On changing the world

After a car ride in silence, I blurted out, “There’s much to be changed in the world. It’s the kind of change that needs an entire lifetime to take effect.” An entire lifetime — not just as a measure of time, but as a means, I meant.

“Noted. Set a calendar appointment with me once you start,” Kit said, punningly referring to last night’s conversation about e-mail acknowledgments.

My remark came from some musings on last night’s community class and Andrews’ Building A Better World (among other things, what I found impressive about the book was the fact that here was an Australian making references to Freire, Palmer, Ghandi, and… Rabindranath Tagore).

Perhaps what we need more of is to see the humanity in being a human being, rather than merely seeing societal roles to be fulfilled. Because when we see each other as actual human beings, only then can we see how dehumanizing the system that we have in place is, with all of its injustice and oppression — you don’t notice it because it exists very subtly, but it’s there — pervasive, ubiquitous.

And once you see it, it would be impossible to not be compelled to do something. It comes to a point when my inaction is injustice in itself. My inaction participates in and even perpetuates the injustice and oppression.

So what do we do? How do we change such a world bound by oppressive and unjust bureaucratic, consumeristic, individualistic systems? Perhaps indeed, through communities — testamental communities for one, who fight the system with non-violent resistance. Or even, more fundamentally, through communities that regard each other as actual human beings — seeing the humanity in their being human, which is as much ours as theirs. Communities that regard each other as neighbors — neighbors in a human sense, or even, in a Gospel sense. So that people deeply, truly, genuinely care for each other and  look after each other.

And at the end of the day, everyone has what everyone has.


For Uju

Speak to me

“I am”

Tell me

“I am”

Show me

“I am”

Show me again

“I am”


He speaks, He tells, He shows

Always, constantly

We hear, we see, we know

When we come as we are

Before the Great I Am.

2018 Trial Period Expires in 2 Days

Last night was an honest moment with the community. I wasn’t planning on being vulnerable. I wish I didn’t have to be. And I wish I didn’t allow myself to be! But I thought better against it, thought that there was much liberty in it, and thought that perhaps it was a practice of renunciation.

After the Word, Kit asked to everyone, “What did God save you from last year?” Given that it’s the New Year and all – it was still January after all. And someone had said that January was just a trial month for 2018. The year officially starts only in February.

Looking back on last year, my God had saved me from three things:

Bottomless pit of despair

I can still vividly remember 2016, and how suffocating it was. I remember the darkness. I remember the heaviness. I remember drowning.

And then, 2017 was a little better, perhaps in a sense that there was something other than despair to oscillate from. But I still had bouts of falling into the dark pit. I still had bouts of drowning. I still went through the dark night of the soul.

This time though, I was able to… embrace it a bit more. I didn’t try so hard to escape it, at least not as much. I came to grips with the multidimensionality of my faith – that every emotion, whether uplifting or painful, was part of my faith journey as a faithful. That despair is as much part of my faith as hope is. That doubt – not necessarily unbelief – is as a beautiful dimension of my faith as belief. That depression, brokenness, lamentation are as much part of my faith as joy is.

I think I will still find myself falling into the dark pit of despair but I don’t have much despair for despair anymore. The pit doesn’t seem so bottomless. There is a quiet assurance that light will always manage to peer through the crevices of wood and dried leaves and fodder should I ever look up.

Idolatry of certainty

I have this almost neurotic need to be sure. But my God had shown me that life’s trajectory isn’t as clear-cut, isn’t as defined, isn’t as certain as I’d like it to be. He has shown this ambiguity and uncertainty even in Himself – even He isn’t one to be boxed, systemized, figured out. If He were, what we’d then be worshipping is not Him, but certainty.

ATS was a way to teach me the beauty in uncertainty and the gift in doubt. We’ve been there one year this January. We entered ATS not knowing exactly what would come out of it – such a counterintuitive move on my end. That’s why when people ask, so what’s next? That’s not such an easy question to answer, and my uneasiness begins the moment I sense their inability to understand my inability to answer. But the truth is that my God had given me a lamp that shed light only the first step on the path – I can’t quite see where it leads. And this has allowed me to trust God – ah, trust, something I’ve always, always found difficult to do by default. It has allowed me too, to continually seek to discern where He’s blowing the winds that I may adjust my sails accordingly.


I’ve learned how to appreciate the silence of God. I’ve learned that in His silence, that’s where acceptance lies. Sometimes the moment calls for not saying anything but feeling what needs to be felt. And He has done that for me and with me.

He has also directed me to things outside of myself – what a gift because it has become an exhausting ordeal to have to look within myself to help my self escape myself. I’ve learned to look to the outside to find things that help find the otherwise lost parts of the self, things that bring to life the otherwise dying parts of the soul, things that help fan the embers of the otherwise long-since extinguished fires of the heart.

I’ve learned to direct myself to something else other than myself – that’s why I’ve been trying to capture every single thing that capture my senses – the sight of the sunset, the subtle color changes of the rays of the sun when they peer through tree leaves and branches, the sunlight that trickles into a blinded window, the sound of silence (my favorite) in an empty room or in pauses between sentences, the look of the multi-tiered night sky from which the stars hover, the soul-resonance with music whether in songs played on Spotify or songs played by nature, the texture of the strawberries and banana and oatmeal in a single spoon, the multiple taste of coffee in a single sip, the smell of books, the feel of the wind against my palm while in a moving car, the fireworks that light up in my brain upon reading words that go together in perfect eloquence and elegance, the emotions that get stirred in my gut when a movie or a play or a book ends superbly…

I have a feeling the theme of this year would be somewhere along the lines of seeking silence, seeking solitude, seeking to overcome, seeking to renunciate, and seeking the small things, all for the sake of the Self — to be in touch with it yet to escape it.

