A new land, a new life

A new land,a new life!

May 1992…..I arrived at Vancouver International airport,my sister was at the airport to welcome me.Although I was in Vancouver a year earlier,everything seemed new to me…….I felt overwhelmed,frightened,yet excited to begin my new life, a place where I will call it home.
There also to welcome me in their Richmond home,was my nephew Alexander,who I met for the first time and an animal friend,the very gentle dog a collie namedKyroh(my sister’s dog).My eyes and heart felt wide opened in awe and anticipation of whats to come of the days/weeks/month/years ahead…where do I begin?What do I do?who’s to know what will become of me,now that I have landed in a new country.I have left so much behind….I cannot go back!My mind was overfilled with how to start a new life…….I had only my bags of clothes with me,while other household furniture and personal things were still behind in Singapore waiting to be shipped.This is no more a holiday but a real life situation where I have to start over again….another chapter….a new life story at age 35 began!

 

Before leaving for Canada…..I had many goodbye parties,saying goodbyes was hard yet there was a positive,joyful spirit felt within me…a looking forward to a new beginning with bouts of apprehension as well………….what was truly important to me was to feel and know the happiness and well wishes of family and friends for me!
Significantly also,I made courageous efforts to meet up with the ex-spouses(2 of them)….I sat with each of them separately to offer my thanks to them for the better times and also to say sorry for my wrongdoings….I knew I had to make amends for my own peace of mind as I embark on an unknown journey…. I never saw them as ‘enemies’or a regrettable part of my life but because of the pain I had suffered from going thru 2 very traumatic divorces…..I had evolved and moved on with a positive outlook of life….to be a better person…..and I thank them for being the catalysts for my moving forward to new challenges………I forgave and closed the last chapter of my life in Singapore! I opened a new one as I landed in BC!

 

Each day in this beautiful country felt like a door opened as a new morning arrived……..everyday was a ‘miracle’….meeting new people,new situation developes,new inspirations and creativeness arises….from one thing leading to another …….it felt like everything had been planted and waiting for me to walk right in the door!

I remember my first week…I was invited to a spiritual retreat and met a nun who introduced me to the owner of catholic bookshop and soon before a month in Vancouver….I had my first job,then came car lessons and soon driving my first car( never driven before).My momentous time was renting my first apartment close to where my sister lived within the time of 3 months after arrival…………………..by now I was making new friends and exploring around in my car…….my new found adventure began! I also had the opportunity to expand my flair and ‘love’ for emergency nursing by taking the course at the British Columbia Institute of technology and specialising in it…………………..so much more challenges took place,heartbreaks and downturns,achievements and joyous moments….and lots and lots of travel……….
In my 25 years living in BC, I made 2 very short visits back to Singappore,the last being 15years ago……….

 

Most importantly in 1998………another new change ripened………my spiritual transformative journey….a journey inwards into my Being……….
Changes and challenges and new beginnings are an inevtitable part of our lives….if we allow ourselves the courage to move to the direction of life’s open invitations be it in heartbreaks,unhappy situations,victorious moments,negative outcomes and day to day occurences………we experience the power of our inner strength and wisdom of discernment, growth and evolvement for the benefit of ourselves and others.

 

The Queen’s bed

The queen’s bed

…….there is a story of a servant girl in ancient India who cleaned the queen’s room…one day she wanted to feel what it was like to lie on the queen’s bed which looked very comfortable and grand……….so she climbed onto the bed and fell asleep.The queen came into the room to find the girl asleep on her royal bed………she was furious!”how dare this servant girl sleep on my bed!”.The queen took the girl’s broom and started beating her…….at first the maid cried and screamed in pain from the blows………after a few beatings,the girl started to laugh…the queen stopped beating and was puzzled….she asked the girl why was she laughing instead of crying…..the maid answered……..”I only slept in your bed for a few minutes and I got several blows,I laughed because I thought how many blows you must have suffered sleeping on this bed for years!”………….

