Tuesday, February 28, 2017

From the Hut to your Heart.2

I am sitting cross legged on a thin mattress in one of the attap huts at Sri Lovely, this is the very first hut that I had stayed in when I first stayed here in 2012. I have no pillows nor blanket and no fan to ward off mosquitoes; samsara! I created it this space and circumstances while my teeth are acting up and my head is like it is on fire.  I arrived here this afternoon together with a French couple who were visiting Georgetown for a few days. I gave them a ride back to Lentang Organic Farm. The Captain had named them Samad for the man and Rahmah for the lady, I don’t have a clue as to the French names. They thought Georgetown was a whole lot better tha Pulau Langkawi where they had spent two days prior to ending up in Georgetown.
I had met them on my last visit here a few weeks ago and I was very impressed by their diligence and dedication towards becoming an organic farmer when the finally got back to  Normandy, France. I feel like there is an awakening of condciousness among the younger generation of the world towards movning out of the grid of modern day life into a more nature oriented one. It is like more and more people are becoming nature friendly as well as getting in touch with their inner being through travelling and learning. Here they not only learn about farming but also about cross culture communication, interpersonal relationships as well as how to cope with bare necessities.
Ther more foreigners at the farm than my earlier visit including foor French citizens, two Australians and British Pakistan family, couple with three children,. This place is fast turning into an International Roadside attraction for Eco- tourism. What is Eco –Tourism? It is not just a place where one stops by and admire nature and the healthy coexistence between man and his environment, it is also where people meet people and get to know oneanother at a deeper level. Here you are force to drop all sense of ego or about one’s country of origin and learn to adapt to a minimalist lifestyle of a modern day farmer.
The Locals are swept along with the changes that is rapidly overtaking them with all these new arrivals. They have been drawn out from their shell of being shy or intimidated by the presence of foreigners to getting to learn new languages as they greet each other early in the morning and as they learn to work alongside one another. Everyone has learned how to speak Englush or at least a few of the most relevant sentences to get by. They have become used to the demands made out of them catering to the needs of their foreign guests. They have learned the joy of sharing themselves with strangers who not too long ago would be a challenge to them.

Like in the Kavin Costner Movie, “Field of Dreams”, I had told the Captain about finve years ago that IF HE KEEP AT IT AND NOT GIVE UP, PEOPLE WILL COME. It is happening and I am happy to see the Captain having a great time with Foreign guests. This is when work is no more work but an act Passion and  Loving Kindness. I enjoy being here despite my aches and pains and the discomfort of mu lodging, I still enjoy it because I feel at peace here within and without.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Adi's Hut.

 Adi's Hut.
There was a time not too long ago Adi's hut sits at the very end of the Lintang Foothills a bit further up the dirt road from the entrance to SRI LOVELY or the organi Padi farm. I used to take my morning walks from the farm up the road towards the hills and i would pass this hut and wondered. how could he? How does he lived way out here at the edge of the jungle all by himself away from the rest of society.

renovation in progress.
 One morning I came upon my friend build an extension to his Bungalow and I stopped by to chat while giving him a hand. A survivor and an independent being who chose to be a recluse and yet is well respected among the folks. No dogmas, nor philosophies no rhyme or reason but purely living life day to day with the rising sun.



A thick black soffee and some cream crackers. Our breakfast foir the day.

What could a man ask for more in life. During the fruit season Langsat and duku, rambutans and tampoi, ar found all around his home. Chickens run all over the yard eggs are readily available and to top it all more than ample supply of fresh mineral water fron the ground. Poverty is only a perception of a blind heart.








Thursday, February 23, 2017

Still screwing around with the mind.

By watching the activities of the mind, one can gradually attain freedom from the mind. It is the first step towards being from  mental formations. The phenomenal realm is full of mental formations or various forms and subtle manifestations that is a distraction and attraction for the mind; delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them, (A Bodhisatva Vow). Our mind is existing in a realm of delusions and illusions, the Buddha called Maya. Modern scientists have all but agree that this Universe itself is an illusion, it is merely a mental formation of the collective mind. In reality there is nothingness out there as there is emptiness within. Mind created this illusion through the power of thoughts and consciousness and through its creative energy, Mind removes itself from the creation and cease to be by removing the thoughts and consciousness of the manifestations from the present moment. When there is no observer there is nothing to observe, phenomena com es into being when there are thoughts and consciousness present. The mind feeds on what it sees, taste, touch or smell and generates thoughts about each, it takes you back in time and start an episode, a drama and it keeps working on it till it faces a wall of being brought back to the present moment in space and time. A smack on the shoulder like they do at the Zen centers for those who fall asleep while sitting in meditation or Zazen. A nasty toothache and a migraine hitting you at the same time, you kid needs a ride home to her apartment at one in the morning!
“So! Wake up! Stay Awake! Don’t let them fool you!” a Zen Master said.
What on earth is he talking about?! I am awake! How awake do I need to be? Awake with your body and mind and consciousness and see the delusion for what it truly is; all mental formations.  The more you create, the more you will have to destroy, learning to say enough is enough, helps to slowdown the decay. Learn to do less thinking and world will become more peaceful a better place for all. It is from too much thinking and creating that we find ourselves facing a Nuclear Holocaust; our very own creation.
To continue living in denial of the horrors we are creating around the world through our Greed, Hate and Ignorance and not to mention how we are destroying our home planet and its environment, is short of insanity. We are like the cancer the eats away at its host. But we all do. We live in our own slumber of dreams and fantasies hoping and wishing for more and never enough. We will consume till there is nothing left to feed on and the host gives up and the rest is history.
Some two thousand five or six hundred ago, Gautama the Buddha through his own volition set out to understand and overcome human suffering; he was awakened after sitting and fasting for forty days; he was committing suicide. He was willing to surrender his life to attain his quest for an answer. One morning while gazing at the morning star still bright in the sky, the Buddha declared, “I, Am Awakened, the Universe awakens with me!” This was the Mind declaring itself free from the net of delusions, karmic or otherwise. It is like declaring, I and the Universe is One, I Am the Universe, I am the void, I am That, I am.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The way of the Blogger.

