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Like to listen to what goes on behind the scenes in film making or acting straight from an actor? Click here.

A Reunion Dinner with a secret to hide. Click here.

Have you taken all the modern comforts for granted? Behind every modern device there is the technology and with them comes the management and risks. Interested to find out what goes on below the hood? Click here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Provoking the Guilty

[Read the chat further below...]

Last Wednesday, a woman chatted me up on Facebook out of the blue. I smelled a rat. as her language and purported professional status did not seem to correlate.  

Instead of blocking her, I sought to find out how far she will go. So I started asking some questions that led to a long and winding conversation. You can follow the chat below (my dialogue is in the blue bubbles). Ignore my banking lingo, as they were just some gibberish I made up on the fly.

She didn't answer my questions and evaded them by talking in broad general nothings. I persisted and managed to provoke enough guilt or fear in her, that she eventually crashed out of the conversation. Further inspections show that her profile and timeline seem to relate a lot with Nigeria.

The Chat:

This could well be a script for a comedy skit. To learn about film making, click here.

Online scams like this happen by the millions daily. To find out more about online security/fraud and risks, click here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Coffeeshop Talk - Cyberspace

[Talking to myself while waiting for my Bee Hoon at my neighbourhood corner coffeeshop.]

Where do you live?


Where is Cyberspace?


What do you mean? Can you give me an example?

In the memories of computers. They are interconnected. Ah yes, ... the Internet.

Why do you live in Cyberspace? Did you choose to live there?

No, I was tricked into it. Then it became convenient. Now I can't live anywhere else.

Why can't you live anywhere else?

It's convenient in Cyberspace.

Isn't it more convenient to switch off?

Switch what off? You can't switch Cyberspace off. It is there. Will always be.

I mean, you can switch your computers off. Your smartphone off.

And my smartTV off too?

Yes. Disconnect.

Then where will I be?

Here. Now.

Now? What do you mean 'Now'?

Now. The moment. The breath you take.

You mean, like you and me now? I don't get it. And then what?

And then we are present together. Enjoying the moment.

Enjoy what? So boring.

Have you tried?

Tried what?

Being in the moment.


Not for very long.


Cos' I feel that I am missing out.

What will you miss out?

I don't know. I don't even know what I will miss out. Isn't that more scary?

So you are living in fear?



Yes what?

Yes,... you know... it is hard...

Say it.

Ok, ok... beat it. Yes, I am living in fear. Fear of missing out. Fear of not knowing what is to come. Am I wrong?

You are not wrong. You are not right either. There is no right or wrong. Only choices and consequences. What have you chosen?

Chosen? What do you mean?

You have chosen Fear haven't you?

Yes. So?

So what are the consequences?

Liddat lor.

Do you feel comfortable? Relaxed? Peaceful?


Not really.

So these are your consequences. Now you can make a different choice. Do you want to make that choice? Live in the moment.

Ok, let us post this online so that more people are aware.

... Oh crap! How come? Singtel 4G is down?!!!

For more Coffeeshop Philosophies, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Rather Morbid Year To Cheer

This was 2016 for me, a mix of sweet, sour and bitter:

The Next Plot,
a short film about: "A grieving old man struggling against religious stigma to be buried next to his late wife," was released. I wrote, produced, directed and acted in this gig; collaborating with Red Dot Film Makers.

I was enduring an excruciating pain on my neck and my arms during the production, but the show must go on.

For more, click here.

The Next Life
I recovered from the crippling and excruciating pain through meditation and help from an Osteopath. This after seven months and numerous futile trips to mainstream doctors, alternative medicine, self medication, massages, spiritual healings and conmen healings.  For more, click here.

This seven month saga has changed my life forever. It was so painful that at one stage, I thought I was going to die. I really did. No exaggeration. It was so painful that I didn't know that such pain was possible or even existed. 'Health is wealth' rings very loud and true to the bone for me now. When I am in trouble now, I ask myself if I am in pain.  If not in pain, then I won't sweat it.

