Thursday, September 04, 2008

A good book is a loneliest boy's best friend!

WHEN I was a little boy, my house didn't have much in terms of reading materials. One reason was because my dad could ill afford them.

When he was in a book-buying mood, he ended up purchasing the entire Grolier encyclopedia which wasn't exactly easy reading material.

On some days when my mind thirst for knowledge, I extracted a volume and gamely took on a project bigger than my brain could handle. I was more inclined towards literature that stimulated my imagination.

I was looking for creative expressions of writers who could lead me down paths of wondrous discoveries. Alas, the encyclopedia wasn't my cup of tea at that tender age.

There some preschool fairy tale booklets which I figured I had outgrown years ago but my hunger for knowledge was so acute that I swore in silence that one day I would have enough books in my possession to last me for the next 50 years.

Many moons have come and gone since. Today, my book shelves are stacked with scores of books yet unread but I know if one day when I am bored, I won't be looking frantically for reading material because my "library" has been built and the "guests" are waiting for me.

Throughout history, it has been revealed that some of the best literary minds are those who grew up with books as their only companions. I wish I had those kind of friends but I was destined to find them only in my later years.

But I did find them eventually. Books continue to be one of my greatest passions, not because I find them so utterly fascinating but because the written word opens vistas of new frontiers when my physical form could not overcome.

The journey of life must first be taken to uncharted territories by the mind then the heart follows, and eventually the body will follow suit.

But knowledge gained isn't of much used until it is applied. Thus, a wise man once said, knowledge must not only be attained, it must also be utilised for the good of oneself and better still for the good of mankind.

The mind is like a storehouse of unlimited potential. It is in our quiet moments that we absorb bits of information at a dramatic rate. When our heartbeat slows down and the mind is at its most relaxed state, knowledge flows in like the fresh water from the mountain.

Our mind is the valley that welcomes the rivers of information that follows inexorably.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

For many on earth, one of the greatest undiscovered treasures is themselves. They simply don't love themselves enough to see the love in others or have enough love in their hearts to share it with strangers, friends and others.

We keep on trudging on for decades, searching for that pot of gold. We all want to be beautiful, handsome, rich, famous or simply to be loved. Not necessarily in that order but we want them all if given half the chance.

That's what keeps on going. That's what drives many of us. But the saddest story often told is the universal tale of people living in quiet desperation. They suffer from regular bouts of depression.

They feel useless even though a number of them have enough food to eat, friends who care for them and family members who love them dearly.

The monkey-on-their-backs so to speak, is the lack of love they have for themselves. They don't see the worthiness of continuing, of waking up bright and breezy early in the morning and taking life in great and happy strides.

If you are one of the millions who are permanent members of the Great Depression Club, let it be known right now that you can quit as a member anytime.

What's the point of feeling useless all the time? What's so great about wallowing in self-persecution or drowning in self-pity?

There are plenty of people who simply refuse to extricate themselves from this self-dug hole of futility.

Medicine companies are making fortunes from supplying prescription drugs to these depressed people. If only, the general populace finds out how much has been given freely by ordinary citizens to these pharmaceutical firms.

Do we really need to prop ourselves up with self-induced drugs that provide temporary highs?

If only for a moment, you can tell youself and believe it too, that you are one of the world's greatest treasures, you will begin to realise your place in the ranks of humankind.

Only, and only if you commit yourself to a life of excitement, adventure and fun, will you be able to leap out of that pit where the only reward is misery, listlessness and sorrow.

Get up, get up now and promise yourself that you are the greatest product ever made by the Lord Almighty. Tell yourself you deserve to be happy. Tell yourself you can only be happy and nothing else because you have no other choice.

You are the son of the Eternity and unto your body is given the spirit that knows no boundary or frontier that can lock you in.

Happiness is your right. Joy is your only privilege and bliss is the home that awaits you forevermore.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The love in your heart

I know I am spinning an old tune about love and all those related stuff but you just got to know that one of the greatest, or perhaps the greatest asset you will ever possess is the burning love in your heart.

Many, many moons ago when I was studying at a La Sallian School, there was this Christian Brother who taught us cathecism.

In one of his morning lectures, he said there was this saint who had so much love in his heart that he had to put a wet towel over his chest so that it could cool down.

When the laughter finally died down in class, we all concluded that too many prayers had affected the brother's sanity.

Now after several decades, I am not sure any more. Love can make some of us do crazy things. Yes, some people express their love in some very strange ways.

But if you have love and nothing else to your name, then you are a rich man indeed. Wealth in the material sense is always welcome but it may not last because of the vicissitudes of fate.

