Monday, April 17, 2017

Thoughts on idolatry

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
I Corinthians 10:13‭-‬14 is perhaps one of my favorite verses in the bible. For a long time, I have been struggling with the idea of idolatry. Why is it that the bible asked for us to flee from idolatry? Different people will give you a different answer for this. Some will say because the others are worshiping false gods and idols. Some will say that it has to do with obsession over things. Despite having so many answers, I am not satisfied. Wrong questions invite wrong answers. I may have been asking the wrong question.
So let us understand more about idolatry and what the second most important book, dictionary, has to say about this.
the worship of idols. (I know this)
extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone. ( That sounds familiar, isn't that what we do everyday?)
Let me ask the most controversial question that I am going to ask in this post. How is what a lot Christians do in the name of God, not a form of idolatry? All the worshiping, professing their love, giving God credit for all the good things that have happened to them. How is that not a form of idolatry then? Just because He is God, it is not idolatry? That does not make sense because it is not consistent.
Something clicked when I was listening to this audio book, The Good Heart. What does idolatry do, especially in religion? Obsessing over something, including God often blind us to other things. We stopped living as an individual, but as a collective that is easily manipulated. We are obsessed with who God is and try to convince ourselves why our God is better than gods in other religions. That sends chill down my spine. Isn't that the cause of many religious conflicts? Isn't that why people will willingly sign up for weaponize conflicts that not only caused countless deaths and sufferings of a lot more?
Idolatry breeds obsession and obsession creates divide. That is not good.
Am I here to say that we should stop everything and become an atheist? That is, ironically and definitely, one direction that we can go. The alternative that I propose is much less drastic. What the bible is trying to tell us, I believe, is that we should not be focusing on who God is. Through out the text, there has been multiple instances that emphasize the unfathomable nature of God. Therefore, stop defining who God is and what He can grant us and do for us. Not focusing on who God is makes comparing with other competing deities meaningless. Instead, we should be focusing on our actions. We should be thinking how we can live a life like how God has prescribed in the bible. Be a good human being that glorify God, like any filial son would do for his own father.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Introversion and selfishness

I am an introvert.
I may be friendly and loud sometimes, but I am an introvert and I am proud of it.

That I used to think. I still do until yesterday.

What if...... introversion is just a selfish excuse? What if...... introversion is just a manifestation of my own selfishness? Is not wanting to share my time with others selfish? What is selfishness? Is selfishness necessarily bad? Questions pelted my head like raindrops, incessant and ceaseless.

How do I begin to answer this set of questions? Who do I look for? Is this a problem? If this is a problem, do I need to solve it?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Heart-shaped Coal

A drop of ink into the water
Diffuse into every nook and corner
Burl of ebony wood, began to look familiar
Like the inner state of my mind.

It's a never ending freefalling
Down a rabbit hole
Never knowing where it stops
Nor where it starts

Darkness is corrupting
Tainted heart is paper with ink
Forever changed
Never the same

My fingers, my thumbs
I feel it but I don't see it
My wrist, my arms

I am alive
I am screaming
I am consumed
By the abyss that engulfed me

So, save me
From myself
From the onyx prison
That I've locked myself in

Until then
I will wait
will wait

Wait no longer.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

5 Weeks

It has been so long since I've sat down and written something to organize my thoughts and reflect. I am halfway through my teaching practicum and I thought it is appropriate to do just that.

Despite all the warnings from friends around me that teaching will not be a walk in the park, me being me, did not think much about it and just dove right in, expecting the teaching practicum to be just a tad more taxing than the contract teaching I did a year ago. Little did I know, my expectations is way off. I got myself into the practicum, mentally unprepared, with a mindset that I am still a student. Nope. That is not what teaching practicum is about. 5 weeks of slogging through day and night, stressing every hour about my backlogged lesson plans, being frustrated by students who just refused to behave as you would have them to, losing 5 kg in the process, I concluded that it is perhaps how full-time teaching is like. I find myself not being able to do things that I enjoy doing, for instance, practicing calligraphy that I have been trying to pick up. Getting the taste of what life of a teacher is like made me respect those teachers who are in the force for years. I caught myself thinking, "How do they even survive this? Can I survive this? How would it change me?"

