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The other scenario

January.28. 2019

Or consider this other scenario from another hypothetical blockbuster movie.

A movie set in a world of mountains and plains, rivers and valleys, and blue seas and oceans.

A world where creatures large and small roam the earth, where birds fly in the sky and fishes swim in the rivers and seas.

A world where day turns into night and back into day and into night again, and so forth, with clockwork regularity.

Day is when a fiery globe ascends into the sky and fills the world below it with light.

And night is when everything turns dark with magical pin-prick lights flickering in the dark skies with sometimes, a pale globe casting a ghostly light on everything.

It’s a world filled with magic and calamitous events.

One minute, there would be peace and quiet.

The next, the world would seem to be ripped apart and everything turned upside down. There’s rain and hail and huge explosions in the sky accompanied with crazy streaks of light.

Or sometimes the ground itself would shake and split open or sometimes the mountains would erupt and rain down fire and smoke.

In this world, high in the sky, in a place called heaven, lives a superbeing and with him, winged creatures and the souls of the good departed.

And deep underneath the ground, where molten rocks and smoke reside is the other place where the evil one, the enemy lives with the bad departed.

It’s a simple three-tiered flat world, with the earth in the middle, a sky/heaven above and a hell below.

This world is the entire universe.

It is the center of everything.

No other worlds exist.

But how did this universe come into being?

It’s all the handiwork of the superbeing, also known as God.

From a place where only darkness ruled over the surface of the deep, God decided to create light, and land, and water, and he filled the new world with living things.

Well, you know the rest of the story.

In this scenario, the story makes perfect sense.

It makes perfect sense that it was all created by a superbeing, a superbeing who still watches over us from heaven. (And even sent his son to come down from heaven to die a gruesome death so that we can be ‘saved.’)

And looking up into the blue sky, it makes perfect sense that this is where the superbeing resides, with all his other creations, winged angels and the souls of the good departed.

And deep underground with the molten rocks, it makes perfect sense that this is where the enemy lives and where the souls of the evil ones are tormented by a fire that never goes out.

Yes, the story itself makes perfect sense in this self-enclosed snow-globe world/universe.

Only trouble is, it doesn’t exist.

It became obsoleted when we discovered that the world is not flat.

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Swamp master

August.5. 2018

It looks like the endgame is close at hand for my favorite no-collusion guy on Twitter.

And as I said before, he’ll regret he ever decided to star in the greatest reality show on earth.

Sure, the adulation of the crowds, the constant coverage of the press, being at the center of attention wherever you go–all that may make it all seem very worthwhile, until Mr Müller comes calling.

All very sad, especially since I liked the message.

For a while I even liked the messenger.

Until his true colors started showing and I realized it’s all a sham, a big con. The man who would drain the swamp is the greatest swamp master of all.

Sad.

A brief history of God

April.22. 2018

One of the greatest myths out there is that man was created in the image of God.

On the contrary, the reverse is true, man creates God in his image.

Our concept of God is a direct reflection of who we are.

When we lived in caves and our understanding of the universe was limited, we saw god in every natural phenomena. There was the god of thunder, the god of the sea, the sun god.

Even the Greeks, enlightened as they were, still viewed the natural world in terms of these gods.

How many people still believe that the sun is God?

Then the concept of the one god arose.

But this was a jealous God, one who constantly intervened in human affairs. A God who chose one group of people over others. A God who would ask a father to kill his own son to prove his obedience.

No doubt still primitive, but the basic principles were laid in place for the next development.

And this came in a special teacher.

A teacher who taught about loving your fellow men. Gone was the jealous God, in its place was a loving Father

Instead of teaching blind obedience, he taught personal freedom and achieving one’s full potential.

He distinguished between the spiritual world and the physical world.

Give back to the physical world what belongs to the physical world and to the spiritual what belongs to the spiritual.

But after his death, somewhere along the line, like so many other great teachers before him, his teachings were hijacked by bureaucrats and opportunists.

Instead of expanding on his enlightened message of self empowerment, they embellished and encrusted it with fantastical scenarios.

What does the 1000 year earthly reign have to do with the lesson of the Good Samaritan, or the prodigal son?

What do all these elaborate rituals and gestures of supplication have to do with loving your neighbor?

The guy who preached against the phony piousness of the Pharisees of his time has become the head of a whole new order of equally phony ‘Pharisees.’

In the hands of these hijackers, God became a king, a monarch, a lord. Kind of like the kings of the time, who used to control their subjects with an iron fist.

Their basic agenda is all about enslavement.

Words like infallibility, obedience—all code words to make sure you don’t think.

And if you would attempt to think, beware of the eternal fire awaiting you, and if this still doesn’t scare you enough, well, your pride will bring you down.

So what’s next?

Hard to say, but one can conjecture that just as the ancient gods of natural phenomena were eventually supplanted by the one God, and this one jealous God replaced by a loving Father, the next phase is probably going to move beyond God as a being.

When you look at the known universe today, it’s hard to reconcile that with the idea of a lone Being out there that’s constantly intervening in the trivial affairs of the inhabitants of a small planet that lies on the fringe of a galaxy that’s just one among countless other galaxies.

