Posted in Equality, Identity, Love

Human dignity and self-immolation

Quote by refugee

What caused a person to resort to such a drastic act of suicide in the form of self-immolation? I have read of similar cases in which Tibetan monks have taken their own lives by self-immolation, which also served as a form of protest against injustice and oppression by the ruling system. Similarly, the Arab Spring revolution that inspired Occupy Wall Street movement was sparked by a Tunisian man who set himself on fire in 2010 to protest against injustice, corruption and poverty.

Refugee Rights Action Network WA offered a sound explanation for such an act of self-immolation by an Iranian refugee, whose quote was shown above:

“On October 15 last year, Khodayar Amini, a Hazara man, set his body alight in a park in Dandenong, in fear of being redetained by immigration authorities. A patch of scorched earth marked his site of death, a silent testimony to an incredibly violent end.

Before Khodayar’s death, he stated clearly,
“My crime was that I was a refugee. They tortured me for 37 months and during all these times, they treated me in the most cruel and inhumane way, they violated my basic human right and took away my human dignity…They killed me as well as many of my friends such as: Nasim Najafi, Reza Rezayee and Ahmad Ali Jaffari”

For these men, the physical burning and scorching agony brought upon by fire, can be seen as a visible expression of the unacknowledged suffering that had plagued their lives under Australia’s merciless immigration regime.

As racialised bodies in a system designed to deny care to those deemed ‘unworthy’, these men have cried out to Australia, asking for care. In a system that renders their suffering invisible they have sought to make their suffering visible. With nothing else within their control, they have cried out with their bodies.”

I believe the underlying message is: Do I matter? As human beings, we all have an inner desire to be respected, acknowledged and treated with basic dignity. I am sure most, if not all, of us would have experienced in some form of discrimination or other, and the experience can be downright humiliating. In a recent incident on social media, I was chagrined when my post was removed twice by a group administrator without explanation, despite my request for an explanation, and I decided to raise an issue openly to challenge the perceived discrimination.

I can only imagine how much worse it has been for refugees whose voices have been drowned consistently by the uncaring system. It probably wouldn’t be fair for me to compare my own experience with those who had to deal with the systemic oppression day after day, which threatened their very survival and well-being. But I can certainly relate in some ways to their pains and suffering.

“Do I matter? Does my life matter?” is the question that continues unspoken in our lives whenever we undergo struggles and setbacks. In fact, the Black Lives Matter movement exemplifies the need to vocalise and highlight the issue of anti-black racism and institutional oppression of the black community that had resulted in white police brutality against unarmed black men and women.

May we all come to the realisation that we ourselves matter and so do others, and may we unite to subvert the inhumane system that threatens to strip us of our basic dignity and humanity.

Posted in Healing, Love, Psychology

Thoughts on how to clear dark entities

This comprehensive blog by Elizabeth Dahl Kingery reminds me of Nikola Tesla’s quote about thinking in terms of energy, frequency and vibration if we want to find the secrets of the Universe, for everything is energy which changes from one form to another. Given that the earth is about 4.6 billion (or 4,600 million) years old and the modern human species is relatively young, about 200 million years old, there must be a lot of energy that has been accumulated over millions of years circulating around the world, changing from one form to another, through the continual birth and death and evolution of plants, animals and human beings. As her blog said, there are benevolent and malevolent energies or entities we encounter in life, and each of us has our unique, individual ways of doing “our deep inner work of moving through (our) painful emotions and fears towards enlightenment”, whether it be deep relaxation, visualisation, meditation, certain crystals, herbs and high-frequency food and so on.

This cycle of existence, which suffering and pain is a part of, reminds me of the Buddhist concept of samsara – I googled and found this article by Teal Swan that has a similar view of accepting and embracing and working through our feelings and emotions in the process of doing our deep inner work. Recently, I decided to articulate in a blog on why and how I am learning to feel and express my feelings and emotions in order to more fully experience what it is to be human and to be alive.