Health too has its statutory limitation because our physical forms do not allow an unlimited period of trouble-free life or unreasonable longevity. Thus, that leaves love.

Love is intangible and so long as you have an abundance of it in you, the aura will shine through your being. It will come through your smile, and it will affect everybody who comes into contact with you.

Love is that thing that has an unlimited warranty. It is even better than some of those items you buy in the supermarket that say "lifetime warranty".

Love outlasts everything I can think of. It is what creates revolutions, causes changes in history and holds families together for generations.

Love is free. It needs no maintenance and it will act as a warm blanket in the winter of your life. It will even cushion any hardship that you may experience in this lifetime.

Be comforted by the fact that God understands the language of love very well. If you speak with love to God, he hears you all the time. If you treat everybody with love, they will respond in kind.

Love is that universal language that even animals can feel and empathise with. It is given freely to everyone. It is here to stay and it will continue to remain long after you have left this planet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One of the greatest treasures largely unheralded is your mum and dad. Yes, you can get off the chair now and call them on the phone and wish them well.

They may experience some heart palpitations due to your unexpected action but the effort will be worth it, I assure you.

Many of us grown-ups think we are so independent that we won't call our parents most of the year because we don't want them to know we are "mama's boy" or just being a wimp.

We may even harbour the idea that if we call them too often, somebody may find out and tease us. That part about being attached to apron's strings is all nonsense.

Showing an open affection for your parents is admirable. More people should do that. It is nothing to be ashamed of. One day, when your children have reached adult status, you will begin to get the whole picture.

All this is dependent on whether or not you are lucky enough to find a mate and then againt depending on the grace and generosity of the Lord, you will have children.

I can say all this with some degree of confidence because my parents have passed away. I do miss them. Not as much as I would like because I stayed away from home for a number of years.

But my dad, God bless his soul, understood my situation because he too grew up under similar circumstances but as a parent myself, it is always heartwarming to have your children, young or grown-up calling up to enquire how you are and whether you have been having your meals.

It is such a simple act of concern and consideration. To call up your mum or your dad doesn't require any effort except lifting up your mobile.

If you can spend two hours in the cinema, you can spend five minutes talking to your mum. Yes, they have independent lives of their own. They may even be working but I assure you, they will never get tired of hearing from you.

It is small compensation for bringing you up, changing your diapers, worrying about your health, taking you to see the doctor when you are sick and coughing, crying for you in silence when you are in pain or in trouble, etc.

These are some of the things they don't teach you as a parent in books. Some of the finest and most worthy lessons as a parent is doing it all for free and out of love.

When you become a father or mother for the first time, it is a special experience. When you later grow old, as time will guarantee it, your children will leave the nest to set up their own households.

It is the twilight time for you as a parent. And the cycle goes on. From father to son, and then son to father.

Thus it is an opportunity to express your appreciation of what your parents have done for you, when you call them to say, not in so many words, but those little unspoken gestures that you love them; that you will always love them; that when it's time for them to leave this world, their lives have been worth living, and yours too if you do the right thing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


When the word "treasure" pops up, everybody thinks of diamonds, gold, cash and a roomful of hidden relics.

Wake up, this is not Hollywood. There are no gems lying out there in your backyard. I wish I had some of these imagined treasures too but after decades of wishful thinking, I finally decided to just get off my butt and work.

And what do you know, when you work hard for that little extra cash, you are not in a hurry to spend it all in a hurry.

After putting in those unused mental and physical muscles to work, I suddenly found the satisfaction that I have been craving for, and it tastes much better than striking lottery.

I wonder if I should withdraw the last sentence. Honestly though, unless you try working, you will never know what it's like to earn money through sweat, no blood and sometimes tears.

OK, I confess. I sometimes do place a buck or two on some lottery. It's just one of those human frailties. We are always trying our luck. Taking that long shot in the dark. Who knows? You know what I mean?

One of the greatest treasures to my mind, at this time in my life is the satisfaction I get from looking back at the years of hard work, lots of faith and a big dose of prayers in "surviving" those so-called hard times.

I guess when you have completed one phase of life's journey, you tend to derive a great amount of personal satisfaction that you have had some interesting experiences along the way.

Life is basically all about experiences. So you have have a roomful of gold nuggets, what can you truly boast about?

True, you will have a great time spending all that money. Spend, spend, spend. After a while, I assure you, you will get bored. Too much money has that kind of effect on a lot of people.

It has been said by many wise men, the simpler your life, the greater your joy. Ask those old timers who consciously and wilfully lead a quiet life based on simple personal needs.

At the end of the day, nobody really is going to look at the label in the collar of your shirt to judge your character. Everybody is obsessed with what they wear, how they look and how much they can impress their colleagues and friends.

