May 27, 2008
I was looking thru the dvds I have and decided to rewatch Infernal Affairs (Mou Gan Dou).
I can't help but to praise the actors and directors every time I watch it again. Andy Lau and Tony Leong especially.
Honestly I like the way the whole movie went about. And how Sammi Cheng came in about her ideas on a story. That a person has 28 characters and everyday waking up pretending to be another character all the time. I believe most of us are the same, me included. That so often we carry ourselves in a way that really isn't us. But an image that will seek approval and popularity. While many might not be agreeing on this, but my sincere observation would be that all mankind carry a mask with them, with some better than the rest.
Anyhow relooking at my own life, I've seen the drama that I used to play as well. Which I believe all human beings are part of. But I felt that it was all part of growth...part of life. And to be sincere in our lives, it takes more than just what the cool advertisement might be telling you. "Be yourself" or bla bla bla. Because the fact is that our characters are even image produced out of Hollywood, storybooks, novels, and education.
Maybe the true identity within us is not really static, and indeed life is a stage. The moment where we play our role best, where no one else can take our place. A stage of performance...a performance for the invisible AUDIENCE.
So if you ever think of someone else as hypocrite, the honest answer is that none of us are really far from that.
Just when I was writing about the mask we wore, it reminds me of a quotation from V for Vendetta.
You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.
Cheers to the director of Mou Gan Dou!!
Cheers to the actors in the movie!
Cheers for the actors and actresses of this world!
The stage is opening is curtain for my generation's scene.
May 26, 2008
Kierkegaard quoted: If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that twisting in dark passions produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything, what would life be but despair?
But then again, if life is all about despair and misery, why is it that we go on living everyday? I would think that life is beyond just that, and not denying the fact that despair and misery will not be left out of life at the end of it.
Back to the conversation of death that I was part of it and though I was keeping quiet most of the time, I realized that so much that I am absorbing through that conversation. No wonder sometimes people said it is better to keep quiet than to boast of all the knowledge that you think you have. Anyway no doubt I felt that the perspective of death from such an angle is not at all irrelevant yet I felt the perspective posted by Mitch Albom in his book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I know the book sounds Christian but really, it isn't.
And yet I must said it is one of the more neutral perspective that I learned of throughout my 7 years into spiritual and religious studies.
Well, my look at death at the moment is very much influenced by that book and not to ignore my spiritual background...Buddhism and Christianity. I need to embrace the fact that being born into a Buddhist family and how conversion took place in my family into Christianity, and how is it for me to look at conversion from a new perspective now and moving back into Buddhism...not as in being a Buddhist but learning the "Buddha way". I like it the way my friend put it, because people (christians) are so often offended by that statement by their fellow brothers. (and I still don't understand why)
Alright, I don't look at death as empty and nothing or void.
But I look at it as a moment of making sense of those that don't make sense on Earth, which is mainly what was taught in the book "THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN".
I believe it is a time where we learn how the lives of those around us are connected.
Not just people that are close to us but people that are somehow related.
It is a time where our stories on Earth are carried on in a new realm. How we share the values with those that failed to see it and how we learned from our mistakes here on Earth.
And being a Christian, how the story of Jesus could connect us with those around us, redeeming every single lives.
How to make sense of the despair and misery one must go through...
A learning process...how an ending means a beginning.
A story where God started and allowing us to be co-author of this BIG STORY, and eventually bringing into a new start, a fresh page at the start of the chapter, DEATH.
May 17, 2008
And yet one praises Abraham! The speaker might as well just sleep until the last 15 minutes before speaking, his hearer might as well sleep throughout the speech, if the whole sermon go so smoothly, without any trouble from either side. But then what about his act of murder, an attempt to murder Isaac...does not that act itself should trouble both side enough that none could even sleep without thinking of it.
