Friday, May 20, 2011


Ok now, too much playtime.

This is perhaps one of the ways I realign myself after going too extreme in one direction or another. Blogging.

I always tend to go to extreme measures of what I believed in. (Extremely long post too.)

First thing off my head is going Vegetarian. Back in my early secondary school, I've read a book about how humans can choose to not eat meat for the sake of compassion for the animals that were killed for the meat. I've gone cold turkey vegetarian then. If it wasn't some resistance plus persuasion that I need meat during this period of physical growth, I would have been vegetarian for a long time by now. Update: currently, I'm pro-vegetarian (for environmental reasons plus compassion), that means I mostly eat vegetarian food, but I do not forbid myself from eating meat. By the way, London is a very good place to be a vegetarian, lots of choices for vegan food here (compared to Singapore).

A few years later I had known Buddhism. Read the books, gone so deep so fast into the theories and accepted what I see as obvious truths, that I decided to have "monk" in my email. As usual, the teachings preach of the middle way, not the extreme way. And I took the extreme way. I decided to be a monk, no I swore to be a monk. A vow, without regard that I have not yet even tasted most of what lay life can give me. If it isn't for the lack of spiritual friends and wisdom, I would not have been out of touch with Buddhism for a period of my life. Of course, it took me years later on to see that the way to Enlightenment is not the extreme way that gets you there faster. It is not a intermediate goal to achieve and get rid off so that I can get on with life. It is rather to realise that life itself is impermanent (still don't realise it, just putting it here to say I don't realise it). Update: Currently I am the Vice President of National University of Singapore Buddhist Society for the academic year 2010/11, going back into Buddhism, gently, calmly, (sorry I still won't use slowly), practising it step by step.

The period of my life that I was out of touch with Buddhism comes Physics. Or should I say science fiction? I've been inspired by the science fiction authors, Asimov, Clark, Leinster, whose (some) stories predicted the future of technology and in some cases science itself! Inspired to be one of the science fiction writers, I took to the science part seriously and took some non-fiction science (physics) books to read and enjoy. My interest in Physics paid off when I got selected to represent Malaysia for the International Physics Olympiad 2007 and 2008 (ya, twice). It was the highlight of my life (up to that point) and it determined my university degree choice. Although I have yet written a science fiction book nor published any short stories in a science fiction magazine, I still do know that part of the reason I took to physics is that I want the science in my science fiction stories to be foolproof, to be real and not discredited by future knowledge and not to mislead the majority of the world who doesn't know the intricacies of consistency of physics (example, any stories that have wormhole, faster than light travel technologies must have a way of explaining away the grandfather paradox. Ya, faster than light means time travel, most science fiction disregard that, and it is not right.)

Let me take another paragraph (or two) to tell you why it is not right. If there is a proof (due to the ultimate quantum gravity theory) that time travel of all sorts are impossible, or at least chronology is protected. Then it is a guide for how much can humans hope to conquer the stars. If time travel are impossible, we will have to stick to the hope that we can go close to light speed and use the time dilation as a practical means of space travelling (like Orson Scott Card's Ender series). If not, then we will have to stick to building a whole world for generations to live in for a trip to the next star system (like Rendezvous with Rama, only the first book, by Clark). And all science fiction stories should follow their example to set a realistic outlook for the general public to know that the future is going to be much harder than we thought. Therefore we need to stick together and aim for a bright future for humanity, and not frown upon petty disputes, wars, allow our planet to warm up too much too fast, and concentrate on what matters to the survival of the species (least we meet the same fate as the Earth in Asimov's End of Eternity).

So in a larger sense, theoretical physicist, even mathematicians are contributing to the world. In fact, when humanity turn back and look upon this period of time, they would credit them most for being the base and the backbone for space-travel to be real.

Ok, back to the issue, so Update: I am still reading up on science fictions (after a break, recently read the main Dune series) and knowing what do I want to write about. By the way, Imperial College London has a great Science Fiction Library! It's cool to hang out there!

