Posted in Freedom, Healing, Love, Psychology

Protecting my vibe

One of the hardest things to do perhaps is to love and accept ourselves and be gentle with ourselves and others at all times, as we live in constant interactions with society.

We are constantly being judged by others, no matter how well we conduct ourselves, how well we speak, how good our intentions are, how much we seek to improve or learn from our mistakes, etc.

If people judge us, perhaps it is because they haven’t learnt to love and accept themselves as they really are too. (The same goes for us, as we all are on a journey.)

Self-love and self-respect is so important that it requires practice on a constant basis, with the need for mindful breathing, for continual awareness.

How do I know when I haven’t really loved and accepted myself for who I really am fully?

  • When I fail to be gentle with myself because I have allowed shame to cripple me instead of using guilt and contrition as an impetus to grow and learn to do better
  • When I don’t carry myself with respect and dignity because I forget to be mindful and watch my body posture
  • When I judge others, because I haven’t learn how to integrate my light and dark sides
  • When I place expectations on others to fulfil my needs, not realising I am already complete and whole
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Posted in Equality, Freedom, Uncategorized

What is freedom? Are meritocracy and citizenship necessary?

When I was a trainee undergoing Leadership Training Camp in Pulau Ubin in my first year of junior college, I looked at some of the seniors with wistfulness when they were rowing a wooden raft and enjoying themselves while we trainees were suffering from physical exhaustion. I longed to experience freedom like they do. Maybe when I become an adult, I will have that kind of freedom to do what I enjoy, or so I had thought. But years later, I still find myself grappling with the notion of freedom – for some reasons, I don’t feel completely free to be myself or to be fully at peace with myself and the world around me.

It has been said that “no one is free until (or unless) all are free.” Is that why I don’t really feel completely free? How to be really happy when I am aware that there are others out there still suffering from injustice or discrimination? Then again, will that day ever happen when all are free? Will I always have to postpone my happiness indefinitely? I know Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to live in the present moment and be thankful for that moment. Maybe I have to give myself permission to be truly happy so that it sends peaceful, healing energetic vibrations to those who are still struggling.

I am coming to think that when Buddha attains enlightenment or Nirvana, it is not only for himself or herself. Maybe Buddha knows that by liberating ourselves first, we can liberate others. Maybe the concept of merit-based karma isn’t completely selfish – maybe we do good to ourselves and others not so much to accumulate good karma and better rebirth for ourselves but also to show others that a better way and a better world is possible, and we ourselves can make it happen. Maybe our motivation for helping others can come from the understanding that we are all interconnected, hence when we help others, we are helping ourselves, and when we help ourselves, we are also helping others because we are all one.

…..

Speaking of motivation, I am reticent to subscribe (wholly) to the national approach to “meritocracy” and “citizenship”.

Regarding meritocracy, do we necessarily get motivated to do things or to work hard in order to get rewards? Isn’t this an ableist approach to try to compete in a system that says “survival of the fittest”? Wouldn’t meritocracy result in people thinking they are more deserving than others because they are more able to do something? Wouldn’t it lead to elitism, classism, arrogance and snobbishness and cause us to look down on others who  have done less or achieved less than us, or to feel inferior if we think we don’t measure up to others who have done more or achieved more than us? I would also venture to say that meritocracy can lead to repression when we feel shamed or compelled to hide our inherent human weaknesses from the society or from public view in an attempt to look good, moral and “incorruptible”.

Regarding citizenship, I understand that this concept may arise from our fundamental need to belong to something or some group or tribe. I can understand and relate to the need for belonging as it may be hardwired in our genes the moment we are born to want to have a sense of belonging. However, as much as it is a valid need to belong to a community, do we need to have a formal citizenship in order to consider ourselves as belonging to a particular nation or country? Do we as human beings only have access to basic rights such as shelter or housing, healthcare and so on only when we are considered citizens of a nation? Wouldn’t a stateless person have the same human rights as a citizen in any land or country to have access to these rights?

In essence, if a government’s definition of citizenship is borrowed or adapted from imperialism, it implies that the indigenous people usually have less rights than those who are considered citizens who conform to the system, and their indigenous lifestyle and habitats are often being infringed upon or sacrificed whenever the government wants to clear their land and resettle them in the name of “development”, on the pretext of “doing what is good for the society”.

 

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.

Posted in Freedom, Grace, Love, Meditation, Peace

Can you love the parts of yourself that you hate?

