of this action is in being spontaneous in action. This ability comes with years of cultivation of the human spirit into pure consciousness; it is the essence of human development. To recognize this ability in oneself through others' observation especially, is rewarding, it is a good feeling like one has attained to certain degree of success in one's understanding of being human. It is like being .The Fisher of Men and not just the fisherman. This is the mark of a great teacher or master or guide or elder in societies, the one who stands in the front of the line of fire, the one who is looked upon with awe and respect.
This is far from the exhibition of an egoistic claim but merely an observation and this trait is common to many and not exclusive to any group or type of character. A genuine man of knowledge and wisdom does not run around claiming his credentials nor does he display his certificates, he is pointed out and acknowledged by his fellow man. He is the policeman without uniform and badges, the judge, jury and executioner who walks the street and sits in secession in the courts of the coffee shops and the campfires. He is the man who has attained the ability to speak and listen with his heart. He has transcended the lesser values and attained to the higher calls of the human spirit to serve his fellow man. He is the snake that has shed his old skin and don the cloak of the servant of his Lord; he has become the voice or reason that counters the chaos that threatens the very foundation of humanity's existence.
He becomes the Man of Tao, he assumes the role of the Awakened One, he becomes the Perfect man, Al Insan Kamil; he wears the robe of his tribe.
In Islamic theologyal-Insān al-Kāmil (Arabicالإنسان الكامل‎) also rendered as Insān-i Kāmil (Persian/Urduانسان کامل) and İnsan-ı Kâmil (Turkish), is a term used as an honorific title to describe Muhammad. The phrase means "the person who has reached perfection."[1] It is an important concept in Islamic culture of the prototype human being, pure consciousness, one's true identity, to be contrasted with the material human who is bound by one's senses and materialism. The term was originally used by Sunni Sufis and is still used by them, however it is also used by Alawis and Alevis.[2] This idea is based upon a hadith,[2] which was used byIbn Arabi, that states about Prophet Muhammad, 'I was a prophet when Adam was between water and clay'.[3]
He is the carpenter, the fisherman, the automobile mechanic and he walks among his fellow man sometimes like a beggar and sometimes a king as the perfect man is perfect in all that he is no matter his role. No man can become the Perfect man by trying or with conscious effort and not credential is given for such a man that says he has qualified for such a role like those given to Bishops and Judges or Kings and Presidents; Perfection of Wisdom Is, none who attains it. 

The origin of al-insān al-kāmil[edit]

Mansur al-Hallaj and Al-Biruni expressed the idea within their works.[5][6] The concept was also applied by Ibn Arabi, a well-respected and influential Islamic thinker.[7] The origin of this concept is derived from the Quran and Hadith. As mentioned in Ibn Arabi's Fusus Al-Hikam"Muhammad's wisdom is uniqueness (fardiya) because he is the most perfect existent creature of this human species. For this reason, the command began with him and was sealed with him. He was a Prophet while Adam was between water and clay, and his elemental structure is the Seal of the Prophets."[8]
In the Quran, man’s hierarchical status above all beings is seen, as it states that God created humans in the fairest stature.[9] Due to this occurrence the human is favored by God and is said to be given God’s light which leads through them to complete perfection. The previous saying illuminates the idea that behind the true objective behind creation is God’s desire to be known. which is fulfilled through the perfect human being.[9] wikipedia.   

Friday, January 01, 2016



This is the first morning of a new day, a new week, a new month and a New Year; fare thee well 2015 and hello 2016. It has been one long drag of a year 2015 has been for most people nationally as well as internationally; I would not consider it to be one of the most prosperous year of my life. What happened? What went down? There is no point in looking back and recapping the whole year's events but the most highest moment or lowest, depending on how you look at it was in having to deal with my daughter's career moves from one job to another. It was a period of my being a father to her and how i handled her needs and how she reciprocated to my ways. it was not and easy year for both of us but it was a very good learning experience and i believe it also to be very fruitful. We have been able to come to see eye to eye of each other's ways as well learned to love and respect more between father and daughter.
Through her experience in the contemporary work place such as the Gala Restaurant and after the The Merchant Hotel here in Georgetown, I have come to respect her gumption about not willing to work for others anymore and wanting to do what she really cares about in her life. After quitting the Hotel, she was offered a manager's position to run a restaurant with a good salary but she turned it down and chose to flip burgers instead. She is doing this so that she can attend a seamstress class in the day time that will help her into becoming a fashion designer. So far so good. It is going to be a long haul but she seems happy and what is more important she is enthusiastic about it all.
Close friends the Western Food Corner chef.

 Her enthusiasm has affected me personally too and i find myself fulfilling my namesake and that being the "Cheeseburger Buddha' as i become her helper. 
A whole new experience opens up as we prepare burgers for customers who are mostly Chinese at the predominantly Chinese food court. I get to meet characters that i normally would not have any reason to even for a brief moment and i also got to know better our fellow vendors selling all kinds of food around us.
 The 'Ikan Bakar' BBQ Fish Lady.
Our neighbor the Satay Lady.

The New Year will I hope be a more productive one for all of us as we stroll along our individual paths towards what lies ahead and in store for us. As it is I feel fortunate that all three of us including my son Karim are hanging out together doing our own thing while helping out in any way we can to make it all come together for whatever each aspires to accomplish. I am happy that we can share what little we have and enjoy each other's company while it last.
For whatever it is worth, here is wishing all the Very best of a Happy new Year from us, 'The Baharis'.

Whatever it is - Let's make It Happen!