Sitting in silence and being present I watch the mysteries unfold around me, nothing spectacular, just the everyday worries i have over nothing. I woke up realizing that i have been a victim of my own doing and i blame my mind and my self for not being more conscious of my consciousness. The mysteries of the phenomenal world are as deep as the mind wants them to be or as shallow. In fact life has no mysteries only just short memories lasing for as long as the mind perceives it to be.   Then poof! it is gone and another replaces it sharing its own short memories more involved perhaps or more worries and poof it it s gone... and this too will pass.

I am beginning to enjoy writing now more so then I ever was in the past twelve years of my Blogging, Ramblings of the Cheeseburger Buddha, a Blog that has kept me from going insane. This Blogging helped me to keep my life in as much balance as i can possibly maintain reconciling between East and West, Inner and Outer and Right or Wrong. I used to keep journals of sketchbook prior to the blogging coming along which opened the flood gate of my consciousness and allowed for me to express myself and share it all with the rest of the world. What is right comes from the Divine an what is in error is my own ignorance. 

I am a container that contains salve for the healing of wounded souls and I am the reed through which they breath, I am a healer of wounded souls as I am one. "Go easy on yourself Shamsul," a very close friend once told me while we taking a walk along the hillside at Green Gulch Zen Center in Sausalito, Ca. "Let go of the cross, it was no meant for you to carry, empty your baggage and become enlightened." "Someday you will become the Abbot of Zen Center David, " I told him, "When you are ripe and ready."

I feel like i can reach out in time and space and touch every single moment of my life episodes for episodes and relate them at my discretion. There is only the physical aches and pains of sitting for so long and writing that hampers my progress, otherwise I enjoy writing  from my past, present and into my future.
 

  

Stepping into the Path.

Being in the here and now where the mind is at its rest, no motion no action, effortlessly i float along the stream of the Dharma, I live my life like a the leaf of the Elephant ears or the pokok keladi. Touched by water, is still not wet. I see only that i need to see, do what I need to do, and i blend comfortably into the worlds of others around me with the dignity of a Bodhisatva. I will continue to walk this path I have chosen to the end of my days with Loving Kindness towards all beings high or low , big or small, I will serve them to the best of ability. 
Beings are numberless; I vow to awaken with!
The Path of one man does not fit into another like a pair of old shoes but the blend together and emerge into a new whole being. I walk my path through the best of times and worse of times for the past sixty odd years and most of the time I was blinded by anger and haunted by low self esteem; I was angry at God. I decided to retaliate by leaving the scene whenever it got too toxic for my breath. Some call it an escape while others calls it a 'Retreat'. On looking back i realize that i have covered allot of mileage in my life.
I will never forget the day I flew over a live volcano spewing out muddy clouds of dust with my friend Dwight Blackburn a Cessna pilot. Yes I have traveled far in my life and tasted a bit of what life had to offer, Alhamdullilah, praise be to my Lord for this path for the farther i went the closer i came to being closer to Him. I saw Him through all walks of life and the beauty and ugliness of  Human Nature and the every so often I catch a glimpse of true Love, Unconditional Love in the hearts of man It makes my life worth living to witness the acts of kindness and understanding around me; I live in a Multi-Racial Society, my children children were born from three different mothers, two Americans and one Swiss. I have take a leap of faith when it comes to Religion and surrendered my faith in Him a very long time ago before it all began.
Regrets? I have many of those that i wish I had not done and those that I had, but on looking back at the Book of Changes, it is, all is    accorded to the Way. Everything changes and nothing remains the same. All phenomena is 'Time in Your Bottle', every episode, every piece of drama, every scenario every scene in your life you manifested through your desire for forms and you avoided emptiness as boring and abysmal, You seek pleasure of company and avoid being solitary. this is your way and it is definitely Okay. So you feel like you have to accomplish the impossible given this span of life. So you feel like it would be a waste of life if you had not lived it to the fullest, covering your mileage from all direction within and without. Perhaps you have a slight sense of awakening and decided that enough is enough and it is time to earn that mileage while the engine is still running and the clock is still ticking.
"Alam Ghaib" - Supernatural Landscape.









Monday, February 20, 2017

Healing the Individual soul through Cllective consciousness.

