Status

I looked around me during the church service last weekend and realize nothing that we put on ourselves matter. In the old days, we were told to put on our Sunday best but to me, our best or anyone else’ best is as good or as bad as our judgment.

We live in a world that is quick to judge based on appearance and it is hard to put in practice the saying “do not judge the book by its cover”. We live in a world today that is always seeking to impress and to be impressed. In short, it is easier to fool somebody while wearing an expensive timepiece and making it seen by our audience.

That evening in church, I felt that all the riches and statuses did not matter in God’s eyes – He accepts us as we are. In fact, He created us all equals and knows us well. What matters most is us coming to be in His presence and be at peace.

Today, I sat and chatted with a couple of co-workers. We spoke about branded apparels. Having had an “overloaded” shopping experience three weeks prior, the topic irked me but nonetheless I was interested to know the mandatory reason why branded and expensive apparels are important for certain people.

There is an insurance agency office where we work and as we were having our conversation, a few insurance agents walked past. They were quick to point out that three of the agents had a huge “H” on their belt buckles. Definitely a brand I wasn’t even interested in let alone know its worth or value. I should know it is a prestigious and premium brand moving forward.

“They need to carry themselves well in order to impress their prospect” was the only explanation.

I further questioned the practicality in an attempt to make sense of it all. I have seen these agents in their “lavishness” behaved in a manner least reflecting their perceived self worth. In other words, how they behaved was the total opposite of what they try to portray through their outfits.

Seeing the vast difference between the two scenarios stir up some sort of dilemma within me. It really is difficult to go against the tide of the world that is materialistic. One that sizes you up at first sight. And by complying and subscribing to such culture only serves to propagate it further.

Perhaps I am not in the position to live a lavish lifestyle and I might think differently when I find myself in that position.

But then, I am pretty sure my soul would still be unsettled on the grounds of principles.

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There is beauty in this

The past week has been very eventful – much needed to be done and has been accomplished. There were news about a couple of deaths as well and when they are all in the mix, I felt really overwhelmed. Somehow my mind keeps thinking about people that I know and what I will write for their eulogies. My mind shortlisted and concluded that principles and values will be the basis of these eulogies.

“Get behind me Satan!”

Today’s sermon by Fr. Paul was quiet interesting and reminded me of a series of events that has taken place in my life that I can relate. He shared the story of Aesop Fable’s The Bear and The Two Travelers emphasizing how we can all be influenced by a friend who may not have the best of our interest in mind.

The gospel reading today urged us to take up our crosses and take ownership and responsibility of all the struggles and hardships in our lives.

To me personally, it was a lot to do with the values and principles of life. I can totally relate in the interactions I had with two people – one not too recent and the other was quite recently.

28th May 2014

It was a serene and quiet evening by the seaside promenade of Pattaya, Thailand that I asked Francola a very difficult question over dinner. I asked him why he was still struggling to climb the ranks in the corporate world when many people his age are already up there where they belong and no offense, he rightly belongs up there too with all these “successful” people. The question was difficult because I didn’t want to sound like I was belittling or mean he was inferior compared to his peers but he was sharp enough to understand what I meant. You see, at almost 60, Francola is still working like the rest of us and do not get me wrong as he has gone through his fair share of challenges throughout his career rising through the ranks from the bottom. Started off as an operator in a factory, through to holding a CEO position at a startup, he is still going through the grind like every other employee.

His answer was simple and yet profound. He said, “because I wanted to do what is right by everyone”.

That is Francola for you. He never cut corners nor take short cuts to achieve what needs to be accomplished. He made the wisest of decisions and did the right things. He always ensured that his subordinates take up the challenges by first giving them the confidence that they are capable of the tasks as well as emphasizing the lessons that could be learned.

It is no wonder that Francola went on to design and build his own energy efficient house that is not only capable of powering itself through solar but uses less energy because of the direction in which the house is built. It is also capable of saving up enough rain water to used during the dry seasons.

The quote above was one of the many that he shared with us over dinner that evening emphasizing why it is important that we should take ownership and responsibility of all the challenges in our live.

Just like Jesus knowing the fate that is awaiting Him did not take the easy way out, we should also strive to embrace the difficulties and know that there will be joy after the sorrow.

