Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Humming at work, unemployment…

May 1, 2009

This is an excerpt from The Path by Laurie Beth Jones.

“When I encounter teachers who are constantly complaining or meet housewives who are bitter, I quickly conclude that they are not following their divinely ordained mission.  Perhaps they are following their economically ordained mission, or their culturally ordained mission, but they can’t be following their divinely ordained mission, because bees hum while theywork – they don’t whine.

I believe it is well whithin the natural order of things to have everybody humming at work.  As a noted economist recently stated, “Unemployment is a characteristic unique to the human species only.  All the other creatures and creations seem to know what they are supposed to be doing.”



July 2, 2008




I have just finished reading a book titled “The Art of  Changing” by Susan Peabody.   What prompted me to choose this book was an affirmation I noted when I flipped through the pages.  You know how sometimes you can be a spiritual magnet when some things, people or occasions that appear in your life at the right time when you are working on some issues, seeking for understanding and resolution at different stages in your life.  Interestingly, this is an affirmation in relation to


“When people are unavailable.”


Here is how it goes,


          No one is purposely trying to abandon or reject me, and I can choose to remember this.


          I don’t need to be a hostage taker.  I can honour somebody’s saying, “I am not available.”


          How other people spend their time is none of my business, and I will not judge their choices.


          “No” is a complete sentence.  I do not have to change people’s mind.


          I have enough people in my life that even if someone isn’t available to me I ‘m ok.  I have God, other people and meetings.


          My serenity is not dependent on any one person’s availability.  I can be serene even if no one is there to help me.


Some of us will find this affirmation beneficial with some personal adaptation.


Susan’s honest sharing is touching.  Susan shares the methods in changing but at the same time she shares her experience in her trials and tribulation and mostly being realistic in her guidance.  Some of the writings in this book is worth taking note and can be deep or thought provoking, for ponder or just simply, simply logical and/or sensible.  The following are some of them which impressed me in different ways and I am sure some of us would be able to relate to part of it or heard of it before.  They are in a bits and pieces.  Read the book for a wholesome understanding.


          Our lives don’t get better when we read a book or go to a class; our lives get better when we put forth a change.


          When my therapist asked what was holding me back from getting better, I said, “I am afraid to get well.  Mental health is unfamiliar. It’s a mystery that lies beyond a closed door, and I have no peephole.  That mystery feels like a beast ready to devour me if I open the door.  What if getting better is worst than being sick?  It can happen.  Besides, I think I have bonded to my vision of myself as a victim.  I prefer self-pity to self-esteem.”  – (So true, we can sometimes becomes a creature of habit, know where to get our fixes whenever we are in need and get ourselves to a comfort level but never go pass beyond to reach one that is “fixes free” until we reach a crisis or hit bottom.)


           Stay focused on your self – It is very tempting when trying to change your life to focus on changing others.  “If only my husband would change, “A wife thinks to herself, I will be happy.  Unfortunately changing other people is impossible. We only have the power to change ourselves.  Even if we could change others, it would only take time and (energy) away from the work we have to do to change ourselves.


          Denial is usually a defense mechanism.  A defense mechanism is anything we think, say, or do to manage the feelings we want to avoid.  Sometimes even our feelings are defense mechanisms against other feelings.  For instance, I get angry to avoid fear and blame others for my problems to keep the fear at bay.


          Whether perfectionism is good or bad, it can be a stumbling block to change if we can’t move forward because we are afraid of making mistakes.


          Toxic guilt – Children with undeveloped egos see themselves as the center of the universe and see themselves responsible for everything.  They think, “If the mother is angry, then it is my fault.  I am a bad person.”  This leads to the feelings of shame and toxic guilt.  This phase of childhood development has a lasting impact on our adult lives.  The feelings of guilt in our unconscious mind and float to the surface now and then when we least expect them.  This gets in the way of change because it weighs us down.  It saps our energy and keeps us in survival mode. We have to spend all of our time fighting off the feelings of shame and guilt, and as a result there is no time or desire to change.  To counteract this type of guilt, we must use positive reinforcement.  We must counter the free-floating feelings of guilt with an awareness of truth and with constant self-talk until the guilt recedes.  Most of all, we must not act on this toxic guilt.  For instance, codependents live lives of quiet desperation trying to get rid of toxic guilt by taking care of people in unhealthy ways.  They must stop doing this and ease the toxic guilt to the best of their ability.


          The pleasure compulsion is seductive, and it may be linked to the desire for control.  There is no trial or error necessary when doing something for the second or third time.  Whatever worked before is guarantee to work again – or so we think.  Food lovers get overweight, gamblers loose their paycheck, etc.


          Making changes step by step – Pinpoint what has to be changed – Making personal inventory of shortcomings – be thorough and honest as possible – consider exploring the relationship between your bad habits and wounds of your childhood – taking action is the key to change – I discovered a lot of myself by doing this task.  I found out that at one time or another I was capable of being selfish, angry, dishonest, gluttonous, afraid, resentful, envious, vengeful, intolerant, codependent, mean, lazy, impatient, controlling, demanding, judgmental, blaming and quick to attack people who disagreed with me.  When the truth was out, I immediately got depressed.  But I did not give up and eventually some mysterious force from deep within pushed up my consciousness and provided me with the willingness to at least dream about overcoming these problems.  As Jim Manley puts in his hymn “Spirit,” from the bondage of sorrow, the captives dreams dream.”  When I was ready to change the first action I took was to select one single thing from the list of things that I want to change about myself.  Then I made a commitment to overcome this problem.  What I choose to change was to overcome my bad temper.  I began breaking down this huge problem into manageable pieces.  I chose one manifestation of my temper and decided to work on that first.  What I chose was my habit of yelling at my son, I chose this because  at a therapy session with my son, the therapist said to him, “If you could change one thing about your mother, what would it be?”  My son replied, “I’d like her to stop yelling at me when she gets upset.”  To begin trying to change this bad habit, I spent the next few weeks thinking a lot about yelling.  I asked myself why I yelled.  The answer was that I was frustrated when my son didn’t do what I asked him to do, and this was the only way I could get his attention.  Then I asked myself what other choices I had.  I came up with a plan that I called “calm persistence.”  The day after committing to this plan, I screamed at my son.  Afterward, I was overwhelmed with a sense of how easy it was to do something that I had told myself I wouldn’t do.  However I didn’t give up.  I keep trying, and after each failure I spent some time thinking about how the incident had gotten started and how it had escalated.  A few weeks of great adventure of trying to change, I asked my son to do the dishes when he came home from school.  I got home from work expecting a clean kitchen. When I saw the dirty dishes piled up everywhere, I turned red with anger.  I was ready to pounce on my son.  Fortunately he wasn’t home so I had some time to think about the commitment I had made to calm persistence.  When my son came home, I began talking to him calmly. When he started getting defensive, and making excuses.  I suddenly found myself yelling at him again.  However, this time, instead of feeling as if I was in some kind of trance with no control over the situation, I found myself observing myself as I was yelling.  I also felt, for the first time, that I had a choice.  I knew I could stop if I wanted to.  I used this new sense control to change my behaviour, I stopped yelling at my son in midscream and walked out of the room.  Later, despite my small victory, I still felt as if I had failed to reach my goal and I started crying about it. The sobs continued for a while and afterward I felt as if a big weight has been lifted of my shoulders.  Then I recognized that at least I was thinking about yelling at my son and during the act – not just afterward.  I was making progress.  The next time my son forgot to do the dishes, I talked calmly to him about it and insisted he do them before going out on turning on the television.  He resisted and I persisted – but I did not yell.  Afterward, I felt so good about myself for not yelling.  This victory lifted my self-esteem and later become a motivation to continue fighting my urge to yell.  From this point on, despite periodic relapses, I continued to have a sense of choice about my yelling rather than feeling powerless about it.  After a year passed, the urge to yell at my son disappeared, and it seemed normal to handle things without loosing control.  I still got angry, but I had gotten control over my behaviour and I felt better about myself.  Most of all, in changing my behaviour I had improved my relationship with my son.  We were close and he respected me more.  Because he respected me more, he was more cooperative.  Over the years, I have continued to change many things about myself – from hurtful behaviours to small vices.  I give myself all the time I need to change, and I never give up.  I do something even if it’s just thinking about the problem and keeping the goal of change firmly entrenched in my mind.


