A great speech – Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

29 04 2010

A friend forwarded me this speech by Adrian Tan, the author of the Teenage Textbook (1988), at NTU’s convocation ceremony in 2008.

This message is just so timely for me, as I’m in the pensive, reflective mood.

Apparently, this speech has been making its rounds in other blogs, but I’ll just reproduce the transcript of the speech here:

Written by Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook (1988), who was the guest-of-honour at a recent NTU convocation ceremony. This was his speech to the graduating class of 2008.


I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.

I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.

You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.

Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.

So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.

Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.

After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.

That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.

What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.

Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.

The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.

I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.

I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the true worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.

You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.

You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

‘he had been groping and grabbing after certainty, as if it were something he could possess.  he had been demanding a security, a guarantee, which is not granted: and which, if granted, would become a prison.’
—-ursula le guin, ‘the dispossessed’

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Becoming the toddler who roams freely without fear again

4 03 2009

The past weeks have been eventful. Resuming my spiritual journey has brought about numerous events that trigger the various reactions in me, and brought me forward in my personal growth.

A friend(in fact 2) commented that I am somebody who uses my logic and brain too much, and I don’t feel enough. One of them recommended me the book, Living in The Heart, by Drunvalo Melchizedek. I read it, and found that it makes a lot of sense, the heart is where our “home” is.

For a long time, I have been trying to connect with my high self and guides, without any “direct” results. Although I do sense their presence, and the communications in terms of synchronicities and messages from all around, I’m not really able to have any “direct” communications with them. After reading the book and being bombarded by the “feel” more comments continuously, I think I became a little to eager to change things, and the lack of results resulted in some frustration in me.

My understanding of what Drunvalo has said, if we want to connect with our higher self, we need to first get in touch and connect with our “lower self”, which is the subconscious mind, and this lower self happens to be of the age of around 4 years old. So, we need to become child like in order to connect with our lower self. Once the lower self agrees, we’ll be able to connect with the higher self.

In my eagerness to switch to a more feelings based person, I found a struggle in me, because I’m someone who for some reason likes to do a lot of researches and read on “theories”, which I can feel irks some of my friends, who are more “feelings” based and can’t appreciate the theories. Haha… so one of them commented that I’m an introverted thinker, which prompted me to research more on my personality…well what else but research, it’s me. I found that I’m a INTJ. I do have my intuitions, and I’m indeed an introvert who thinks a lot, and based my judgements on facts backed by theories, and I enjoy doing researches and theories heaps. So, there’s no point trying to change things too much, especially it’s something I enjoy doing a lot. I just need to learn to balance things out.

This morning, finally I hear the voice which tells me, “My child, it’s perfectly alright to be a thinker, an introvert, or whatever you are now, this is what you have chosen to do in this life, you are as good as you can be at this moment. Just remember that you can always “come home”, to the heart, and you can do that at your will, whenever you want to. This is a place where you come in to rest, contemplate, chill out and just do what you like to do, to feel the unconditional love I have for you and to recharge”.

I finally feel I’m the toddler who is able to roam freely and know that there’s always a “home” and a loving Mother that I can go back to when I’m tired or afraid. Thank you! And thanks to the friends, who have nudged me in this direction.





Love and falling in love

23 02 2009

The recent Valentine’s Day season and a few heart broken friends led to a very deep, lengthy and “tedious” discussion with a friend about Love and the feeling of “falling in love”.

The discussion spanned 4 days, but we can’t come to a conclusion about should one act on the feeling of “falling in love”. So I decided to write this article, based on some of my understanding of what Love and “falling in love” is about.

If you are reading this, please feel free to leave your views.

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The believing of the feeling of “falling in love” can have drastic effects on a marriage, for 2 reasons. 

When singles believe too much in this feeling and acted on them, to realise later in the marriage that this feeling has subsided. When this feeling has subsided the image they have about the partner might change accordingly, for the best or worst (therefore a >50% divorce rate). If they do not have the consciousness that this change is part of the process and work on holding the union, the marriage will break.

Secondly, this feeling might arise after the marriage, unfortunately with another target, if the individual trusted and acted on the feeling, inevitably there is negative energy contributed to the marriage, even if s/he simply trusted and not acted on the feeling. Physically, if the original partner found out about the affair, trust is shattered, the union will never be the same again, even if it doesn’t lead to a divorce. If it’s never found out, the energy of the union could have been shifted.