All things considered, I think 2017 was a year of much growth and much stretching, of ups and downs, of an oscillation between two extremes. Hmm, the same would probably be said for 2018. The same but not quite. I’d probably use the same words, but perhaps mean it not quite in the same way. Hopefully in a deeper, richer, in a more life-lived sense.




Plato’s Cave

People ask, what for? And so I ask too, and sometimes confuse my own answers with the answers others expect.

Maybe education is just like Plato’s Cave too. At one point you realize there’s another world beyond what you’ve gotten used to, beyond what others see and are content with. But it’s just not enough for you to settle with just the shadows. It gets difficult of course as you adjust your eyes to the light. And of course when you tell others of this world you’ve discovered, for what to you is a prized discovery is to others something inconceivable, almost short of illusory; what to you is a worthwhile endeavor is to others a futile attempt to arrive at an elusive end (aka a waste of time).

On things I dare not admit

I’m too full of myself, I think.

How does on escape the self?

How does one practice renunciation? How does one practice self-denial? How does one practice self-detachment? How does one practice the de-creation (without the destruction) of one’s ego?

If I could be friends with myself I probably wouldn’t be friends with myself.

I’m afraid that the person I’m trying so hard to avoid is the very person I am slowly becoming.

Last night was an owl moment – pun and literally intended – and I hated it. Ah, you  should have seen me! I was close to going ballistic. No, it wasn’t enough that you saw the subtle twitch in my eyes or the restrained irked expression on my face – you had to look on the inside. What was on the inside was this assumption that I was with people who didn’t have anything better to do so they could afford to stay up and do nothing, unlike me, who had loads of other things I had better do.

But then there was something that he said — casually, not to me, but just in passing, that threw a mirror right in front of my insides, enabling me to see everything that was going on rather than being the one experiencing or even causing it all. And I was appalled to see what I saw.

What he said was this – that we were with friends – no, younger siblings who needed support, who needed a community, who needed a family because they literally only had each other.

Just nothing is more appalling than someone concerned with just herself.

And again it happened today – just quite a different variation thereof.

So there’s this constant preoccupation with myself – my own needs, my own inconveniences, my way of doing things, my standards… Far too entitled, far too self-centered. I also see this in my sudden changes in mood just because I wasn’t the center of attention, or a good word wasn’t put in for me, or I wasn’t given the credit (I felt) I was due, or I wasn’t the one preferred to be with, or the conversation didn’t happen the way I wanted it to, or I was sneered at or yelled at or glared at — all of which are an assault to my ego, ergo, an assault to the totality of my being.

All of these are thorns to my heart and baggage to my soul – they pain me and weigh me down and keep me from those things I’ve always considered elusive for me – joy, gratitude, peace, presence, the enjoyment of the petals and an experience of a perpetual lightness – all the stuff I want but never seem to be capable of having.

The incapability is not because of any outward circumstance but the tyrannical self I just cannot seem to escape.

I’m still at a loss with how to escape myself.

I hope I figure it out soon. It’s getting tiring to be in this shell.

Sunsets are not beautiful

Up until now, when I close my eyes I see with vivid clarity that very sunset I saw some days ago. I’m sure the same would be true for sunrises too except that I don’t usually get to witness them given my owlish tendencies, making sunsets, by default, my favorite.

But, sunsets are not beautiful.

Beautiful doesn’t quite capture it.

Sunsets are…

I wish I could write about it in a way that would make another not see it, but feel it — for perhaps the things we see are just things as they are except for the things that they make us feel.

I wish I could write about how the colors intermingled, intertwined, coalesced into hues that made one remember all other sunsets of one’s childhood — the ones watched on a hill or under a tree after an afternoon of play, the ones that instantly created a surge of  hope, innocence, blissful naiveté.

I wish I could write about the eternal canvass on which the sun painted and elegantly sprawled itself, how this time it lay untainted by the city skyline, how it hung there stationary, but projected images that changed in a literal blink of an eye.

I wish I could write about the myriad of diamonds that lay below, draping the shores, and how it mimicked the view overhead, with no intention to mock but to imitate in awe, to aspire to reflect a similar glory and beauty while being neither overpowering nor obtrusive, without stealing what does not belong to it.

I wish I could write about how perfectly discernible the vastness of all the earth at that given point in time was, how one could actually see the infinitude of infinity, how every witness could witness being whispered to of indeed how vast Life is and how tiny of a speck one’s life is, how trivial one’s greed is and how insignificant one’s woe is.

I wish I could write about it all, but the words fail me. The words fail me quite miserably.

How can a view such as that ever really adequately be put into words? When words are but shadows of the real thing? When words are inaccurate representations of what is?



On the road to Ubermensch

Maybe life is a series of opportunities to overcome.

To “overcome” in a Nietzsche sense – to overcome the self, to overcome man, to evolve. Perhaps it starts with transcending one’s innate predispositions, default tendencies. Maybe it starts with having that conversation you so adamantly try to avoid. Maybe it starts with running towards, head on, that very thing you fear, rather than running away from it – always running away. Maybe it starts with paying heed to that call, that constant hum in your head which you, on a day-to-day basis, turn off just so that you may conform.

And this morning I did just that – overcome.

And to overcome, at least attempt to, to at least even scratch the surface of, warrants the singing of the soul, a private celebration.

Well, I’m not so much of a coward as I thought, after all.