          The power of group – Honesty is very fragile.  It begins to fall apart in isolation.  To guard against the withering away the progress you’ve made, it’s important to find a community of other people who are also working to change.  Many wonderful things happen in such a place. – You’ll tell your story out loud and find out, to your amazement, that you are not the only one with this problem and that you are not banished from the group. – You find love and support from others who really understand from what you are going through. – You’ll find strength you didn’t know you had and the hope you thought you had lost. – You’ll find more wisdom how to change than you know what to do with. – You find the place where you can be honest and share secrets.  This will help dissipate your toxic shame.  You’ll learn a lot about your problems and what you can do about them.  The people you meet will share their insights and recommend books and resources.  This will facilitate the change you want to make. – You will be reminded to guard against procrastination and denial, because showing up is a constant reminder you need to change. – Calling people in your support group will help you avoid the dysfunctional behaviour you want to change.  You can call someone before acting out in some irrational way. – Support group makes you accountable to the group.  You’ll find yourself doing for them what you can’t do for yourself.  (As you develop your own inner strength, accountability to the group will be less important.)


          The power of therapy – “Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness; the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood…..In order to become whole we must try, in a long process, to discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom.  The damage dome to us during our childhood cannot be undone, since we cannot change ourselves….We become free by transforming ourselves from unaware victims of the past into responsible individuals in the present, who are aware of the past and thus able to live with it. – Alice Miller, The drama of the gifted child. – One day I told my therapist that I was unhappy with the progress that we were making.  “What do you mean we?,” he said.  “Well” I mumbled, “isn’t this a team effort?”  “No” he said, “you are the one who has to do the work.  I hold the flashlight and you chopped the wood.”  I was shocked by this statement, but it was the beginning of the change in my attitude about therapy.  I realized my therapist wasn’t going to fix me.  I had to start doing things differently if I want to change. –  As long as I could remember,  I had been angry with my mother – both as a child and as an adult.  When I shared some episodes with my therapist, he said something interesting.  He shrugged his shoulder and said sympathetically, “Oh, she couldn’t do it.”  I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that he didn’t say “she wouldn’t do it”.  He said, “she couldn’t do it.”  What a difference a letter can make.  I suddenly began looking my mother in a brand new light.  – This is how therapy is supposed to work.  You uncover things.  You process your feelings.  Your feelings change.  You treat people differently.  You change. Your relationship changes.  Then you repeat the process all over again.


          Healing the wounds of the past begins with changing how we look at it. – Identify the things that happened to you – Talk about them – Write about them – Feel your feelings fully – no matter what the are and how they are or how afraid of them you are – Accept what has happened to you – Accept what you did in reaction to what happened to you. – Forgive those who hurt you – Forgive yourself if you passed your anger on to others – Try to find something good that came out of the chaos – Move on. Live in the moment. – Once I broke through my denial and identified what had happened to me and what I had done to myself and others, I began talking about it.  At some point, I also began writing about what had happened. However, I was still unable to feel very much at this point, so my writing was very analytical.   This was my way of recognizing my pain but not feeling it.  After some time, the dam burst and all my painful feelings would come and go, but every time I discovered something new, or I realized how much I have been wounded in the past.  I faced my feelings and had a good cry.  I cried a lot.  Eventually, I moved on from my feelings and addressed the issue of acceptance.  Acceptance was very important part of the healing process for me.  It doesn’t change the basic situation, but it ends our struggles against things that can’t be changed, leaving more energy to focus on the things that can be.  Acceptance amounts to surrendering your pain so that you can move on.  You just give it to God or some benevolent force in the universe and in return you get the serenity you need to heal your wounds.


          Parenting yourself – When I was growing up I was very headstrong.  It was difficult for my parents to discipline me, so they gave up trying.  Interestingly enough, this lack of discipline made me feel unloved.  I remember wishing I had some of the restrictions my friends moaned and groaned about.  Because no one restrained me, I didn’t know how to restrain myself, and my lack of discipline eroded my self-esteem.  I always felt out of control and ashamed of myself.  I used to beg my mother to give me the structure I needed.  She would shrug her shoulders and say, “I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to.”  Further more, both my parents were clinically depressed and addicted to mood-altering substances.  As a result, they didn’t have the emotional energy to give me the love and nurturing I needed.  Like most children, when I couldn’t get what I need from my parents, I looked for it elsewhere.  This began a life long pattern of looking for love outside myself.  – Self parenting is a therapeutic approach to healing the wounds of our childhood.  It is an attempt to give ourselves now what we did not get as children.  This relationship for me is threefold:  I love and comfort my inner child, my little girl (Susie); I set limits with her and we play together.  As a result, she has for the most part, stopped acting out, and her pain no longer permeates my life.  She is content and no longer needs mood-altering experiences to anesthetize her pain.  Most of all, my self-parenting has helped me grow up, and this maturation has paved the way for other changes.


          Building self-esteem – The teacher said that high self-esteem was linked to altruism.  She said people feel good about themselves when they generous and charitable.  I questioned the teacer after class, because all the nice things I had done for people over the years hadn’t help my self esteem.  The teacher didn’t have an answer for me, but after I thought about it, I came to realize that altruism has to be balanced with self-care.  It also has to be freely given.  All the giving I had done over the years has been motivated  by an attempt to buy love.  Therefore, to a certain extent, my generosity has been contaminated by my own needed and the less-than-pure motivations.  As a result, helping others didn’t build up lasting self-esteem, it was just a quick fix.  After I realised this, I decided that I would give to others when I could do so with a free heart – with no strings attached.  You might say, I decided to love my neighbour as I love myself – no more, no less. – I believe strongly that creative people have high self-esteem.  I know that when I started writing and sharing my work with others, I really feel good about myself.


          Forgiving others – In his book, Alcoholic Anonymous, author Bill Wilson, discusses forgiveness, and say it’s not done to please others, but in the interest of self. – In Toxic Parents, Susan Forward says this, “You may be asking yourself, “ Isn’t the first step to forgive my parent?” My answer is no…It is not necessary to forgive your parents in order to feel better about yourself and to change your life…Why in the world should you  “Pardon” a father who terrorized and battered you, who made your childhood a living hell?   Early in my professional career I too believed to forgive people who had injured you, especially your parents, was an important part of the healing process….The more I thought about it, I realize this absolution was another form of denial….One of the most dangerous thing about forgiveness is that it undercuts your ability to let go of your pent-up emotions.  How can you acknowledge your anger against a a parent whom you’ve already forgiven? – The question is this : Is it possible that both Bill Wilson and Susan Forward are both right?  Yes, Susan Forward is correct when she says we must own our anger.  Anger is honest.  Anger in the right setting is therapeutic.  Anger can lead to justice.  Anger can free us from tyranny.  And by coming out against forgiveness, Forward allows us to take our time without shame.  Bill Wilson in my opinion is also right.  If we stop resenting people, we feel better about ourselves and others.  This changes us and our lives.  This is why I believe forgiveness is the ultimate goal no matter how long it takes. – If you decide that forgiveness if for you, it might be helpful to realize that letting go off anger does not mean that you have to like the person or continue to let that person to persecute you.  Actually, you don’t even have to be around the person who hurt you if you don’t want to. – “You know, God asks us to love our neighbours and our enemies alike, but some people you just have to love at a distance.” – Forgiveness is not a constant state.  It ebbs and flows like the tide.  Sometimes you feel good about those who hurt you and other times you feel the anger all over again.  But this doesn’t mean, you haven’t progressed.  I’ve found that, as long as I ask God for the strength to release my anger, or announce it in my support group that I am going to “turn it over” or tell my therapist I am really tired of these resentments and want them to go away, the anger comes less and less often.  People should not be told to forgive when they are not ready.  They shouldn’t be shamed by others, and they should not shame themselves.  They should push themselves gently in the right direction.


          Forgiving yourself – To begin forgiving yourself, it’s important to accept the fact that you’re not perfect.  Embrace your humanity and the fact that you make mistakes.  The resulting humility is necessary fro change.


          Helping others – Helping others is a good way to help ourselves change. – “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”


          Progress – not perfection – Changing is a slow process.  You have to learn the art of accepting failure while still pushing forward to the next milestone.  Accepting failure is easy if you are humble.  Humble people understand that they are not perfect and that failure is part of who they are.  They also reframe failure and see it as a legitimate part of the learning curve.

Parenting teenagers.

January 10, 2008

I am a student of life.  I always seek understanding in what I am experiencing.  The sources are mainly from books, self-reflections, observation, media, conversations with the experienced ones and those who are in the same boat as I am.  Having a daughter, parenting would be almost like a life long study.  My daughter will be fourteen soon, and therefore teenagers will be my subject of study for a while.

According to Julian Sleigh, an author of the book “Thirteen to nineteen”, adolescent is a dramatic time for any young person.  He suggested that one way for us parents to try to understand the upheaval of the teenage period is to look at what happened to us when we were teenagers.  The changes which take place affects them so much that their whole being is being challenged, sometime to the very core. He said that we as parents are better able to cope with the challenges, if we become aware of our own attitudes and observe our reactions.  For example, we tend to worry when the teenager scene approaches; we know our child will be exposed to many dangers.  Every step of life has its dangers; why the particular worries around this one.

