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Saturday, April 21, 2007

TODAY- The green, green class of home

Homeowners warming to idea of eco-housing but contractors must be educated, too

A HOME that draws energy from the sun, breathes with the wind and drinks from the rain. It's the stuff of dreams, for an environmentalist at least.

Situated at the prestigious Sentosa Cove, this gem of an eco-home was dreamed up by a Singaporean doctor, who only wants to be known as Dr Lau. more

By the way, tomorrow 22 April 2007 is Earth Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Corporate Social Responsibility

Please to know that ABN-AMRO Bank is exercising their social responsibilities of not financing the operations of casinos in Singapore. They will still be financing the construction of the casino though, as they view it as any other real estate development.
Gambling - for one to win, many have to lose. :)
ABN Amro says no to casino financing
Dutch bank among big firms with 'green' social conscience
Christie Loh, Today, Wednesday April 18 2007
Unlike governments and companies increasingly lured by the lucrative casino business. ABN-Amro is saying not to the glitz and gains.
The line that the Dutch bank will not cross: Financing the casino operators of Singapore's two upcoming integrated resorts (IRs). "That is against our social and ethical risk model, " said Mr David Wong, the bank's managing director and chief executive for South-East Asia.
What is acceptable is the financing of the IR's construction, as it would be "like any real estate project", he said yesterday on the sidelines of a forum on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the environment.
As the event participants heard, ABN Amro is part of a rising tide of global businesses guided not only by their social conscience, but by a "green" heart too.
Last year, environmental concerns led the Dutch lender to turn down 4 out of 33 financing projects in Asia. The rejections - none of which were for Singapore proposals - were for sectors such as forestry, mining, oil and gas, and gambling, said Mr Wong. No money is loaned if a proposal fails to meet the Equator Principles, a set of business guidelines adopted by 40 global financial institutions since 2003.
ABN Amro itself started sustainable development initiatives in 1998. It has, for instance, refused to lend money to an Indonesian miner until the bank has inspected and found the firm's nickel mining process eco-friendly, said Mr Wong.
Admittedly, however, it is "not easy to reconcile commercial demands with sustainable needs", he added.
This is a challenge facing businesses on the path to sustainable development.
"There must be economic drivers for human behaviour to change," said Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of oil giant Shell Singapore.
In his presentation during the forum, he recounted how the multi-national corporation effected a change in the public sector mindset. Shell had a project in southern China that involved uprooting an entire rural community.
Instead of leaving the people to fend for themselves, Shell asked the province's government to find them homes and jobs, said Mr Lee. These are relocating issues that the officials would never have thought of without the oil giant's beckoning.
In Singapore, it is a case of a lukewarm private sector, said Ms Claire Chiang, president of Singapore Compact, a non-government platform which promotes CSR. She cited the "very limited response from Singapore" for another "green" event here; the United Nations' first Global Business Summit for the Environment starting tomorrow.
"Singaporeans don't pay to got to forums unless htey are being funded to do so by the Government, " said Ms Chiang. Until chief executives are convinced of the benefits of sending their employees for such conferences, public awareness will not grow, she said.

Related post: Usury

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kids Play 3

I have been thinking about how to teach Victor, on how to invest his money eversince he popped the question to me. I am very pleased and impressed that he asked the question as I had wished somebody had taught me how to invest when I was a kid.
So one Sunday, at a lonely quiet road junction, I thought it was my chance to teach him one of the basic components of investments. Our conversation went like this...

Me: Let's cross the road.
(The lights was showing red man, but since there were no cars around, I thought we would do that.)
Me: Do you know why I made us cross the road now?
Vic: Dunno

Me: Because I want you to know that in business, you need to learn how to take risks.
(Instantly) Vic: But you risk with money, not with life....
At this point, I was dumbfounded! How sharp he is for an 11 year old boy!
Vic: Isn't it! (looking at me in the eye!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

105 Universal Laws - Part 4

This posting is based on what I have learned from the "105 Universal Laws" seminar on the 25th Mar 2007 in Singapore by Dr Aaron Lim. This seminar comprises a series of lectures conducted one Sunday a month. This is the seventh lecture of the series.
Warning: This posting contains opinions that may be considered unacceptable by some people. If you are easily offended by unconventional views about religion and spiritualism, then DO NOT READ FURTHER THAN HERE. If you do, then do it at your own risk! If you do not agree with the views expressed below, it does not mean that you have not 'arrived', rather it just mean that you 'do not agree'. Meanwhile, try to be open. There are lots to discover about ourselves when we are open. Do feel free to leave comments. BELIEVING IS NOT NECESSARY!