The Next Bank,... 
Soon after recovery, I joined a team working in a bank that was acquired by another bank. There was so much to learn working on the handover.  Virtually, I was going through a crash course in banking, spending long hard hours going through the tediums of merger. Despite that, it was a harmonious and happy environment, one that I was sad to see go after the takeover.

I congratulate the managers who have created this little sanctuary. Not easy being in an industry that is in the cut-and-thrust of the market economy.

On a different note and in the wider picture, there are currently a lot disruptive technologies changing the banking world that may even result in the demise of banking itself, as we know it.  To read more about it in 'Digital Banking', click here.

Pulau Ubin
This is where my favourite short film for 2016, "More than Words that Touches" (sponsored by Ogawa) was shot. It has been sometime since I have been there, but it remains as the same sleepy tropical isle. The 'uncle' selling coconut juice and cold drinks is still around, busy and healthy as ever. For more about the shoot, click here.

The story is about a daughter who returns to Pulau Ubin to visit her father after living in the mainland for many years. This is a reminder that we should spend more time with the people we love.

Here is the video:

Devil Revealed
A film maker whom I trusted, ran away with my money. I lent him some money, in the orders of four-figures to pay for a movie premier in a theatre. Another person I know of lent him another four-figure sum of money. But that is a paltry sum compared to his investor, who put in a six-figure sum of money and getting nothing in return. Not even a copy of the video.

He has since vanished. He is not in his home, with his family and had left the country. I don't know where he is now. I have previously persuaded him numerous times to return the money, but it was futile. He went the way of the Devil - really silly to ruin his reputation and nail his career to an early death, for a mere few thousand dollars. This is a pity because he is young and talented!!!  But without integrity, everything amounts to naught.

There is still time to surrender and repent. If not, he can be arrested and stained with a criminal record, upon returning to Singapore.

For more about the movie, click here.

Bloodline Blues
I directed an action genre for the first time. It is about a young heir to a noble family escaping from his obligations to reconcile with his lover in Asia, after the death of his father.

I realised that I had to decide on how much fantasy to allow in the fight choreography. In other genres, I work to make the film as close to real life as possible.  

Real life fights are different. They are brutal, bloody, ugly and fast. Few people would like to watch them. The audience will cringe at the blood, gore and brutality.

A major lesson I learned is that when there is a critical demand in a production for more moving parts, more actors, more locations, more props and higher criticality for editing continuity, there will be more noise (with a capital 'N'). Be wise enough to separate the signals from the noise - stay calm and know what matters and what don't; and what you can change and what you cannot. And...

"God, please grant more people with this wisdom."

RIP Mum... 
My mum died after succumbing to cancer. Weeks before that, she started asking for hugs. Surprising, as traditional Chinese parents don't hug their children after they have become adults. In her last days, however, my mother defied traditions and customs to hug us.  It was her way to express her love for us. She chose to go to where love is.

I have lived in the West for many years and now have problems adjusting to a culture of no-hugs. Some people still looked at me with suspicion when I hug them. Some Singapore guys who are badly constipated by this cold culture of no-hugs scorned at me when I hugged other people, especially women. They think that it all amounts to an excuse for sexual molestation. How sad when a hug is viewed from fear and distrust.

Let's free all hugs from taboo and sexualisation.

I walked the red carpet for the first time at the 4th Hanoi International Film Festival (2016), where "Certified Dead (2016)" was premiered. Click here.

We were treated as VIP for 7 days with gala dinners, award ceremonies, a trip to Halong Bay, ...etc. It felt surreal, as I have never dreamed of being an actor, let alone as one that was now walking down the red carpet with reporters and fans snapping photos at the sidelines.

It is easy for actors to be carried away and believe that they are larger than life under such conditions. Though, it remains that the crux of acting will always be about telling stories and making the emotional connections with the audience.