The ‘blows/beatings’we all suffer in life are the same for everyone….the rich and poor,the ugly and beautiful,the clever and ignorant,the good and bad..etc.Whether we sleep on a fancy expensive mattress or a cheap simple mattress,whether we enjoy the extravagance of riches or the lack in poverty,no one escapes the inner states of suffering….worries, anxiety,envy,torments,fears,guilts,shames,desires and attachments.When we can have a true understanding of our inner self and strive to see the beauteous Within ourselves….there can be no envy or hatred or anger or judging or misunderstanding of another…when we know ourselves,we know the other.True happiness comes from the wisdom of knowing the Self!

 

Blockades on the path to peace of mind and heart!

Blockades on the path to peace of mind and heart

 

“peace comes from within,do not seek it without”

~~~~ Buddha ~~~

 

 

The uncontrolled mind/ego

 

Unless the mind becomes still and fully absorbed in the Present moment in meditation,it will remain in chaos, disturbed and in the agony of wandering,unattended and defiled.It cannot focus and will be unclear and languid.There will be no clarity of vivid understandings and deeper insights of the truth of the nature of life.The realizations of unconditional Love and wisdom will be difficult to pierce into,it will remain only on the outer periphery waiting continuously for stillness of mind to commence.

 

When the mind lacks attentiveness and stillness, it runs ‘wild’,there is no attention span,there is no discipline….it goes berserk, it gets out of control with thoughts,thoughts,thoughts….no presence! The mind in continuous mode of chatterings and wasteful dispersal of thoughts will be become tired and drained,the body soon becomes lethargic and lacks enthusiasm…..depression/joylessness(undetected) set in.So for some people they start building up body vitality by way of exercises and other physical prowess………this is only a temporary regiment to keep the mind in control,for others,the looking for temporary reliefs in external stimuli…………enjoyments, amusements,activities,work and staying busy,busy,busy(this is where addictive behaviours tend to develop)…………when we are constantly keeping ourselves occupied,we might find we tend to be easily agitated,frustrated,exhausted,and a feeling of ‘worn-out’and meaninglessness ensue…then the cycle repeats in a selfish adaptation of needing attention for ourselves incessantly…………………thus we cannot be there,present,we can become unhappy doing anything for ourselves and others!

 

Have we taken any notice that while we can be in the company of someone or at a party enjoying ourselves,the mind is wandering, thoughts run to thinking about work tomorow,what to wear to work,what to bring for lunch to work,etc.etc.Then while we are work, the mind seems to be replaying pictures/sensations of the previous night rendezvous with our partner or the unfinished angst of an ‘ugly quarell we had with someone.Even while we might appear to be praying, in church/temple/mosque,or at home, do we find our minds running loosely,thinking of what to cook, to eat,the children’s needs,my hair is in need of a haircut etc.etc…………………..the influence of the world of multitasking,being efficient and more productive,puts more stressors on our already chaotic mind state……..

 

And if we bother to become further aware of the mind and its erratic ways, we find it will always swing back and forth between past activities(hurts,regrets, anger,disappointments,happy times,etc.etc.)to future endeavours(in need of another home,bigger car,latest techno gadget,etc.etc.)

……..the mind does not seem to stay present where we are,who we are with or whatever situation we are in,although,we may seem that we are doing so……………….The mind tends to get stucked in stories of past guilts and fears and shames and regrets and illusory happiness and then gets caught in anxiety and worries of future desires, fantasies/dreams and undertakings.

 

The mind can be the agitator as well as the platform for peace……….which will we allow it to be?Notice how the mind can be triggered to agitation,eg.when we see a zit/pimple on our face….what is our reaction?……we might hate the way we feel about ourselves at that time and might also throw a tantrum with something so trivial as seeing a pimple on our face…….how more ‘dangerous’ the mind becomes when we don’t get what we want in a more demanding or serious situation of life?

 

