"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." (Matthew 11:28, Message)

Category Archives: Identity

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

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.

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.

I would say it depends on which part of my journey I am answering this question. If this question were to be asked, say, 5 or 6 years ago when I was still following the mainstream christian religion and attending church services, I might think twice about saying I don’t believe in God because of the fear-based church teachings. But at this point of my life, I would say I am not afraid to be an atheist, in the sense that I don’t really see any need to label myself based on what I believe. I think labelling is probably more for the sake of convenience when people were to categorise me, such as in a conversation or when filling up a form to declare my religion. Other than that, I would see myself as a human being, or spiritual being on a human journey. If someone were to classify me as an atheist, I am ok with that. In actuality, my beliefs change every day, if not within a day itself, from atheism to christianity to buddhism and back to atheism, so given my ever changing beliefs, it can be hard to pinpoint at which moment of my life that I am an atheist, so to speak.

This is honestly where I stand because I believe we are multi-dimensional beings and there are grey areas regarding what each of us actually believes in. In fact, the word “atheism” is hardly used in my growing up years, and the closest word to it is “free thinker”. So I would consider myself as a free thinker, as I am free to choose which aspects of a particular religion or belief system to subscribe to, without wholly subscribing to that particular religion or belief system. Perhaps the word “atheism” is more commonly used in America and Europe, which may be seen as a stance against religions. I like reading materials that are open to possibilities and invite the readers to think for themselves on the various perspectives of looking at things/life/God/divine, such as Rob Bell’s new book “What we talk about when we talk about God”.

It is liberating for me to remain a free thinker. Sometimes I would like to see myself as a mystic, having a sense of awe and wonder about the mysterious. Maybe each of us has that childlike wonder within us. For example, there is something inspiring about Nature – the trees, the flowers, the clouds, the stars – when I pay attention to it and allow a sense of awe and wonder to arise in me. It happens to me spontaneously and is not something that I must do, otherwise it can become another form of religion filled with rules and regulations.

“The Lamps are different, but the Light is the same.” ~ Rumi


Video information

Do you want to show up in the world with more of your true values and gifts, connecting with others in authentic ways? Hear from our founder, Parker J. Palmer, in this short introduction to the vision of the Courage & Renewal approach. Parker talks about how as human beings we are born whole, integral, with no distinction between what’s going on inside of us and what’s going on outside. As adults we may ask, “Whatever happened to me? How did I lose that capacity to be here as I really am?” We have to find a way to build a bridge between our identity and integrity as adults and the work that we do in the world.

Parker Palmer’s views in the video mostly resonate with me. I agree we are all born with an innate sense of natural integrity and genuinity as we can see that babies and toddlers spontaneously express their feelings – one moment happiness, another moment anger – without inhibitions or fears, hence it can be refreshing to see their realness, innocence and guilelessness.

It is true that as we grow up in our society, we all tend to learn in schools and so on that it is not safe to be in a world that may not accept us when we are true to who we are or when we express our true feelings sometimes or else we may get marginalised. So it becomes a learned process whereby we have to tone down or not show some aspects of our identity or thoughts for fear that something bad might happen, and only present aspects of our identity and thoughts that are acceptable to the world.

I suppose to some extent, it depends on social contexts and cultures – in some contexts or cultures, it is appropriate to follow certain protocols when it comes to dressing or eating or speaking, etc, which may be different in some other contexts or cultures. But apart from these practical considerations, there is a real need for people to find and experience freedom to be ourselves, so that we can live a full life, preferably to a ripe old age, without regret that we have not been true to ourselves before.

Like what he said, there comes a point in time when a lot of people would find that living a divided life becomes a source of pain, and hence we need to find ways to build a bridge between our identity and integrity, so that regardless of our vocations in life, we will live a more fulfilled and satisfying life, being more confident of who we are, and accepting our joys and sorrows and our triumphs and sufferings. I believe people intuitively connect more deeply with those who are true to themselves as they can relate to and be inspired by the way they live their life authentically.

On 12 March 2013, I went to watch the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful” with my colleagues. It has been about a couple of years since I last watched a movie. For some reasons, I didn’t enjoy watching this movie. As a matter of fact, I hardly watch movies nowadays, compared to, say, 20 years ago when I was a teenager. Maybe I have grown up somewhat, and my perspective of life has changed. I still appreciate good, thought-provoking and meaningful movies, which are perhaps few and far between. I also appreciate documentary-movies such as “Zeitgeist: The Movie”, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and “The Living Planet” as these are insightful and interesting, reminding us that we are all equal and we are all connected in the universe and there is more to what we see in the physical world.