RIP Jackie Liong
An actor friend died instantly in a tragic car accident. He was on the way to work with his wife on the highway when another car came from the opposite direction, hit and toppled his car, killing him instantly. His wife seated next to him survived and was warded in hospital.

This above picture is one of Jackie (far right) and me at the "Back Alley Bulls" movie shoot. RIP Jackie.

Fore more about "Back Alley Bulls", click here.

Here is what happened during that tragic day...

The human journey is fragile. Live everyday to its fullest, as if it is your last,... or first.

Film Award...
"Certified Dead" won the Best International Film Award at the 14th Royal Bali International Film Festival (2016).

That brings the year to a happy end. Something to cheer about.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How I Overcame my Chronic Pain.

Today is the 11th day I have woken up to a painless body, after a harrowing seven- month ordeal. I am immensely grateful for the recovery and I will never again take good health for granted. It is like being blissfully born again every morning. 

The pain started sometime in September 2015, from what I thought was a 'normal' stiff neck due to work and stress, it developed to a pain that turned terribly worse. The pain quickly spread to the shoulders and arms till the end of my finger tips. The doctor said that my nerves were impinged by the neck vertebrae that triggered the stretch of pain downstream. 

The pain was permanent and persistent. There was no break in between. I woke up in pain, went through the day in pain, went to bed in pain and sometimes got woken up in the middle of the night by the pain. It was like a dark cloud had descended and there was no way out, nor could I do anything about it. The doctor said that the only way out was a surgery to space out the vertebrae, but before that, he suggested that I go to a physiotherapist to check if conditions could improve.

I graded my levels of pain from 1 to 10,  with '1' being the least painful, and '10' being the most painful.

During that time, there was never a '1'. It was usually waking up at level '4', where the neck, arms and fingers were already electrically charged in pain and physical movements had to be gradual, so as not to aggravate the situation. By the time I returned home at the end of each day, it was usually a level '6', when the walk from the bus stop to the the house was a long painful struggle. Each step felt like a destructive pull on the nerves. Sometimes the struggle to walk home ground to a halt for me to still my mind from the pain.

If I did reach a level '8', I had to look for a sofa or a bed to lie down immediately as it was unbearable. When nobody was around, I would literally be screaming out loud. Lying flat motionless, would gradually ease the pain and I would go down back to level '4'.

If I got woken up by the pain in the middle of the night, it was a '10'. It was painful enough to bring me to tears.

I became foolishly obsessed with the numbers, as if it was a way to look forward to a less painful day. I embraced those numbers. Then, I realised that the numbers had become my virtual hope and my escapism.

The pain crippled my life. I am usually someone who observes good habits, and used to be very healthy. I jogged and worked out three times a week and kept my sugar and carb intake low. So, I had never thought that I could end up this bad even in my darkest nightmares. But now, I struggled just to walk upright, without looking bent and lopsided. I became obsessed with fighting the pain till my mind switched off from many other essential chores.

I became absent-minded, forgetting to turn off the tap, or where I left my phone; once, I even offered to pay for my food twice at a checkout counter. The world felt entirely different from what I used to know - the one when I was pain free. "Health is Wealth" now rang very loudly for me, as I went through the trauma of a malfunctioning body.

As I didn't want to go for surgery, I tried alternative healing methods, like acupuncture, Tuina, acu-pressure massage, chiropractic realignments, osteopathy, Reiki; and spiritual healings from Christians speaking in tongues. I even got approached by  gurus and charlatans that made preposterous claims so that they could con me.

Some professionals were honest. They did their best, but couldn't heal me. The others weren't much better than those sleazy charlatans. Some over-serviced and over-charged, probably to support their posh clinics and lavish lifestyles. Some tried scare tactics to break down my self-confidence so that they could dominate and control me. It was all about the money. The bottom-line was that none of them brought my pain down.