Good morning all, thank you for attending this session every month. You have come here because you choose to. This is a free forum. There is nothing to join. There is no hidden agenda, so just relax. Belief is not compulsory, there is no punishment for non-belief. We also don't have to agree. Just come with an open heart. Take what you want to, just like in a buffet - no two persons will take the same variety of food in the same quantities.
Last night I watched an interesting Malay movie on Singapore television. Although I am a Chinese, I can identify with the Malay culture and language because I grew up in a Malay kampung (village).

In this movie, there is a woman in her early 30s who is still not married. Her mother thinks it is "Tidak ada jodoh" (No luck), and went to seek the help of a bomoh. The daughter got to know about this and scolded the mum, as black magic is not allowed in Islam (most Malays are Muslims). Then she warned her mother about, "Hukum Ugama" which translates to "Punished by religion". Ironically, she must have learned the same phrase from her mother, since children don't have prejudice and make judgments like this. She perhaps will in turn pass the phrase "Hugum Ugama" to her children.

This made me recall a conversation with an Indonesian Muslim. In a similar situation of another person's action, he mentioned, "Hukum karma" (Punished by the results of your own action). This is interesting because the two said persons are of the same religion but used contrasting phrases. One believe in a God punishing the doer, the other believe the results of doer's own actions punishing the doer.

Anyway, back to the movie,...

The Malay woman told the mother that she cannot fall in love with Malay men, because they lack self confidence. So, she resorted into Internet chats and befriended a man from Kuwait. They got on well with their chats, exchanged pictures and became online lovers, though they have not met.

Meanwhile, mum was trying to fix her with a Malay man. She was pestering her to meet this Malay man and finally managed to get her to agree. On meeting the Malay man, she realised he is the 'Kuwaiti man" she befriended online and found out that they were playmates when they were little. She was very happy.

Then after the meeting, back on her own, she wondered...
"Was it because of the bomoh that I have found a man of my life? Or was it the Internet Chatroom? Or was it the mum? Was it Islam?"

Sometimes, we just don't know.
Hukum Ugama
What is considered 'sinful' changes with times.

For example, the Catholics used to eat fish every Friday and eating meat on Fridays are seen as sinful.

Cheng Ming, the day for paying respects to deceased ancestors among the Chinese, used to be very strictly held. But nowadays, offsprings of the dead could visit their ancestral tombs within a time frame of one month around the 18th day of the 3rd lunar month. This is probably because of globalisation and immigration, it has become more and more difficult to bring everyone together on one stated day. So, customs are changed to accommodate this difficulty.
Long ago in the 60s and 70s, as long as there was no pork in the food, Malays would be willing to consume them, but now, with peer pressure, everything has to be 'halal'.
Our perception of reality will continue to change as technology will allow us to do things differently. Fifty years from now, technology will be more innovative and impressive. We may be living in another planet. Some planets may be very hot and dressing will have to change.
Our thoughts will be different. Our children will behave differently in a different world.
We are facing mostly form in our daily lives. All forms must enhance "the loving". We need only love. The rest are forms. Love is like nutrition to the soul.
Everything is beautiful in its own way. Continue to do what you do as you feel comfortable and be sure you have Love. Otherwise it won't serve you.
If we believe in form, then it excludes people outside their form. It excludes yourself from the blessings of people you have excluded. Count your blessings for the day. Have you wondered how many blessings you have vs the number of curses you get? So be mindful, as it is easy to offend unknowingly and get curses for our actions. eg. While we drive on the road, it is easy to offend without realising.
So have you wondered why there are some people who live a wonderful life and some whose life seems stuck. Perhaps it is the curses that have burdened them to such an extent that the wonderful energies cannot reach them. In other words, shielded by curses.
If you have pure Love, nothing can harm you, as you have the protective bubble around you.

Mother Teresa helped everyone, many of them non-Catholics and non-Christians. Can you even imagine if anyone would curse her? No, because Mother Teresa herself did not curse others. What you don't sow you don't reap.
On the Law of Average, some will not like you. Is this something you have to put out?

Check your emotions.
If you are not reactive, you know that it is the perception of the other persons. Whatever we are not attached to, does not exist. Emotions less than joy are attachments. They are painful..
If you are defensive, that means you have an inkling that what the other person said could be true. This is unhealed emotions.
Unhealed emotions usually comes from parents.
For example, there was a father who was very coarse with his words. He simply couldn't praise the kids. It was probably something very Chinese or Asian. Asian parents don't seem to want to praise the kids. The old Chinese believe that they are surrounded by hantu (ghosts) and that if they praise their kids, then the ghosts will notice their nice kids and will steal their kids. That was their way of expressing their love. The kids wanted a hug from their father, but they didn't get it because of the belief of malicious ghosts lurking and waiting to steal good kids. Kids like these will grow up with unhealed emotions.
Funny that we are surrounded by ghosts and angels, but we tend to give power only to the ghosts or other perceived evil. We colour according to what we perceive.