But for those who chose not to even be troubled by that murder attempt, let us then just forgot about the whole Abraham story. Or if not learn how to be horrified at the monstrous paradox which is the significance of the life of Abraham. so that our time like any other, can be glad if it has faith. It is a question of seeing the greatness of Abraham's deed so that the person might judge for himself whether he has the inclination and courage to be tried in such a thing. The comic contradiction in the speaker's behaviour was that he made Abraham into something insignificance and yet would forbid any other who try carrying the same manner.
Should one perhaps not dare to speak about Abraham? I think one should. If I myself were to talk about him I would first depict the pain of the trial. For that I would suck all the fear, distress and torment that a father must go through. But if one wants to market a cut-price version of Abraham and still admonish people not to do what Abraham did, then that's just laughable.
What I intend now is to extract from the story of Abraham its dialectical element, in order to see how monstrous a paradox faith is, a paradox capable of making a murder a holy act well pleasing to God, a paradox which gives Isaac back to Abraham, which no thoughts can grasp because faith begins when the thinking leaves.
That is another thought that came in through the reading of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. It makes me realize that faith is beyond the grasp of a mind. No wonder the Bible said if one is to have faith as small as a mustard, then moving mountain is possible.
And if anyone is to stop at 'faith' and not moving beyond, I believe it is an understatement of the word itself. For faith to even start taking place, one need to grasp that paradox in the story of Abraham...making one sleepless and restless by all means. And if fear and trembling has not been part of it, it is indeed not even the starting of faith.
And if one is to say that paganism has no faith, it is also the misunderstanding of what the word "faith" carries. Jesus has shown the world a paradox of love. Abraham was the only man in the Bible that carry "faith" in its' most meaningful way. Without that story, it is impossible to grasp faith and yet that story cannot be presented in a light manner, because without even the fear, distress and despair through the reading of this story, one is only simply replacing "Isaac" with "best" in the most irrelevant manner.
May 15, 2008
Anyway, I just thought of leaving behind something interesting I read in the book today before I forgot.
Faith is therefore no aesthetic emotion, but something far higher, exactly because it presupposes resignation; it is not the immediate inclination of the heart but the paradox of existence. Thus that a young girl in the face of all difficulties rests assured that her desire will be fulfilled in no way means that her certainty is that of faith, even if she has been brought up by Christian family, and perharps one who always consult the pastors. She is convinced in all her childlike simplicity and innocence. This assurance too ennobles her nature and gives her a preternatural dimension, so that like a worker of wonders she can charm the finite power of existence and make even stones weep, while the other in her distraction she can just as well run to Herod as to Pilate and move the whole world with her pleas. Her conviction is ever so lovable, and one can learn much from her, but one thing one does not learn from her, how to make movements. Her certainty does not dare look the impossibility in the eye in the pain of resignation. I can see then that it require strength and energy and freedom of spirit to make the infinite movement of resignation; I can also see that it can be done.
There are a lot of other explanation before these statement. I believe that through this reading, I've learned to see that faith is not about just believing and believing. But more than that...beyond that. A giant leap of faith...that according to what Kierkegaard said.
May 14, 2008
Well, anyway the usual story line, talking about Knights Templar and the hidden mystery and treasure...bla bla bla....haha! It was not really the story that impress me but the conclusion of the book that made me post it here.
THE TESTIMONY OF SIMON
I have stayed silent, thinking it is better for others to preserve a record. Yet none has come forward. So this has been written so that you will know what happened.