Among the professionals, I only continued with the Osteopath, because he was the only one who could give me a comprehensive explanation of my problem. He could also answer all my questions with specific answers. In contrast, I got nebulous answers from mainstream practitioners. Ultimately, they always conclude by explaining that the body is 'degenerating' and 'aging'. I don't buy that. I know many people accept that we all grow old and degenerate, but I beg to differ. I believe that it is all in the mind. If we have to die, we could die 'healthy', just like my father did, he died in his sleep peacefully at the old age of 89 years old.

The Osteopath diagnosed that the source of the problem was the stomach and that it had caused the muscles to pull and compact the vertebrae, therefore squeezing the nerves firing up the pains down from my neck to my fingertips. Recovery was patchy. I got better after a few sessions, and then it got worse. This cycle went on several times - my getting better, then followed by another spike of pain.

When I told mainstream health practitioners about the Osteopath's diagnosis, none of them supported the argument. They were not comfortable going down this route of reasoning. They consider it impossible and radically different from what they were taught in their medical school. Though it should be noted that Osteopathy pre-dates physiotherapy and was propounded by a Western trained medical doctor in the US. Nonetheless, they were not convinced. While I did not expect them to embrace the Osteopath's diagnosis, I was surprised that they were so closed to new inquiry and thinking.

I tried to keep myself as positive as possible. It was more difficult to do so being in constant pain, with no end in sight. One night, after being woken up in pain, I questioned if life was worth living at all. This defeatist thought surprised me, as I used to be a very positive person. It was then I realised that I had changed. It scared me, so I resolved to turn around. I had to find a way. I didn't know how, as there was no sustainable progress and I didn't even know if I would ever be healed. I had to endure my life one day at a time.

Eventually, I accepted that the pain will be here to stay and that I will have to plan my life around it. That means to get on with life as normal as possible despite the pain. Principally, it required acting against the pain. It can't get worse! 

Then on the 3rd of February 2016, it did get worse. A lot worse! The pain suddenly spiked up so much. It was so crippling, that I had never knew such pain could even exist. It was mind shattering. The pain level busted all the previous levels - by far! It was probably a level 13. It was unbearable sitting or lying down, even when motionless doing nothing. Any movement would trigger an explosive pain. A sneeze, a cough, sitting on the throne in the loo, or even a fart for that matter, sent electrifying pain down the nerves. I struggled getting out of bed and made my way to the kitchen to make a cup of hot chocolate. I needed the energy. I had to. I was alone in the house and I was starting to feel weak. The choco powder spilled all over the cup and made a mess, as my hand trembled in pain with each twitch of the fingers and each twirl of the wrists. It was terrifying.

I thought I was going to die.  My mind started to wander negatively and pondered why I would have to die this painfully. What had I done wrong to deserve this?! I thought that, this was it. I knew that if I were to stay at home I would not get any better.

So I dragged myself to the nearby clinic. There, the doctor gave me a steroid injection, and a cocktail of strong medicine like muscle relaxants, pain killers, menthol cream to apply on the body,..., etc. I normally do not take strong medicines, but in this instance, I threw in the towel and downed the medicine desperately. After that, I started hallucinating. That was probably because I was not used to medicine, especially those strong drugs.

The hallucination was beautiful though, as I could see exotic vast landscapes with brilliant colours and everything seemed and felt larger than life. Next, I found my emotions and presence getting curiously connected with those beautiful visuals.

In one, I was in a desert with red-brown sand dunes and a narrow road cutting across diagonally. Then  an old black vintage car drove past leaving a tail of colourful dust. It looked like a guppy with a long colourful tail.

In another, it was a seemingly mundane situation of a man talking to a woman, however, they were in such perfect harmony and their movements were so continuously smooth that it was inexplicably fascinating to watch.

It was so relaxing going through those mental visuals. I was in a parallel universe momentarily.

That night, as I closed my eyes, I saw three sparks of bright white light coming down from high up and hovered around my head. It was a relaxing feeling, then a cozy and safe feeling as the light blended into my body. I could feel the pulsations as it happened. I felt very protected and the pain subsided significantly.