For the other 50% or less that managed to hold the union, we need to ask how many of them are engaging their evolution, how many are really helping the partners in their growth. Are they holding the union for reasons other than love? Eg. children, “face”, etc.

Love is a conscious effort, it’s not something based on the feeling of “falling in love” (although the feeling might still be present in some union, but that is secondary). We Love because we choose to Love. Why love when there’s no falling in love feeling? Because it’s a contract between the souls involved in the union, not just the partners, if the union eventually resulted in the forming of a family unit, the children’s soul are involved too. Karmic connection could also be involved, but I think that could be part of the soul level agreement, or it may not be the ingredient of a spiritual partnership at all.

When we chose to Love another person, especially in the form of a spiritual partnership, we do not attach physically to that person, the union comes about mainly to assist the growth of all the souls involved. There is no fear of losing the loving feeling, or losing the person, no jealousy, no possessiveness, not attachment at all, and therfore no fear, only freedom of expression and Loving energy.

When Love is a conscious effort, it comes from within, we give Love, but we do not seek Love externally. This can only happen when one cultivates self love, the same concept as cultivating the spiritual energy, tapping into the universal source of energy. In this case, it’s tapping into the universal source of Love. When the self love has reached it’s maximum level, the person has successfully integrate the male/female energy in the psyche. This Love energy will start to overflow, this is when he/she is ready to seek out the spritual partner, where through the union, they are able to further elevate each other spiritually.

Why then romantic love happens? The feeling of “falling in love” is the results of the chemical effects of the neurotransmitters in the brain. But why do those chemicals react with each other in the first place? We can explain this from the psychology and spiritual points of view.

We are “hard wired” for the survival of the species, so the “falling in love” feeling is required to provide the platform for a union that resulted in the forming of a family unit, which includes children. Such union may fall apart after the children are brought up to a certain age, and when the duty of the parents are fulfilled.

Another possible reason, is that we were not able to integrate our male/female energy in our childhood formative years, resulting in a piece of us “missing”. But this is not the truth, we may not be complete on the physical level (male OR female, but never both), but we are complete spiritually. So if one is not able to integrate the male/female energies on the spritual level, the physical incompleteness can take over. S/he will then seek the external source of opposite sex energy for completeness. Of course, nobody is able to provide that completeness, except someone who has achieved full self love and fully integrated both energy in him/her self. Unfortunately, someone who feels s/he is incomplete will never be able to attract a “full” person. Therefore it’s always the union of 2 “incomplete” entities, to form a “complete” entity, this eventually resulted in the power struggle when the 2 parties realised that his/her energy is being given out, and stopped giving (this is usually no a conscious process), when this happens, the other partner will resort to childhood dramas to gain the energy, which in turn, resulted in more resistance, thus the power struggle. There’s hope though, if both (or maybe one of the) partners are conscious enough to not engage in the power struggle, they may be able to elevate the union into a lasting love, or better still a spiritual partnership. But unfortunately, this is the path with the highest resistance and requires hard work to achieve, so most of the people chose to give up at the power struggle stage.

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Update:

We took a day off the topic, (and each other :P), and met each other by chance on a weekend and started talking about it again, finally, I think we have come to a conclusion on the topic:

1) One can act on the “falling in love” feeling, this may not necessarily involve the “target” s/he falls in love with.

2) Acting on the feeling may not meant letting the “target” know and starting to go into a relationship with him/her.

3) Acting on the feeeling may generally refer to letting the experience through. Feeling the feeling, which at times can be painful. This may also mean, to take the next steps, for example trying to find out more about the target, to establish whether s/he is really a “suitable” future partner.

4) Acting on the feeling may also mean to recognise why one has this feeling and to address the root cause, eg. one may feel the need to look for external sources to complete oneself, addressing the core issue may be to enhance one’s self-esteem, or to cultivate self love.

5) The above ways of acting on the feeling may be a manifestation of the concept of living in the present, ie. acting on the feeling now, when it happens, but I haven’t fully grasped the concept of living in the present, so I’m not sure.