Yesterday being Friday, Iwas at the mosque sitting on the front line as usual. To my left sat a gentleman who I respect for his quiet and unassuming posture and on my left a younger man was doing his 'Solat sunat masjid' a non mandatory prayer of usually two 'rakaats' or four at the most. This yong man all dressed like a Wahabi from Riyadh with his white 'jubah' and a white truban was praying non-stop like he was going to prayer all through the Friday. Even when the Imam was beginning to start his sermon from the 'MImbar' or the pulpit the young man was still praying, Then after he had decided enough was enough he sat and took out his hp and started browsing the Face Book! What the hell! I thought to myself but b4ing in the mosque and listening to the Imam I just had to pull my mind away from doing anything that i would regret later, like grab his phone and fling it at the wall in front of me. 
Ironically the Imam talked all about the right manners and etiquette of performing the Friday prayer in a congregation and specifically mentioned about the use of the hp especially when the Imam is on the Mimbar. I had the feeling that the Imam had noticed this young man's antiques and aimed his talk specifically at the guy.Bottom line the Imam said your Friday prayer was a waste of time. Later that evening while I was having dinner at one of the restaurant near my home i sat by an elderly gentleman who claimed he was recently retied from being the chairman for the Masjid or mosque board of governing body and he told me without my asking, that there is allot of issues the mosque is facing internal as well as external. Telling it as it is perhaps is not of any significance to those who read it but to me these little connected events means a great deal as i watch things and people goes about their daily lives. It is like i feel what is about to happen next in any given situation as result of what had happened just that moment. Perhaps it is a part of being an observer without any form of attachment as i have been practicing.
What is a ritual?
ritual "is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence." Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. - Wikepedia

Why is ritual an important part of human activity for most society? Rituals is a form bonding element that holds a society together in its observation of certain activities that involves a group belonging to a common faith or belief such that it allows for a collective conscious to materialize among those who are involved. Whether is it performed individually as in the Shamanistic rituals or happens as a public involvement rituals helps to record certain actions as to how or when the actiity is performed. For example the 'Rokuhatsu' or the full moon ceremony takes place every full moon of the lunar calendar and is performed systematically according to each and every tradition of the Zen or Chan community. In this ceremony the taking or repetition of the Bodhisatva vows is performed with nine times round of prostrations.
The five times a day prayer in Islam is a ritual that all Muslims are required to undergo and it begins with the ritual wash or cleansing of the physical self followed by the professing of the act about to be performed. The 'wudukh' or ritual cleaning has its own guide to be followed to make it valid and these are observed by all each and every step of the way. 
Since the days of the Prophet of Allah, the five times a day prayer itself has never changed from beginning till the end. The physical act as well as the reciting of the verses while doing this is standardized varying only in the length of the verses according to the one who performs with his ability to recite his verses of choice. Islam has from the day of its inception through the Prophet, has set rules and guides on how or when certain rituals are appropriate or recommended. The Prophet was thorough in His recommendations on just about every ritual from praying to how to brush one's teeth or sit to ease our bowels. If closely observed, nothing is left to chance and each and every ritual has its benefits that is often not realized by our common mind.
We have pretty much taken for granted on how we live our lives as individuals and seek help to remedy our ailments through the collective at our convenience. Rituals are a form of of reminding us that we are all interrelated and by paying close attention to certain rituals in our lives we are more in touch with the whole of humanity and that Collective Spirit that helps to heal.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Greed

The Art of 'Going with the Flow' or the ;Path of Least Resistance' is in accord with the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni; the Middle Way. The Middle Way is a course of action that is taken to avoid any form of extremism, that is neither too tight nor too lax. It is the way that avoids getting too uptight over matters of this phenomenal world, like making everything a cancer case in life. It is the ability to know when enough is enough and not to pursue unnecessary excessive habitual cravings for more than that is really needed for one to live day to day. It is a way to avoid being extravagant in acquiring and spending of one's assets to the extent that it becomes wasteful or redundant. 
The Buddha regarded his approach to the problem of living this life as that of tuning the Sitar of a string instrument, wind the strings too tight and it will snap, too loosely it does not make the proper sound. Extremism has become an illness that has been plaguing our human society for ages and it has cost untold miseries all over the world in the forms of domination and wars. It manifests in the form of greed, cravings, clinging on to and the inability to be satisfied.It is indeed as told by the Buddha, is one of the cause of human suffering.
The Tao Te Ching says;
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations (1.5-6)

To the TTC, being full of greedy desire is about the worst thing there is. It leads to all kinds of problems in our lives and, worst of all, it distances us from the Tao. If we're mega-desirous, all we can see is the Tao's "manifestations," or the physical world. But if we're greed-free, we can see the "essence," or spirit, of the Tao. Is the TTC right in saying that greed and desire are the worst things? Can you think of something worse?
In neither going too far to the left nor too far to the right we walk the Middle path and like water simply flow along seeking the path of least resistance to move forward. As water is one of the most pervasive element in the universe, it will penetrate its way through any resistance in time as so can man. Water will stand still only when meeting a formidable resistance like a dam, however over time even a dam breaks through. 