Julian said that there are obvious worries but the more subtle reasons for being insecure had to do with our own peace mind.  He said that the teenagers are our mirrors in relations to us as parents looking back into our own lives as teenagers; “Have I fully come to terms with the issues that have stirred in me then?”  Were there areas of fear and guilt which I suppressed, either because I felt I should or because others made me to do so?”, “And now that I am facing my adolescent stage of my child, is it these unresolved emotions that are rising up in me?” Overreacting is a pointer to unresolved conflicts in oneself.  The threat that the adolescent poses becomes less if the parent acknowledges his or her own locked up stresses and strive to resolve them.  The peace that will eventually result from this will be thanks to the fact that there is a teenager in the family!

Then there can be the fear of losing control over the child.  It is so important to address this fear if it lurks in one soul, and be very honest about it.  The parent has been sovereign over the child but he simply cannot rule the adolescent.  All parents go through the agonizing process of realizing that they no longer have full control.  If the sovereignty is changed into supportive guidance, a new relationship comes about. Here, Julian gave a very good metaphor of the king and the shepherd in relation to the mode of parenting a teenager.

The qualities of the king have to do with authority and the power to assert that authority whenever necessary.  To gain and maintain this authority the king has to have knowledge and wisdom and also, strong self-discipline.  He is looked upon as an example.  He has to be wise enough to listen to his inner guidance as well as information and opinions, and be able to make decisions uninfluenced by the desire for power and personal gain.  A king has to be a philosopher and a warrior, a judge and a counselor, a ruler and a servant bearing the destiny of his people.  He alao has to be enlightened enough to welcome the growing to maturity of his crown prince and others of his progeny, consciously preparing them for the task that they will carry on in the future.  The kingly qualities engender order and freedom at the same time.  His head is crowned to indicate the nobility and wealth of his thinking power.  He wears rich garments and live in a palace.

The shepherd knows his terrain and his sheep: for both, he has the right interest and feels the right love.  He is peaceful in himself and peacefulness comes about around him: this help his sheep to thrive.  He keeps an eye on the weather and know how to work with the changing seasons of the year: he also guards the sheep against the wolf that lurks unseen.  He cares and feels and so engages the quality of his heart in what he does for the sheep.  His garments are homespun, hardy and meant for being out in the open; and his dwelling will be a cottage near the pastures.

So as parents, can we identify our role as either the king or the shepherd?  Ideally, we should have both in the right mix, “kingly shepherds”.  The growing person seeks for sovereignty, self control and self knowledge in those who are to be his examples.  He does not want to feel ruled; he looks for person who by being sovereign over themselves, are able to give him the protection that he needs without depriving him of his freedom.  The young child needs to be commanded; he gains security from the authority of his parents.  The adolescent should rather be commended; he thrives on the guidance and praise that his parents give him.  This is the meaning of “supportive guidance”.

Here, Julian, in his book, gave a good description of the “push and pull in the tug of war” experiences of a teenager.  Adolescent is a time of expansion and of contraction, of new strength but also of timidity.  There is a stirring of a love for beauty and a fascination with ugliness, a search for values and a drastic discarding of what exists in the established order.  There is a dramatic expansion of intelligence, but it is in danger of being stultified by drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.  Ideals are born within the person, but also cynicism.  He has the longing to become a true person but cannot yet, trust his own worth.  The adolescent seeks for independence but knows that he needs support.  He rejects his parents’ authority and yet seeks approval.  His accustomed order and rhythm succumbs to chaos and untidiness. Feeling the spiritual stirring in him, the teenager looks for purity in relationship and yet he begins to experiment with sex.  He wants to put the world right, but often tends rather to destroy all that exists.  He wants to be one with the adults around him but knows that he is not yet mature.  He seeks for a faith but rejects religion.  He can be hurtful in his criticism of others, and yet is devastated when approval is withheld from him.  He is continually challenging to his parents to leave him free, but would be lost without their support.  He longs to assert himself but feels small in a world that has suddenly become big around him.  He adopts a separate culture, often alien to his parents, but wants to be understood.

Although I am at the first few chapters of Julian’s book, I just cannot wait to share his writing which I find insightful.  As a mother, I can say I am always trying my best and still learning and always have the best intention.  I may have experiences being a child and adolescent and I can share that in some way with my daughter but as a mother I am always a first timer parent of each day of my child’s growing phase.  Many a times even with all the best intention, resources, skill and knowledge, I have still to walk back a few steps to redirect my nurturing path.  The most important thing is to keep working on parenting myself for peace of mind and faith in order to be the best as I can be for my daughter.  To all parents, I am sure you will agree with me that the joy of having a child is a blessing.   There will be more sharing to come.  Enjoy!     

The pleasure of simplicity.

December 31, 2007

Yesterday, Shandel and I traveled by bus to Chow Kit market with an intention to purchase a few chicks or ducklings.  Earlier on, we were talking about having them in our garden and letting them frolic in a mini-sized water containment.  Most of all, we would absolutely have much fun and derive much pleasure watching the “babies” prancing around. The last, what we had, was two chicks and a rabbit running freely in our garden.  The chicks kept trailing after the rabbit and even perched on top of its back thinking that it was their mother.  The rabbit even had friends like the squirrel and the cat.  Also, an image of my friend came to mind when we were younger. He had two ducklings and built a pond for them, so I thought, having the chicks or ducklings again, would be fun for Shandel.

When we arrived at Chow Kit, the first thing we did was hunt for an eating place to fill our tummy.  We found this typical Hakka cafeteria that also served western food.  This type of restaurant is getting to be rare or almost to extinction.  We ordered chicken sandwiches, fried bee hoon and jasmine tea.  All three were exceptionally good tasting especially the sandwiches not to mention a friendly, experienced and efficient waiter.  So we made a new discovery for our brunch.  I always enjoy such impromptu delightful exploration. As I have not visited the market for many years, I asked the waiter where to get the chicks.  He mentioned that it was not available at that time but he was kind enough to offer to get them for us the next day.  I was grateful but I declined politely as I did not want to trouble him just for a few chicks.  We were happy with the meal and walked through the market just to check it out and then walked all the way to Grand Season hotel to get a bus home.  We took a short rest in the hotel after walking in the hot weather.  While on my way to the rest room, I came across a mini bakery and they served cakes and pastry at a reasonable price.  So I got Shandel a chocolate covered doughnut and myself, a cream puff.  It was delicious.  I vouched to come back for my favourites that I just noticed after paying for the pastry.  My cream brule and bread pudding, heavenly yummy.

On our way home, the bus driver was stopped by two policemen probably for riding past the red light.  We decided to walk home as it took quite some waiting.  Despite, the hot weather, we enjoyed the walk as there was nice cooling breeze and we marvelled at the plants growing naturally and freely on the way.  It is amazing how things flourish beautifully when left to the grace of God.  There is no resistance, just go with the flow.  So, no chicks or duckling for that day but lovely food and walk.

The day before, we had breakfast at a roadside stall and then played badminton.  After that we took a long walk before going home.  One of the things we enjoy is watching the gardens of different houses.  We passed a house where an old man was tending to his plants, we were admiring his multi-coloured Japanese roses.  He offered some of his plant cuttings to us and we had a nice chat on gardening.  So there you go, such simple pleasure but rich.

Last week, we were at Ampang village areas purchasing some incense and prayer oil.  We then stopped at an eating stall.  We had barley drink, fried kway teow (flat rice noodle) and porridge.  The barley drink was authentic in the sense that it was boiled with sweetened melon.  I made a comment to the shop owner that it was rare to find such drink cooked with the melon being sold.  He was happy and he started telling us that the food there was good to try and also told us about the singer in the shop.  Later they put on the karaoke set and started crooning to the old Chinese soap opera songs and I have to say they were good. So we gave them a warm applause.  We were well entertained and they were happy as they could perform for us.  Such simple, mutual pleasure.  Sometimes, we need not look far or get too complicated in our search, for they are just around us when we become more relaxed and open to it.


October 14, 2007

What prompted me to write on the above subject is that I am currently reading a book on prayers by Leonard Felder which I got about a week ago.  I would not have taken much notice of the book’s content if it were many years ago because I would not have appreciated it as much as I do now from my own personal experience.

Prayer to me is like a sacred communion with God or my higher self or the source.  Lately, whenever I raise both my hands clasped together at my heart I feel much reverence and it is so personal that it is a feeling, so profound, that words are not enough to describe it.  There is a feeling of awe, gratitude, unconditional love, compassion, serenity and comfort all in its right proportion.  It is a sense of knowing that I am being cradled and seen to, like a safety net,  despite whatever the circumstance is.  Like the rock of Gibraltar, I can access to whenever needed.  It brings about calmness and strength.   Prayer sometimes can move me to tears when I feel overwhelmed and grateful for being the person I am today and knowing that the journey is ongoing.  It is an intimate experience.

