haiku - my karma

what is my karma
something i'm destined to have
kuota kharma


More important than landing on the moon

Who can say which will be more important in the end: landing on the moon or understanding the human mind? said the Dalai Lama.

Indeed. Reading Mindfulness in Plain English enables me to realize how our mind works in a bizarre and tyrannical way. It is just like an unbridled horse, or a stream full of flotsam and jetsam. The sort of awareness taught by the book is no doubt useful in reminding us to be mindful of the present moment, but for an untrained mind like mine, it is so difficult to sustain. However hard I try to keep the awareness that the mind is loaded with patchy thoughts, soon enough a particularly powerful distraction will take over and any awareness I was having just a while ago will dissipate like smoke.

As the Dalai Lama suggested, understanding of the human mind is important. So is the ability to harness it.


"Not Chinese"

It didn't use to be like that.

But these days, more and more TV advertisements of Japanese brands are shown in Hong Kong in the Japanese language. Japanese songs or monologues by young Japanese ladies are typically used. The message doesn't seem to be what is being sung or said, as the advertisement producers do not even bother using Chinese subtitles or anything like that, although only a small portion of the Hong Kong population can understand Japanese. The real message, loud and clear, is that the products have a Japanese origin, even though they are not necessarily made in Japan. It is a Japanese feel that the advertisments are trying to create.

What has prompted this advertising ploy? Behind it, there has to be a conviction that the Japanese bloodline is a drawcard, a strong selling point. But there has always been a deep-rooted belief in the consumers' minds that Japanese products represent good quality. Why is there the need for this strong cultural manifestation? My guess, Heaven forbid, is that another message is actually intended - that the product is "not Chinese".

Need I elaborate on what makes products with Chinese associations so slighted or even despised?

So who cares what that Japanese chick says? It sounds good. It feels good. And that's good enough.


The "insurmountable" slopes

I used to occasionally write about my lunchtime hike, before the forced removal of my office due to rental spike.

How lucky I was, back then, to be working in an office that was just a fifteen-minute walk away from a charming getaway – a hiking trail which was almost like another world from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. That lunchtime escapade was a nice dose of sedative between the morning and afternoon slave-driving sessions.

The start of the trail was a fairly steep slope, and I remember how, when I first did the hike, I used to heave and pant as I trudged up. It was with regular practice that the ascent became less challenging, and I even began to appreciate that it was that tough part which provided the precious aerobic exercise.

Likewise, these days when I have taken up biking, I have exactly the same experience with the slopes of my favourite biking route. They were a hell of a challenge at the beginning, when I neither had the knowledge of the level of difficulty nor the physical strength to conquer them. The temptation to back off was strong and I am not ashamed to say that on a couple of occasions I did, making up enough excuse to convince myself that keeping on was not a good idea. Fortunately, I persisted, and that is why I can now proudly declare that I look forward to them as much as I did to the slope of the hiking trail.

And here lie some important lessons in life. First, one does not get to taste the sweetness of success if one gives up too easily. Second, the landscape of the challenge changes dramatically if only you are brave enough to face it. It changes from seeming insurmountable to being enjoyable. Third, the road to success is really rather lonely. The majority of people have given up, and you are left with the few stubborn ones (those who, in Steve Jobs’s words, “stay hungry, stay foolish”), and these are the truly lucky ones who share the wonderful, wonderful scenery.

So next time you face a challenge which looks like a formidable slope, grab it by the horns. You will eventually get to enjoy that priceless sense of achievement and freedom as I careen down the slope at daredevil after a strong climb.


Life's too short (2)

“Life’s too short.”

This was the favourite line of a former colleague when he tried to justify not doing something he did not want to do.

From finding it amusing at first, I gradually learned to see the wisdom of it. Today, I have even adopted it myself. Not for fending off tasks but the opposite. I realise that it is exactly because life is too short that things need to get done.


Life is too short (1)

For two consecutive days, I have learned how the lives of some former and present colleagues of mine have been made uncomfortable or even miserable by power play or politics at the office.

