A blink of an eye and more than a month has passed since I joined this new company. So far so good, although the challenge is really huge but touch wood, things have been progressing quite well. Frantic recruitment is still happening and we are still so short handed. Processes and procedures are being put in place, people are talking to each other more, difficult problems concerning especially our huge subsidiary in India is now being solved (for those who has worked in India, you will appreciate how hard it is to work with the law and taxes, let alone deal with the very smart Indians), the Vietnam project will kick start by end of this month and the Thai project is getting firmed up. Other work is progressing and they seem to be moving along the right direction. I hope things will get better and better.
My Go is still not very good, and my lessons shall be on every Friday starting next Friday, hopefully, after my sensei is back from his tournament this week. I have been doing a lot of studies myself, especially so replaying professional games and solving problems. But still I don’t feel very confident with my Go.
Talking about Go, I get to know this new friend who actually is still a kid. But this kid is quite funny and asks questions like death, meaning of life, etc. Well, she has gotten into Go and is progressing well but she sort of reminds me a bit of myself when I was around her age. That’s how I started to want to read about philosophy and started to read Plato. In fact, when I found my first secure job at the audit firm, the first thing I bought, my first ever asset, is the set of Great Books of the Western World, a set of 60 books containing the wisdoms of the Western world. That book set cost me more than RM5,000 and I had to pay for it by installment. But what a joy!!
It is strange to many but thinking about death do preoccupy me a lot. As I have blogged about this before, I often imagine my own funeral and was surprised to find out that Gustav Mahler did the same. I wonder if this is normal. When I first read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, I swore at that time that it was the best book I have ever read and kept it by my bedside for many many months, re-reading paragraphs and passages over and over again.
Perhaps why I am so drawn to Mahler’s music is because it is filled with death, at least the few symphonies that touches me deeply. I have blogged about it here: https://fallingstones.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/symphonies-of-life-and-death/
Why did you live? Why did you suffer? Is life a joke? What is beyond death?
I have a pragmatic answer, I have a romantic answer and I have a transcendental answer.
Probably we can put it this way. We live in this world because we do not have a choice not to live. Since we do not have a choice not to live, we must live. Not just survive, but live. But life is full of suffering but why in the first place does suffering exist? As the Buddha has pointed out, which may be true and I believe it to be true, we suffer because of attachment to our “selfish desires”. But this suffering can be made to end. How? Perhaps by following the Eightfold Path.
We have to realise that life is not all bad and life is not all good. This is a fact. Find happiness in small things. Happiness do not have to come in a big way. I think I have blogged about my experience in India, how I saw the kids in the rain, playing with rain water, but still very happy while I am in a nice car being chauffeured and being posh, but am not happy. So what is happiness? Can happiness be really measured by how much money you have in the bank? But if you do not have money in the bank and owes loan sharks money, can you be happy? Then, how much do you need to have in the bank for you to be happy? Again, we come back to what the Buddha said, suffering exists because of our attachment to our own “selfish desires”. If we are non-attached, we can be happy.
By “selfish desires”. I don’t think the Buddha meant it to be a bad word. The source of the evil is ATTACHMENT to selfish desires. For example, to have money and live comfortably is not bad in itself but attachment to it is. By being attached, the person cannot live without money and always crave for the nice feeling of being able to live comfortably and demand a more and more comfortable living environment. But until when will he be satisfied? If he is forever attached to that desire, he will not be happy no matter how comfortable he is. So as the advertisement said, “What is your number?”
What is death and what is beyond death? I think death is the non-existence of the physical self but the energy and memory of that person will remain. His blood and DNA will remain if he has kids. If he is a great man, his thoughts and deeds and contribution to mankind will remain. But will his soul go to heaven or hell? First question to ask is, do people have souls? As the Buddha asked, if the person has a soul, where does the soul reside in the body? Reside in the heart? The brain? The spleen? The lungs?
Our human existence exists within the human experience but when all traces of human existence is gone because there are no more human experience, i.e. mankind has extinct, all memories will be erased. But will mankind as a whole be forever gone? Will planets light years away still be able to see our history? Will our remains, our bones and carbon still remain? I remember in science class, the teacher said that energy can niether be created nor destroyed. Based on this, I don’t believe that mankind as a whole can be completely wiped out of the history of this universe. But what about individual history? Maybe. I don’t know. But the right question, I believe, is this: Why does this matter? What is the big deal that we need to be remembered, we need to continue to exist, our soul needs to go to heaven, we need to be resurrected, etc? Why in the first place do we crave for this eternal life? Is this, again, attachment to selfish desires? If it is, then isn’t asking this question and demanding an answer is one of our source of suffering?
I don’t know but I sure have written quite a bit. Maybe it is because lately I haven’t been writing much except policies, memos, and MOUs. Maybe it’s because it is late now and things start to flood in. Maybe it’s because of that kid. But I have always enjoyed thinking about these questions.