According to the Taoists, ‘The Way” is found in balance, in knowing what is enough – and they say thatlearning to say “enough” is achieved through an ‘intuitive observation of oneself and the universe’. - From Juliet Bennet's Blog.

“If a son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would desire to have two. Nothing can fill his mouth except the dust (of his grave). Allah turns with mercy to him who turns to Him in repentance.”  - Messenger of Allah (SAW) sayings [al-Bukhari (6437) and Muslim (1049)]

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Seeing Wisdom of the Ancient.

Most philosophers will admit that trying to explain the Tao is not an easy feat as it is the most simple and yet very complex teaching that demands a greater sense of understanding the workings of the spiritual inner being.  Most of my Chinese friends here in Malaysia has no clue of what Taoism, just as most of my Buddhist friends has no idea of what Buddhism really is. Elaborate temple complex are erected all over the country attributed to the Taoist practice and much elaborate rituals are performed in the name of Taoism, however when asked to explain the essence of the Taoist principles most will look at you as though you are lost. Chinese spiritual and religious belief is mostly a little of animism and deity worship sprinkled with the worship of ancestors with a dab of Taoism and Buddhism. Having being born and raised among the Chinese and having many Chinese friends I still find it difficult to understand the intricacies of their religious practice except those who declare to being true Buddhist and Christians.


"TAOISM never force anyone to follow exactly the "Standard Way Of Praying". Praying to Deities of different faith are allowed to be placed together and then blend into Your own Culture and pray the way You feel comfortable with.
In Taoism/Buddhism/Hinduism , what matter most is Your Heart, Mind and Soul in Your trust and believe that the deities have the power to protect You and bring Your prosperity and also understand the teachings of the individual Deities".  From Taoist Sorcery (Internet)
There are two main schools within Taoism, usually called "philosophical Taoism" (Tao-chia) and "religious Taoism" (Tao-chaio). The two are not as strongly distinguished as once thought, but philosophical Taoism tends to focus on the philosophical writings of Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu and other early mystics while religious Taoism emphasizes religious rituals aimed at attaining immortality.
There are 20 million Taoists worldwide, most of whom live in China, Taiwan or Southeast Asia. Taoism is also increasingly influential in the West, especially in the fields of alternative medicine and martial arts like Tai Chi. - 
www.religionfacts.com/taoism

“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; 
mastering yourself is true power.” 
― Lao TzuTao Te Ching
The Taoist teachings is yet another piece of the puzzle that had helped me through piecing an understanding of who I am just as Buddhism and Islam has been. It has helped me look at myself through yet another perspective with greater clarity and understanding in what the Collective Consciousness truly is as it expresses itself in different forms,

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.” 
― Lao TzuTao Te Ching
“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” 
― Lao TzuTao Teh Ching

Thus ends my minor take on the teachings of Lao Tzu the Old Boy of ancient China who let his words at the gate before allowed to leave and swallowed up by the wilderness never to be heard of.



The Tao.

 The Tao that can be explained or talked about is not the Eternal Tao just as one cannot explain or talk of Allah or God. Lao Tzu ( sometimes fondly called 'Old Boy' in Chinese) wrote down his teachings some 2500-600 years ago as  upon a request made by a gate keeper who would not allow him through unless he did so.  has till this day Lao Tzu's Tao te Ching or sometimes known as 'The Book of Changes' has till this day become one of the most referred to spiritual guide among many both in the East and West. A contemporary of Gautama the Buddha in India and Zoroaster in Persia among others, this teaching has helped to revolutionized human spiritual evolution. The Tao Te Ching is not easily grasped by the unskilled minds or the mind that is not familiar with spiritual or esoteric teachings and today most of us are not. We are lost in the words even for those of us who have some understanding of what is being transmitted. Mystical teachings of the ancients are not for the mind but for the human heart to conceive mostly through intuition and insight. 
I came upon the teachings of Lao Tzu when i was in College and as part of my 'Comparative Religions course I did my research of this Book. The Philosopher Zen Master, Alan Watts explanation of the Tao Te Ching was my reference and guide among others. 

Alan W. Watts


Born
in Chislehurst, The United Kingdom 
January 06, 1915

Died
November 16, 1973

Website

Genre

Influences


Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer and speaker, who held both a Master's in Theology and a Doctorate of Divinity. Famous for his research on comparative religion, he was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher consciousness, the meaning of life, concepts and images of God and the non-material pursuit of happiness. In his books he relates his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy.

What had touched me most about the teachings of LaoTzu is the fact that it is simple and direct and cuts away all speculations and fantasizing. I caught a glimpse of the meaning to this teachings when I first encountered the texts and then it was gone and then over time it keeps materializing in my life off and on and there would be a message in it for me like a key to unlock a puzzle before me. I could never comprehend the teachings in its entirety by reading the whole book

Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.-  
Verse 63 - S. Mitchel

This verse (63) has been one of my favorite, I have tried to live by it over the years and has  benefited from it in many ways especially on days when I find myself trying to make up my mind whether or not do something or other. when in absolute doubt I would choose not act but allow myself to do nothing and trust in my inner being for something to happen and every so often I would be surprise to find that by not acting  I would end up doing a great deal than i anticipated. 