My Christian friends said that the White Light was probably the Trinity. Another (Christian) said that it was probably my hallucination, even though I told her that I did utter Jesus' name prior to that to call for help. Ultimately, people choose what they want to believe. I know it was not the medicine, as I had seen those White Light a few times before when I was not on drugs or medication. On the previous occasions, the White Light had also healed me, but of very minor ailments. I don't know who this White Light is. I don't profess it to be God, Jesus, nor would I attempt to give a name to it. I just know that it represents Love.

Just to clarify, I don't normally take pharmaceutical drugs, as I try to keep my body free from unnecessary chemicals, and  avoid them as much as possible.

Meanwhile life goes on, particularly in the film industry where the show must go on. There were some mornings when I was worried about how I could possibly get through the day. But somehow, I always did. So some of the films and TV dramas that you see me in, could well be the ones made when I was really sick.  For more about my acting gigs, click here.

Miraculously, when the cameras rolled, the pain somehow disappeared, either that, or I couldn't remember that it was there, as I got into the script character.  Upon the shout of 'cut', I started to feel my body coming back with the pain. Then, I  realised that it is possible to beat the pain with my mind. But how could I do it? That was the question.

That was my first turning point. I figured that I could beat the pain through meditation. I have meditated regularly for more than ten years, until last September when the pain took over. It became too distracting and I could not focus. But now my experience in front of the cameras on set taught me that it is possible to ignore the pain.  So I started doing that - ignoring the pain. I did it for a few seconds first, then prolonged the time. Then I learned that if I could ignore the pain past the first three minutes, I was able to conquer the pain. Gradually I did. After each meditation, I felt better and then woke up the next morning with a lower pain level. There were times when it was too difficult to focus as the pain was overwhelming, so I stopped for that day. In all, I succeeded 8 out of 10 times.

The second turning point was when I met a young man during one of the film shoots who told me that he too was in pain, and had been so since he was a child. Then, he emphasised that despite his pains, he  was not going to stop  doing the things he loved. That surprised me because I wouldn't have known he was in pain, had he not spoken. In a morbid way, he got used to his pain.

Those few words tipped the scales. The coin finally dropped. The secret is that I must play the key role in my own recovery. I am now confident that I can succeed, despite the excruciating pains still shimmering, and imminently exploding.

I usually did not let people around know of my pain so as not to trouble anyone, especially in a production set. At business meetings, I would just ask to be forgiven if I slouch on the chair. I did not want my problem to be an inconvenience to anyone.

Subsequently, I experimented with many things: activities, food, different routines,...etc, and tried to measure their effectiveness, no matter now small. Some worked, some didn't. I stuck with those that worked and dropped those that didn't. Some tricks like drinking lots of beer did help to numb the senses and feel less of the pain. It was kind of a painkiller, but a less harmful one than those prescribed. However, I know that it had to be applied with moderation, otherwise I would be fueling yet another problem.

So I stuck with meditation, swimming, going to bed early and cutting my carb/sugar intake. A friend of mine gave me an inversion table, a table that enables me to hang myself upside down to loosen my spine. I did that too. Through experimentation, I also learned that certain fruits are natural painkillers, like bananas (it has magnesium), blue berries and other berries.

It wasn't a straight line progress to recovery. The pain eased and spiked several times. There were several false hopes, but overall with each cycle, the average pain went down. So slowly, but surely, I healed myself in tandem with my osteopathic sessions. Then on the 17th April 2016, I woke up for the first time in 7 months, with no pain.

This trauma has changed my perception of life forever. I now resolve to live it to the fullest no matter what happens.

I am healed. I hope this is permanent. I dread to even think of what it used to be like. I get goose bumps writing this article itself. No longer will I allow health issues to fester and get myself into a rut of crippling pains. My advice to readers here would be the same.

If you are unwell now, don't give up. Start living and let yourself heal.

If you are well and healthy, enjoy the bliss. Don't get angry over trivial matters. In comparison with a painful body, many matters will seem trivial. Many seemingly urgent matters are probably unimportant. Prioritise and choose what is important.  Enjoy your good health.