On the other hand, the world has seen the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous. We have also seen con artists exploiting the system to work in their favor and in turn, made them wealthy. The family chat group was abuzz this evening with conversation around the book written about the biggest heist the world has seen in the 21st century. It reminded me of the values the world tries to impress upon us – the materialism and all the temptations that comes with it.

21 April 2018

After dinner, we adjourned to one of the many sky bars in Jakarta, Indonesia with one of our corporate leaders for a couple of drinks. While we chatted, he showed off pictures of his son and himself having a great time seated in the grand stand at every F1 race he attended. Boasted about how much he spent on the go-cart he bought for his son who loves to drive and race. Referred to the waitress as a “bitch” each time he needed her to fix the wi-fi connection on his phone. Made it clear to us how he hates a certain nationality and told us what he thought of our boss – a good for nothing low life farmer. We were all threatened that night to not mention anything about the conversations or else, we will be punched.

This guy did not impress me one bit and is the epitome of a person so influenced by the greed of the world. I do not think success was measured by his standards.

To conclude, while the world sells us a different kind of dream, there are also those that promotes what is right and just. There is a constant struggle between the good and bad – within us and around us.

If we need to choose a friend, like the lesson from The Bear and The Two Travelers, we really should choose the right friend to be with. One that will strengthen our values and principles as a person. One who will not ask us to take short cuts but rather journey with us through our difficulties.

Though I  do not wish to but should the need arise one day to write an eulogy for my dear boss Francola, this will be it because the world needs more people like him.

Jesus

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” ~ Philippians 2:9

The name written in the bible is not James, John, Francis, William, Arthur, or Theodore but it is Jesus.

We are faced with a broken church – an institution made up of imperfect humans. Imperfection is not even a worthy justification for all the pain it has caused to the many victims.

Does it affect me?

Of course it does and at so many levels. I do not want to have anything to do with it was what first came to mind. I do not want to participate in an institution that has condone such heinous crime by doing nothing about it.

Any religious establishment regardless that failed to bring about betterment in the spiritual lives of its practitioners can be deemed to have lost its most fundamental purpose of existence.

On a personal level, it really isn’t about the person or the institution. Our focus should be in the divine. These persons and institutions are only in existence to assist us in making the divine a little more tangible, relatable, and comprehensible.

We can leave and abandon the false prophets but should not lose sight the divine – God.

As a believer, I have had my own special experiences in the spiritual realm. One that cannot be defined, articulated, or explained easily.

In God I found a sense of peace and goodness that allowed me to be grounded and centered. Knowing that there is a God gives me hope when all is lost.

When the human fails, we must be quick to discern and separate what is human and divine.

In order to render justice to the victims, all perpetrators must be brought to face the music for their actions eventhough forgiveness is the core of what the church preaches.

I pray that Jesus, the prince of peace will always be there to comfort all those affected by this avalanche of despicable and appalling crimes within a once trusted institution.

Some are saying “Do Not Leave Jesus Because Of Judas” but to that, I’d say “Leave The Jesus Imposter Who Acts Like Judas”.

We have a choice to choose which human we place our trust in but there is only one God we believe in!

Jesus…

Just In Case

I am quite sure most people think about death. Not the suicidal kind but the what if I die prematurely kind. The following will be what I need my young daughters to know if death comes too early for me. I do not know if my family or friends know of the existence of this blog but I sure hope they will find it and pass it on to them when they need it most.

Dear B&B,

Please know that daddy had tried my best to be with you as long as I am able to. I wanted nothing else in this world other than being there with and for you throughout your life. I wanted to be there until you no longer want me to. I know all this is too sudden and unexpected. Because it caught you off guard and unprepared, the more I need you to read this very carefully and understand the best you can.

You Must Love Yourself First

None of this is your fault. It is no one’s fault. Do not take it too hard on yourself. Do not spend too much time overthinking and over analyzing the reason as to why this is happening. My time here on earth was up, that much I can tell you. The least I want you to do for me is to love yourself first. Not the selfish kind of love. I do not want you to hurt yourself or do things that will get you hurt. Protect yourself and all those you hold dear to your heart. Go travel and see the world. Learn something new everyday and invest in your own wellbeing.