The game is the same. But when you can see through everything, it pales in comparison to what is the true path to joy, peace and happiness. The answer is so simple, it's almost idiotic.

All you need are two or three square meals a day. You need a good night's sleep without worrying about world affairs because you are probably not a president of any country and you don't need good looks to be deliriously happy.

If you don't have a great car, get a bicycle. If you don't even have that, walk! I have done a lot of walking in my life and believe me, walking has opened up a lot of vistas for me.

I learn new things every day because I choose to walk. Heck, it ups the ante as far as healthy living is concerned.

Go for it. The greatest treasure is right there with you. Forget the cash and diamonds. Leave them to Hollywood.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Many would mistaken the "greatest treasure on earth" as a hall full of diamonds, gold ornaments and other relics of incalculable value.

Actually, the greatest treasure as any wise man will say is the knowledge you carry with you in your head. It is not heavy. It does not take up much room and it is readily available on recall.

Knowledge often leads to wisdom but first it must be coupled with experience. Information is merely bits of knowledge which when stored at random and haphazardly is of no value to its possessor.

Knowledge leads its owner to greater heights of awareness. It averts personal disasters and prevent unwarranted foolish behaviour.

Therefore, when you are given a choice of opening either door - treasure or knowledge - choose wisely.

Treasures of the tangible kind can be lost through natural disasters, robbery, avarice and just plain foolishness.

If you are knowledgeable and wise, no matter how you are clothed, it doesn't alter your state of being.

Now, you have only one wish and the genie is waiting......

Monday, June 02, 2008

The greatest treasure on earth is knowing that you are the most precious being at this moment in time, and nothing can hurt you in whatever circumstances no matter surprising they may be.

There's only you on this plane of existence, and then there's God. Begin your moment.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Great tales in Small stories

There are great books and there is wonderful literature. Unfortunately for many of us, we neither have the inclination, the money or the time to do all that and more.

Yes, somethings we do come across a great book and may find the time to read the first three chapters. Unless we are avid readers and reading is more of a habit than a pastime, we will finish the entire book, and digest its contents.

So it is more practical to find nice stories in anecdotes. I have often come across wonderful lessons in life from digesting small write-ups in magazines like Reader's Digest, academic publications or even the community newspaper.

Don't always be in the hunt for those thick hardcovers that cost a bomb. Sometimes the hardcover will even sprain your wrists from its sheer weight.

Life-changing stories are not the monopoly of best-selling titles. Some of the most wonderful stories are found in free booklets put on public stands for passers-by to pick up and digested at home at their own leisure.

Recently, I picked up three such books. They were all on Buddhism. I am a Catholic but I am open to good news of any form. Since I am also an Asian, I keep an open mind about a lot of things.

Buddhism is one of the finest philosophies ever to flower in our part of the world. The little booklets that I had picked up have some great advice. They are written in simple language so that the ordinary man can read it and not be confused.

Look for the little things. For these too have wisdom in them. Books are not the only platform for great revelations. There are things more wonderful and more wondrous that the human mind can understand or comprehend in the tiniest of this living planet.

All you have to do is to keep your eyes open, your mind free and your heart warm.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kahlil Gibran re-visited

Anyone who has read Gibran's works will come away feeling slightly awed and perhaps even bewildered by this Lebanese's ways of expressing his profoundest thoughts.

Gibran came into the new world from the old one at a time when America was finding its own identity amid rapid development.

This writer-philosopher speaks for things that sometimes flirts with our soul. His spiritual stirrings lift the veil that shrouds the crucible of knowledge that all men drink from.

It has been 77 years since Gibran passed away in New York City. His enduring legacy are the works he left behind for the world to ponder and wonder.

Some of these are The Prophet, Jesus, Son of Man, Voice of the Master, The Vision, Broken Wing and Mirrors of the Soul.

Kahlil Gibran grew up in the town of Bsharri, Lebanon on Jan 6, 1883. His grandfather on his mother's side was a Catholice priest. He grew up without formal education except for irregular lessons about the Bible taught to him by priests.

In time, he acquired adequate knowledge of Arabic languages to express himself in the printed form.

Gibran is known foremost for being a poet and a theologian. His artistic works are admired by many and his poetic expressions has found new fans over the decades.

Those who have read Gibran works know him to be a mystic as well as a philosopher. The years have passed since Kahlil Gibran walked the streets of New York City but his fame has not diminished the slightest.

Today, those who are in search of knowledge or desire to catch a glimpse of all there is to be seen behind the veil of heaven can browse through Gibran's books at leisure.

Perhaps in the solitude of your mental wanderings, you may catch a fleeting light that is encased in some of Gibran's most memorable works.