I believe in the comprehensive healing of the body, and when possible, to stay away from drugs. Western medicine seems to fix only the symptoms, which may not last very long. A body is a system, if we forcefully intervene in one part, the imbalance will profess elsewhere. It is akin to a computer program - fix a bug here and the program will bomb elsewhere in another line of code.

I think Western medicine is good in an emergency, or when the sickness has gone into too deep a state to risk using slow and natural methods of healing. It does have its place, and I am thankful to those doctors who have helped me in this traumatic period.

Thankfully, apart from this saga, I am rarely sick. When I am sick, I rest and heal myself by eating well and drinking lots of water.  It works most of the time. When it doesn't, then I try Traditional Chinese Medicine. When all else fails and it gets dire, I  resort to Western medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treats the body in its entirety. It checks for the source of the problem and helps to balance the body by prescribing herbs or applying acupuncture. While I have very positive experiences with TCM, the recent acupuncturists I went to seemed to be treating only my symptoms. They applied the needles only to those areas that were in pain. So that didn't work. I used to know of a very good acupuncturist who would think hard before applying the needles and they didn't necessarily land on where the pain was. However, I have lost contact with this acupuncturist.

The physiotherapist asked me, "Is pain good or bad?"
In that moment of excruciating pain, I blurted out, "Bad!"
Then, upon contemplation, I thought it could be good. Pain is a signal that somewhere in our body, something is malfunctioning. So here on, I listen to my body intently. Things are never purely good or bad. In the good, there is some bad. In the bad, there is some good. This is represented by the Yin and Yang symbol.

Pain is very complex. Through the saga, my threshold of tolerance for pain has raised progressively. What used to be unbearable is now bearable, and what was crippling now borderlines the unbearable. Also, when different parts of the body are in pain, the part of the body that has the worst pain dominates, and the less painful parts feels trivial in comparison.

Pain can also be lessened by applying heat on the body. Heat changes the chemical composition of the affected areas and different signals are sent to the brain.

Pain ought to be carried by the nerves in the body, but there are cases where the main nerve is fully squeezed by the vertebrae, and the person experiences no pain. Somehow, the body is very intelligent and works around the problem.

During the spiritual healing, my Christian friends surrounded me in a circle, put their palms on my shoulders and spoke in tongues. Each of them seemed to speak a different tongue. Some of them sounded a little bit like Arabic. I could feel pulsations on my body as they chanted and my body did feel less painful, but only for a short while. By the time I was on the way home in the bus, all the progress was gone. Some Christians think that speaking in tongues means speaking in the Holy Spirit, but I beg to differ. With due respect, they are probably speaking on behalf of some wandering spirits. I do appreciate their intention to help me though.

One masseuse suggested that my pain could have been caused by spurs growing out of my spine and that I ought to go for an MRI to confirm that. The fact is that probably 90% of people my age would have spurs, though most with spurs experience no pain. So be careful with opinions from people who are not fully trained. They are effectively quacks, but can bring your morale to the ground. In the world of agony, keeping your morale high is crucial. That is why real doctors are taught to relay their findings to the patients and their family in an emotionally neutral tone.

Another masseuse talked down to me for not exercising enough, while he demonstrated that I could only turned my head to a very limited arc. To add insult into injury, he warned that it would be very dangerous if I drove because I would not be able to see the blind spots. What kind of comment was that? How would that help me to heal? He was not even correct, as I did exercise regularly prior to when my pain started. And he said all that, while I was visibly cringing in pain. I infer that he was deliberately trying to demoralise me so that he can position himself as the saviour. In his eyes, I am a recurring business potential.

One charlatan tried to get me to pay him thousands of dollars for a spiritual initiation, claiming that he has the mandate from God. He said that I was possessed by evil spirits and he could help me. It was so ridiculous that I didn't even bother to argue with him. I just walked away. He then bluffed me and said that I would go back to him after two weeks as my condition would deteriorate quickly; and that he could afford to wait.

