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 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, 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 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 Equality, Identity, Inspiration, Love, Psychology

Conscious Parenting: Shefali Tsabary at TEDxSF

Video information

Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, New York. She is the author of the multi-award-winning, The Conscious Parent. Heralded as a game-changer in the parenting genre, this book turns the traditional parenting paradigms on its head and revolutionizes how we raise our families. She has been exposed to Eastern mindfulness at an early age and integrates its teachings with Western psychology. This blend of East and West allows her to reach a global audience. Her ability to appeal to both a psychologically astute and consciousness-driven audience establishes her as one of a kind in the parenting field. She lectures extensively on mindful living and conscious parenting around the world and is in private practice. She resides with her husband and daughter in New York.

“Parents, few hold a greater power or more immense responsibility. And this is why I’m here today, to propose that we occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way, with a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness, a transformed commitment. Because nothing like parenthood that needs to be at the forefront of our global consciousness. It’s the call, the linchpin that affects how our children will thrive. Everything: how they take care of themselves, each other, the earth, show compassion, tolerate differences, handle their emotions, create, invent, innovate. This is where global transformation begins. We cannot expect our children to embody an enlightened consciousness if we parents haven’t dared to model this ourselves. It all starts with us and how we parent.”

To a large extent, this observation is true, although I would add that children who did not experience conscious parenting from their own biological parents are also able to embody an enlightened consciousness when they decide to listen to their own heart and devote themselves to conscious living and philosophy as they grow up, and choose to learn from other conscious people who serve as their role models.

“You know, we don’t hurt our children because we are evil or ill-intentioned, certainly not out of a lack of love. We hurt our children for one reason only: it’s because we are hurting ourselves and we barely know it. It’s because we are unconscious, because we have inherited legacies of emotional baggage from our own parents. We’re sitting on the emotional baggage that lies dormant unconscious, waiting to be triggered at a moment’s notice. And who better to trigger us than our children? They just know the buttons to push.

Through our children, we get theatre seats, orchestra seats to the theatrics of our emotional immaturity. You know when we lose our temper with our children and believe that they’re devils and monsters, chances are it isn’t because they’re that, but because they’ve triggered an old wound within us. They’ve made us feel feelings that we don’t care to feel. They’ve made us feel powerless and out-of-control, helpless, and in order to regain a sense of supremacy, we lash out at them in reactivity. You know when we pick on our children nonstop, we nitpick at them, ‘Why aren’t you like this? Why don’t you do that? Why couldn’t you be more like her?’ chances are it’s not because they are inadequate, but because we come from a place of inner lack, and we ourselves live under the tyranny of a severe inner critic. You know when our children are disrespectful to us and cross our boundaries and we fret and fume, and commiserate with our friends about our evil children? Chances are it’s not because they’re wild and chaotic, but because we ourselves have a problem with our leadership, with consistency, with order, with handling conflict, with saying no.

You know, our children come to us whole, complete and worthy. They’re happy with two sticks, a stone and a feather. But because we’ve been conditioned so deeply in an unconscious manner, so severed from our own sense of presence, wholeness, attunement, and sense of self and whole and abundance, that we project a sense of lack onto them, and we teach them, ‘Do not depend on your sense of self for worth and value, but look outward. Look to the Ferrari, the corporate corner office, to the casino, to the pill, to the bottle, to the needle, to spouse number one, two and three, to where you live, to where you graduated from.’ Because we are severed from a sense of being, we are consumed by doing. This is how we know self value. We teach our children, ‘You can’t simply play, you must achieve. You can’t have a hobby, you must excel at it. You cannot dream, you must dream big, and why really dream if you can’t succeed?’

It’s time for us to change the spotlight, to turn it inwards, and change it from being the child who needs to be fixed, the child as the one with the problem, and parental evolution as the solution. … The time to awaken is now. The parenting paradigm needs to shift. No more the parent as the greater than, but now we need to look at our children as equal if not greater transforming agents. Our children are our awakeners, they are our teachers.

It is time for us parents to answer the call, to pause, to reflect more, to connect to our own abundance, to trust our children, to understand their brilliance, to follow their lead, to self-love, to create purpose, to enter worth, to be in gratitude. For this is how our children will absorb wholeness and abundance, fullness and spirit. And from this place, they can fly free. It is time for us parents to answer our call to our own awakening. The moment is now and our children await.”

An inspiring and impassioned speech indeed, full of insight and wisdom for conscious parenting and conscious living, which I believe will result in a greater healing of humanity and the planet. I would add that each of us can be that conscious parent because “family”, as a concept and social construct, needs not be confined to blood relations only.

Each of us has the power to be that example, that role model, for other children to learn from, so each of us – whether we have children or we are childless – can choose to awaken to who we really are intrinsically – spiritual beings on a human journey who are already whole, beloved and abundant.

We are not defined by our actions, and neither are we defined by our age nor gender. The concepts of “father”, “mother”, “son” and “daughter” are only applicable in the physical realm that are tied to gender, age and biological relations, but our true self is genderless, ageless and formless. Therefore, each of us can play the role of a father, mother, son or daughter to someone else. Just as it can be said that each of us has a divine feminine and a divine masculine side, it can also be said that each of us has a sacred call to being a parent and a child. We are all parents to someone else, and we are all children to someone else as well. This is because we are all interrelated and we are all one in the deepest essence of our beings.