(At least that’s our level of understanding right now, obviously to be superseded in the future.)

You might say it’s as implausible as the old bearded guy on the North Pole.

As implausible as an alternate world that exists in Middle Earth.

As implausible as all the goblins and angels and devils that populate the minds of people with overly fertile imaginations.

One thing for sure, the new concept of God is going to be in the spiritual realm.

No more physical hell fires (in this sense the Holy Father is ahead of his time), no more angels serenading you if you’re lucky to escape eternal damnation, no more resurrection as an eternal and very physical being.

It is possible this concept of God will be supplanted by even more enlightened ones in the future.

For now, however, it’s one that makes the most sense.

Ironically, if you were to peel back the layers of metaphors in the teachings of the aforementioned great teacher, you would find that he was already trying to explain this new God two thousand years ago.

A deeper root

December.12. 2016

It’s hard to see the human tragedy unfolding in that ancient city, and the nightly scenes of carnage (that keep newspeople gainfully employed).

You can say the conflict is geopolitical or sectarian in nature.

But I see a deeper root.

It comes down to hate (and the one religion that preaches hate rather than love. Why else do you think were they dancing in the streets when the towers fell?)

Hate is an insidious thing.

It grows on you quietly, fed by the people who would use it to control you.

And once it gains a hold on you, you have to keep on feeding it.

And if you run out of food for it to feed on, it turns inwards and starts feeding on you.

That’s the story behind the story of all those ruined buildings and shattered and lost lives.

The hate that was created and directed at the rest of the world, has turned inwards and started feeding on its hosts.

The ultimate irony.

The hapless people caught in the crossfire trying to find refuge in the lands of the very people they’ve been taught to hate.

Of course, they bring with them the legacy of hate and blame and violence that their religion has taught them and which is largely responsible for their present predicament.

As they say, human nature is perverse–people tend to bite the hands that feed them.

But they also say love conquers all.

We’ll see which one rings more true here.

The autumn of our discontent

November.8. 2016

It’s leaving the establishment in shock, aghast. Lots of hand wringing.

How could this happen?

Well, you’ll have to ask Bernie that question.

Through various underhand tactics, the establishment managed to propel their chosen candidate through the system, leaving him out in the cold.

And now when it looks like their chosen candidate is not doing too well, they’re asking how all this could happen.

As Abe said, you can fool some of the people all of the time and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

Looks like a revolution is sweeping the world.

The rallying cry, throw out the crooks and the dealmakers.

Bring some integrity and sanity back into the system.

Going to the polls this morning, I felt like an orphaned child without old Bernie.

So I voted for the next best candidate, no prize for guessing who it is.

They say that America’s getting their own Berlusconi.

I respectfully disagree, more like Duterte.

You tell me

October.21. 2016

Speaking of words and actions, it’s quite fashionable these days in some parts of the world to call a certain country the ‘Great Satan.’

And I do agree to a point.

There’re many things in that country that will merit that description.

But when Ebola strikes in some distant corner of the world, who are the ones who go (at great risk to their personal well-being) to help combat the outbreaks?

Funny, I don’t hear of any great martyrs from one particular holy land volunteering to go and help.

But I do hear of volunteers from the ‘Great Satan.’ (with volunteers from other  ‘Satans’)

Very satanic–risking your life to help your fellow human beings fight a deadly scourge.

Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed holy men are out in droves, on a mission to get to paradise where they hear, a few dozen virgins are patiently waiting for them.

So who’s the Great Satan?

You tell me.

The paradox of l energy

July.13. 2015

You’re probably saying, “Now wait a minute, didn’t you say that a love-energy filled life is effortless?

So what’s this about having to put in effort to spread its energy around?”

That’s the paradox about the energy of love.

It’s no effort at all if that energy comes from the heart, but if you have to force it, then it’s a lot of effort.

I think I’ve mentioned it before.

If you have to force yourself to practice the guitar, then it’s a lot of effort.

But if you truly love playing it, it’s a joy.

The same is true of any other expression of love’s energy.

If you truly love someone, your expression of that energy will be effortless, but if you’re doing it simply because you feel you have to, it can require some real effort.

But as with everything else, if you persist and keep on doing it, you will find that over time, that expression will become completely natural and soon, all that energy will come pouring out of your heart effortlessly.

Good heart struck by lightning

November.3. 2014

Interesting how the President’s numbers are so low. With everything’s he’s accomplished so far, you would think they would be in the stratosphere.

Yes, I know everything’s not perfect, but look at the big picture.

Unemployment at 5.9 percent, the best since he took office.

The Dow reaching record heights every other week.

Health care for the uninsured.

Country at relative peace. No major wars draining the country’s coffers.

And yes, let’s not forget enemy #1 resting at the bottom of the sea, keeping the good fishes company.

Compared to the financial meltdown of 2008, things are looking pretty good. And yet, for some reason, the electorate is not happy with this record.

And they’re looking to bring back the crowd who gave us the good old days.