So long as we have emotions that are less than loving, we got healing to do. How do we know that we are "less than loving"? Ask how much 'separation' do we practise.
[Question: How about people who practise seclusion in the mountains?
It depends on why that person does it. Is it because he is free from everything or is it because he is fed-up with everything?]
Unhealed emotions accumulates in ourselves. If there are only few issues to resolve, then we can deal with them individually. But if there are many issues due to so much unhealed emotions, then there must be a total demolition of the old emotions and everything rebuilt anew. This would be easier.
A person who is free from everything would do his own thinking. He does not allow religious institutions to control him. To him God is everywhere. Nothing is not God. Everything is omnipresent and omnipotent. It is often a journey alone. Free from opinions of others, as other people's opinions have no influence on him, as he knows there is nothing to defend.
[At this point, Dr Aaron instituted a rule in the class - that all questions and discussions must be focused on the questioner, not on 'other people'. A fine of $5 will be imposed on questions about 'other people'. Dr Aaron is exempt from it during his lecture. He said the same rule applies to him after the lecture.
EG. We have someone fined for asking questions about the emotional problems of another persons.
We shouldn't care about 'other people' in that context. We should only care about how it applies to us.

Many times, the questions we have are way beyond us. We want to know things that we are not ready for. eg. We don't know us, but we want to understand God.

The easier way is to just focus on being loving in our everyday life, and slowly realise, rather than thinking of difficult questions we are not ready for. ]

[My own side note:
This is often called 'sacred selfishness'. This means that we can only love others if we love ourselves and are well ourselves. However, this is not to be confused with taking a bigger slice of the cake and leaving others with nothing. Confusing isn't it? I have struggled with this concept for a while myself, but am more comfortable with it now. It is likened to the aircraft safety procedures of adults placing the oxygen masks on themselves first before tending to their children.

EG. Someone once told me that there were people who said that I was too serious during a seminar. In response, I asked her if that was also her own opinion as well. She replied that it was no. Then, I told her that she shouldn't just repeat what other people say. What is important would be her own opinions and she should start thinking for herself and not rely on other people's thinking. Whether I had been too serious or not is a matter of opinion, and they are only 'other people's' opinions. As I had nothing to defend, it didn't really matter what these other people's opinions were. I wasn't angry with the 'other people' either, for if I were, it would have meant that I have an unhealed emotion, and that means the opinion was TRUE!!!! Arghhhh!!!!!!! :) ]

47. The Law of Karma
This is the natural principle of cause and effect. Every cause has it's effect; every effect has its cause. Everything happens according to law. Chance is but a name for law not recognised. There are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the law. It is ever at work with chains of causations and effects that govern all of life and manifested matter. If a person was to follow each chained link of causation, it will be found that it has its beginning and endings in the non-material realm, the realm of spirit.

It affects the throwing of dice on a gambling table or a rock slide that is caused by rain and wind.

When the law is used with conscious effort, desired results can be produced in a person's life by steering him away from along definite paths of causation. So called 'accidents' could occur without warning to individuals who toil through life without awareness.
We are responsible for the very thoughts that we produce and the final results of our mental alchemy.
Fear is one of the most dangerous mental causation that prevents a person from thinking and acting as the higher self would prefer.The cause of fear is the result of a lack of knowledge about the unknown God which should be the most important educational journey in a person's life.

The karmic law requires that every human wish find ultimate fulfillment. Therefore, desire is the chain that binds man to the reincarnational wheel. Karma is attracted only where the magnet of human ego still exists. An understanding of karma as the law of justice underlying life's inequalities serves to free the human mind from resentment against God and man.

What you see about yourself now is already the 'Effect'. Causes become Effects, and Causes themselves are Effects of previous Causes. :)

If we are free from the Effect, it doesn't matter the Cause. Whatever you are you just accept and go with the flow. A spiritual being does not project as it creates expectations. Ego projects, God extends - live moment by moment.

Civilisations have confered the title of "Lord" or equivalent to someone who is in alignment with the Universal Laws. eg. Lord Buddha.

In the UK, there is a House of Lords, that passes laws for the country.

There is no such thing as an aethiest.

To choose "not to choose" is a CHOICE.
To choose not to believe is a BELIEF.

Can a fish not believe in water?
Different people has different references for the word "God", some call it "The Universe", "Nature", "The Cosmos"...etc. The word "God" normally comes from the Bible. You can call it all other names and mean the same.

A God conscious person can see God in everything - trees, flowers, rain,...etc.

Mother Teresa said she didn't see sick people, but only see "Christ in distress".

[My own side note: I have a few snapshots of this feeling periodically. One of them occured directly after the Kalachakra course.]

So there is beauty in everything.

For instance, when a tree fell onto your house, you may think it is a curse to you, but to the termites, it is a MIRACLE!