Listening to and believing in your innerself

30 01 2009

Being alone, in a foreign land and living alone in the city, I have plenty of solo time. Most of the time stopping the inner chatters is a challenge, because all I have to talk to is myself.

Having been here for 2 years and looking back, I realised that I have followed my intuition/inner voices many times and that proved to be a pretty effective way of living our lives.

Self discovery is one of the main motivations for me to move away and live by myself, for the past 2 years, I have been trying on and off to have very clear communications with my guides and higher self, but I tend to think that they do not communicate with me in the way I wanted them to, maybe I have not grasped the right way of communicating with them. But looking back, I’m sure they have their ways of making sure the messages come through.

When I first arrived in this city, I was a little shocked by the rental rates, it’s not expensive per se, judging by international standard. But coming from a place where public housings are aplenty (and I was in a position to enjoy them), it’s still a substantially higher amount to pay. Friends around me have been suggesting me to get my own place, but the voices inside told me to not move into that, my circumstances then also did not permit me to jump into the property market. Looking back now, I must say, I was lucky, the property prices have dropped by a fairly big percentage since the 2008 economic crisis, which is more than the total rentals I have paid in the pass 2 years or so. Coupled with the drop in interest rates (I would have been locked into a higher interest rate for years), my on paper savings could well be 2 to 3 times the amount I have paid in rentals.

The above is just one of the many examples of how listening to your inner voice and believing in yourself help. “Take that job, even if it’s just a contractual assignment”, “They are noises, just keep on following your own beliefs”, etc.

Just 2 nights ago, I was feeling a little frustrated with certain things, before I went to bed drained and tired that night, I kind of shouted internally “Will you guys talk to me?!”. I drifted into a deep sleep, woke up earlier than usual feeling energised, and while going through the usual internet surfing routine, I found an entry about communicating with your guides, specifically mentioning the method used by me is not the right way of communication, rather it’s the way that will quiet everything down, including the voices from the guides and angels. In that entry, a better way of communication was suggested, and that’s just the way I’m gonna use from now on. 🙂

Yes, my guides and angels, I know you guys are communicating with me, albeit subtly, but I can always feel your presence, and I know I’m receiving the messages, just not as loud and clear as I wanted them to be. I’ll continue to listen carefully to the messages, until a time when we can all sit down and chit chat at my will. Let’s work towards achieving that in the near future, before 2009 comes to an end.





The Celestine Prophecy – An Adventure by James Redfield

8 01 2008

I first read this book earlier in the year, recommended by cityhermit. I took a long time to review this because I didn’t felt that I can do this well.

The premises for the book is on the main character, who after hearing from a long time friend, decided to go to Peru to learn more about The Manuscript. The Manuscript dates back to about 600 BC and predicts a transformation of the human society. There are different segments, also known as insights, describing a particular insight to our life. As we go through these insights sequentially, we as humans would evolved spiritually and move into a very different environment from where we are now.

As the character decides to go on an adventure to learn more about the Manuscript, he gets to meet different people, sharing with him each of the insights. He also experiences those insights and understand the deeper meaning behind each segment.

In this book, there were 9 insights that were shared. The first 2 insights talks about an awareness of the mysterious occurrences that changes one’s life, the feeling that some other processes are operating. The 2nd insight puts our awareness into a longer historical perspective, awakening the consciousness and putting things into perspective.

As the story goes on, we are brought into an adventure as the character goes in search of each of the insights, relating concepts such as control dramas, chakras, energy fields into the story.

Why this is a good read:

The story, being an adventure first, brings me into the world of the main character. Literally I’m joining the hunt for the insights of the Manuscript. First time when I read this book, I was just enjoying the “ride”, finding out what’s to come next in the story.

Reading it the 2nd time, I tried to understand each insight better and how it all comes together with the other things I’ve learnt spiritually. Religion, chakras, energy, evolution of human society, psychology, science….all coming together through the story. It doesn’t explain each of the concepts in detail, for it’s still a story, not a paper on each item.

Entertaining and engaging, I decided to purchase a copy, and I got the entire series: Celestine Prophecy, Tenth Insight, and The Secret of Shambala (the 12th insight).

Incidentally, we have 12 strands of DNA which is another story…