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, Identity, Origin

Why things are the way they are (Musing aloud)

We live in the universe as an expression of the universe that is discovering and knowing itself.

We are the universe, and the universe is us, manifesting itself in many different forms.

Like the universe, we are in a constant state of evolving and growing and expanding.

Evolution is not so much the survival of the fittest, but more of the survival of those who are willing to adapt, grow, change and mature…

We can choose to rise in higher consciousness and thrive or shrink in fear and become stagnant…

We can choose to be not guided by fear but by love.

So there is this power structure, that is invisible but insistent.

Why then would police brutality and racial profiling continue to happen?

Why then would solar energy not be more widely used when technology is here?

It is for this reason that Jesus came to challenge the status quo, the power structure.

But why would the universe allow for this to happen?

Did we come to forget so that we can remember again?

Is the reason we harm ourselves and others because we don’t know what we are doing?

We have bought into the illusion of separation, and we must awake from it.

Yoga may be a good practice to divest ourselves from the power structure and its control thereof.

We reconnect to our divine self and not allow ourselves to be subjugated by the authorities.

Posted in Identity, Psychology

Personality tests and our multidimensionality

We are all multidimensional in the sense that most of us, if not all, are ambiverts – we are neither fully introverts nor fully extroverts, as we are usually somewhere in between the two polarities, and we may lean towards one end in some situations and towards the other end in some other situations. I think it is also true that the personality type profiles are limited because even though they may represent or match some or most of our individual traits, they may not be able to fully describe our uniqueness or represent the multidimensional aspects of ourselves. At best, the personality type profiles may help us understand ourselves in terms of why we may respond to situations differently from others in social situations, and at worst, the personality type profiles may unwittingly result in stereotyping or over-generalisation of people.

There have been situations in life in which I find myself opening up and interacting with people in social settings, and I usually tend to do that when I am comfortable with them, and sometimes it can also be easier to talk and get to know new people because in such social settings, everyone is eager to be friendly. I was googling about “infp introspective conversation” earlier on since I find myself leaning towards this particular personality type, and I found this article which I kind of resonate with on some ways INFPs can improve their social interaction skills. Like what the article says, INFPs sometimes over-scrutinise themselves and avoid small talk, and the writer suggests that sometimes small talk can be helpful when it comes to meeting new people because it can help them feel more at ease, and I agree with that in this aspect.

On the other hand I quite agree with this article that when it comes to determining between traits such as sensing and intuiting, “most people don’t fall at the extremes – they fall in the middle”. I also agree that people’s personality traits tend to change over time, so their MBTI types may change over time as well. I would add that people may respond differently to a similar situation they responded one year ago or five years ago. For example, when checking out a MBTI test earlier, I came across statements such as “You feel at ease in a crowd”, and for such questions, my answer may be “yes” in some situations, or “no” in other situations, as it depends on several factors such as the kind of crowd I am in, my general mood and disposition during that time, and so on. I agree with the conclusion in the article that “finding out my personal strengths and weaknesses is a process that can take a lifetime, and is most likely not going to be reflected in any one set of numbers from a personality test”, and such tests may only serve as a useful tool or guide so long as I am aware of their limitations.

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”

– Walt Whitman

Posted in Grace, Identity

Ethics is tied up with capitalism

I have checked out the above message by George Elerick, and I agree ethics is not something we do but rather is who we are. The performance-based concept of ethics is self-centred, which is about looking good in front of others. Yes, in this sense, ethics is tied up with capitalism because capitalism is based on self-centredness instead of other-centredness.

As he pointed out, Paul wrote that we are all one in Christ, and our identity is based on who we are in Christ and not based on how we perform. It reminds me of a blog I posted on grace and ethics, based on a blog by Peter Rollins.

Posted in Identity, Origin, Philosophy, Psychology

A purpose for our existence? Creating our own reality

I think that strictly from a scientific point of view, science neither affirms nor denies the existence of God or the afterlife. Such beliefs are ultimately subjective and cannot be proven or disproved by purely scientific methods. At the most, quantum science and biocentrism may allude to the existence and workings of the divine and the supernatural or metaphysical. After all, the divine or God is meant to be transcendental, and metaphysics is about going beyond the observable known by our five senses. We can only know and appreciate God or the divine by our intuition or inner knowing or “inner tuition” in our heart or our spirit. Some call this the sixth sense and I believe we all have it.

I believe there is no angry god to punish us for not believing in him because that idea of such a mean and egoistical god is just based on ignorance – a projection of someone’s separation mindset. Rather, we are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness, as Thich Nhat Hanh said.

Pragmatically speaking, it is healthier to believe in a purpose for our existence. I think scientists such as Albert Einstein are wise to choose to believe in a higher power or the divine even though science neither proves nor disproves the existence of God. To me, to believe in the purpose of our existence is to believe in ourselves and see ourselves as divine and beautiful, gorgeous and talented. It is true that when we see ourselves precious and successful, we will blossom and radiate and manifest our beauty in our reality. Other people and circumstances do not define us. We get to create and define our reality based on our true identity as a child of the universe. The choice is ours.