Not being in their situations, I cannot claim to understand how much they have suffered, although I very much sympathise with them. Ever since I started working, I have always tried to steer clear of office politics. I never feel the need or find it wise to mix with some colleagues for the sake of reinforcing my position or acquiring insider information. And I try not to get entangled in silly or messy gossips. I find it much more healthy and worthwhile spending my time elsewhere. The favourite line of a former colleague of mine was: "Life's too short!" I cannot agree more.

To show how short life actually is, I have made, using a computer spreadsheet, a file showing how many weeks, days, hours and minutes I have left were I to live until sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety or a hundred. These figures change automatically when I adjust the days I have lived. These figures give me an idea about how much time I have left in different scenarios and are a powerful reminder of how I should not waste time.

The power play or politics at the office is not only a complete waste of time but also energy sapping. Of course, having said that, I understand that in some situations a person does not have a choice as he is at the receiving end of the game. To this, I can only say: Good luck then, but steer clear of it if you can.



With multimedia technology being so advanced and the equipment so affordable these days, their use and abuse have become more and more rampant.

Not to mention the more serious cases of voyeurists using candid cameras to take pictures of women's panties, these days, when you go to any public places, chances are that you are being monitored by a surveillance camera. That is an infringement of your privacy in the name of security.

These days, when you take a bus, or a train, or even an elevator, chances are that there is a screen installed somewhere and you are bombarded with all manners of commercial messages. Every day when I go and leave my office, I have to put up with the soppy Cantopop song played through the AV system of the elevators so much so that, heaven forbid, it keeps playing in my mind for the rest of the day. There is simply no escape for the commuters unless they adopt the relatively passive strategy of drowning out such broadcast with the music from their own system such as iPod.

In the modern world, especially in a society like Hong Kong where businessmen reign supreme, we are all trapped and force-fed with whatever promotional messages, and there simply is no easy escape.



mindfulness guru
teaches me to meditate
pine cone on the ground


Was it really love?

Except for those who have had a sad or twisted life, most of us must have told others, be it their parents, their spouses or their dates, “I love you”. We so want to tell that to the other person that we may hasten to add the word “forever” to it, believing that we do mean it one hundred percent.

But do we really understand love? Do we really have the true love to back up the statement? The following is a poem that I gave to a girl I thought I would die for many, many years ago:

Love, I love you
not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you, not only for what
you have made of yourself,
but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me
that you bring out, I love you
for reaching out and touching my heart,
and passing over all the foolish, weak things
that you can't help simply seeing there,
and for drawing out into the light
all the beautiful belongings
that no one else had looked
quite far enough to find.
Love is entrusting our faults to one another.
Love is belonging in each other's thoughts
with care as well as feeling.
Love is beautiful. You are enhanced by my love.
I am enhanced by you,
Love. I love because of you,
and you are the reason for all of my tomorrows.
Your love makes my life complete.

Larry S. Chengges

Reading it again now, the thought of identifying myself with the “I” and the girl with the “you” in the poem gives me the creeps. Looking back, it was little more than passion and lust, and I thank my lucky star that it didn’t materialize and I bet she does, too.

Rather than being something that lasts “forever” (fortunately, it is a word I never use), love is a very fickle thing indeed.


Love the country, love the party

There is nothing more sickening than the way love has been commercialized and politicized in China and, increasingly and inevitably, Hong Kong.

Businesses from banks to cooking oil manufacturers make TV commercials which associate their services or products with love. Worse still, China and Hong Kong propagates love love of the country, the region, the Communist Party, the people. What is this love anyway? Why? How to justify it? What sort of love does the deeds of those in power demonstrate? Is it in line with their words?

Amazingly, though, many people buy this people who, I believe, do not understand love; people who either have not loved or been loved.

The commercialized love lures you into spending your money. The politicized love lures you into sacrificing your life and, worse of all, even the lives of others.