Two weeks later, his side kick called to ask for an introducer's fee. He said that was a fee for him for having introduced his guru to me. I thought that given that the  guru was so rude and crude, they should be the one paying me for my tolerance and time. I think the guru took the intimidating stance to try to break down my self esteem and confidence, so that he could control me. For hints on how to identify a fake guru, click here.

Emotional Pain.
Some people had it so bad with emotional pain that they cut themselves physically for relief. They said that at least physical pain has a locale. They cannot grapple with the frustration of being immersed in pain without a physical presence. I have my fair share of emotional pain in my life, though I hadn't resorted to cutting myself. Perhaps it is because my emotional pain is not deep enough, or that I managed them better. 'I' here refers to the soul, the 'little voice' behind the mind, telling the mind what to do. Some people cannot differentiate between the two and think the mind and the soul are one.

The soul is like the tree, grand and steady, always peaceful. The mind is like the leaves, they flutter whenever it gets emotional. But  the soul is always peaceful.

The stomach is said to have a direct connection with the emotional state of the mind. So I guessed that could be what drove my stomach out of balance and resulted in the pains.

The above is a chronicle of my journey in pain and what works for me. Some of what works for me may not work for you, as we are all different. I am also not a medical doctor nor one trained in medicine either, so none of the above should be construed as medical advice. I am merely sharing my experience. Believing is not necessary, but contemplation is. I am not selling any seminars, magic potions or club memberships. So feel free to take what you believe in and apply with your own discretion, and drop those you think are ridiculous.

Some Related Posts in this Blog:

Reiki, click here.
Raja Yoga, click here.
Focus, click here.

Share this post if you find that it has benefited you and that it will inspire someone else to live their life to the fullest.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jim Carrey's Commencement Address, Mahrashi University of Management Graduation 2014

A very inspiring speech by Jim Carey.

The entire speech is inspiring and the one minute starting from 10'18" sums it all.
When confronted between Love and Fear, choose Love.  I believe that we all know that, but many are too afraid to take that leap of faith. Isn't it funny?

Friday, April 24, 2015

In Memory of Dr Aaron Tiansoo Lim

It took me a few weeks to get over this. Dr Aaron Tiansoo Lim passed away peacefully in the morning of 19th January 2015. I heard that he was having some heart problems since December last year.

I learned so much from Dr Aaron's classes. He often reminded us that he was not teaching us anything new, rather, he was just helping us to remember what we already know, but have forgotten. More importantly, he showed us how it is possible to live a wealthy and spiritual life of material abundance. That being spiritual does not mean having to be materially poor, nor letting others walk all over you. This, we have heard of many times, but it was easier to live it when we can see someone else living it before our eyes.

Many of us have learned a lot from Dr Aaron from his classes like:
-       A Course In Miracles
-       105 Universal Laws
-       Spiritual Parenting
-       Rich People, Poor People
-       Face Reading
If you are interested to learn what we have learned in his classes, click here.
His classes were spiced with anecdotes of his colourful life - from his kampong days; the time he was a boy etching a living as an errand boy for the famous Rose Chan outside cabarets; his sleeping rough in carparks for lack of a home; his stint as a Fulbright-Hays Scholar in the US; as a Professor at  Bringham Young University in Hawaii; and his later years as an entrepreneur in Malacca.
I visited Dr Aaron in Malacca several times, also to help at the Blessed Kitchen he set up serving free lunches to the needy once a month. He told me that he merely took the initiative to start, and soon after, attracted many volunteers and food sponsors. He said, "There are many out there who are willing to serve. You just need to help everyone get started."

Dr Aaron probably didn't let anyone outside the family and very close friends know about his illness.