So to add fuel and more chaos to the already distracted mind,the ego-centered entity comes into play to annoy our lives further……the ego is that small,lower self( that unawakened/unaware consciousness within) with a limited,conditioned mind-set based on fear.It is that part of us that is stubborn,constantly putting up a barrier,defensive and retaliative.It might act boisterously to cover up its fear mode or act ‘demurely’to show goodness(the pretender).It is that part of us that is the attention seeker,a part that is needy,wanting to be right and recognised,to be made important…. in truth it is that insecure part of us that wants to be in control.It is that selfish persona that is all about the ‘I’,’me’,and ‘mine’………..we do things not for a higher selfless purpose but out of conditions and false motivations to feed our selfish needs and behaviours……….we tend to identify with what we think(the chatterings of the mind).For example,look at how we react when someone turns us down to go have fun,go for a drink or travel,etc.etc. see how quick we get upset,how we judge without any clue of understanding/respect for another and think that person ‘useless’ and unfriendly leading to an unnecessary falling-out of a relationship.

 

There is a saying…..’starve the ego and feed the soul!’……..in other words,nourish the being with goodness and loving, kind intentions, deeds and speech.See how it feels when we do something benevolent without the need of approval or needing anything back!Allow kind actions to soften and open the heart………………..

 

A Zen story

 

A student went to visit his zen master for spiritual teachings.While there,the student kept questioning and asking the master for answers,the master quietly served the student with tea and kept pouring the tea in the student’s cup until it overflowed………the student yelled for the master to stop pouring as it was overflowing.The master replied…..”how can I teach you unless you first empty your cup”…………………….(in other words to be humble and willing to make the effort to be taught)

 

If we don’t admit mistakes and in need of help,how will we learn to find healing and learn the truth and how can the heart be open to love unconditionally?

 

In order for the mind to be stilled we have to acknowledge and be aware of our disturbed mind and how it is creating unhappiness and unease in our lives(we might be in denial and think that we are absolutely happy in our lives).We can learn mindfulness practice of watching our thoughts,actions,speech and feelings.The breath is another tool to help keep the mind in harmony…………………….to be in the Now………..

Living in Freedom…Acceptance…Being

As a leaf falls into the stream and it floats downstream meeting the river……it simply flows where the river current rushes…..there can be no going upstream…….finally the river opens out into the sea and the leaf is freed into the vast ocean……………

 

As the saying goes…”what we resist,persists”…….when there is resistence there is always tension,unhappiness and discord.When we start to understand the underlying cause of all discords,we see in that understanding,there is that need for control,a selfish need to ‘not give in’,holding back,unable to make it easy to accede …..we fight a futile battle within ourselves because we think we can make ourselves ‘happy’by making others unhappy or perhaps we get a ‘kick’ out of witholding truth and kindness and love.Instead we are truly causing more damage to the injured soul,in other words we self imprison ourselves to a life of continuing unhappiness and misery!

 

Like a beautiful bird in a cage who is fed,cared for and admired, one day the owner feels sorry and comes to a realisation that this bird is trapped and feels that it is in need to be free in nature,so the owner opens the cage door and allows the bird to fly free,but ironically,the bird is afraid and forgets its true nature of freedom,it doesnt want to budge and chooses to stay in the cage!

 

Like the bird we forget the truth of our innate nature…..free to be,free to live in love, free to act courageously and consciously,free to know that we can only be the master of our being,nobody has the power or control of our rights to live….we can only take responsibility for how we choose to live…….in wisdom or in foolishness…..
Once we can courageously see and accept this truth….we can start learning and be willing to let go of anything ……. and feel the relief and peace that come with it…………..we can start to come out of the conditioned mindset.

 

A lot of people have this concept that freedom to live is about running wild and easy and enjoying life frivolously and affecting others lives unconsciously without any concern. Freedom is rather an unconditional state of awareness where one will not allow to be controlled or wanting to control any longer………its consciousness is not imprisoned or affected by external factors and circumstances…it acts according to its own independent conscience for the good and benefit of all,even if that situation will not seem to have a favourable outcome…in other words it will accept good or not so good situations and live accordingly…it accepts and allows everything to be as it should be with no distinctions.