I have tried a radical experiment recently. I call it: THE EXTREME LOVE EXPERIMENT.

Whenever I have a dark thought — a “forbidden” thought, like anger, jealousy, resentment, lust, shame, contempt — I immediately say to myself, “I love the part of you, Liz, who is full of anger right now.”

or: “I love the part of you who is ashamed of yourself right now.”

or: “I love the part of you who can’t stop judging yourself right now.”

or: “I love the part of you who feels weak and helpless right now.”

or: ‘I love the part of you who just had an explicitly violent fantasy about watching that person who is talking loudly on her cellphone suddenly have her head blow up.”

or: “I love the part of you who is still having an argument in your head with a man you haven’t talked to in 15 years.”

or: “I love the part of you who broke your New Year’s resolution on January 4th.”

or: “I love the part of you who believes that she is such a spiritual hypocrite, it’s ridiculous.”

or: “I love the vain/insecure part of you who stands in front of the mirror lifting up the dangly flesh on your neck and wondering if there’s some kind of plastic surgery for that.”

or: “I love the part of you who is jealous of that other novelist for winning that big award.”

I used to try to banish all those parts of myself. Because they were BAD. They were WRONG. They were UNEVOLVED. They were NEGATIVE.

But banishing the parts of myself that I hated has never worked. The more I try to banish them, the stronger they grow. The more I hated these parts of myself, the more they multiplied. It’s like my self-hatred was fertilizer — creating a dark, warm, nourishing environment for all those “bad” thoughts and impulses to grow…and as they grew, they destroyed me.

Now I just say to the dark thought, “I love this part of you”…and the dark thought loses its power.

I understand now that I am not a SELF. I am SELVES. I am thousands of different selves — and all of them are worthy of love.

To say, “I love you,” is the only force strong enough to diffuse darkness.

And here’s the crazy thing — this habit is starting to spread out of me, and I can now do it toward others.

For instance, I now have the capacity to think: “I love the part of my husband who is constantly interrupting me. This is just his weird humanity at play.”

Followed by: “And I love the part of me who gets so freaking irritated about how my husband is constantly interrupting me.”

Followed by: “I love the part of me who doesn’t really BELIEVE that I love the part of my husband who is constantly interrupting me.”

Followed by: “I love the part of me who is saying that this EXTREME LOVE EXPERIMENT is total bullshit, and it will never work.”

Followed by: “I love the part of me who wonders if I will ever truly love myself.”

And it goes on like that. But I go on, too. I just keep throwing love at everything that comes up…until finally it all gently quiets down.

And it does all finally gently quiet down.

I love all these dark parts of myself not because they are wonderful and adorable and perfect and fantastic, but because they are THERE. My dark bits are with me and they will likely always be with me. Just as your dark parts are with you and will likely always be with you. All that is there needs to be loved.

That’s OK.

As they say: “It’s not a bug; it’s a FEATURE.”

Our humanity is not an ERROR. Our crazy thoughts are not MISTAKES. Our scary longings and giant failures and ongoing disasters are not ABERRATIONS.

This is merely what it is to be a person — messy, weird, inconsistent, doubtful. This is how we ARE, and that has to be OK, or else nobody is OK.

We are not some early Dell Computer Operating System, here to be de-bugged. We are not some new product for sale, here to be perfected. The goal is not to become an immaculate golden orb. The goal is to return to a place of kindness, where you can be gentle with yourself and others, no matter what arises. This requires, I think, a friendly sort of loving humor about who you are and who we all are. Why does the Dalai Lama have such a twinkle about him? Because he gets it. He gets that it’s kind of funny, how we are. Even when it’s terrible. The whole thing is…very, very strange. And that’s OK. It’s strange, but it’s sacred.

And I believe there no is gentler or safer place to stand on this earth than in a place where you can say to yourself, “I love every bit of you, you beautiful freak.”

The Buddha said it better, of course. The Buddha said, “You can search the whole world over and never find anyone as deserving of love as yourself.”

In other words: Be good to you, OK?

Please put down the knife you have been holding to your own throat. You don’t deserve that kind of abuse, and it won’t help.

Just try it. Try saying to your scariest bits: “I love this part of you.”

And then say it again to the next part…and the next part…and the next part…and the next part…and ONWARD.

Good luck in there.