And yes, we can trust and allow our intuition to guide us “because (our) higher self knows best what someone needs, and when they’re most open to receiving it.” I also have come to see that “self-love and self-empowerment are the most effective healing modalities for clearing entities” because the highest form of energy and the highest frequency is love, and our true self or identity is essentially and intrinsically love.

Posted in Philosophy

To be or not to be wise

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. Then I said to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said to myself, “This too is vanity.””

So, whether I am wise or whether I am foolish, I will still die one day. So the question naturally arises: If the same fate befalls both the wise and the foolish, and both will inevitably die one day, why be wise then? Why be foolish? It will all be in vain, won’t it? Or is it really in vain?

Maybe like Proverbs 9:12 says, if I am wise, let me be wise for myself, so as not to bear the folly of being foolish. So yes, I will still die one day, whether I be wise or foolish, but at least, I can tell myself that I have chosen to live well, or live wisely, or live consciously, as much as I can. What remains to be seen is: How do I go about doing that? That is my ongoing challenge and mission in life.

Posted in Love

Is love blind?

It has been said that love is blind. But I disagree. Love isn’t blind as love opens my eyes to see what truly matters in life. For example, I wouldn’t want to be friends with those who subscribe to the violent system that oppresses people in the name of power, control and competition. This runs contrary to love that is freeing or liberating, expansive and unconditional.

Posted in Identity

Who am I?

Who am I and what is my real identity?

I am a beloved child of the universe, and my real identity isn’t defined by where I was born, what my skin colour is, what I do, what I have, or what others say about me.

My body isn’t the real me; it is only a temporary house I inhabit. It is a temple in which my spirit dwells for a season. I honour my temple by taking care of it and treating myself with respect and dignity.

The respect I accord to myself will translate into respect I accord to others, and others will also respect me the way I respect myself, through the law of attraction.

I am a multidimensional being, and there are many sides of me – for example, sometimes I am confident, other times I am fearful – I am simply being human, an imperfect being living in an imperfect world.

In a sense, we are complete, but it is a lifelong journey to remember we are already complete although we aren’t perfect. We all fall short and make mistakes, but the more we meditate on our inherent completeness and integrate this truth into our daily existence and our interactions with others, the more we mature and grow into who we really are intrinsically.

Posted in Equality, Grace, Healing, Inspiration, Love, Peace, Psychology, Racism, Religious fundamentalism, Unity and harmony

Social activism – the inner life

Social activists need to grow as humans as well because the greatest enemy isn’t outside, whether it is white supremacy or colonialism or patriarchy; it is the untamed ego or shadow side of us. (We can have a holistic t’shuvah understanding of ourselves, recognising that while we bear the image of the divine, we have a capacity to do tremendous good or terrible evil.)

When we succeed in bringing about a revolution and challenging and dismantling white supremacy, for example, the question is “what’s next?” Is the response “who’s the next enemy?” If so, it can become a means to not deal with our interior life and stay preoccupied with fighting against an external perceived enemy all the time. This can lead to infighting in social activist groups or movements as the members begin to turn on one another. But if the response is “how can I continue to create a better and more humane world?” then one can find creative ways to bring about or facilitate restoration and reconciliation. It might mean working through one’s own pain and suffering to experience healing and peace more and more; it might mean reaching out to help the oppressed heal from their pain and suffering; it might mean working with the white people who are aware and willing to bring about equality in real and tangible ways in society, and so on.

To be sure, social activists are human and have their own fears and egos and insecurities. But are they going to allow these to override their primary motivation in activism, which is a love for oneself and others and working towards their emancipation? If others’ freedom and well being are their top priority, they can choose to not their own hurt pride and wounded ego get in the way of their mission to alleviate the oppressed of their pain and suffering.