The man Jesus spent many years spreading his message throughout the land of Judea and Galilee. I was the first of his followers, but our number grew since many believed his words possessed great meaning. We traveled with him, watching as he eased suffering, brought hope and stirred salvation. He was always himself no matter the day or event. If the masses lauded him, he faced them. When hostility surrounded him, he showed no rage or fear. What others thought of him, said or did never affected him. He said once, " All of us bear God's image. All of us are worthy to be loved. All can grow in the spirit of God.".......................................................But in his travels that man Jesus made enemies. The elders find him a threat.....so it happened that Jesus was arrested for blasphemy and Pilate decreed that he should ascend the cross. I was there day and Pilate drew no joy from the decision, but the elders demanded justice and Pilate could not deny them. In Jerusalem, Jesus and six others were taken to a place on the hill and bound by thongs to the cross....the man Jesus was allowed to linger until the third, when his legs were finally broken. I, and the others who followed him, hid away, afraid that we might be next........our grief continue to torment us. The man Jesus was gone. His voice was silent. The elders survived and their message lived. Not because they were right. But simply because they were living and still speaking. The elders had triumphed over Jesus. But how could something so good be wrong? Why would God allowed such good to disappear? Summer ended and the feast of Tabernacle came, which was a time to celebrate the joy of harvest. We thought it safe to travel to Jerusalem and take part. Once there, during the procession to the altar, it was read from the Psalms that the Messiah shall not die, but shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord. One of the elders proclaimed that though the Lord has chastened the Messiah sorely, He has not given over him over death. But rather the stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. In the Temple, we listened to readings from Zechariah, which told that one day the Lord would come and living water would flow from Jerusalem and the Lord would become king over all the earth.......The high priests and scribes had judged the man Jesus a fraud. But I knew they were wrong. God did not require obedience to ancient laws in order to achieve salvation. God's love was boundless. The man Jesus had many times said that, and in accepting his death with great courage and dignity, the man Jesus had given us a final lesson. In ending life, we find life. Loving is to be loved. All doubt left me. Grief vanished. Confusion became clarity. The man Jesus was not dead. He was alive. Resurrected within me was the risen Lord. I felt his presence as clear as he once stood beside me. I recalled what he said to me many times. "Simon, if you love me you will find my sheep."
There were parts that I canceled in this chapter...on the confession of Simon Peter, the first disciple of Jesus. The book showed how the characters eventually manage to find the tomb of Jesus. My question is this: "What if Jesus was not here to even prove of his resurrection as a sign of power?"
I knew of many Christians who talk about the fundamental truths....truths that cannot be challenged. And yet I believe it was these very same mentality that lead the Pharisees and the Scribes to persecute the Son of God. Posting this in my blog seems like saying I no longer believe in the resurrection. But all I ever wanted to say through this chapter of the book is that the Biblical story is not about the salvation through faith alone.
I believe it is beyond the Easter story, the Good Friday celebration or even Christmas. No doubt all these celebration in a way helps us to refocus on our faith but let us not fight for the wrong cause but to be able to see beyond the idealistic stories.
I like the way the author put it at the end of the story about the Christian story...making the unbelievable believable. In no way am I denouncing my own faith but a sincere reflection of how poor we have in dealing with disagreement from others over the Jesus story, particularly the Resurrection story.
Okay, enough of the faith stories.....I just wanted to add a posting here to my friends, close buddies especially. Lately, I've been really busy...working (teaching in school and private tuition.) To be honest, I missed the many celebrations that I've been hearing from my friends. Alicia, sorry bout your birthday party. I wish to be there just to say Happy Birthday.
And then there was other times that I have to reject my friends invitation for outings.
Probably some people look at this lifestyle as materialistic but to be honest, money has not yet been my primary objective and I made no attempt to make it be my number 1 priority. But it is just the process of growing up has allowed me to know that it is time for me to be responsible over decisions I made...and to ease the burden from my parents. It is time to be looking at the choices I once made and work towards it....not looking for successful stories but to be able to see the ending of my choice.
My time-table now...erm...morning....wake up at 6.00 a.m...go school, leave school at 1.40. Most days I would be in my grandma's place and then teaching tuition for average about 4 hours a day. Of course there are days I get to off...where I go home and started reading and blogging...and other necessary duties at home. Weekends...mostly spend time with family, girlfriend, meet up with one or two friends plus tuition.
Well, I hope to be able to go through these times and still be a blessing and part of the lives of those around me.
May 11, 2008
Anyway, I am enjoying the relationship I have with some of the students....especially those from 4Sc6. Of course, the art class students are funny as well but some are kinda rebellion and noisy. Anyway I enjoyed the process of learning with the students together. I was telling my students to speak to me in English as I could not speak to them in Mandarin...I'm a BANANA...loL!