LG

I have read this in-depth post by Elizabeth Gilbert and found it both amazingly timeless and timely – timeless because loving and accepting ourselves in the fullness of our humanity is an ongoing process for time and eternity, and timely because I have been exploring my shadow lately as I continue to delve deep into my soul to experience greater intimacy and authenticity with myself, and also with others as a result.

I realise the more we awaken to who we really are and free ourselves from expectations of society and organised religions, the more we will come to appreciate and accept ourselves completely regardless of what we do or think because we no longer measure our worth based on our actions or accomplishments or mistakes, or based on what other people think of us, or based on what we think of ourselves; instead we simply rest in the wonderful truth that we are worthy simply because we are Love, and therefore we are worthy of love every moment of our lives.

I like her suggested meditation or practice or experiment of extreme love because it is immensely practical and relatable as we all would have experienced or done or said something that society or religion or our own inner critic would frown upon at any point of time, and it is indeed vital that at that very moment we think we fall short of any kind of self-imposed or others-imposed “standard”, we can choose to love that part of ourselves that “falls short”, and it would lose its power over us, and we will indeed experience a deep sense of peace within ourselves, like taking a warm relaxing bath of endless and unfailing love.

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Survival

Desystemise myself

When I was editing an international primary English book series, I began to think about people who don’t grow up in a “typical” societal system like that of Singapore, and I realised there is a lot of “privilege” attached to the system. For example, it has become a norm for children growing up in westernised societies to expect fun and games like birthday parties (and I myself don’t celebrate birthdays this way) and beach outings with family and friends. The book series that I was editing is replete with such topics, and it is no surprise that the series was written by predominantly white privileged authors.

What if a child growing up in a “less developed” country such as in Asia, Africa or South America does not have the tradition of celebrating birthdays with presents, cakes, balloons, and so on? What if the child grows up in a difficult family environment and is unable to relate to the topics in the book that presupposes that all children have loving parents and siblings?

No doubt the topical approach adopted in the ELT (English Language Teaching) series is designed to help children learn conversational English using familiar things in life, but still, there seems to be a bit too much focus on the material side of life – food, presents, etc – and not enough emphasis on the stark reality in the world, such as poverty, unemployment, high income inequality, racism, ageism, ableism, sexism, and other systemic problems.

While there are some topics in the series that encourage children to help one another in times of need or to take care of pets, the overarching theme of the series appears to revolve around the norms of a privileged life in a modernised societal system – one that focuses mainly on the positive aspects and ignores or glosses over the sufferings of humanity. It inevitably causes children to have a skewed perspective of the world, and does not help them to deal with their inner anxieties and angst of growing up, such as being fearful of loneliness or failure, or being envious or jealous of others when they invariably compare themselves with others in terms of achievements or possessions, and so on, no thanks to the insidious influence of the educational system that encourages and perpetuates competition and “meritocracy”.

In my case, growing up in a largely smooth functioning societal system where buying things and travelling around are convenient makes life rather staid and boring. When I was a teenager, I filled my time with activities like reading, playing computer games, sports, and so on. But as I transited into adulthood, I became more and more dissatisfied with life and found it meaningless, and I struggled with identity crisis. I have a wanderlust and adventurous spirit but I could only find an outlet in mostly computer games and reading fantasy novels about might and magic, dragons and wizards.

Come to think of it, why do I seek adventures when some other children growing up in tough or challenging circumstances are usually too preoccupied with getting by day by day for survival to think about adventures? Maybe I have been misdirected myself – maybe the dragon I need to slay in real life is not some imaginary creatures depicted in popular novels and movies but the spectre of the oppressive system and discriminatory mindset that result in systemic problems in the world, and the wizard I wish to emulate is not some legendary characters in a fictional story but the inner alchemist whom I already am, and I need to tap into that inherent wisdom, power and love that is within me to be a blessing to others. I am coming to see that my mission in life is to liberate myself and others from the suffocating and stifling control of the system, and to create a better and more equitable world.

In short, I need to desystemise myself and be free.

~ ~ ~

Thus wrote the editor who is grappling with the unpleasant side of reality like a tortured soul, for facing the darkness in humanity and the system created thereof is both uncomfortable and unsettling. Come to think of it, perhaps that was why the apostle Paul wrote “O wretched man that I am – who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

Contrary to many common interpretations in the mainstream christian circles, perhaps Paul wasn’t dealing so much with that so-called fallen nature that is termed “sinful nature” of the flesh, but rather the destructive mindset or ideology that perpetuates the illusion of separateness that causes humanity to do harm to oneself and others. Sin is essentially about failing to love others as brothers and sisters because one sees oneself as separate from the others based on differences in race, ethnicity, skin colour, gender, class, nationality, worldview or belief system, and so on. The next verse – “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – is the revelation that in Christ, our true identity, we are all one and we are all interconnected (where there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, and so on), which delivers us from the Law or the destructive system (body of death) to live in Grace (the community of love and oneness).