The arduous journey made me think about my life choices. Did I seriously think that this would be something that I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life? What convinced me to pursue this career in the first place? Was it that 1.5 years ago when I made the decision, I am blind to other doors that were open to me? I do not have the answer. throughout the past week, I was questioning myself constantly, "Did I make a wrong turn?" Many a time I found myself thinking, "Would it be better if I had some 'accidents' that cause me to lose my life instead of going through this?"

Stop. Stop poisoning my mind.

Perhaps I have lost my mind, perhaps I have lost myself in the hustle and bustle of the teaching profession. I know I had to look inwards and talk to my inner self, what is it that made me happy. Scrolling through YouTube and Instagram, something caught my attention. Channels that I subscribed to, they are about crafting and cooking. Yes, I like to look at the process of making things and turning something normal to something extraordinary and beautiful, be it mouth-watering steak or beautifully crafted furniture. Yes, I like that. So, why didn't I pursue that as a career, apprentice under a master craftsman and do that for a living? It bothered me for a while. It bothered me hard. Self-doubt crept into my heart, like venom that is traveling up my bloodstream and into my heart.

Somewhere in my head, a little voice told me, 'teaching IS a craft'. It is analogous to Japanese sword making. You have to let the raw material dictate the end product. It is just like teaching. Students are our raw material. Instead of forcing them to fit into molds and standards, my job as a craftsman is to process them and refine them. Just like a katana, they flourish into a functional piece that function as what they were intended to. Just like katanas with their beautiful Hamon lines, they retain their unique grace while being a functional member of the society.

I too am like a katana being forged. The teaching practicum is my crucible, going through the last step of tempering and heat treating to ensure that I can hold my own edge. Swords that go through this process will be forever changed. Do you bend during the process and had to be discarded, or do you hold true to your shape and emerge from the crucible, a functional piece of art? Then I realized, that is the not the right question to be asked. It is a choice that I have to make. Do I choose to embrace this crucible and will it to shape me into a tool that can benefit those around me or do I let the crucible consume me and make me into a shell of my former self. I, for one, will not let myself become a zombie that moves along with my circumstances.

I will survive the crucible.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A quick glance at my past

When I was 9 months old, trip cost me 4 painful stitches and a vertical scar down my left eyebrow. That is when I learnt that one mistake is enough to scar you for a lifetime.
When I was 1, I suffered an allergic reaction from eating prawn, bad enough that I almost cant breath. That is when I learnt that expensive stuff is not necessary superior.
When I was 3, I attended my first funeral. It was my grandfather on my mother’s side. That was when I learnt how life is fragile and how we should cherish it.
When I was 6, I attended my second funeral. It was my grandmother on my father’s side. That was when I learnt that death is an integral part of life. Delay it, you can, but escape it you can’t.
When I was 12, I went through a time when I attended religious events, both Buddhist and Christian. That was when I decided that religions are more or less the same.
When I was 15, I stopped being scared of tall girls in my class, because I outgrew them. That was when I learnt that guys and girls are really biologically different.
When I was 17, I started my A-levels education in Singapore. That was when I learnt that families doesn’t have to be blood related.
When I was 18, I met a girl with chocolate allergy. That was when I learnt that there are sweeter things in life than chocolate and candies.
When I was 20, I worked in the hospital and seen a 6-digit hospital bill. That was when I learnt that sometimes, money just cant buy you everything.
When I was 21, I discovered that I’m allergic to beer. That was when I learnt that clubs and loud music isn’t for me.
When I was 22, I developed lactose intolerance, hence have to forgo dairy products that I loved so much. That was when I learnt that sometimes, giving up something is a way to make space for new and better things in life.
So, what shapes you?