I happened to send him my script for a film on the 5th December 2014 for his review and got a quick reply. It read:

 "That's such wonderful news, dear Michael. It's difficult to write a perfect script but if anyone has the talent to write one, it is you. I am anxious to see the final movie. Take care and good night. Much love always. Tiansoo"

Leaving no hint of his illness. He once told us he did not like telling anyone when he is ill, for soon after, he will get a deluge of ‘greetings’ reminding him that he is sick. Like, “Get well soon”,…etc. His point is that we are what we think, and so the trick is not to be consistently reminded of thoughts we do not want, or do not need.
The passing of Dr Aaron has reminded me to live the spiritual life, turn the other cheek to love and harmony and watch my thoughts. For thoughts become things and become what I will experience for myself.
He once went through with us in class of “What is this Aaron Lim?”, as an exercise of who we are.
“Is it just a name? it cannot be just a name, for any name can be my name. A name is just a label. Or is it just a body? If so, after my death, my body will lay there motionless. Is that me? I don’t think so. The ‘me’ has gone. It is lifeless. The spirit has departed the body.”
A few months have passed, but I am still saddened by Dr Aaron’s departure from this human plane. He once told me that the departure from one plane is the birth in another plane. I don’t know where he is now, but who knows we will meet again someday somewhere.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

“If you don’t study hard you will be cutting grass like this man here!!”

This is an interesting post I am reproducing here with the permission of Ms Aya Imura...

The original story appears in here.

To be honest, this is the biggest culture shock I got in Singapore: I once saw a mother pointing at the hardworking landscaper, as if he is invisible, delivering her public lecture to this poor kid. It was along the lines of “If you don’t study hard, you will be cutting grass like this man here”.

It has been four years since I moved to Singapore. Every now and then I am still asked “What is your greatest culture shock since living in Singapore?” my replies are usually politically correct, such as food and lingo. But to be very honest this is the one: the lack of respect and bigotry towards a certain group of occupation. And unfortunately this is also the biggest shock shared among a lot of the Japanese here in Singapore. 
In Japan, first thing we teach children is “Every job is respectful and precious”. We cannot go putting our values on other people’s work.” In Singapore however, many adults would tell their children to study hard so they would not end up a cleaner or bus driver in the future. Worse still, they make it an effort to condescend those profession to make sure they got their point across.

We have a tradition to value every craftsmanship and professionalism in Japan. As long as we take our job seriously and keep improving, people will admire us and support us.

In Japan, professionals with great craftsmanship and skills are considered our national treasure. In fact we have a “Living national treasure” system and there are 166 living craftsmen (like cloth weaver, bamboo craftsman, potter etc) registered as “Living natural treasures” and the state supports them in passing of their skill to the next generation.

We also have a tradition of respecting every individual, regardless of the amount of education they accumulate.

Take for example: the ex-prime minister Mr Kakuei Tanaka. The man left school at the age of fifteen and worked as a construction worker, yet he was never discriminated and rose to be the head of a proud nation.

Mr Konosuke Matsushita aka “The God of management”, the founder of Panasonic, dropped out from the school at the age of nine. With determination and hard work, Panasonic is arguably the largest consumer electronics company in Japan. Upholding the true spirit of knowledge and education, he founded The Matsushita Institute of Government and Management in 1979 keeping a “No prior education requirement” for their new students till today, where 43% of their graduates making key politicians and policy makers.
If we want to work at the headquarter of big companies like Toyota immediately after we graduate, yes going to a good university does help a lot. But if we leave school at fifteen years of age and decide to become a craftsman, people will equally respect us as a professional.

I remember reading the results of an interesting survey. A survey was commissioned to understand children’s ambitions from 9 countries in Asia. The question posed was: “What do you want to be in the future?”

In many countries like Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, becoming a medical doctor was the most popular answer.

In Japan, the most popular answer was to be a Patisserie (Pastry chef).

Guess what was the top Singaporean kids answer?
Interestingly, it is: “Manager”.

My Note:
In Asian movies, it is common to find the hero as the Princeling or rich man. 
However, in Eastern European and Russian movies, the hero tends to be a playright, poet, artist or political prisoner.

Some food for thought.