"Contemplate the turmoil of all beings and watch their return.' Allow the external to manifest and move on its own, (unhindered) and watch  how they return into emptiness or the void In other words become a witness to all the motions around you but remain detached  'Bare attention', wu wei or inactive action, or detached involvement. Everything manifest from the source and returns to the source, only the source is eternal all else is impermanent. That which makes this observation, the observer, the witness is the eternal consciousness of being... which who you truly are.

67

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
S.Mitchel.
to be contd.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I am Who I am...



To align oneself back into the groove of being in the here and now, the state of presence, to be in the full state of consciousness, takes a little doing. The distractions from within and without, from thoughts of what is to become and what was, from noises and conversations around you makes it a challenge to pull back from the external realm as well as the inner and become at one with what is. This is more so if one has allowed for time to gain upon one's practice through neglect and lack of placing oneself in the present moment. There really is no absolute escape from this flip flopping of the mind and the state of being and it takes much greater effort to become centered in the true state of inner being in oneself.
What happens when the mind rules is that one is inundated by excessive thoughts and ideas that are more often than not are of no value to one's well being. More often what one has set to accomplish becomes side tracked and there develops more obstructions and obstacles in one path rather than a smooth flow of one's energy and effort. The mind has the tendency to exaggerate and manipulate events and circumstances beyond what really is. Everything and every episode past ,present or future becomes a cancer case and demands one's immediate attention thus crowding one's judgement and ability to perform accordingly. A whole lot of one's energy is dissipated through too much thoughts and worries over matters that are of no interest or benefit and often toxic and negative in nature, to the present and this seriously sometimes affect any action needed to be taken in the present moment.  
In making this entry for today I am consciously trying to draw in my attention from the conversations floating around me in the office which is mostly about food and illnesses, good food and bad illnesses. So i tune in to You Tube and listen to the theme from "The Last of the Mohicans", loud enough to drown out the talks and the thoughts floating around in my head. The repetitious tune with its almost dramatic drum beats keeps my heart beating to the rhythm and my mind somewhat free from its own wanderings. 
I am at the present more or less preoccupied with my upcoming two man exhibition at the University Gallery which will begin on the 1st. of March. Making it happen is a challenge what with the bickering and animosity going on between the two groups of the Museum Staff to the point of not even acknowledging one another.
This is what i see as management at its worse for an institution such as the University Sains Malaysia. But, it is not my personal problem although it is sad to see my friends of over ten years split into two factions doing the same job.
A few individuals in my life today inspires me to continue on doing what i do and being who I am. One such person is Dr.Chong Hon Yew, President of the Astronomical Society of Penang. Dr. Chong whom i have known for as long as i have been at the MGTF has through his diligence and dedication towards his course of Astronomy is a constant reminder of what it is to be true to one's passion and serve the community with it. Mr. Lee Khai, Chairman of the Penang State  Art Gallery is another such a person who although being a lawyer by profession has been a patron for the Fine Art in Penang for as long as we have been friends. His patience and kindness towards artists regardless of race or religion is source of inspiration for me not to give up my own quests. Then there is my close friend Mr. Huat or Ah Huat as i call him, who is an automobile air conditioning sifu in his own right. We have been friends for over ten years now and knowing him and how he works has provide me with a greater incentive to excel in my own field, whatever it is. last but not least in my good friend, a retired Major who presently spearheads the SRI LOVELY Organic farm in the Kampung of Lintang, in the foothills of Belantik, Sik, in Kedah. Rather be called a Captain, Major Zakaria Amantasha is my Malay Hero. His achievements in life is what success is measured by. 
I am blessed today to have these individuals in my life as beacons and guides whereby I measure my progress. Knowing that these individuals stands behind me as an example I feel humbled to proceed as best i can despite my limited resources. Through my Art and my Blogging I share with the world all that I am for better or worse, for strength or weaknesses, I am who I am. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Gift of Love.


A gift of Love -You Tube.

Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi was a 13th century Muslim Sufi saint. After so many centuries his message of Love is being rediscovered and spread by people around the world. Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi or as commonly known as Rumi has written a few books among them is his famous Masnavi in Persian language. His main theme in his books are Love of Allah(god), which made him love humanity, nature and everything good. In his burning in the flame of love he has written many poems and couplets. The Love of Allah was ignited in his heart by his spiritual teacher(Murshid/ Shaikh) Shams e Tabrizi who took Rumi as his only student(seeker/ salik) throughout his life. To this day Rumi's spiritual tradition continues known as Mevlavi Spiritual Order of Islamic Sufism( similar to Naqshbandia, Qadriya, Chistia, Soharwardia, Naqshbandiah Owaisiah spiritual orders), they are also known as whirling dervishes. Rumi's message is of Love, which people need the most in these days. There is great wisdom in his poetry and his message of Love is for all.

Having listened to this video of the works of Rumi as presented by the likes of Deepak Chopra and friends, Madona, Demi Moore, Rosa parks and many others, I felt like i was in the presence of great minds through the 'Power of Love'. It was as though they came as a saving grace for one who was slowly drowning into the nadir of his spiritual being. Al Rumi has been to me the greatest of Poets whose works had touched my heart in the past. Listening to his words again after for so long i realized how i had forgotten what it is to Love, the Love of the Divine.
How often in my silent prayers i have expressed my Love to my Lord, however not till very early this morning did i realize yet again what it really meant to be in Love with Allah (God). All my trials and worldly tribulations slips away into oblivion as I listened to the words of Rumi as recited by these great minds, recited with their own inner passion. Perhaps this too will pass as someone once said, however I accept it as a fact that it was a Gift of Love for me when i stumbled upon this video.