You Must Start Fighting

I am not asking you to hurt someone else. What I mean is that you must start fighting for your own life. You must fight to be a better person. Fight for your dreams and do not quit fighting until you achieve your goals in life. Stand up for what is right. Keep doing well in your studies and career. You might not understand why now but you will thank me one day. Do not be afraid to work hard, your hard work will pay off.

Love Your Mom

Take good care of her for me. If she is lonely, make sure she finds a man who loves her and you unconditionally. If he is ever mean to any of you, make sure you whoop his ass real bad and get your mom out of the lousy relationship.

Find The Right Man

I hope that I have in some way planted the seed through example how an ideal man should be and one that you will hold as a standard when the special person come into your life. Make sure he treats you better than I did while I was with you.

I Love You More

Know that your love for me will never surpass the amount of love I have for you. Never. And because my love for you is infinite, I will still be loving you wherever my soul is right now. I am just watching silently.

Turn To God

You must always reach out to God. In despair, look for His counsel and in joy, praise Him. When all else fails, God triumphs!

Save For Rainy Days

As much as you enjoy life, make sure you set aside resources for difficult times. Like good times, bad times do not last forever but you need resources to pull you through.

Scatter My Ashes In The Sea

That way, as you immerse yourself in the beautiful ocean, know that I am with you.

Luv,

Dad Dad

When God Speaks

In what seemed to be an outburst of my disappointed soul, I ranted out loud on Saturday and explained to my wife how I was feeling regarding my faith. The following was what I told her.

I finally am able to articulate how my faith is at the moment. Let’s use a phone app as an anology. Going to church every Sunday is like receiving a weekly software update. Just like facebook updates with some new features and bug fixes, it nourishes the soul spiritually speaking.

I used to receive very good weekly updates and patches. Now, my brain no longer get good updates and it crashes.

And because I am human, I can choose not to depend on these updates anymore because why should there be a need for something that causes you to crash?

Besides, no one owes me anything and I owe no one anything when it comes to the spiritual realm. Nothing to expect and to be expected, really…

Perhaps, I need to seek for a better server somewhere else or find another app?

I do understand that no app is perfect but at least, I need an app that works…

I also sense that someone is praying hard for me to choose either.

And to that effect, I started thinking about the broader picture and because I was also in the midst of working on a solution for my work assignment, my thoughts were leaning towards how the computer world is.

The Operating System That Is Us.

Are you a Windows or a Linux?
We are all operating systems seeking to achieve interoperability in this world. We need to talk to each other and work together.

Unfortunate, we are all “flashed” differently through the many experiences, indoctrination, and introduction to different interpretation of religious beliefs.

Once a certain operating system has been imprinted, it is difficult to be reprogrammed. The damage has been done. We carry with us the flaws.

The other challenge is how we program the Operating Systems of our future generation today to operate better now and in the future.

So please forgive me for the way my operating system works as I too seek to understand how yours work in order for us to interoperate in this huge web of connected operating systems call the NETWORK…

After having all these thoughts, I finally decided to put the topic to rest and thought nothing of it for the rest of the Saturday. I was having all these thoughts because of how frustrated I was not being able to draw inspiration from the church I was attending and it was getting really mundane and meaningless.

Come Sunday morning, something just prompted me to get ready for church and the idea of visiting church further away came to mind.

As I started driving, a prompt came on my phone for an OS update. I thought nothing of it and proceeded to agree with installing the update. I allowed my phone to be updated while I drove myself to church.

“Why did you come to church this morning?”

I didn’t realize until mid way through mass that I thought about how my faith needed an “application update” and how we are all flawed operating systems. Turned out, God did not just wanted to update an app which can be piecemeal, He wanted to update my Operating System like my phone this morning.

The message cannot be any louder and it cannot be a coincidence. It is deafening throughout the mass.

The priest made the mass so beautiful and amazing as he took time explaining every part of the mass. I learned something new and I only wished my daughters and wife were here.

He started off his homily asking “Why did you come to church this morning? Is it obligation, guilt, or just to seek God?”

It was like God knocking on my heart.

Glad to receive this OS update.

For the few who knew about my struggle in the faith, I don’t know what you all did but I know for sure it was your prayers. I know you are all praying very hard for me and for that, thank you.

It was the best mass I’ve attended in my entire life so far.