I have never felt the sacredness of prayers more fervently now compared to as in my younger days.  Maybe, because, I understand it better and have experienced it in my own way and know that it works. Having said that, while reading this book, I was reflecting on my experience in prayers from young.

My first recollection was the experience of prayer with my mum.  There are four things I recalled, one is that, there was an altar with personal portraits of my grandfather and grandmother where we lit three joss sticks everyday then and whenever there was a day of paying respect, my mum would cook a big feast where my relatives would gather at my house to pray and then shared a meal together.  She also used to bring me to the Chinese temples from time to time especially when I was sick to receive some healing. The ritual is three joss sticks, hold them in both hands, move it up and down and stick it in the joss sticks pot and then pray again with both hands, kneel down on both knees and knock our forehead three times on the ground.  Up and pray with hands again.  Probably saying things like “Thank you God for taking care of me”.  It used to flood every end of the year in my home town due to the monsoon season, so as usual we were wading through the muddy water which was fun and suddenly my mum dropped her purse in the muddy water with strong current and lost it.  So I could still remember, in her frantic moment then, she placed both her hands in prayer on top of her head hoping that her purse will be found and asked me to do the same.  A few days later after the flood had receded, a grocery shop owner nearby the incident found her purse and she got it back.  In all those experiences, it went by without me thinking much about until now, after more than thirty years.

The family I grew up with also prayed on certain important dates and I just followed suit again without much significance on my part.  Then again, in this pre World War II teak house that I stayed, there was an altar upstairs very near to my sleeping area and I remember now I used to pray very often and was often asked to place stringed jasmine flowers on the figurine.  And in my own little way, now recalling it, I did put some degree of importance in doing that and actually felt good about it.  Maybe in those days my prayers were more about doing well in my school exams.  Also, my dad and my grandma in that family used to visit the Buddhist temples very often. There are many Buddhist temples in my home state.  We as children just tagged along.  One of the things I grew used to again was the prayer ritual and was even confident enough at a young age to guide a visitor when needed.  The visit could be such a long time when the adults were chatting with the Buddhist head monk and apart from playing with friends, it can be frustrating and a boring wait for a child then like me.  Also from time to time, the monks were invited to bless the house and us. During the long chanting, we had to sit quietly, put our hands in prayers and sometimes recited after the monks in Pali language. The fun part was the holy bath where the monks dipped a branch of leaves in the water they had blessed and flicked it to all of us sitting in congregation.  Sometimes it can be really wet when the monk used a bucket.  So we prepared ourselves wrapped in sarong.  There is a Pali mantra that I  memorized and have been using it throughout the years when felt drawn to. I do not remember the meaning behind it except that I feel good when I can recite it three times in Pali.

My father’s sister and maybe in my dad’s earlier days when he attended a  Christian missionary boarding school in Penang were Catholic Christians and so I had a few experiences attending church and also attended a Christian based kindergarten St Martin but I do not recall us being guided to pray except for the Marie biscuits and rose syrup drink that I looked forward to during recess time and swinging high up in the air after school.

During my years in primary school, we sometimes had free time when the Muslim students had their religious lesson and I remember observing the teacher showing the students the steps and the prayer position and I could do the whole process and knew some Jawi alphabets and could spell some words too.  Presently, I do not recall all of them.

Doing prayers at Hindu temples is something not out of comfort zone for me either and I have many experiences too.   So what is important in prayer to me is the essence and feelings that are universal to all and the  intention.  But when you know and understand the meaning behind the prayers, it is all the more significant and powerful.

In this book, Leonard Felder is sharing the different prayers for different purpose and  the meaning behind the prayers. Here goes in a nutshell of what I have read so far in the Introduction and Chapter 1:

By praying about the issue i.e. by taking a few minutes to connect with a strong, centered, and holy place deep inside your heart – one becomes more patient and creative with the issue and with nearly everything else one faces.  Also, it makes one more successful in finding one’s strength and peace of mind no matter what the issue is.

Prayer is a subtle but powerful tool for helping a person become more connected to what matters most in his or her life. Deeply felt prayers not can only help you feel strong and more focused inside, but they can also improve how you deal with difficult people and situations in your daily life.

We can use prayers to open up the previously untapped potential of our higher selves or to God’s will but we cannot force any particular result to occur.  Quite often the result of a particular result is subtle, barely visible or not exactly what the person had intended.  Prayer is a mysterious process, yet in many cases it can dramatically change your life for the better, especially in the way it can shift your nervous system away from agitation and towards greater clarity and effectiveness.

Prayer is not about imposing your own will or your ego on a situation.  Rather it is about going deeply inside and connecting with a source of profound energy and support that is hard to describe or measure. When it comes to sitting down and thinking about prayer, each of us has our own likes and dislikes.  For many people, it is not easy to pray.  Not only does it require breaking away from the rat race of their daily lives for at least a few moments, but many people have felt skeptical or uncertain about whether prayer makes a difference and whether there is God who listens and cares.

There is so much practical wisdom and healing potential to be found in certain prayers. Divine interpretations and ideas about God can stir up your own concepts and experiences. Your spiritual life can be enhanced by your deeper understanding of the sacred words that affect you strongly.

A prayer to help you start each morning with a much better frame of mind :   ‘I am so thankful in front of you ruling force of life and existence who restores and renews my soul with compassion.  You are dependable beyond measure.’ This prayer can open your heart and mind to a day of profound clarity and purpose.  If you understand this deeper meaning, this prayer can be a powerful tool toward a life of greater connection.  It essentially lifts your mind from grumpy sleepiness or anxious thoughts about the details of the day ahead of you. This prayer gives you a moment to connect to your deeper reality – your soul – and to feel gratitude that there is a mysterious and infinite source of compassion that dependable restores and renews your soul each day. Prayer can also express a sense of fullness or completeness because something wonderful is happening or because you feel loved and connected to a best friend, a beloved partner or a child whose joyfulness makes you alive.

In 1927 at the University of Berlin, one of the first great female psychological researchers, Bluma Zeigarnik, was studying human perception in the hope of finding out how the brain decides what to focus on and what to ignore or overlook.  She showed a large number of experimental volunteers a circle that was seven-eights complete.  What your eyes and brain tend to focus on?   In a series of groundbreaking experiments, Zeigarnik demonstrated that the human brain, which operates like a problem-solving machine, tends to focus more on the unfinished part of the circle.  It is as though our brains are programmed to look at the problem, the interruption, or the deficiency and not at what is substantially correct or satisfying. Later the researchers called this the Zeigarnik effect, and it suggests that we human beings have a problem noticing what is going right in our lives. Having a problem-focused brain is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing to have a problem-solving machine that helps us look for unfinished tasks to be completed.  But it is a curse in that our problem-focused brain would not let us feel satisfied, relaxed or complete. With prayers we can try to outsmart the human brain by asking us to begin each day with gratitude, wholeness and connection to the miracle of being alive.

For at least a moment each morning, send a surge of positive energy through your nerve passageways into your heart, stomach, hands and legs.  Give your weary body and soul the nourishment of noticing what a blessing it is to be renewed for another day.  Especially if your life is hard, take a moment to experience the wonder of being a spiritual human being with a soul of purity and purpose that lives inside you. If you close your eyes for a moment and say, “I am so thankful my soul is being renewed for another day,” does it make you want to do something useful, positive or purposeful with the day in front of you?  Does thinking about your soul make you want to seek more meaning and connection in your daily life?

Our task in life is to find and utilize the hidden holy spark of light or divine energy that each of us carries in our soul. These sparks of holy wisdom and purpose come from the Creator, and our task is to find what sparks or qualities of goodness we have been given.  By repairing ourselves and repairing the world, we bring these divine energies out from their coverings.  By expressing and sharing our gifts, we raise up our energies to their Source. The first part offers deep gratitude at waking up; the second part acknowledges that your soul is being renewed for another day with opportunities to have a purpose. The third part says which is dependable beyond measure or great is your faithfulness.

God’s love and concern is dependable but God’s influence is at times limited.  God is a loving presence that or source of holiness that we can connect to anytime but that override human free will or natural forces that the Creator set in motion long ago.  In other words, God cannot stop a hurricane, an earthquake, or an illness because these natural forces have birth physical properties and a degree of randomness that are part of the Creator’s design for them.  In the process, God cares deeply and inspires people to develop cures, to act with generosity, or to respond with kindness to the tragedies and vulnerabilities that are part of life. God cannot stop human being from mistreating one another.  Nor can God prevent a holocaust, a genocide or an ethnic cleansing except by inspiring people to take action to stop such human cruelty.  Part of God’s creation is that human beings have the free will, including freedom to do evil.  God can only teach, inspire and attempt to awaken our divine sparks so that we will fight against injustice and treat with compassion those who have been victimized.  God depends on human beings to finish the job of creation and to repair the problems that human free will and powerful natural forces sometimes inflict on this world.