Universal Laws don't discriminate. It applies all the time.

There is a joke that if Johor had sold all the river sand to Singapore, they won't have the recent floods. (This is in the context of the recent floods in Johor in Malaysia, and the sand export ban that Indonesia slapped on Singapore.)

[Question from the audience: What about 'chance'? Why is there 'chance' when the laws are perfect?

As long as there is change in the Universe, there is chance. Everything is a chance.

Question from same person: Muslims are not allowed to trade in 'financial risks', but in today's world, 'financial risks' for the big boys are no longer risks. With huge capital, clever algorithms and computers, financial risks are no longer risks.

We have to try to see the Islamic rules in the context of 1,400 years ago. It happened in Arabia where it was all sand, 45 C and no water. They cannot be trading in risks. They ain't got those computers and technologies to aid them at that time.]

If we think the Unreal is Real, we will remain there.

EG. "Happy hour" in the bar. Is it real?

There are millions of people wo have happy hours without going to the bar or having alcohol.

Law of Karma cannot be fully logic-ed out. "Think with your heart", as the Bible says.

An indian friend believe in working hard to get rich. So he worked very hard, but didn't get rich. He then prayed to God to help him get rich. Part of the ritual of the prayer involves breaking coconuts to please the Gods. This went on and he was breaking one coconut after another. Still, he didn't get rich. What he didn't realise was that he was building fear into himself by breaking the coconuts. Fear stopped him from getting rich.

Fear comes from losing pleasure. After all, our journey back to earth is purely for pleasure. So persist beyond physical form where pleasure resides.

Praise first then guide (not control). People likes to control because of fear. Fear leads to lies and anger.

Be still and know I am God.
Better,... "Be still and know I AM is God.
I AM Michael
I AM Chinese
I AM a person
I AM a technologist
I AM ........(the false self)....

You can change your false self but not your true self.

Jesus said, ...

I AM the life ======> Better, "I AM is the life"
I AM the truth=====> Better, "I AM is the truth"
I AM the way =====> Better, "I AM is the way"
You can't be in heaven until you become a 'child' again. Innocent again and does not judge.
You don't have to die to reincarnate and repeat a cycle, if our today is the same as yesterday, cos' we didn't change our thoughts.
Whatever you have, I have and vice versa, for we are made of the same Godliness.
The Hawaiin language has the same word "Aloha" when they are meeting and leaving. Perhaps they did not differentiate between the two, in that meeting and leaving a equally happy events. There is no separation of the two.
48. Law of Lotus

Peel slowly until you reach your true self. Reward: More peace, more joy.

49. Law of Love

If you love one, you can't love all - Mahatma Gandhi's story.
If you love all, you can't love one.

50. Law of the Lower Four
Heart is the transformation chakra. It transforms the energies from the lower four chakras that hold fear, greed, ...etc.
[My own note:
This law made me think of the yin-yang symbol. That the lower four are transformed by the heart chakra to achieve balance.].

51. Law of Magnetic Control
The longing to go some where where one belongs.

You are the first recipient of your thoughts. It is felt immediately. Bodily chemistry changes instantly. So be careful with what you think.

Seminar ends here. The five dollar fine for asking questions for 'other people' invoked much laughter in the class. The fined money will most likely be used in a party at the end of the class. The point of the fine is to instill a habit of thinking by ourselves for ourselves and not unduely bothered by other people's thoughts.


Past posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Next seminar
Date: 22 Apr 2007
Time: 9.30am to 5pm
Place: Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Lecture Theatre 1, Singapore
Fee: $30, for meals and drinks
All Welcome!
All financial surpluses from the seminar go to the orphanages that Dr Aaron Lim supports.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kids Play 2

Got a 9 year old child's view of a comic strip...

[For those of you who doesn't follow Peanuts cartoons, this is the usual scene of the dog sitting on his kennel visited by this bird speaking his language comprising of only "l l l l l l l l ...". The dog almost always have grave difficulties understanding the bird, amid hilarious moments.]

In this comic strip, the wind blew away the "l l l l l l l l l l l l l l ..." that the bird was trying to say... I thought that was funny as it involves the surreal characters falling off the dialogue box.

I showed it to a 9 year old boy and was surprised that he didn't laugh. I was even more surprised when he asked why the wind only blew away the words of the bird and not the dog's. Have you ever wonder why we stop looking at the world the way children do? We all have been kids before! :)



In a more sombre mood, I also found this other comic strip about a chain saw...

While this comic strip is sarcastic of the chain saw hastening the felling of precious trees, it also reminds me of psychics having far more powerful abilities and the correspondingly bigger impact that can befall them if they do not exercise their abilities responsibly.

For past post of how technology influence our lifestyle, click here

Past Post: Kids Play