Social activists have to learn to develop a thick skin and a willingness to be open and receptive to questions and criticisms. They have to realise that as public figures who have a platform that is open to scrutiny from the rest of the world, they cannot be shielded or sheltered from opposing views or different perspectives. Instead, they can choose to learn from the criticisms and different perspectives to do their own soul searching, to grow and expand, to become stronger and bigger persons.

Social activists need to create a space for themselves to embrace their own brokenness, weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as that of others. Only then can they live an honest and authentic life, and continue to inspire others with their humanness.

Social activists can choose to learn from other role models who have been through struggles and upheavals themselves and who are open about their struggles. People such as Rob Bell and Carlton Pearson, who have suffered and been ostracised in their work to challenge oppressive systems and mindsets and who have worked through their struggles and shared openly about them, can serve as such role models.

Posted in Equality, Identity, Racism

Why an open conversation on race matters

A university student named Iwani Zoë from South Africa wrote a perceptive blog “Is Singapore a racist country?” Someone in this related article “Foreign student in NUS writes an article on racism she faces in Singapore” made a rather disparaging comment, saying “She lives in an utopian planet. Racism exists everywhere but it is up to the society and government to regulate and minimize its threats to societal upheaval.

My response to his comment is:

“Yes, racism exists everywhere, but each of us can take a more active approach to deal with racism because we can’t always depend on the government to “regulate and minimise its threats to societal upheaval”, especially if we are dealing with less overt forms of racism such as the micro-aggressions we experience in daily life, as described in Iwani’s blog. In fact, sometimes racism is state-sanctioned, as evidenced in the white police brutality against unarmed black people and the mass incarceration of black and brown people in America, so the government in general isn’t always dependable.

Also, we are the society and we can do our part to deal with the issue of racism by having open conversations about it in order to educate and raise awareness among people about how being subject to discrimination and prejudice is affecting us; we can do so online through blogs and social media as well as offline. It is through such dialogues that we can find healing and no longer suffer in silence, and that the ones who are enjoying racial privileges can check themselves and not contribute to the problem of racism, such as by reminding themselves and educating their children to not stare at those who look different from themselves and to not subscribe to negative media stereotypes of other races for a start.

Already, in America, and increasingly around the world, the issues of anti-black racism and white supremacy have become an open conversation (thanks to Black Lives Matter and the like), to the extent that more and more white people themselves are acknowledging that they are benefitting from the white privilege system and are choosing to stand in solidarity with the oppressed. While it might not be possible to create an utopian planet, we all can indeed find ways to make this world a better, more humane and equitable place for everyone by sharing our experiences, accepting our differences and celebrating our diversity.”

He replied:

“The government can legislate but they cannot change behaviour. That comes with education and inner motivation.

The bottom line is that we must embrace our racial diversity. Contrary to what some have said, I think racism is rather mild in Singapore.”

My response is:

“Less overt forms of racism, such as the aforementioned daily micro-aggressions, can be as insidious and detrimental as armed race riots because they create despair, resentment and frustration for those who have been subject to discrimination, prejudice and marginalisation. (It may also result in self-hatred and low self-esteem, as one may wish one was born white or fairer skinned.) To be honest, I myself used to think that racism is rather mild in Singapore compared to some other places, until I realise I have been living in a privileged bubble as a majority Singaporean Chinese and see for myself how many non-Singaporean Chinese, or darker skinned people in general, have been stared at or subject to racist jokes or made to feel as if they don’t belong to the community here as much as the Singaporean Chinese do.

To quote Professor Adeline Koh, “Singapore Chinese, as they are termed, enjoy systemic, racialized and institutional privilege in the country as opposed to the countries’ minorities (primarily racialized as Indian and Malay).” The question is: Do we own and acknowledge the fact that we are benefiting from the system of Chinese Privilege in Singapore? The next question beckons: Do we exert our Chinese Privilege by pretending that it doesn’t exist, and benefit from it all the same—or do we recognize that we are, like other minorities in Singapore, also a person of color, and should be more sensitive to what they are saying, because we go through exactly the same thing when we are not in Singapore that they do at home?”