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Identity, Love, Racism

A rebel’s definition of success

11816955_860161840737949_694980382872066434_n maya angelou

A few members of the black community have liked a particular post from Gospel of Grace and Peace Facebook page today, which is a quote on success by Maya Angelou. Come to think of it, maybe there is a reason why this quote resonates with them so much, as much as it also resonates with me. When I consider the context of how the white supremacy system has sabotaged the entire lives of Africans through slavery and oppression down through the centuries, such as uprooting their families from their Motherland during the colonial period and enforcing structural and institutional racism which makes it difficult for them to make a living, as well as propagating a narrow one-track definition of success in the name of capitalism and imperialism, I now see her quote as a revolutionary and subversive act of creative rebellion and defiance to divest oneself from the mainstream view of success by boldly declaring that “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Let’s deconstruct this amazing quote and see how it is so liberating and empowering to us who are seeking to challenge and dismantle the oppressive white supremacy system:

1. Success is liking yourself.

This is the first major step to regaining our sense of true identity and self-worth. The white-washed media has sought to devalue and dehumanise non-whites, especially the black community, by portraying white people in a positive light and casting non-white people in a less than positive light. Studies on the influence of the mass media on black children have revealed shocking but perhaps unsurprising results: they grew up hating themselves or their own skin colour. Being impressionable at a young age, it is no wonder that people in the black or non-white community grew up struggling with a sense of unworthiness and inferiority complex. It is therefore of utmost importance that we, including the black community, regain our dignity and establish ourselves in self-love and self-acceptance, and dare to shine in the full glory of our original identity.

2. Success is liking what you do.

For too long, the capitalistic and imperialistic system has been imposing their ideals on us, telling us to conform to the norms in order to be accepted or recognised. These norms tend to revolve around status, power, class, material wealth, possessions and so on. These ideals are based on an illusion of separateness and do not nourish the soul, nor do they engender compassion for oneself and others. Conversely, when we choose to listen to our heart and follow our dreams, we will find ourselves doing what we really like (and thus liking what we do), in a way that honours our spirit and the natural environment we live in. We thrive when we are empowered to express our gifts and fulfil our callings that serve to heal ourselves and the world around us.

3. Success is liking how you do it.

Similarly, the white supremacy system tends to breed many “white saviours” who want to run and control the whole world, telling others how to do what they are doing and expecting them to listen and obey and submit to them. But when we choose to think for ourselves, we will find that we need not have to follow the practices of the system, especially if they do not serve us or others or bring about the highest good. We can like what we do and how we do it, whether we are doing high-profile or low-profile work, or whether we are helping a large group of people or helping them one-on-one.

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Gender issues, Inspiration, Racism

“Karma” by Dominique Christina

Giving voice to the voiceless, in an expression of empathy and rage, a cauldron of fire and hailstorm of ice, hitting deeply into the core of humanity

Karma
by Dominique Christina

We become poets in an attempt to tether words to righteousness,
Our notebooks to social consciousness.
Sitting cross-legged and anxious in wing bat chairs, we sip lattes to news of regimes,
firing American-made artillery into crowds of folk.

Dead bodies pickled by the sun,
they line streets in countries we never think about and we
suck our teeth and ask a thesaurus to become a machete
and as romantic as pacifism is, these days I dream of dictators falling headfirst into karma and forget to be afraid.

If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.
This ain’t poetry, this is rage unabated, a verb, a means and end.
This is my body.
This is Sankofa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South-side Chicago, Compton, California. Redhook Projects in Jersey, Roosevelt Projects in Brooklyn.

This is severed hands and clubs against flesh,
black boots to pregnant bellies.
Sterilizations masked as inoculations, leg irons and chains, the bit and the noose,
this is a war-cry.
Tell ‘Massa I coming back,
carrying fire in my knapsack.
Tell him “Patrice Lumumba, Steven Biko, Fannie Lou Hamer.”
Tell him “they have been born again in me.”