If an innocent child dies at a young age, it might be because an all powerful God has sent this child’s pure soul into the world for a short time (possibly to open certain people’s hearts and minds or to inspire certain people to come up with a cure or proper funding for dealing with a terrible ailment). Our task is not to close our hearts when we are troubled by what God has given us but rather to find ways to heal our own brokenness and to bring about repair and healing in the world around us.  We do not know the way of God but yet we trust that God has a reason.

What is important is the intention that you carry in your heart.  Are you willing to be grateful for having a remarkable soul?  Do you want to address the needs of your soul today?  Do you long for a connection with the source who breathed this soul into you and sustain you day and night? Let there be a novelty in your prayer each day.  Otherwise you fall into empty habits and meaningless repetitions. The most powerful method to attain a strong personal relationship with God is personal prayer in one own native language. Talking with God first thing in the morning – silently or out loud – can make a huge difference in how you respond to what life presents to you that day. 

I will share more when I progress to the next few chapters.


Death and rebirth in a relationship.

August 8, 2007

I had a chance to be in a chat room and a presenter, Laila was giving a chat on death and rebirth in a relationship.  So in a nutshell, I am sharing some of the information which I find insightful.

For those of you who has some understanding in astrology, Laila mentioned that when the planet Venus and/or Mars in one’s transit chart is/are making square aspect with any of the following planets, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto, one is definitely going through some big changes in a relationship.  According to Laila, Saturn and Uranus are the biggest planet of karma.  You either serve or suffer under such planets’ influence.  You probably will have to either process and get out of the relationship or process, approve and change in the relationship.

For e.g. In a woman’s chart, the planets Uranus and Saturn are making a square aspect with Mars.  She is in a no win situation she is being asked to be spiritual and she is being asked to spend time with herself. When faced with such karmic time in a relationship, both will have to be tremendously cooperative in order to handle the relationship during that transit.  It is because the force is asking you be more into yourself.

She said that if you love somebody, then love thyself and self esteem is crucial in any love or marriage relationship.  That way, you will get more love from your mate because they know you have a high self esteem and high self esteem is one of the most beautiful qualities you can find in a person.  Two people with powerful self esteem build the best relationship. The bond between the two should be obvious, where they do not have to say, you know, I am really in love with you.  It is as if I love myself because you are with me and I feel blessed that I am a person like you.  So protect that self esteem.  Do not be so quick to follow the soap opera’s and romantic novel’s that take all the love and power out of your own heart and give it to someone else to do whatever they wish with it.

During long transit period, the secret is to hang in there and handle the transit.  If you care for your mate, then work on your own self esteem and just ride the rapids of it and the other choice is to process and rebirth. Quite frankly, when you do let go of a partner, be it in a marriage or love relationship, you finally realize that this is not good for me; it is not the way it was.  The karmic road has come to an end.  When you realize that you have done everything you can with a person, then the most courageous thing you have to face, is not only processing and just being alone but also being free again.

When you have finally processed the relationship you have been in, you get over the anxiety, stress and everything, it is similar to death.  That is why, people who are intuitive, feel as if they are dying because it is a rebirth, a change, a metamorphosis is on the horizon, where you will never be the same again.  You will leave behind that weak, vulnerable side of yourself and you will glow and burst forth spiritually because that is what relationship is all about.  If the relationship does not work, you are meant to process it, without getting self destructive by smoking, drinking or taking drugs.  Just be real about it and get in touch with your real feelings, meditate and pray.

Learn how to build self esteem and rebirth into the light, God’s love, that is the priority in life.  The priority in life is the Spirit, nothing more, everything down here is an illusion, material.  We get caught up in the illusion of separation, that, this person is so important.  The illusion of this God entity, separated from the whole and his image and in his mind is more important than anything. There you go, something for you to reflect on.     

Salsa Dancing adventure.

August 1, 2007

I attended a school concert a few years ago.  One of the performances, salsa dancing really caught my attention.  The dance was performed by a couple, both teachers, husband and wife, the coordination was one of the most graceful and smoothest that I have ever witnessed.  Talk about harmonious relationship, this is certainly a classic exhibit of hand in glove cooperation. 

I got so intrigued by it that I started researching the classes available in my area.  It was just within a handful.  I went to check out a place and decided to pursue, one of the most difficult lessons of my life.  So here it goes, left foot one step back, one step front, right foot one step front, and one step back, do not sway your hips, eyes on your partner, hands resting gently on the others, count four in one, last count silent, do not bend your knees or bend, what? And etc.  Oh my god! I thought, what have I gotten myself into.  I felt as if I got all my clutches, gears and pedals mixed up and all over the place for the first time. Trying to use my mind to coordinate my limbs, listening to the cue and feeling it all at the same time and applying some logic and system into it, I have to say I fumbled badly like a clown for the first few lessons.  If I can picture myself, the description is close to getting a mannequin to dance.  Seeing how good the teacher was, and others, being in the salsa lesson felt quite intimidating and a daunting task.  Like a fool I was too enchanted by my desire to dance like them and the music was rather infectious and animating, with catchy tunes, I did not give up so soon. 

So back on my internet again, like a professional undergraduate student, adopting the scientific approach, I started researching on, this time, the theory of salsa which explains about the origin, the techniques, the instruments behind the music, and etc..  Practising with a partner.  Still in the lesson.  It did not justify my progress.  Something in my dancing was still out of place and I could not, in all my attempt, metaphorically speaking, get the bolt and nut in place.

Like a stubborn mule, I persisted, this time, I took a few one to one lessons. I also braved myself to just practise on the dance floor, coming back from dancing past midnight like Cinderalla bolting back home for the reason that I hardly graced the dance place in the late night.  But the love of wanting to be at least a reasonably abled dancer, I took the adventurous risk, may not be perceived by others, being a timid in that area, for me, it was.

I was fortunate enough to have found a dancing partner who was superbly excellent and was kind enough to dance with me frequently.  And finally, somehow, it clicked, things just fell into place and I was dancing myself like Alice in Wonderland exploring Disneyland and having much fun, I have to say, I was enlightened in some way.  What I meant was I was lit up in everyway when I was dancing you probably see me with one of my million dollar smiles.  Even writing and recalling it now, makes me smile.

In retrospection, this is what I have learnt or discovered from my experience in salsa dancing.  As a female partner, you have to learn how to take cue from the male partner and learn how to allow yourself to be led by your partner gracefully.  Your partner, if possible, have to be really good at leading.  I am used to being independent since young it was hard to be led, that explains my struggle in the dancing lesson initially.  This really teaches me about life and a lot about myself too; how I can apply that principle of the dance into real life.  To be in harmony, one will sometimes have to surrender gracefully to the flow of life or support and if in partnership, the leader has also to be good at leading, generally the gender leading is the male, but not necessarily the case, if the other is more able.

It also teaches me to not be in my mental mode of controlling when I am dancing and this is also applicable to living. When you think less or none, you are in the flow with the pulse of life and enjoying the moment, the same when you meditate.  The soul needs to express itself and sometimes there is no words to define it so dancing is a good form of expression, like art.

I have seen ladies in their middle age crisis especially after sending their children off to college, go through the empty nest syndrome and at the same time, their relationship evolves to a different mode.  So, what is really catching up among them is line dancing. You really get to witness them having a whale of a fun time, it is really rejuvenating and brings one back to life like being a child again.  In fact, it is deserving for these mothers after accomplishing, so to speak, their call for duty.

Further, when I am dancing with the other person, just by the way he holds my hand and leads me and dances, it tells me a lot about that person for the first time, whether the person, is sensitive, organised, authoritarian, considerate, etc..  Apart from that, I also learn about myself when I start to observe my feeling and my moves.

Seeing from afar, for those who are not into salsa dancing, some may view the moves as sleazy or provocative.  It is actually a beautiful,  graceful and a sexy dance.  We actually hardly touch, I mean body to body, and we were taught how to keep at a certain distance. Those who are into salsa dancing, are more into mastering the dance then looking for a partner, off course, not to mention, that such potentiality does exist.  What they say, dancing is the vertical expression of love making, an interesting definition.

So in a nut shell, I had fun with my adventure and learnt a lot.  Hope you get to experience some of that fun too!    



Homa – The fire purification ceremony.