When the country was embroiled in two wars, casualties everyday on the evening news, the nation’s surplus turned into a deficit overnight, warlords getting away with record profits, while the stock market took a free fall, and we were all poised over the abyss at the end of ‘08.

It reminds me of an old Chinese adage that my mother is fond of quoting.

“Good heart struck by lightning.”

Don’t expect people to thank you for your good deeds. On the contrary, be prepared to be blamed and maligned for whatever problems they have.

Or to use an example.

If people fall into a river and you rescue them, be prepared for them to blame you for why they fell into the river in the first place.

A father’s love

August.22. 2014

So there I was again – it’s almost become a summer ritual – sitting in the back seat of a cab in Kuala Lumpur, exchanging pleasantries with a cabbie.

I’m not paranoid by any means, but I don’t like to reveal too much of my personal information to strangers.

So when this extremely nice and chatty cabbie asked me where I am from, I told him ‘Sibu’ which is not entirely wrong.

That didn’t seem to satisfy him, because he then asked me what I do for a living and I told him I’m a teacher.

He looked at me and said, “It’s a weekday today, are you on holiday?”

I knew what he was really saying was, “You’re kidding me right? It’s a weekday today, and it’s not a school holiday, how come you’re sitting here in my cab?”

Knowing when I’ve been cornered, I told him, “I’m a teacher in the US and we’re having our summer holidays there right now.”

At the mention of the US, almost on cue, he immediately started telling me about his daughter who had gone to university there. She had apparently just returned to Malaysia and had started work with Shell.

I could see he was proud of his daughter.

He fished into his pocket and took out a Samsung device (you can’t escape these things these days) and showed me a picture of a beaming young lady in a graduation gown. No wonder he was proud of her, she was not only smart but a real beauty.

“So where was your daughter in the US?” I asked him.

He told me “Indiana, Purdue University.”

Now everybody knows Purdue University. It’s as expensive as it is prestigious so I was wondering in my mind how a cabbie in KL could afford to send a daughter there.

Almost as if he could read my thoughts, he said, “Yes, it’s an expensive place. I spent over RM600,000 on her education, had to sell my condo and my car just to raise that money.”

I was stunned, to put in mildly, and asked him. “That’s a great sacrifice. You sold your condo and your car to send your daughter to the US?”

“It’s nothing,” he said. “Just a parent’s duty.”

A parent’s duty.

To say I was touched beyond words is an understatement. I was floored.

Life is for learning and that day I learned what the true measure of a father’s love can be.

It’s an honor to meet you, George Teo. Hope you don’t mind me putting your name out here.

Roach motel — Malaysian style

November.7. 2012

On a recent trip to Malaysia, I happened to come upon an interesting package in one of the hardware stores I love to frequent in Sibu, a package featuring a drawing of one of my favorite animals – roaches.

Turned out it was a roach trap or as we call them here in the US, roach motels.

I bought one without hesitation and tested it that same day. Within a day, I was able to snag a victim, not a roach but a lizard.

The only problem was that of disposing of the catch.

You see, it was still very much alive.

I thought of drowning it, but the thought of having to clean the trap after that put me off the idea. So I decided to flush it down the toilet.

Great idea, but not so easily done. I emptied the lizard into the bowl but the nimble thing was able to clamber up from the water, and before you can say alamak, it was almost out of the bowl.

I pulled the lever immediately, but surprisingly the flood of water did little to dislodge it.

I saw a tin can nearby filled with rainwater (my mother loves to catch rainwater in all kinds of containers, a habit she acquired when she lived in the village and clean water was hard to come by — all the streams in the area had reddish water.) and managed to send the poor creature back down to the water. I pulled the lever again, and mission accomplished.

Back in Texas, I was anxious to give the contraption a test run.

On the very first night, sweet success! I managed to bag a roach, not one of those famous Texas-sized roaches, but still one of respectable dimensions.

Image

A closer look

A closer look

But then came the same problem, how do you dispose of it?

I knew the flushing trick was not likely to work, plus I didn’t have access to my mother’s rainwater.

Over the years, I have developed a rather fine technique of using plastic bags to catch cockroaches (you use it like a glove and when you manage to catch one, you tie it up in the plastic bag and throw it away.) so I took a plastic bag and managed to coax the unsuspecting roach into the plastic bag. Another mission accomplished.

But after all that, I decided it was just too much effort to get one cockroach, so I gave up on the device and now it lies underneath my kitchen sink.

These days, I use my sister’s trick, which is to make a concoction of boric acid and honey and leave them in strategic places in the house. It seems to be working; just the other day, I saw a dead cockroach lying on the kitchen floor.

But why am I so obsessed with this particular one of God’s creatures?

The answer may lie in what my mother told me.

Apparently, I was born severely jaundiced. As luck would have it, my grandmother had come to Kanowit for the confinement period.

And as luck would have it, she had the perfect remedy for jaundice, which was to catch a cockroach, extract its entrails (is there such a thing?) and smear it on the jaundiced baby’s lips.

It must have worked because I got over my jaundice, but the trauma of that incident must have left a lasting impression on my young mind, because these days, nothing terrifies me more than the sight of these creepy crawlies.