“We are here to awake from the illusion of separateness”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

So, when I watched the movie “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, I felt that the whole premise of the story presentation didn’t quite sit well with me because it appeared to be based on classism, colonialism, imperialism, moralism, monarchy, hierarchical mindset, racial supremacy, and a dualistic mindset of good and evil. With due respect to the actors and actresses who have by and large done fairly well for their respective roles, and I do love fantasy stories that are filled with charm, magic, wonder and adventure, what struck a dissonant chord in me is that somehow the movie came across as a shallow fantasy movie based on racial stereotypes and superficial appearances.

For the past few days, I have been wondering whether I am being overly critical and sensitive to have such an unconventional view of the movie because it seems that the movie is generally well received by the masses in terms of box office figures. So, I decided to google the movie title and add “racism” as a key word, and I am somewhat heartened to know that I am not alone in detecting undertones of racial superiority and discrimination in the movie.

For example, one article noted that “Oz: The Great and Powerful, is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum. Baum was a white supremacist; a flaming racist who called for the extermination of all American Indians.”

Another reviewer wrote:

“I would like to think, as a society, we are beyond such childish and outdated tropes. I wanted Oz the Great and Powerful to take me back to the original movie, not the original time period in which it was released. This movie is damaging. Perhaps I’m over thinking it and taking it too seriously, but this is what we need to start thinking about when watching films, especially films aimed at children. What stereotypes are reinforced? What agenda is being pushed? Even if it’s not intentional, I think it’s high time we embark into a new era of films made for children, one in which expired ways of life and existence aren’t the norm. We should be challenging kids to think harder, imagine deeper and progress at a slightly faster pace. I’m sick of boring. I’m sick of mind numbing nonsense. You should be too. Oz the Great and Powerful is hindering progress with silly messages, racist stereotypes and sexist gender roles.”

(“Oz the Great and Powerful” Movie Review by Justin Taroli)

Yes, we need progressive movies, not retrogressive ones. As the world becomes more globalised and we are awakening to our oneness and interconnectedness, we need to find new ways to express art and entertainment that are not based on stereotypes and discrimination but rather diversity and equality.


ocean (Photo credit: Stephen Edgar – Netweb)

“All of us are made of the ‘same stuff’, having evolved from the same First Source. To use an analogy: When the ocean first appeared, and then expanded, it was not created as something other than its drops. A drop of the ocean is the same as the ocean. It is the ocean, in smaller form. No single drop is other than the ocean. All the drops of the ocean are One Thing: THE OCEAN.

It would not, therefore, be inaccurate for one drop of the ocean to say to another drop: ‘We Are All One’. The second drop would simply say, ‘Of course we are. Just because we have been singularized does not mean we are other than each other, nor are we other than that of which we are a singularization. We are all the same thing, The Ocean, in singular form.’

This is also true about human beings. We are all the Same Thing, simply individuated. We are not separate from That From Which We Have Emerged, nor are we ‘other than’ each other.”

(From “The Only Thing that Matters: Book 2 in the Conversations with Humanity Series” by Neale Donald Walsch)

“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.” ~Unknown

I find this a simple yet profound quote. From my understanding, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment with confidence that love is our present reality in the here and now where there is no more regret of the past or fear of the future.

It is like coming home to the Father within us who loves us and embraces us, according to Jesus’ parable of the lost son. Whether it is the younger son (who may symbolise the regret of the past) or the older son (who may symbolise the fear of the future), both are equally beloved and precious children of the Father, who is our highest self.

Like the Father in the parable, we can welcome and embrace our lost self (younger son) back into our true home who was wounded in the past and comfort our long lost inner child within us. We can also comfort and assure our ego (older son) that all we have belong to him and all he needs to do is simply to enjoy the present moment instead of trying to work so hard to earn rewards in the future. The present moment is our true home where all the riches are and where we can enjoy the wonders of life.

“The Buddha said, ‘You have to make the present moment into the most wonderful moment of your life.’ This is possible. If we are able to go home to the present moment, to the here and the now, and become fully alive, fully present, we can touch all the wonders of life that are within ourselves and around us. Everything belonging to us is a wonder: our eyes, our nose, our body, and our mind. It is only because of the tension in our body and mind that we do not notice it.

Our true home is right here, but sometimes we can’t find it because it’s hidden by the tension and pain in our bodies and minds. If only we know how to relax, we can release the tension, open up our mind and body, and let the energy of mindfulness bring a relief to our pain and suffering. We don’t have to do much. We just bring our mind back to our body to become fully present in the here and now and allow our body to be there, to receive the energy.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh (From “Together We Are One”)


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