July 29, 2007

 On Wesak day, this year (2007), I was very fortunate to have the opportunity of having Homa done in my humble abode.  The priest, Danesh, from the Laskhmi temple is highly in demand for such performing rites and especially on auspicious days like full moon and Wesak, the birthday of Buddha.  Someone who had make a reservation for such rite for this Wesak day cancelled and hence I have been blessed with such a sacred chance.  I was advised by a friend to have a homa performed in my home since last year and I had been thinking about it since then and hence, the right moment.

When I made the arrangement with priest Danesh, two weeks before the actual date, I was given a list of items to get and prepare for that auspicious day.  It tallies close to thirty.  The items include flowers, fruits, raisins, rice, incense, saffron, ghee, coconut, betel leaves, cashew nuts, almond, bananas, red vibhutti, tumeric powder, red cloth, brown sugar, frankinscence, tulasi leaves, camphor, salt, etc.  It was quite a task gathering all the items but it was manageable. Overall the ritual felt wholesome and definitely the atmosphere in the house during and following the purification process, felt really good.  It felt starkly clean and pure. It is close to the exhilarated feeling after an exercise, a fresh injection of pure, bright, brilliant and sparkling white light.  Similar to the taste as if you just have had your teeth brushed with a spearmint toothpaste. 

Taken from a site and Wilkipedia, Homa, the fire offering, is said to be more ancient than puja.  It comes from Vedic times when fire was the main resource used in life. Each house was built around a central fire. Each community had its central or communal fire.  Fire is the Divine presence, the presence of light in the material world. No better symbol for the Divine can be found. The spirit is hidden in all material things the way fire is latent in wood. Hence fire is our most convenient symbol of the Divine and our aspiration towards it.  In the homa devotional ceremony, we offer our thoughts and emotions to the Divine

 Although a consecrated fire is the central element of every homa ritual, the procedure and items offered to the fire vary by what occasions the ceremony, or by the benefit expected from the ritual. Procedures invaribly involve –·        the kindling and consecration of the sacrificial fire; ·        the invocation of one or more divinities; and, ·        the making of offerings (whether real or visualized) to them with the fire as via media, amid the recitation of prescribed prayers and mantras.

The consecrated fire forms the focus of devotions; it is often maintained on specific types of wood and other combustibles. The fire-altar (vedi) is generally made of brick or stone, and is almost always built specifically for the occasion, being dismantled immediately afterwards. This fire-altar is invaribly built in square shape. While very large vedis are occasionally built for major public homas, the usual altar may be as small as 1 x 1 foot square and rarely exceeds 3 x 3 feet square. Again, whereas major altars at public events may include a hollowing of the earth to create a relatively deep pit, usual altars involve no such excavation and indeed rise only inches above the ground.

In all events, the arrangement is centered in the middle of a space, which may be either outdoors or indoors. The principal people performing the ceremony and the priests who instruct them through the rituals seat themselves around the altar, while family, friends and other devotees form a larger ring around that center. The length and procedure of a homa depends on the purpose to which it is performed; many different types of homas exist, and the following list is only illustrative.

I find the following material on homa written by Dr Shantala Priyadarshini, teacher and theorectical researcher from Mysore Aryuvedic Medical College, very informative and comprehensive :

Can these healing methods really work? Are they scientifically provable? Do these practices help only in treating psychological disorders or do they mean much more? Why did our seers give these rituals so much of importance? What could these Vedic rituals mean today ? in this scientific era of CT scan, atomic energy, exploration and expedition to Mars?

From ancient times, Ayourveda & Vedic sciences have made significant contributions to the world civilization, culture and knowledge in all areas of human pursuits. These contributions, mostly unknown to the wider world, are often un-acknowledged and this wisdom often distorted. Their ideas require attention for better understanding and appreciation of the human past.

A homa is a sacred fire ceremony in which various forms of the Divine are invoked in a sacred fire that has been kindled according to the guidelines in the Vedic scriptures.  They bring powerful healing and spiritual upliftment.According to India’s ancient spiritual tradition, certain ritual practices have the power to attract divine cosmic energy for the benefit of the practitioner, his or her household, and the world at large.  One of the most powerful practices involves homas.

Certain special offerings are made into the fire while Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The combination of the powerful energy of the fire element, the most transformational among the Five Elements, and the chanted mantras creates extremely auspicious and purifying vibrations that are beneficial to all who attend the homa.The smoke that rises from a homa contains a powerful healing energy, and as it rises to the heavens it purifies the atmosphere, both physically and subtly, encouraging a peaceful environment and gentle weather. Even the damaging effects of natural catastrophes can be reduced through the performance of homas. The energetic vibrations that are invoked during a traditional Vedic fire ceremony represents one of the most powerful presence of the Divine on Earth. The element of fire is associated with the upward motion of the divine kundalini energy and is considered to be the most powerfully purifying element. Every kind of negative karma can be purified by the sacred homa fire, due to divine grace.It is true that sitting in one homa fire (for an hour or more) can roughly be the equivalent of doing intense meditation, for a month.

During the actual homa ceremony, we start with a few introductory mantras, bringing in the energy of our divine lineage, including Swami Kaleshwara, Shirdi Sai Baba, Jesus, Mother Divine and other divine souls, for bringing the highest healing and blessings to all who attend.Then we light the fire, and chant powerful ancient Sanskrit and Telugu mantras together, as a group. These mantras vary depending on which kind of homa we’re doing and what energies we’re invoking, although some flavor of the Mother Divine energy is always an important part of the process.While the homa fire’s energy is building and people are chanting the mantras, everybody gets to hold a rose and a few sticks of incense, which will later be offered to the fire in the final group offering.We offer sacred materials into the fire, including ghee, rice, flowers, incense, and a coconut.

The special Full Moon homas, for increasing prosperity on all levels (including spiritual) and for connecting in a beautiful way with the Mother Divine directly, involve a few more specialized offerings: nine different types of oils, fruits, flowers, and seeds.It is not uncommon for people attending homa to experience internal heat intensifying, since the internal heat is a response to and reflection of the external fire.At the end of the ceremony, after all the mantras have been chanted, we offer our collective prayers and intentions as a group in the form of incense and flowers.Then we ‘cool down’ a little bit by singing some bhajans and kirtans, sacred songs praising and invoking the divine.

Many times the on-going energy and blessing of the homa fire is experienced later on in the day or even over the next few days or weeks.As the purification side of healing goes on, you may feel agitated or irritable, or have sensations of heat or tingling in the physical body. Similar to any energetic healing experience, you may find that you want to rest a little more than usual during the day, and drink more water than you might normally.Emotions of all kinds (sadness, joy, anger, gratitude) might run a little high.Sleep is usually deeper and feels more restful after a homa. Dreams may be vivid. Memories of the homa fire itself (even the scent of the smoke!) may come to mind at seemingly strange or random times.Sometimes the mantras you chanted at the homa will return in your mind, as though a record of them is playing. It’s a beautiful chance to go deeper with the mantras, and to re-experience the same healing energy, at any time, that you encountered at homa.  A sense of well-being and inner peace, or a feeling of connectedness to your Higher Self or the divine, however you consider it, may increase. Moments of open-heartedness, and a deep appreciation for loved ones and all beings in general, may occur…!

There are many different reasons why a person might want to sponsor a homa. The real significance of making a donation in order to sponsor a homa (through making your home available, providing the homa materials like ghee and turmeric, kindling wood & a coconut, or offering food and drink to the people who come to attend the homa, or even, in the case of extreme healing need, paying a financial donation FOR the actual homa) is that one is offering one’s negative karma (in the form of the effort to offer your home, or the cost of food, homa materials, or money) to the homa fire. Through the power of the homa ceremony, the negative karma is destroyed and replaced with positive karma. If a person is experiencing difficulties of any kind, sponsoring a homa will help to lessen those difficulties. The homa fire is capable of destroying the most negative karma at the very root, and karma is ultimately the cause of all problems. In addition, sponsoring a homa is a very sacred act of merit, as homas benefit all attendees, as well as the entire world. It is also important that whoever attends a homa make some contribution to the process. For maximum healing to take place, it’s important that an energy exchange of some kind is involved — either a small financial donation, bringing food/drinks to share at the homa, providing homa supplies like roses or ghee, helping to clean up after the ceremony, etc. By making a small donation, we can bring great benefit to many creatures, and this enhances our own pool of merit, or positive karma. Positive karma makes the path of our lives smooth and clear, and gives us the opportunity to be in the presence of and benefit from holy people. Thus, sponsoring the sacred homa can both reduce one’s negative karma and enhance one’s positive karma, which makes life more conducive to spiritual practice and which ultimately leads to the highest liberation. 

Hopefully, my experience and the above information will add on to your boat of knowledge and interest.  Namaste!

An Experiential Retreat with the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist Master.

June 1, 2007

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh or Thay is a Vietnamese born Zen master and has written many books on Buddhism.  He was exiled from his own country by the communist government.  He has set up a monastery called the Plum Village in the south of
France.  He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the late Martin Luther King Jnr..