After getting into NUS and studying what I wanted to study, two important changes came into my life: Laptop (with high speed internet) and living away from parents. This brings us to extreme entertainment. (Maybe I should include the relief of having gone through so many exams and test to come to University only to repeat it every semester.) I had seen so many series, superhero cartoons, played so many video games that I was gradually getting my laptop to be free from computer games and try not to get hooked up to more than one series (of drama/anime/comedy/etc) per semester. Update: I just brought Pokemon Black with a special edition of Nintendo DSi, and I have been on it for about 30 hours now. By the way, in London, the game looks cheaper, and lots of pokemon events are in United Kingdom! Including a National Video Game Championship!

With the lowering down my concentration on games and getting back on my feet with Buddhism and Physics, I've stumbled upon the thing that most songs, movies, layperson, books mentioned or based upon. It is the single essential thing for the continuation of the human species and for most people the meaning of their lives. It is love, Boy-Girl Love. Initially I didn't started out extremely in love, in fact, I was the extreme not eligible single guy out there (read the post about how I used to repel girls).

However, in front of her, in her presence, I automatically get a hold of myself and stop pretending to be weird and kiddish. I made sure I undo all the undesirable things in me that I've made into part of my habit. I was not behaving naturally as me. Soon I found that I was trying hard to change myself (this is part of the reason, there are other reasons not to be too weird). Soon it became obvious that I was much happier with her around, I enjoyed thinking about her every single time free time that I had. And I also faced a great battle within me, one that I had to choose which future path to take. One that is essentially captured in the movie Samsara. I had tried and tried, so.... hard to forget about her and remember impermanence, non-self, and suffering, but every single time I see her, I cannot help but fall in love again.

I guess in terms of being extreme, I did this: I broke off the vow of being a monk in order to chase her (this is just basic requirements), and when I did it, I inadvertently put her as the meaning of my life. That is extreme. Extreme is also not thinking this through, what if she rejects me? What if we were not meant for each other? I didn't think that through when I changed the meaning of my life so suddenly. I didn't know that there is only one of two roads to head for when saying "I love you" to a girl: you either get rejected/break up eventually or you get married. All I could think of then was that I was prepared to get committed, to overcome my repulsion towards the idea of settling down with another human being, sharing everything. And I certainly did not know how painful it was when someone rejects you. Maybe it was not as painful if I had not been too extreme (again), if I had stayed back, held back and see, really see without attached love blinding me, what chances have we together, before pouring out so much emotions into one person. Perhaps the stupidest thing I had done is to make myself receive multiple rejections, after telling myself each time to lay it off. Gradually it worked, mind training paid off a little, and I am getting more and more neutral, more and more into getting used to being single and not infatuated. By the way, this trip to London helps a lot! I am alone here! Yippie!

I had made it a policy to not include sad, defamatory, personal attack, provocative, and unmemorable things in this blog, or to shorten the painful ones as much as possible. This policy, however, did not force me to say: I am glad I fell in love anyway. It is better to have love and lost than not to have love at all. I had learned much from this experience, how to make friends, how to court a lady, to see just how strongly dedicated am I to my cause, to write this as neutral as possible without any hurtful emotions, to finally appreciate all the love stories and songs, to know how much more I need to train up. Update: currently, not wanting to experience all these again.

So now, back to the theme: Extreme. What had being an extremist taught me? Well, maybe I am a bit too extremely frank about my life here. In this public space, I am sharing the turmoil and thoughts of my personal life. Well, maybe that's just my style. Being too extreme is a way of life. It does not guarantees that you get what you want, but it does guarantees suffering, one way or another, suffering is an essential part of our lives. It teaches us as most people would say. I say it motivates for the practice. The practice to end all sufferings, the Noble 8 Fold-path, the middle way (between extremes).

P.S. Sorry it may look like I'm saying being a monk is the extreme way. I meant that I think of myself as an enlighten one at that time, thus deluded myself into a serious depressed state when I discovered that I was far from perfect. Thus I needed to remove myself from all things Buddhism to regain some sanity back.

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