Freedom will not be affected by blame,praise, losses and gains,good or bad …..it will joyously mingle with friends and foes alike….it knows no separation….it holds all humanity and creation within that Freedom….it knows that the suffering and the joy of one person is the joy and suffering of all beings the same………………

 

True Freedom comes from the Joy of having seen our inner states,with all its flaws and all its goodness and having taken the courage to make the journey and effort to be truthful and learn from the past,make amends and to love ourselves for it……….then letting go and being freed from it….the Presence of freedom also allows the truth of allowing the future to unfold as is…………it will not try to make excuses of the what ifs,what should and should not be….it will simply be a learning of lessons and a continuation of moving forward to betterment…..

 

Freedom holds the being in self-aceptance of whatever will be will be!

 

Freedom will not resist,deny or resent any good or unsatisfactory  situation…………..freedom is conscious fearlessness!

 

Freedom allows each being including ourselves to live and act freely without judgements,finding faults, passing comments and looking at the speck in another’s eye. it will act fearlessly to take courage to pull out the log in our own eye first!

 

When we are free to look into our own being…we can be free from the attachments of worry(especially so in terms of loved and dear ones),free from grasping to be needy of anothers attention,from needing recognition and importance,free from imposing conditions on others…eg,if you do something for me,I’ll do something for you kind of attitude(whats in it for me!).We actually free ourselves from emotional, mental and physical entanglements …it allows others to simply be with a knowing that they too have the potential and capacity for their own freedom.

 

Freedom from attachments doesn’t mean we feel cold/numb,aloof,uncaring and indifferent to the welfare of others.Freedom from attachments matter of fact allows that divine space within us to act and engage wisely depending on the circumstances without expectations of the outcomes,without obligations to be further dragged into the drama and of not being severely affected/disturbed whereby we become traumatised and be tormented ‘permanently ‘by the situation.In other words we will feel compassionately and understandingly and be respectful of the impermanence of the nature of the human journey and life and living.Yes the pain of feeling another’s suffering can be overwhelming(like a sword piercing through the heart) but freedom from attachments allows pain to be buffered and healed accordingly at its own pace and time…………………

 

Freedom is truly about having the courage to go deep into ourselves and touch that sacred chamber within and love ourselves with all its imperfections and goodness…..

 

To live in freedom is like the leaf flowing with the natural current of the river…..not struggling against the flow until it finally reaches the ocean to become One with it!

 

Living in freedom means we are able to recognise our individuality and our independence and we acknowledge no matter what each being possesses the same quality with no need to possess or to have control/power over,we are unique on our own yet we remain interdependent upon each other to help facilitate spiritual growth and human evolvement.

 

As we recognise the freedom of detachment, we can nourish and nurture our inner states of well-being without being affected by extenal ideologies,beliefs and influences of others…just the same we will not infringe or impose upon others what they need to experience or learn for themselves………we allow the understanding that each person will evolve accordingly to their own time,pace and karma(reap what you sow,cause and effect).

 

No one belongs to anyone….not even our children,lovers,family,friends,students and teachers……we are all individuals……yes, we can take care,we can love, we can help,we can share with each other,but we cannot possess or say anything belongs to me or I belong to them.When we see this positive truth of detachment we can be engaged to love fully without fear of losses and dissapointments and allow ourselves and others to just Be!…………we cannot stifle the growth of others,eg,we expect our children to be doctors,but deep down the child wnats to be a ski instructor….so unhappiness is created both ways…..the parents’high expectations and the child’s inner conflict!

To live in freedom is learning to accept and surrender to the present moment,trusting in the flow of life…..and letting go……nothing is wrong or right,good or bad,we can always make changes,learn from mistakes, find solutions and work our way through it!

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer answered