I came across books on Buddhism written by Thay, about nine years ago.  I was also given a book titled the “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Sadhana, a dear friend of mine.  Apart from Pema Chodron’s books, Thay’s writing on Buddhism appeals to me because of its simplicity, sensibility, gentle and loving guidance.  Although, I grew up in a Buddhist family, I never really understood the practice I obediently followed as a child or, rather, I took it for granted.

The understanding and practice of Buddhism did not have much impact on me until recently when I had an opportunity to attend a five days retreat led by Thay and his sangha of 90 nuns and monks from his monastery.  Reading Thay’s book titled “Peace Every Step” which came into my hand before the retreat was very helpful.  In this book, apart from the mindfulness practices, it stated that understanding is the key to wisdom and compassion.

I always have much respect for practitioners who practice what they preach and having had a first experience with Thay and his sangha, I have to say that he is a first class practioner that is true to his teachings and has a world wide impact.  When he sits, he really sits upright like  a Buddha and when he walks, he walks so silently and very mindfully and yet the simplicity is profound. For the first time, the practice in Buddhism of seeking refuge in the three jewels and the five mindfulness training really dawned on my own understanding and awareness.  His writings and teachings make the practice of Buddhism sound so simple, sensible and palatable to the laypeople and therefore appeals greatly to the Westerners.  Today, there are about seven hundred sanghas, worldwide, practising his teaching.

There were about seven hundred retreatants from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, USA and Europe.Despite the numbers, the retreat was very well organized.  In general, everybody kept up to the schedule and regulations without much fuss.  In fact, it was adhered with much reverence, harmony, peace, unity, love, joy and an atmosphere of comraderie.  People just unconditionally cared and watched out for each other in a brotherly or sisterly manner despite having met each other for the first time.  It evoked a very beautiful and warm feeling just to witness such happenings.

The ritual during the retreat was getting up at 5am, attending a sitting meditation at 5.45am, followed by walking meditation, eating meditation, dharma talk, relaxation exercise, touching the earth, dharma group discussion, announcements, question, answer session, communal eating, noble silence and retiring at 10pm.  We were also introduced to the process of beginning anew with ourselves, the process of peaceful reconciliation with deep listening and loving speech and the sharing of monastic life experience by some of the monks and nuns.  Bells were sounded almost every fifteen minutes to remind us to  stop doing whatever we were doing, and practice mindful breathing i.e. to breathe in and out three times and to and get back into our centre and then we continued with what we were doing.

Thay’s dharma talk was so nurturing.  His voice was like a quiet whisper that you had to listen carefully and pay attention to the flow of the talk which was of divine essence. His manner of speech was like a loving and gentle prodding of a grandparent to a grandchild.  And yet the dharma rain from his talk had an impact like a thunder that probably touched some of us deeply for life.  He simply says that you too can become an enlightened person if you focus your mind on the present and become mindful or conscious of your daily activities.

To him, nirvana is not something that lies in the future or in the past but something you can experience right now, with every breath you take. Whatever Thay taught was nothing new in Buddhism but the way he conveyed it was so understandable and acceptable that it need no convincing except the openness and the willingness to practise it.  Thay said that anyone who practises mindfulness and compassion is already a Buddhist, keeping in mind that Buddhism is a way of life.



Prior to the retreat, he had visited Vietnam and Hong Kong.  Following the retreat, Thich Nhat Hanh spoke on Buddhism’s contribution to good governance and development, the theme of the International Buddhist Conference on the United Nations Day of Vesak (Visakha Bucha Day) Celebrations 2007, at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok.  The following are excerpts taken from the news media and they are not in any order :

++ He said leaders will also have to learn “loving speech and deep listening” in order to restore healthy communication.  They would then be able to transform the government and parliament into a family where people can listen and learn from each other and work in harmony and with compassion.

++ “We may become victims of our own power,” he warned gently, “if we don’t have a spiritual life. If you look around us, you will see many famous people or powerful people who have become victims of their own power and suffer deeply.”   “When we ourselves suffer,” he explained, carefully and caringly, “we carry that suffering to others, whether we are leaders in a government or a business, or fathers or mothers in families”.  

He stated simply that all decision makers – whether in political or economic arenas – should take spiritual care of themselves and their families and loved ones first, as part of their spiritual exercise of loving their countries and the world.By taking care of themselves, regularly and seriously, they become more healthy, loving and wholesome so as to run their countries smoothly and work openly towards solving all problems.   “With the practice of mindful walking and breathing, they can transform their government, the parliament into a kind of family, where people can listen to each and learn from each other, and work with harmony and compassion.”“A good leader should be free from anger. They should be always knowledgeable, ready to love and forgive others,” said Mr Hanh, adding that the abuse of power might destroy a country.

The Zen master made the statements Monday morning at United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok in his keynote speech addressed to Buddhist leaders from 61 countries participating in the Fourth International Buddhism conference organised by Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University in Bangkok. The gathering was to mark the world Visakha Puja Day falling on May 31. The Zen master said that the ultimate goal of national development and ruling a national government was to bring real happiness to the people.

A leader is likely to abuse his power if his spirit is not strong enough. A healthy spirit can be obtained by regular exercise based on Buddhist teaching emphasizing love, wisdom and avoiding anger. Leaders who take regular spiritual exercise including mindful breathing, walking meditation and the application of basic Buddhist precepts will find themselves happier.
In his 50-minute address, he told of teaching peacemaking, love, compassion and respect to police and prison guards, and to western politicians — as well as Buddhist audiences — as a means of helping them and their countries to find their ways to peace.

++Question and answers session during his visit to Hong Kong :

++ The way of teaching and practising Buddhism should be renewed in order to speak directly to the younger generation and the more intellectual people. If we don’t refresh our language and our practice, the younger ones won’t feel at ease.That is what we’ve been trying to do for decades in Europe, in America, and now many young and intellectual people come to practise. We believe that if it works for the West, it will work for Asia as well.

++ Tell us about “engaged Buddhism”.It can help us solve the problems of the heart by releasing the tension in the body and the mind and transforming the suffering in the heart. You establish communication and reconcile with other people. This is practice, not just prayer. Buddhism is as an art of living rather than mere belief.

++ How do you apply it in daily life? How do you advise young people to be good Buddhist in everything that they do?

They have to learn how to live mindfully, every moment. While driving, you can drive mindfully. Talking, you can talk mindfully. Otherwise your mind wanders and you’re not there to take of yourself and the people you love.

++ These young people must have asked you whether you believe in God. How do you answer?  Where do we go after we die?

Most of the people who come to us don’t feel comfortable with the Judaic and Christian churches. If people think of God as the basis of being, somehow equivalent to nirvana, that can be acceptable to Buddhism. You cannot describe God in terms of language. God is something to be experienced only. In Buddhism you can’t describe nirvana – you can only touch on it.  Nirvana is the here and now.  Not only after we die, but right now, we speak of “continuation” in terms of karma. When you talk, that is also a kind of energy, and your talk can have an impact right way on your health and on the health of theworld.

So the dissolution of our body doesn’t mean the end of what you have created. To think that after the body’s dissolution there is nothing is a very short-sighted view, and not very scientific. What we produce as talk, speech and action will continue for a long time into the future. And that is the ground of our rebirth, our continuation. This kind of teaching can be accepted by scientists. We have organised retreats for scientists, psychotherapists …

++ What about politicians?

We have also organised a retreat for congressmen in Washington. Many of them came and they enjoyed it, because their lives are very stressful, very busy. Now those congressmen know how to walk mindfully and eat mindfully to reduce the tension. They can think more clearly and do their work better.

++ Do you support Buddhists getting involved in politics?

Anything that is done mindfully and with compassion is Buddhist. If politicians live their lives mindfully with compassion, they are Buddhists.You should not distinguish too much between politics and non-politics. Sometimes you have to boycott coffee from a country because politics is involved in everything, and we have to refrain from consuming something because, if we did, it could create more suffering.

++ Do you allow your monks to take political positions?

Yes. As a monk you shouldn’t think of becoming a politician, but you do have your insights. You should be able to say, ‘What you do there, Mr Politician, is right or wrong. We support you if you do the right thing, the thing that does not create suffering. We oppose you when you do things that can create more suffering.’That is a political stance, and you don’t need to be involved in politics in order to express yourself like that.

++ What’s your position on the war on Iraq?

The day after the destruction of the Twin Towers I advised the American people not to start a war with Iraq, to be calm and ask why have they done such a thing to you. You might have done something; you might have said something that made them hateful, angry toward you. If you respond to it right away with violence, you will bring about a lot of suffering to your nation and to other nations. But it started right away, minutes after the event. Now people have found that what we said was true.