In conclusion, I felt blessed to be able to recognize when the divine is reaching out to me by observing mindfulness. Also, when God speaks, He say it loud and clear. Literally…

Lost Boy

Important note: TRIGGER WARNING

I am not sure how long YouTube will allow the following video to be on their server, but please thread forward cautiously. It is Robin Williams’ documentary entitled “Come Inside My Mind”.

At some point, this documentary brought me back to a particular moment in my childhood. It must have been the darkest moment of my life as a kid. It was such an awful experience that I could actually hear that voice telling myself that “you do not matter, you are nothing”. From that moment, I actually gave up and lost myself.

As a result of that and since then, my mind has been conditioned that pleasing others and seeing them happy is my life’s top priority. I kept yearning that acceptance and always ensuring that I did my best to please those around me. On the flip side, it was very hard for me to trust people and I was always suspicious of people’s intention. I started to not only keeping scores with myself but with others as well. There seemed to be a built-in gauging system and I beat myself up for someone else’ unhappiness.

When it comes to people who made positive impact on me as a person, I have found myself to be dependent on their thought process and ideals. I also yearn for their affirmation and acceptance all the time. Thus, I often find myself motivated to appease them by acceding to their demands, delivering my best, and be the best that I can be for them.

But it gets tired sometimes and I’ll be lying to myself if I say that I didn’t feel like giving up.

I have been trying to figure out the sadness that I have been experiencing every now and then for the past few months. It wasn’t until I heard the words of Robin’s son Zak in the documentary that it began to hit home.

He said and I quote:

“His pathos was seeking to entertain and please. And he felt when he wasn’t doing that, he was not succeeding as a person. And that was always hard to see because in so many senses, he is the most successful person I know. And yet he didn’t always feel that.”

What he said applies to most of us who have become too dependent on the approval of others that we have totally lost ourselves. In the fast paced world, I felt it most when I immersed and poured myself entirely and completely into my job. I found it hard to adjust whenever there were some downtime. I felt that I wasn’t valuable, contributing or being productive.

Through that, I have learned to be generous with my praises when people do well and always make it a point to acknowledge people so that they know that at least someone took notice and they matter.

I am slowly learning to come to terms and forgive myself. It is not easy and I am definitely a work in progress like everyone else. The best place to start is knowing that we are not alone.

Even though people do not usually say it out loud, each and every one of us matters to at least someone out there.

It is like looking out the window to see the moon thinking that we are all living under the same stars, moon, and sun. And if you grew up in the 80s, you will be reminded of the song that goes…

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight,
Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight,
Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer,
That we’ll find one another in that dream somewhere out there…

~Somewhere Out There (An American Tail, 1986)~

Unlearn and Relearn

At this juncture of my life, I cannot help but to feel that I had allowed others to shape how I think – adults in my life as I grew up, religion and religious leaders, and people and organizations I look up to. Each time I wanted to be myself, my mind has been conditioned to accuse myself of being arrogant and I get back into a reclusive depression. I feel like for way too long, I have not taken responsibility for myself because it is easier for people to fail and as long it is not me, it is alright. That is not taking responsibility. I have allowed others to mess with my mind. I have allowed myself to depend upon others to mess up my mind and each time I had doubt, I go back to that dependency. The vicious cycle continues and my life becomes so mundane and meaningless.

It happened so much that it is almost like an addiction to this dependency and each time I deviate from the “conditioned path”, I allowed myself to be brainwashed over and over again. The vicious cycle repeats and continues day after day, month after month, and year after year.

I realized that my mind has been conditioned to conform to certain standards and my soul yearned to break free. Each time that I tried breaking free, I had been told both subtly and directly to get in line and stay in line. Even to have such thoughts is interpreted as being influenced by the devil. I believe now that organized religion does that to people.

I recently watched a video of a guy ranting how a self-righteous person told him how she did not want to be associated with him just because she thought his tattoos made him look trashy. Followers of religions have a way of thinking that they are better than anyone else and miss the point of living out their religious teaching through empathy, kindness, and love.

Like it or not, we are in some sort of religion even if we are not aware of it. When we are into something and when it consumes us entirely, our passion goes overboard and get the better of us.

I appreciate the fact that I am “work in progress” and have the opportunities to be a better person for myself and the people around me. Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Mark Nepo this week hits home for me. The amount of inspirational and thought provoking contents in just a short 1 hour session was what I needed this week spiritually!