When your silent scream is loud enough to be heard out there in outer space, the Lord answers and His answer  will surprise and uplift you from your drowning state of spiritual forgetfulness. His love or call it what you may will penetrate your being and give you the strength to charge on and and forge yet to greater heights of your creative energy, if only you call out to Him loud enough in your hour of need. In the darkest moment of night, of your spiritual nadir, your silent voice is heard from within and transmitted into the Universe and the Universe answers by giving you a poem, a parable, a discourse, for you to reflect upon and be released of your bondage that you and only you have created for yourself
In the words of Eckhart Tolle, in your presence is the essence of who you are, that from which all is manifested.

The wailing of the broken heart is the Doorway to God.

Tired, the feeling of disillusion, physical aches and pains form different parts of the body is making my life very discomforting at the moment. I am going to take a closer look at what the root causes are and do some mental and spiritual housekeeping. The aches in my knee and lower back is caused by the extraneous physical activity I had done while at the organic farm a week or so ago, it is telling me that i am no more as young and strong as I used to.  Heart burn and indigestion is happening more frequently of late from gastritis which I have and often caused by the wrong kind of meals like spicy food. I have high blood pressure as evidenced by my medical checkup not too long ago, hence the migraine headaches especially after consuming some extra salt containing meals or being aggravated by an elderly Chinese lady at a supermarket cashier.  Driving around Georgetown itself can raise your blood pressure and it is an accepted fact among most.
The only time when there is some quiet moments in ans around the house is past midnight, the restaurant and catering business keeps the place in perpetual chaos the rest of the day beginning from dawn till the late evening.  The shouts from my cousin who owns the business to his Bangladesh and Indonesian workers is no less toxic to the ears. There is no escape from the flow of traffic as the main road passes right in front of the house. 
Then there the family and relative drama that one has to deal with on a daily basis as each character has his or her own ax to grind or questions about who or what the hell I am all about still baffles their understanding. There seems to be more control freaks trying to pin you down every chance they get and your failures is more or a merit to them than any success you have accomplished. I am living outside of the grid and it is somewhat unacceptable or so it seems.
Off course all these are my own mind projecting and manufacturing phenomena that it keeps itself occupied with out of shear ignorance and leading on to decadence and despair. The mind I find has become more and more aggressive in perpetuating thoughts that destroys any form of positive consciousness that one tries to promote or bring forth from within. The mind has the tendency to block any form of creativity if and when it is allowed to without any restrain. Meditation helps to some degree but the mental projection that is bound and determined to obstruct one's creative energy sometimes manifest itself in the form of negative forms (individuals) that triggers external vexations like someone popping out of nowhere and setting off more thoughts relating to that individual.
As my writing is a proof to my mixed up mind about my status lately, I find solace in listening to great minds telling me of what is the root causes to my predicament. I have forgotten to be in the presence for one thing as i listened to Ekhart Tolle on You Tube. I am trapped as often in my own self delusion allowing the externals to take advantage of my state of being. I am out of touch with my spiritual self allowing for the material vexations to occupy my perceptions of who I am. "A Gift of Love" is a video that inspired and uplifted my spirit in the wee hours of the morning after having written what i had at the beginning of this entry. Call it a saving Grace from the Divine, it was for me.
Contd.



Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Uncertain Fate of the Fishermen in Georgetown.

It has been over ten years  now that i have been hanging out at this location of the Malay Fisherman's Huts located off the Lim Chong Yu Highway. This is one of my 'Ports' as the 'Boys' would call it. On hot and humid days when it would be too much to bear at the house, I would escape to this place and do whatever that I do.

A few days ago the Maritime police raided this whole area in a full scale operation against drug trafficking and abuse which is one of the features of this area's community activity, mostly Ganja and a drink called Ketum or as locally called 'Biak'. Both are to me harmless if not medicinal if used within limits and has been in use for as long as i can remember in my life. It is sad that the law and enforcement agency has no better activity to handle than harass a handful of people whose only form of escape from the pressures of life is indulging in getting stoned or high with the use of a natural stimulant such as Marijuana and the Ketum leaf. 

This is the Malay section of the Fishing Community along the coastal areas of Penang itself and most of the fishermen  are from the nearby low cost housing of the Jelutong area has been fishing most of their lives. Fishing is a very tough life especially in and around the Island of Penang where competition with the Chinese fishermen is just one of the obstacles to be dealt with. The fishing is more often slim in catch as the sea around the Island is highly polluted. The fishermen has to go far out to sea to make any good catch. The rise in fuel cost and the lack of any government funding or support makes fishing here a costly venture. Most of these fishermen do other odd jobs along with their fishing activity.

There is no fresh water supply to this small community and water for any purposes has to be carted in from nearby low cost housing. Most of the makeshift huts that stands tall in the mud and sea water are in deplorable state some are about to slide off into the deep. But having been a frequent visitor to the community I feel a great sense of pride among its residents in keeping the place afloat despite the odds mounting against it.   

