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Monday, January 30, 2012


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I have heard about Ho'oponopono and how Dr Len has facilitated the healing of an entire ward of criminally mental patients in Hawaii State Hospital. And he did that without even seeing anyone of them. However, when asked, Dr Len said that he didn't heal anyone, but worked within himself to let go of the 'data' in him that has caused the situation. That we are all cluttered with data, such that we have lost our Zero state. He says that we are all 100% responsible for what happens around us.
In Zero state, everything flows: like the right person will turn up at the right time and right place,...etc,   miraculously. That it can be so smooth that you don't even have to make a choice. He even added that if you have to make a choice, that means you are not clear enough.
This actually rhymes with what a wealthy Malaysian businessman once said to me when I interviewed him for a magazine. He said (in his halting limited English), "In life, no choice is the best choice". He said that as he related a time when he was financially broke and had nowhere else to go but to go to Indonesia to meet a cousin to start all over again. There was nowhere else better to go. Then, when over there, he grabbed the first opportunity that came, because he had 'no-choice'. Today, twenty years later, he is a fabulously rich man both financially and otherwise.
Then I thought "Has this Zero state happened to me before?  Has what happened to me in going into acting, a result of getting back to Zero?" 

The story of how I got into acting was surprising, even to myself. As it goes, I was asked to act in a film by a director who saw my photo online (not from an actor's portal), then during the shoot she praised me a lot and urged me to take it up acting as a career.  And so I believed her, and a year on, I have done over 40 gigs  and acted in two films that won international awards. And all that happened out of the blue, as I can't recall having made any intentions,about being an actor, at least not consciously.

The other experience I have was the watching of the video of Dr Len's explanation about his work. It came out of the blue from my friend who was screening the film. I attended the screening and in the video, heard Dr Len's mention of making 'solarised water' using blue glass bottles. Then there was a question from the audience of where one could find such blue bottles, and Dr Len said that if one is in the Zero state, then the blue bottles will turn up. At that point, I cheekily wondered if the blue bottles will turn up for me. 

"Where will I find those bottles turning up for me out of the blue?"
"Perhaps it will be at a pub, probably in town, like Clarke Quay?"

As it unfolded, I didn't go to that part of town nor any pub, but when I reached home, I found two blue glass bottles freshly washed in the kitchen!!! Now I must try getting water into those blue bottles, have them solarised and use them to 'clean' myself to get into Zero. Will keep you posted on my progress.

Actually going into 'Zero', isn't new. I can relate it to Guru's common advice to just "go meditate". And he often say that when you meditate, things will be clear and sorted. It is like polishing the diamonds. We are already the Divine - the Diamond, that needs polished, or 'cleaned' as Dr Len will call it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Principles of (bad) conversations

1. We acknowledge one another as equals.

Remember to acknowledge everyone as equals, if you expect them to be able to listen intently (and so remember what has already been said), follow-up with what they have listened, and speak concisely and not hog air-time. But don't worry, because chances are that they won't,  so this is your opportunity to clobber the conversation.

The dangerous thing is to treat everyone as stupid or 'unequals', because if you do so, you will be too forgiving and patient to have a bad conversation.

2. We try to stay curious about each other.

Always wonder why on earth would they want so much to be right, since there are much more to learn from being wrong! Don't be fooled by their wanting to clarify themselves and that they have been frequently misunderstood.  Always be curious about why and how much ego they must have to not to want to listen to you, especially when you are older than them. Remember to insist that they are the egoistic one and not you. That way, you frustrate them and then they will blow up into a really bad conversation.

3. We recognize that we need each other's help to become better listeners.

This is your great opportunity to speak at length in your best English in complete sentences and to describe every nook and corner of your idea in monumental detail, to show others how clever you are and to teach others to be patient in listening. Reprimand them if they dare interrupt your speech. That way, they will have a lot of time to listen to you.

If you do this well enough, you may actually even get to listen to yourself. Learn how to speak general nothings in eloquent English, so that the conversation will still sound  impressive without getting into being good.

4. We slow down so we have time to think and reflect.

When the conversation is converging too quickly to a point, slow it down by throwing in some general statements to keep it divergent. Like, " there is no right or wrong answers", "there are many views and there are many ways of looking at them...", or "Over here, we all have different opinons, but we learn to accept everyone...".

But remember to say something that sits on high moral grounds and that is not contentious. The best way to do it is to quote from some famous motivational speakers and seminars you have attended. That way, you sound impartial and credible, and at the same time , throw everyone out of their tracks towards some understanding on converged points. So preferably, what you quote should be something out of context, otherwise you risk enlightening everyone. This is also to give them time to think and reflect instead of worshipping some singularly boring convergent 'truths'. 