Well, the students understand that although some of them are very weak in English as well. So I told them that they could speak to me in English and Cantonese...but Cantonese only when no other teachers are around....haha! (Chinese school don't allow the students to speak Cantonese)
The other day while I was looking for materials to teach English, I was really fed up with the teachers as none of them really assist me. Finally I have to opt to use my own materials...(the system is not good, no wonder the students don't really like the teachers)
I met some of my friends in Sam Tet again...Adrian Ewe, Gavin and Ryan. Not bad as I taught some of their classes. Anyway I even gave away my email address to the 4Sc6 students. Well, they were great and though noisy and lazy at times, I felt that these students are students full of energy and life.
I was thinking about the title for this post and about to put it as a BANANA life in Sam Tet but I realized that what the heck! I should stop categorizing people...these new found experience in Sam Tet is really teaching me to value and embrace the differences and weakness of another living being.
Well, I still have about a month to go in Sam Tet....I'll be looking forward to entering those classes. (although it is kinda tiring as waking up at 6 am all the way to night bout 12 is no easy work)
Okay...enough of the first week experience as a teacher.
I was in church today when some of the old songs that I used to love to sing was sung....LORD LIGHT A FIRE AGAIN.
OMG! This time I sing with a different perspectives in my mind. Anyway I was thinking about the perspective of VICTORY, GOODNESS, BLESSINGS, RICH and RIGHTEOUSNESS.
I sent a message to two friends that day saying that in order to be rich, it is really difficult to be good. I still think that being rich is important and yet, I felt the more important thing to ask is what is it that I would give up in order to achieve this dream.
Will I look at others as NONE of MY BUSINESS??
I talked about being the disciples of God and I believe it is important to see how the picture of GOODNESS, BLESSING and VICTORY in the lives of Jesus. I must said that probably if we were to really walk the way of Jesus, we would not be able to live a single day and yet despite of that failure, God is using mankind over the many many years.
I was feeling rather disgusted at the way some people prayed:
Lord God...I prayed that Lord God you will Lord God bless this family and that Lord God....
Did you talk to your friend or someone above you that way...
Example: Kian Hin, could you please Hin Kian borrow the book for Kian Hin me during the examination....
No! Real conversation don't come in such a way...the same goes with prayer.
It is rather fake that kind of prayer...so stop being religious but being earnest about this whole "relationship with God" kind of concept. I am not seeing the picture of LOVE in a clear and very certain way but yet I felt this is the time to be asking GOD to light a fire again in us. Not a fire to kill, or to go to war, or to be religious but the fire that help us see what it means to be His children.
Guess so much more questions are left unanswered....hahaha! which is why we are all on a journey, never a destination til the day we said GOODBYE to this Earth. Probably it would do good for us to sit back and have a cup of coffee while some conversations so that we would see the whole meaning of life in a better perspective.
May 07, 2008
Anyway here are some of the experiences in Sam Tet.
When I was first in the school, I was made to sit in the library (poor me!) Anyway it was here that I realized heck! My English is darn good. No offence but I guess the Form 6 students in Sam Tet need to focus on their English. Anyway I'm always bias when it comes to school.
Nevertheless, I met a good teacher...only manage to know her surname...Mrs Lee. A history teacher and coincidentally she knew of my previous History teacher in St. Michael, Puan Hing.
Well, I am glad for her as really, it's hard to click with teachers...as in a friendly way.
As for the students, I only replace 2 teachers today and I am enjoying the relationship I have with these bunch of students. Hopefully through this new atmosphere and platform, I will learn more.
May 05, 2008
Lately been reading about the shortage of food globally. Well, before we could even solve the problems with oil, another crisis emerge and this time is the food crisis.
On Sunday, Pastor Bernard Teh spoke about the "financial tsunami", "spiritual tsunami" is happening and that God will bless those who obeys and believes Him. I was not at all against the statement but then again, it offended me to hear such statements.