 

 

Posted in Meditation, Philosophy

Meaning of existence

I used to think about – and still do – what the meaning of existence is. It appears that we simply live for a period of time, go through some events, and then we die.

I used to wonder about (and sometimes I still do): what is the point of being happy when I will be sad due to changing circumstances? I mean, it’s like the moment I am happy when something good happens, there will come a time when something disappointing happens, and I will be sad again. So, life is like – happy, sad, happy, sad, happy, sad… and then we die. So why be happy? Why be sad? For example, why rejoice over something like the birth of a child when we know the child will die one day and we will mourn the loss of a life?  Wouldn’t it be better to remain emotionally frozen or frigid and not feel anything at all, in order not to be manipulated or held hostage by the circumstances that are often unpredictable and uncontrollable?

Then again, if I were to apply the same logic to eating, I would need to ask myself: why eat when I will be hungry again? Isn’t life also a matter of being hungry and filled, hungry and filled, hungry and filled, and then we die? So what’s the point of eating when I know I will go hungry again?

Maybe one way to answer this question (or dilemma or koan) is: well, I can still choose to eat because eating can be a pleasurable activity, other than getting nutrients and staying alive. Similarly, while I can still survive without expressing happiness or sadness, at least I get to express my emotions or feel my feelings. I suppose feelings or emotions are there for a reason. Animals, for example, have feelings too – they feel happy at times and they feel sad too. But I don’t find animals mulling over the seeming futility of life. They live in the moment, or so it seems.

So, maybe the meaning of existence is to create my own meaning and choose to live in the moment. To live in the awareness that I have the ability or the gift or the opportunity to at least feel alive, to love and be loved, to experience compassion and empathy. Emotions or feelings may be Nature’s gift to us to experience that aliveness. After all, dead people can’t feel anything – they can’t laugh or smile and they can’t cry too. But I can. And you can. We can be happy if we want to feel the happiness. We can be sad if we want to feel the sadness. It sounds basic and simple, and I may well be stating the obvious here, but then again, I wish life is that simple… Well, perhaps it is, and it is us human beings who are complex and mysterious creatures.

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Identity

Living an examined life

Living an examined life is hard, but necessary, and ultimately fulfilling. Each of us has to find our own ways to life’s perplexing issues. I am always inspired by the starfish story. Like Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Decided to take a nap because I felt tired and sleepy due to lack of rest. Realised that if I were to neglect rest at the expense of my health, I would be doing violence to myself.

Violence seems like a strong word, but then again, maybe I need a strong word to wake myself up to the cumulative effects of harming myself if I continue to deprive myself from the need to get adequate rest, knowingly or unknowingly.

Now that I have defined violence in this context, I am going to extend the term to some other aspects of life. Sports, or any act of trying to win or not to lose or subscribing to the concepts of winning or losing, is doing violence to oneself and others. Contests, as harmless as they appear to be, give people a false sense of entitlement and superior identity over others. There is no need for us to do something in order to become somebody because we all are already somebody.

Cycling, badminton, musical chairs, debates and so on – any act of wanting to overpower or outdo or outwit or prevail over someone else is an act of violence and doesn’t foster compassion and empathy. Only through compassion, cooperation and collaboration can we truly thrive – as one.

If one part of the body suffers, all suffer. If one part of the body thrives, all thrive. We are all one and equal.

Living true to myself and rebelling against the ways of the system has to go beyond mere words and idealism – it must become a reality in the way I live and interact with people. If there are people in my past such as in school or workplace or church institution whose mindsets I no longer resonate with because their mindsets are “destructive” to the extent they don’t foster my growth or evolution, I need to let them go. I cannot allow myself to be restricted or hampered or influenced by their small minds and narrow thinking. I have to be true to who I really am and walk the walk and be free. It is out of love and respect for myself and others that I need to do this.