5. We remember that conversation is the natural way humans think together.

Conversation and thinking are natural. They are as natural as crying out loud or walking over to the other person who disagrees with you and giving him one-tight slap! So don't break the spontanaeity. Even if you know that some speakers are spewing utter rubbish and wasting everyone's time, BE NATURAL! DON'T BREAK THE SPONTAENITY!

6. We expect it to be messy at times.

Yes! This is when you congratulate those who crack vulgar and irrelevant jokes at critical points of the discussion. Tell them that they are helping the rest of us get out of our tunnel visions and out of the box. Not doing so will allow everyone to flow too well into a good conversation. No, no, no, we can't have that!

Lastly, there is this mother of all principles of (good and bad) conversations. In fact, if you master this one, there may be no conversations to start off with. It goes:

"Maturity begins when we're content to feel we're right about something, without feeling the necessity to prove someone else is wrong."    --  Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986)

Note: This post is a parody of "Principles of Conversation". It shows that we can also learn from negative demonstrations. Also, points made on politically correct high moral grounds can still be twisted anyway you want if there is malice. I hope this article can be taken in the spirit of learning, albeit an unusual one. In other words and in the context of this post, the essential ingredient of a good conversation is compassion. Compassion = kindness + wisdom.

ps. Wrote this on my iPhone while waiting for relatives to visit me on Chinese New Year's Day.  As you probably suspect, nobody came!!  Guess they don't like bad conversations!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Acting - Ready, Set, Go...

This was unusual. I was feeling nervous before my voice-over assignment. I have never felt nervous before any shoot, not even my very first one. But this time, it got me till my stomach turned, like there is something I couldn't digest emotionally. Some regrets, some mistakes made, that I couldn't forgive myself easily.

Then as I entered the recording studio, as it turned out, the video clip to voice over was about a man regretting about his gambling addiction and his wanting to turn over a new leaf and then giving gratitude to his wife and family for their support. 

For some reason unknown to me (at least consciously) this was exactly how I felt. It was as if I knew the story before hand. Isn't it strange?!

If you like to visit my actor's blog, click here.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Acting - Beginner's Luck

This video from the Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of Singapore won the Gold Award in the International Anti-Corruption Public Service Announcement Awards 2011organised by the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA).

It is only a 30 second clip, but took a whole day to shoot, starting at 2 am at the wholesale fish market in Sembawang. That scene took us till 5am, and then, we were to resume at 9am at Republic Polytechnic. With barely a few hours in between, I reckoned it was pointless to go home only to get refreshed and then having to rush back to the set. So I chose to go to Republic directly and slept on a canteen bench for a few hours.

The shoot resumed in one of Republic's student kitchen. Being a training kitchen, it was neat and comfortable, so the shoot was relatively easy compared to the commercial kitchen at Joo Chiat where it was hot and sticky, so I was quite surprised that we managed to pull off with our smiling  and sleazy look. The scene at Joo Chiat was quite long and we wrapped at 7pm!

The next film is the second film that I have acted in that has won an award, also last year,  called, "Hentak Kaki", directed by James Khoo, as his final year project in Lasalle School in Singapore. It won the Best Film, Silver Screen Award in the Singapore International Film Festival 2011. For more about the makings of "Hentak Kaki" and independent reviews, click here.

I attribute the two awards in the last twelve months to the dedicated and hardworking teams that I worked with and in part also to my beginner's luck as an actor. 

A beginner has advantages over older practitioners in any trade. A beginner is curious and  naturally open to explore any  possibilities to get something done, as he is fresh and doesn't know any better. A beginner is not bogged down by traditions and status quo - there is no pre-judgment and preconceived idea of how something ought to be done.

To continue to win awards, I will have to maintain this 'beginner's luck'. Steve Jobs put it differently, he urged young people to "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish". How true!

For more posts about 'acting', click here.

If you like to visit my actor's blog, click here.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy 2012

The year much awaited for, 2012, has arrived. 

Many of my friends have sent me greetings of happiness and prosperity. Thank you very much. With such loving thoughts lurking around me, these greetings are surely to manifest! 

What will 2012 bring? If thoughts become things, then it is time to make our thoughts make the things we want - that means - making resolutions.

I usually do not make new year resolutions because I do not make a big deal out of the coming of a new year, in that I see time as a piece-wise smooth continuation, not one packaged into discrete modules of year, month and days.

But time seem to pass faster as I grow older, so my resolution this year is to be more conscious of spending each day to its fullest, as though it is my last (or first). Time not spent in the present moment is gone forever! Living in the heat of the cut-and-thrust economy, it is easy to forget this. Hence this resolution - an anchor to a thought.

What is your new year resolution?

For other posts on 'New Year', click here.