Sunday, May 17, 2015

Article: Life Slips Away

Love this author's reflection on his mother's death and the reminder of the fragility of life.

Below is my favourite part:

This is the meaning of impermanence. In the realm of history things appear and things fall away: everything changes and everything dies. There is no escape: there are no deals to be struck nor bargains to be made. You and I are not exceptions to the rule.
An ancient Buddhist teaching called ‘the five remembrances’ reminds us that we are all of the nature to grow old, to become sick and to die and that eventually we will have to leave everything we value behind. All that remains are the consequences of our actions.
And so what is it that we should do?
Owning more things won’t do the trick.
Making more money won’t cut it.
On our deathbed we won’t think: “Oh, I wish I had spent more time in the office”.
I am writing this not because I am saying anything new, it has all been said before, as always, but because I want to remember how I feel now, since I know how easily this too can slip away. I want to remember the fragility of life and that it is all we have and what we have of most importance is each other and we don’t have time for foolishness and petty gripes and grudges. I have tried to say sorry to those in my family who I have hurt and to forgive those who have hurt me so that I can put aside the past and better open my heart to the present. I want to remember that we all suffer but that the world is also beautiful and we are capable of forgiveness and kindness and love. I really don’t think there is anything more important than that.

Article: Life advice upon turning age 30, from the president of Y Combinator

I have read other similar posts before, but I quite like what he wrote:

Below are some of my favorites / reminders (on things I need to improve on):

2) Life is not a dress rehearsal—this is probably it. Make it count. Time is extremely limited and goes by fast. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled—few people get remembered hundreds of years after they die anyway. Don’t do stuff that doesn’t make you happy (this happens most often when other people want you to do something). Don’t spend time trying to maintain relationships with people you don’t like, and cut negative people out of your life. Negativity is really bad. Don’t let yourself make excuses for not doing the things you want to do.

6) Talk to people more. Read more long content and less tweets. Watch less TV. Spend less time on the Internet.

8) Don’t let yourself get pushed around. As Paul Graham once said to me, “People can become formidable, but it’s hard to predict who”. (There is a big difference between confident and arrogant. Aim for the former, obviously.)

11) Go out of your way to be around smart, interesting, ambitious people. Work for them and hire them (in fact, one of the most satisfying parts of work is forging deep relationships with really good people). Try to spend time with people who are either among the best in the world at what they do or extremely promising but totally unknown. It really is true that you become an average of the people you spend the most time with.

16) Ask for what you want.

23) Learn voraciously.

24) Do new things often. This seems to be really important. Not only does doing new things seem to slow down the perception of time, increase happiness, and keep life interesting, but it seems to prevent people from calcifying in the ways that they think. Aim to do something big, new, and risky every year in your personal and professional life.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Reflecting about Birth, Aging, Sickness & Death

The first 4 months of year 2015 went past quickly... 
This is Life... it will go past quickly as well...
I am sure that on my deathbed, 
I would say that life went past just like a flash...

I am still learning how to deal with Birth, Aging, Sickness & Death.
Actually, I am fearful of death... 
To be exact, I am afraid that on my deathbed, 
I would regret not living a full life.

I kept reminding myself that I will get old soon and my prime years will be over soon.
I really don't want to waste my life idling and moving aimlessly in the stream of life.

So far, this year, I have attended 6 wakes - 2 aunts wake, 1 HIV patient, 1 friend's dad, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and last week was my grandma's wake. 

I have 2 friends fighting for their lives - suffering from acute leukemia, and a friend's wife is suffering from thyroid cancer, and another distant friend just recovered from nose cancer. They are all in their 30s like me, in the prime of their lives. 

So far, I have been lucky, but I will never know if my luck will run out.

Some thoughts:

- You can overcome your fears slowly. 

When I was young, I was quite fearful of funeral, coffins and dead people. Recently, after attending so many wakes, I am getting more comfortable. I performed a funeral prayer service together with my group of volunteers for the HIV patient. Last monday, I was alone with the body of my grandmother in the hospital for almost one hour (while waiting to transfer her body from the ward to the mortuary). I was chanting for her and playing Buddhist Chanting music. Hopefully, she has a smooth passage to her afterlife, if there is one.

- Physical Possession is really over-rated

Grandma has been a very thrifty and hardworking person. We discovered many new clothes in her wardrobe that she never wore. She kept a lot of new things, but never used them. On the contrary, I told myself that if I do not use an item for 1-2 years, I should consider discarding/donating it away. Spending on experience will add more values to my life, it can broaden my horizon, change my perspectives, increase my understanding and knowledge of the world. So I will continue to de-clutter.

- Usefulness of Dharma (Buddha's Teaching)

I am not 100% Buddhist, as I am still not sure if there is afterlife, if there is reincarnation, if the law of Karma really works. I guess I could never be a 100% Buddhist, but Dharma is far better than ALL other religious teachings I have came across. The Dharma is very useful for me to understand the nature of life, which is Impermanence in nature. This philosophy has helped me to accept changes in life. And also attachment is one of the main sufferings of life, and the antidote to many sufferings is to learn to let go of many things including our ego. This also helped me to understand myself better.

May you be free from sufferings.
May you find happiness in life.