It is sad to watch the slow death of a way of life of a community that had survived  for so long. It is like witnessing the last throws of a dying sea bass. There is very little that can be done about the fate of these fishermen and their way of life and I sincerely hope that the Penang State Government will be able to find an amicable solution to this situation. 

As modernization creeps up from nearby areas the fishing community is slowly pushed further out into the sea, in a way this is symbolic of the fate of the Malays of Penang in general. Whose fault is it? Don't ask!

Man will do whatever it takes to make a living and hold on to whatever sense of pride that is still left within himself to make sure that he is occupied with a worthwhile vocation in life. What happens when all these are taken away from him? It is only for God and time to tell and in the meantime, the life of the Malay Fishermen in this community hangs at the end of the fishhook.  

He walks with a precarious sense of pride as he watches the tide goes in and out.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The definition of a farmer- He is is the man Outstanding in his Field.

Major (Retired) Zakaria Amantasha is the man responsible for the establishment of SRI LOVELY organic Farm at Kampung Lintang, Sik Kedah in Malaysia. He is one of a kind 'Power House' of service and dedication to the small community of the Belantik, Sik area in Organic Rice planting.

Through his years of services as an army officer he has spent at times months in the tropical jungle where he learned to survive with bare minimum of necessities. Here he share his knowledge of how to construct a tatch roof from a king of palm leaf.


Known as 'The captain', the major got together all the land owners aroung Lintang and converted the rice plots that were not put to use into and organic rice growing facility.He created the Belantik Corporation which has 32 acres of land in total at the foothills of Kampung Lintang, locacated some 3 kilometers from the small town of Belantik. 
Kampung Lintang sits n a valley at the foothills where the  jungle begins. by making sure that the land is free from any form of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the project has seen a growing number of wild animals, birds and fishes returning to the area. I am a witness to this change after having been involved here for the past five years.

The captain is a rlentless worker who knows no time od day or night and he is never found idle and always full of ideas on how to overcome any form of hurdle that lay in his way. A Millitary Commander at one time in Kosovo, the captain is a rough tough kind of guy who takes no nonsense when imparting knowledge to his students. 

Captain Zakaria is very highly regard among the professors and government officials involve if farming around the country and his advice is sought after from far and near as he travels to many countries in and outside of  Malaysia to give talks and guidance on organic padi cultivation

 The man -outstanding in His field!



Update on where my mind is at.

Observing my mind lately i noticed that it has been running at warp speed with thoughts and ideas that has hardly anything to do with what is at hand or what needed attention at the moment. This i believe is the counter effect of my trying to silence the mind in my efforts at meditation. I tried to become less attached to my surroundings and ignore images that floats around my consciousness everywhere i go and with everything i do, but the mind is as slippery as an eel and sucks in everything ti comes into contact with like a sponge. There it seems is no escape from the chattering of the mind and the more you try to remain detach from external influences the more thoughts arises. Most of these thoughts are empty of any value towards my well being and has become an an obstruction towards trying to remain focus on any immediate matter.

Physically i am suffering aches and pains especially in my lower back and my left knee; symptoms of aging. The hard physical labor i did at the farm has taken its toll and thus i am spending my energy on healing my body as well. I hav less than a month to get my show ready at the MGTF-USM which tarts in March. It looks like this will be my last effort to have an exhibition of my Art works as i am finding it too much of a burden financially and physically.But I hope to make it as exciting and worthwhile the best i can. It is not an easy matter to organize a show especially at a major gallery such as the Museum galleri Tuanku Fauziah, at the University Sains Malaysia. I consider it a luxury and one that these days I cannot afford anymore.I will always remain an artist and keep on drawing and sketching perhaps till the day i die, simply because it is in my nature to do so.
The moment you draw, Art happens! Like writing , Art is a form of Catharsis in healing a troubled mind. While en-rapt in doing a drawing the mind is forced to becoming quiet for the moment and the attention towards what is being done holds your consciousness in focus. With a quiet mind you find your Lord, it is said.This is why i carry with me a sketchbook wherever i go. It is entertaining to those who are around me and while away the time while waiting for my appointments.The act of doing a creative activity acts as an ice breaker for any given situation or environment as it draws people out of curiosity to the artist.While drawing one is also training the eyes to see more than just look at what is around you; no single tree is identical. The human eyes is not as clinical as the digital camera, the eyes sees much more than what is as it sees with a feeling for what is. Drawing or sketching is a very potent tool towards keeping the mind in focus, it is meditation in action. 
Being born an artist is a privilege that is not given to too many in this life and as such it is my responsibility to share myself through my works with the masses in all walks of life. I do not draw or paint to entertain my ego nor of anyone else's, I draw and paint to reflect and contemplate my own mind such that it will slow down and become less scattered.  








Monday, February 06, 2017

Dealing with a Government Agency.