The world is in a lot of troubles...shouldn't it be time to stand up and lend a hand. To contribute solutions and not taking advantage of such incident. A God of Love being preached in such a way only showed the hypocrisy in the lives of those who claim to be servant of God.
GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS
It is the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities.
Millions more of the world's most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards.
And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.
More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world'', according to WFP officials.
At the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that rising prices have triggered a food crisis in 36 countries, all of which will need extra help. The threat of malnutrition is the world's forgotten problem'', says the World Bank as it demands urgent action.
The bank points out that global food prices have risen by 75% since 2000, while wheat prices have increased by 200%. The cost of other staples such as rice and soya bean have also hit record highs, while corn is at its most expensive in 12 years.
The increasing cost of grains is also pushing up the price of meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. And there is every likelihood prices will continue their relentless rise, according to expert predictions by the UN and developed countries.
High prices have already prompted a string of food protests around the world, with tortilla riots in Mexico, disputes over food rationing in West Bengal and protests over grain prices in Senegal, Mauritania and other parts of Africa. In Yemen, children have marched to highlight their hunger, while in London last week hundreds of pig farmers protested outside Downing Street.
If prices keep rising, more and more people around the globe will be unable to afford the food they need to stay alive, and without help they will become desperate. More food riots will flare up, governments will totter and millions could die.
Food scarcity means a big increase in the number of people going hungry,'' says the WFP's Greg Barrow. Without doubt, we are passing through a difficult period for the world's hungry poor.'' The WFP estimates it needs an additional $500 million to keep feeding the 73 million people in Africa, Asia and central America who require its help. We need extra money by the middle of 2008 so we don't have to reduce rations,'' says Barrow.
He also points out that age-old patterns of famine are changing. "We are feeding communities of people we didn't expect to feed," he explains.
As well as being rural, the profile of the new hungry poor is also urban, which is new. There is food available in the markets and shops - it's just that these people can't afford to buy it. This is the new face of hunger.'' The food shortages will also affect western industrialised nations such as Scotland, Barrow says. Scarcity means that some foods will get very expensive, or disappear from supermarkets altogether, meaning a move to seasonal, indigenous vegetables.'' Of the 36 countries named last month as currently facing a food crisis, 21 are in Africa. Lesotho and Swaziland have been afflicted by droughts, Sierra Leone lacks widespread access to food markets because of low incomes and high prices, and Ghana, Kenya and Chad among others are enduring "severe localised food insecurity".
In India last year, more than 25,000 farmers took their own lives, driven to despair by grain shortages and farming debts. "The spectre of food grain imports stares India in the face as agricultural growth plunges to an all-time low," warns India Today magazine.
Why are we growing food to feed cars instead of people?
The global drive for a new green fuel to power cars, lorries and planes is worsening world food shortages and threatening to make billions go hungry. Biofuels, enthusiastically backed by the US, UK and other European governments, have been sold as the solution to global warming. Making fuels from growing crops has been marketed as the way to cut climate pollution while continuing to drive.
But now experts are warning that this could all be a disastrous mistake. Converting large amounts of land to crops for biofuels is reducing food production just when the world needs to increase it.
Last year a quarter of the US maize crop was turned into ethanol to fuel vehicles - and the US supplies more than 60% of the world's maize exports. According to the World Bank, this is putting pressure on countries' precarious food supplies.
"The biofuels surge makes things worse by adding high demand on top of already high prices and low stocks," said one of the bank's leading economists, Don Mitchell. "Ethanol and biodiesel produced in the US and European Union don't appear to be delivering on green promises either, making them very controversial."
There are plans by more than 20 countries to boost production of biofuels over the next decade. The US is talking about trebling maize production for ethanol, while the European Union is aiming to make biofuels 10% of all transport fuels by 2020.
The dash for biofuels came under fire last week from the UK government's newly appointed chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington. In a speech in London on Thursday, he said that world food prices had already suffered a "major shock" as a result.
Biofuels were often unsustainable, he argued. "It's very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food."