December 1998……..a few days before Christmas,I felt like a lost sheep who had come back from working in Saudi Arabia,jobless,broken, depressed,in severe physical bodily pains and financially broke…………..with my heart wide opened and humbled and surrendered…….I sat in Saint Anthony’s church,Vancouver quietly praying after I had attended an evening Mass.In my prayer that evening….…my heart implored!

 

I remembered asking sincerely,”give me something to do!”( I was not asking to have a job or to be healed of my pains or anything to help my finances…….(I knew it was not the right thing to ask at that time),but what I actually wanted was to be of service,for my heart and talents to be utilised..…

 

I surrendered that prayer and was walking out the church when at the door I was approached by a choir member who was looking for singers for Christmas day morning Mass(which was only maybe 3 days away)….I said,”I dont sing but I play the guitar”…she said “thats what we really need is a guitarist for the choir”…..and asked if I wanted to give my time to play for Christmas and on a regular basis……..I said yes but I didnt have a guitar at that moment for practice…….she said she could get one………and there I was practising with the organist and choir………..then I remembered my prayer to be of service.

 

Yes I was honored and played my guitar happily for that Christmas Morn,1998!

I was not satisfied simply with playing the guitar for Mass, I knew there was more of my heart that could be used….so I kept on asking in my dedicated self prayer petitions and quiet sittings in the austeriy of the church………one week later just before the New year(1999)…I saw a poster on the church door which read…….’The Door is open’,volunteers needed for soup kitchen to feed the needy.”I immediately felt a bell ring in my heart and went home to give them a phone call……..…

 

A few days later,I started humbly in the soup kitchen,serving the poorest of the poor,the uncared for,the forgotten and the diseased(HIV/Aids).As I served them, I looked through their eyes and hearts and felt their suffering and I saw myself in each one,I witnessed myself looking at each one with tenderness and respect…we shared the same suffering but in a different picture,a different scenario….each one of them needed love and happiness and to be cared for… and I realised too that I needed the same.I noticed my heart opening with compassion and kindness and a reaching out to love…….that reaching out was not only to them but towards myself…….I needed to love myself ,I needed to care and nurture for my damaged soul,the damage only I myself could undo and make reparation for.

 

One day I brought my guitar along to the soup kitchen and sang a few songs for them while they ate,to hopefully bring some music and comfort for their troubled souls…..

 

A few months later after serving the soup kitchen,I then went on to walk on the streets of Eastside Vancouver for the downtrodden,prostitutes,heavy hardcore drug users and those forgotten by society,there my own broken-ness was further healed by the horrible suffering I witnessed,my body pains began to vanish,I got a job as a RN in a rehabilitation hospital and worked hard at it, my true spiritual journey began.I stayed on in the choir for one more year and later donated my guitar to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd(Toronto)……………I had to learn when to give up and let go of everything I enjoyed and loved as soon as I learned that whatever I needed to do was done…..I allowed myself to feel all emotional attachments and then to let it go,it is a way of the so called dying to ego,to self glory and gains…..just as the Buddha had said…….”when we have crossed the river using the raft we had built,we let go of the raft,we do not lug it around onwards in our journey.”

 

Prayer will help open the door  to the next realm needed for us to do whatever is necessary for our own healing processes.It is the raft that will help us cross the river of our lives and help us grow,change and evolve for a higher purpose.When we pray,we not only express out words in our minds and hearts but we become aware of everything happening within us and around us because every corner of our being and surrounding is calling for attention and warrants us to stop and see how we could be of service to self and others….we need to see and put in action what the Universe(God, Divine Source,Allah, Atman etc.) calls us to do…it might be a simple matter as being more attentive,kindly and caring to people we say we care,our spouses,children,mothers/fathers,brothers/sisters,friends,etc….and when we see ourselves care more towards others, we can acknowledge the goodness that resides within us.We can then say our prayers have been answered!

 

Prayer helps us to keep vigilant of our inner states!