Tell him, “I found my mother tongue buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center.”
Tell him, “this shit ain’t no poem, this is me, running naked from sugar cane and cotton field having dropped my crocker sac.”
Tell him, “He can call me Karma, I am refreshing the bones of a witch, a root worker, a sorcerer, a priestess, a gangster.”

Tell him, ”this is the result of segregation.“
Tell him, “this is the result of integration.”
Tell him, “I have never been invisible.”
Tell him, “He has never been invincible.”

Tell him, “I am melting the barbed wires and steel bars of prison yards, they ‘gon flow over him like lava.”
I am returned, I am blood thirsty, I am fangs, and hooks and swollen feet in welfare lines, the gauntlet thrown down.
Lines drawn in the sand.
I am apocryphal-
Historical deletions gathering themselves up into textbooks.

I am the niece of exploitation on a rice and pancake box come to collect the royalties for Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.
I am the line of smoke, a rain dance, the Tomahawk used to kill the first invader.
I am a passbook in South Africa, a Whites-only sign on a courthouse door in Mississippi,
The streets of Benghazi pocked in prayer beads and shell casings, the juxtaposition of faith and savagery.

Tell him, “I am African wide hips and American bulimia, peace symbols affixed onto assault rifles.”
It is the deepest kind of contradiction.
If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.

Tell ‘Massa “I’m coming back.
Howl in the wind I’m coming back,
Burr in your heels I coming back
‘Massa, I coming back. ‘Massa, I coming back.
‘Massa, I coming back.”

Posted in Freedom, Psychology

Stepping out of the matrix

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When we step out of the matrix of the societal system, we naturally step out of fear, oppression and the illusion of separation. Anything that causes people to feel superior over others, whether it is nationalism, competition, racism, religion or education based on so-called meritocracy and achievements, etc, is an illusion and delusion.

It is misleading somewhat to evaluate people based solely on presentation skills, public speaking skills, and so on in formal education because if someone has the passion, vision and compassion to promote ideas that liberate and empower others, they will naturally find ways and means to get their message across, regardless of how well they score in academics or how well they perform the eyes of the establishments. In addition, degrees, diplomas and doctorates do not measure a person’s character as these paper qualifications tend to denote mainly how indoctrinated and conformist they are to be accepted by the system. Rather, it is kindness that matters, as it has a lasting impact in our hearts at the end of the day.

A system or country or institution that emphasises achievements and material “success” only tends to breed the fear of “failure” and fear of being rejected or ridiculed, and as a result, it tends to limit or inhibits personal freedom, creativity, and potential to develop one’s gifts.

Posted in Freedom, Inspiration, Unity and harmony

You Are Not Alone (How to Live Your Dreams No Matter What)

Video information

The Universe Always Sends Someone!
Feel Alive by Ralph Smart. The New Book Now Available Below:
http://infinitewaters.net/books
My Website: http://infinitewaters.net

Here’s sharing this recent video message, which I find timely and timeless. Ralph Smart revisited his message about how we are not alone in not being able to fit in the society or the family because there are many kindred spirits going through similar sufferings as us, and we can take heart in knowing that in our personal retreats from the world, we are actually reconnecting with the universe within us, and experiencing the freedom to be ourselves and express who we really are 100%, knowing we are infinite beings on a human journey.

 

Posted in Equality, Freedom

Mutiny! What our love for pirates tells us about renewing the commons: Kester Brewin at TEDxExeter

I have listened to Kester Brewin’s thought provoking TED talk in which he shared that wherever we see pirates, whether sea or software or music pirates, their presence shows there is something wrong with the system, whether it is economic or political or spiritual, and pirates send a signal that what belong to the common have been taken away. Since the golden age of pirates in the early 1700s, what we see are England, Spain, France and Holland trying to build empires by invading and colonising new worlds of America (and Asia and Africa, I would add), which marked the birth of an emerging world of global capitalism, and the engine of this movement was the ship.

Kester shared that in those days, sailors were brutally treated, whipped, beaten, poorly fed, rarely paid and often injured. To be a sailor is to be close to death, hence the symbol of the skull and crossbones on pirates’ ships. Sailors turn to piracy because they were fed up with the brutal treatments they experienced at the hands of these captains. When sailors turn to piracy, they have a different mode of life, such as sharing equally among themselves the profits of their labour. Hence, piracy is an act of emancipation, stepping out from repression, in order to experience freedom and equality for all. Similarly, we all can do our parts in our community to enlarge the space to turn the agenda from purely private gain back to public benefit so that all can learn and build on the commons we share, as Kester put it.