This morning i took my son to the Registry Department to declare that he and his sister will be giving up their American citizenship in accordance with the Malaysian Government requirement that no Malaysian citizen can hold a dual citizenship. From the reaction of the lady attending to the matter it is clear that she has no idea of what to do as she had no idea that there was an announcement made in the Star Online news of such a move. She had to call her superior out from her room and this individual too had no idea of the ramification involved and simply declared that if my son and daughter had any problem with their citizenship status they to show their identification card and everything would be cool. No notes taken , no records registered of my son's visit to ascertain that he had taken the action towards dropping off one citizenship for another. She only told my son to go to the American Embassy and declare his intentions.

PETALING JAYA: Either renounce or risk revocation as there is no other way out for dual citizenship holders.
An official from the National Registration Department said those who failed to voluntarily renounce would have their citizenship revoked because Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship as stipulated under Article 24 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
The official also revealed that annually about 5,000 people renounce their Malaysian citizenship.
“Dual citizenship holders need not pay any penalty for failing to renounce their Malaysian citizenship. It is an individual’s personal responsibility to renounce their Malaysian citizenship after obtaining citizenship in another country,” said a department official.
The official said this in response to queries sent via e-mail following public complaints over the possi­bility of being fined RM50,000 or jailed if they failed to fill up form K to renounce citizenship.
The official said Malaysians risk losing their citizenship if the authori­­ties are satisfied that foreign citizenship was obtained through registration, naturalisation or voluntarily through other formal arrangements other than by marriage.
“The Federal Government could then order the revocation of the person’s citizenship,” he said.
To another question, the official said it did not have a special data bank on Malaysians holding dual citizenship.
“Malaysian citizenship can only be terminated through renouncement or revocation,” it said.
The official also pointed out that under Article 23 (1) of the Federal Constitution, citizens above 21 years of age, and of sound mind, should formally renounce their citizenship when they are about to gain citizenship of another country
He said the department welcomed feedback from those with information on dua

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/01/31/renounce-or-risk-revocation-dual-citizenship-holders-told/#F08Rv3FGBrd1cmDO.99


To save the trouble of tracking dual citizenship holders in the future the lady in charge could have been more proactive by providing a form for such a move or even start a file for my children that will keep track of their actions taken towards making this happen. Unfortunately she brushed it off as of no concern attitude or a superior bureaucrat towards those that needed her services and advice. As the saying goes, there is no room for learning when you are an expert at what you do.







Friday, February 03, 2017

We Are The World!

 For the past one week i had spent my time working out in the fields at the SRI LOVELY Organic Farm, it has been a week long of hard labor of love. The City of Georgetown was inundated by the Chinese New Y revelers and last minute shoppers and the traffic about the City was a challenge to one's nerves even if one is a Meditator. Now i am suffering from a lower back pain and my knee is aching from too much activity. I am back at the MGTF where i do my writing among other things. The change of pace between the life in the City and being in the rural rustic countryside is refreshing momentarily, but the noise and dramas of the life in the City soon invades my senses before I even had a chance to heal my aches and pains.


I met a few of the most interesting people from France, the Unityed States and Sweden when I was at the Farm and they helepd to affirm my faith in the fact that individuals makes a great difference when their energies are being put to use in a good cause. The organis farm is coming to live as more and more 'seekers' and travellers arrive to share their presence and energies if making something out of what nature has to offer. More and more and more are waking up to the call of the 'return to nature' without the synthetic affeects tha amn and technology is imposing upon her. Healing the land back to its natural state after being systematically poisoned by chemicals and pesticides generated from the laboratories of some major chemical companies is a slow and tedious process. It is evident by the slow return of the wild life to these affected areas after a long absence since the introduction of these chemicals into the environment.


It was also enlightening to witness how the younger generation of locals and foreign visitors interact without any form of judgement or misgiviings and how the local boys are willing to learn the languages and customs from their counterparts as they work alongside each other. The Farm is beginning to remind me of Green Gulch Farm, the Zen Monastery where i used to live in California's Marin County.It has much to offer those who are looking for some answers to their lives or seeking an alternative to what they presently are facing. SRI LOVELY is becoming a Global Village and i sincerely hope that it will become yet another beacon of freedom from the conditioned existence that most are being subjected to in this day and age without even realizing the fact that they are. It is just another small step, a small venture that is still struggling to stay afloat on its own, however more and more philanthropists and well wishers are making a contribution towards getting the place up and running without any attachment to any government control.
Here I find myself, my calling, to serve humanity as best i could physically, mentally as well as spiritually.As i rake the whole yard around the facility and cut the weeds and grass that threatened to overgrow I witnessed how distorted my mind has become and how i am subjected to its moods and sway. For hours I kept working in the hot sun without caring about my aches and pains or the reason for my actions and at the end of the day a young man would come along and offers me a drink or a smoke telling to take it easy, it made me feel i had accomplished something, I touched his heart. I have inspired him and his buddies to work selflessly.

















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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sharing Work and Culture.

The dinner table has grown a whole lot longer as the crowd grows. Every word spoken is being translated into various languages according to who is present. 

It has become a mixture of culture in the field as you see a fully hijab sister chatting away with a loosely dressed Westerners.

What's the definition of a farmer, he asked. He is the man outstanding in his field I said.
I do my part sharing my Art work with the local boys.

 Getting Art lessons while relaxing after dinner.

 Art being executed out in the wild.