Some of the proposed biofuels schemes were "hopeless", warned Beddington, formerly professor of applied population biology at Imperial College, London. "The idea that you cut down rainforest to actually grow biofuels seems profoundly stupid."
The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, has also weighed into the attack on biofuels. "They are not a panacea," he told the National Farmers' Union last month. "Unless they are truly sustainable, they may well harm the environment more than protect it."
Like environmentalists and organic food experts, Cameron latched on to one of the most telling statistics highlighting the competition between food and fuel. "You could feed a person for a whole year from the grain that produces just one tank of fuel for a sports utility vehicle (SUV)," he said.
The same figure was used by Robin Maynard, from the Soil Association, which certifies organic food. "The US currently grows one-sixth of its grain harvest for cars, which is madness," he told the Sunday Herald.
"It is perfectly possible for the world to feed itself, but it depends on how we are growing food. If we continue to grow crops to feed cars rather than people, we're in trouble."A need for the global community to be active participation of such crisis
We no longer can just depend on the leaders to do their jobs and go about our daily lives as if the crisis does not concern us. This is a world that belongs to each of us and it is only rational to see it as our responsibility to be part of all these crisis.
I've been reading on this issue lately. Here is one of the link on HOW TO END THE GLOBAL FOOD SHORTAGE.
May 03, 2008
I remembered how I first went to church and how perspectives change for me from then on. How minor things can be of such significance in one's life. And how most of us think of our world as the central of everything and yet, it really could be just a small part.
I am beginning to look at this life as a movie. None of us are big enough to be cast as the main actor/actress. We are only minor characters, small parts of a BIG PROJECT. Which none of us know what the heck it is for.
Probably the more important thing is to grasp the connection between creations.
One story linking to the other...how impossible to see it from naked eyes.
How complication link to simplicity....don't really know how to put what is inside at the moment into words. Depressed in some ways....sad in certain point...joyous in other stories...and yet all of these are just a small part. A small part...
May 01, 2008
I have met a lot of people who are doing good works for them to feel some sense of purpose. And no doubt about that, almost everyone eventually have their own agenda. Be it in terms of social network, a good reputation, earning profit or etc.
And even when I am saying all these, I might just be the same.
A sense of purpose is what gives meaning to life.
I look at my own life and I wonder what is that sense of purpose?
I was very active in church in my Youth and in the Christian community, most people aim to "convert people" and "service to God in church" is probably what gives meaning to those people. From prayer meeting, youth meeting, evangelism programme, outreach programme, church carol, worship team to leadership meeting...I was involved in all of these and most people are there because they felt that they are doing something good for God. And that makes them feel good. I read Kei Fai's blog yesterday and I must agreed with him that most Christians will not admit that it was church involvement that deprive them of their time with studies and to a certain extend, even with the family.
I hope that my readers will not think of me as anti-Christians nor a pro-Christians because I am neither. I am a Christian. I still go to church because it is this community that I started this whole faith thing. And yup, it makes sense to me still although not entirely. The other day, Addie was asking me where did I get my strength to still be going church and seriously, it is not that tiring when I realized that it is a time that I worship God in a Christian culture with my family members as well as the people that I might disagree with.
Probably it was the grace that a good friend (Liang Hin) once shown to me that teach me about grace.
I only hope that a genuine dialogue would be started among people of different ideas and perspectives and what the heck! There is not a need to get a great answers. Even people that have a lot in common might have a lot of differences if more time is spent on talking about those differences. And lately, I'm beginning to enjoy listening to those "other thoughts".
Well, of course I must admit that I couldn't tahan people who think they're right all the time although at times I might be behaving the same way....hypocrite? Yup! I guess we are all hypocrites to a certain extend. And here is where grace comes in to me. Anyway I'm enjoying the way I live my life now....a sense of purpose? I'm totally feeling it with the people around me and yah...there were times that I was hoping to have my own time but then again, when I was down, it was these very people that cheer me up once more.
Thank God for family members!
Thank God for friends!