++ Have you condemned terrorism?

The word is not “condemnation”. It is about looking deeply to see why such a thing has happened. There must be a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, a lot of wrong perceptions that have led terrorism to be born. If you want to uproot terrorism, you have to remove these kinds of perceptions, and that cannot be done with bombs.


My intention in attending this retreat was to gain clarity.  Attending this retreat has got me to be intimate with my own breath and  brings about calmness, peace and clarity.  Participating in the walking meditation, I have for the very first time, discovered my harmonious rhythm of walking and breathing and being in touch with the nature at the same time.  As a result of this, I experienced deep contentment.  Touching the earth ritual was a humbling and personal experience for me.  It brings about the awareness of oneness.  It also helps with emotional release.  I used to think that speaking the truth is good enough but according to Thay, speaking the truth is not good enough if the objective is not towards peaceful reconciliation.  And communication by itself is also not good enough unless it is carried out with deep listening and loving speech.  This according to Thay,  will help alleviate suffering.  Beginning anew is to look deeply into our own nature and transform by watering our good seeds.  Overall, being mindful brings about awareness and being aware leads to understanding and compassion.  And it all starts with ourselves first. 

If Thay’s teaching and retreat activities is of any interest to you, you can visit the following websites : and  The wonderful thing about the retreat is that it is also available to the children and teenagers. 



April 27, 2007

When I mentioned Wesak to my friends in the West, they looked at me blankly and said “Wesak? What is that?”  Growing up in the East, I take these things for granted, as we do have a yearly Wesak day which is a national public holiday, and the date is normally either at the end of April or the beginning of May.  On this day, most Buddhists go to the temple and pray.  It is generally known as the Birthday of Buddha.  In fact, it is said to be the day of the birth and death of Buddha.  It is actually the day Buddha attained enlightenment or Buddhahood and his departure from the physical body.

Wesak is a meaningful day for me.  In my observation, almost every year, a month or two before this day, I face some challenges in my personal life.  I notice others are too, in their own ways.  When I have overcome it, Wesak is the day that I celebrate my triumph and show my gratitude.  This is the time that I participate in the Wesak festival or visit the temples to pray and receive blessings.  It is like a graduation and a reminder to continue to be vigilant in practising the buddhist way of life.

The following information is taken from two sites.

The calendar date varies as it is based on the time when the full moon is in the constellation of Taurus (usually the full moon in May).  The new and full moon periods are always times of increased communication with other dimensions. It is as if the veils become thinner between planes, and is why meditation at these times can be very fruitful. When the moon is in Taurus, a special rending of the veils occurs. As legend has it, Buddha, “The Illumination of Light,” and Christ, “The Embodiment of Love,” meet at this time for the benefit of humanity and Earth. The Office of the Christ and the Office of the Buddha work in concert for the vibrational upliftment of humanity. Wesak marks an intense period of Spiritual evaluation in all dimensions. This evaluation sets humanity’s vibrational destiny for the next twelve-month cycle.

According to tradition, Wesak is a time when the Buddha returns to Earth, to bless it. This blessing is transmitted through the Christ for renewed Spiritual life. It is further stated in the legends about Wesak, that when Buddha pours forth the blessing upon the Earth, Christ (who has remanifested upon the Earth) intones a great mantra used only at this time of year. This mantra sets up such a powerful vibration, that it reaches up from Earth directly to Spirit. This mantra is supposedly an interdimensional vibratory link that can connect all the Living Light bodies from Earth to God. Through the Office of the Buddha the Wisdom of God is poured forth, and through the Office of the Christ the Love of God is manifested. This creates a ring pass not communication effect for all active participants.  In modern times, it is common for individuals to meditate at the time of Wesak. Meditators send forth to God as much consciously gathered and focused Christed Love as they can. At the same time humanity is sending a stream of Christed Love to God, a massive down pouring of Divine Intelligence and Understanding will envelop Earth. The upwelling Love of humanity connects vibrationally to a down-pouring vibration of Wisdom; through this connection, the Hierarchy can set the karmic clocks for humanity’s unfoldment. The setting of the karmic clocks is in direct proportion to humanity’s demonstrated ability to assimilate higher Light frequencies. This ability of Earth and humanity to assimilate the higher Light frequencies is in direct proportion to the quality and quantity of focused Light that is generated from Earth. The new vibrational patterns needed for continued soul growth (karmic clocks) are set for a twelve month cycle.

The day of the Festival is to be known as the “day of safeguarding” whilst the two succeeding days are called the “days of distribution.” These words mean something different to the Hierarchy of Masters than they do to us and it is fruitless (as well as forbidden) to elucidate them in their deepest meaning. They mean, however, five days of a most intensive effort in service, leading to the renunciation of all which could hinder our usefulness as channels of spiritual force. It means that after due preparation, dedication and upward striving for the first two days, on the day of the Festival itself we simply regard ourselves as the recipients of, or the custodians of, as much of that inflowing spiritual force as we can possibly hold. As channels, we must be prepared to forget ourselves in the service of touching, containing and holding force for the rest of humanity. We must regard the Festival itself as a day of silence (I refer to an inner peace and silent solemnity that can be preserved unbroken though the individual may be serving through speech and spoken interest), a day of service carried forward entirely on esoteric levels, and of complete self-forgetfulness in the remembrance of humanity and its need. During that period, two thoughts only will hold our constant attention-the need of humanity and the necessity of providing a group channel whereby the spiritual forces can be poured through the body of humanity under the expert guidance of the chosen members of the Hierarchy.

For two days prior to the full moon, we will hold the attitude of dedication and service and seek to assume that attitude of receptivity to that which our soul will impart which will make us of use to the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy works through groups of souls, and the potency of this group work is to be tested out. These groups in their turn contact and feed the waiting dedicated attentive personalities. On the day of the full moon, we attempt to hold ourselves steadily in the light. We will not formulate to ourselves what will happen nor will we look for results or for tangible effects. On the two succeeding days, the focus of our attention will be steadily turned away from ourselves but also from the inner subjective planes to the outer world, and our efforts will be to pass on, or to pass through, that measure of spiritual energy that may have been contacted. Our work then in this particular and peculiar field of cooperation will then be ended. This effort of the Hierarchy is a five days’ effort, preceded by a most intensive period of preparation. The work of getting ready for the opportunity starts for the Hierarchy exactly at the hour when “the sun began to move northward.” But They tire not as do human beings and it is not possible for the human aspirant to keep up so long a period of preparation, no matter how deep his devotion.

When the Great Lord was on Earth, He told His disciples that successful spiritual effort of a healing nature went not forth except by prayer and fasting. Will you ponder on these words? This is a group effort towards a vast group healing and by prayer (sanctified desire, illumined thought and intense aspirational longing) and by the discipline of the physical body for a short period and for a definite objective, the work can be done. What is it that should be accomplished at each momentous full moon in May? I shall state the objective sequentially and in the order of their importance, and with as much clarity and brevity as this abstruse subject permits.

  1. The releasing of certain energies which can potently affect humanity, and which will, if released, stimulate the spirit of love, of brotherhood and of goodwill on the earth. These energies are as definite and as real as those energies with which science occupies itself and calls the “cosmic rays.” I am speaking of real energies and not of emotionally desired abstractions.
  2. The fusion of all the people of goodwill in the world into an integrated responsive whole.
  3. The invocation and the response of certain great Beings, Whose work can and will be possible if the first of the objectives is achieved through the accomplishment of the second objective. Ponder on this synthesis of the three objectives. By what name these Living Forces are called is entirely immaterial. They can be regarded as the Vice-Regents of God, Who can and will cooperate with the Spirit of Life and of Love upon our planet, the One in Whom we live and move and have our being. They may be regarded by certain thinkers as the Archangels of the Most High, Whose work has been made possible through the activity of Christ and His body of disciples, the true and living Church. They may be regarded by others as the guiding heads of the planetary Hierarchy, Who stand behind our planetary evolution, and Who seldom take an active part in the world activity, leaving it to the Masters of the Wisdom except in the time of an emergency such as this. By whatever name we call Them, They stand ready to aid if the call comes forth with sufficient strength and power from the aspirants and disciples at the time of the May full moon and the June full moon.
  4. The evocation from the inner side of a strenuous and one-pointed activity on the part of the Hierarchy of Masters, those illumined Minds to Whom has been confided the work of world direction. A responsiveness is desired and can be effective between the following three groups:
    1. The waiting and (at this time) anxious Hierarchy-anxious because even They cannot tell how humanity will react and whether men will be wise enough to avail themselves of the proffered opportunity. They stand, organised under the direction of the Christ, the Master of all the Masters, and the Teacher alike of angels and of men. He has been constituted the direct intermediary between the earth and the Buddha, Who is, in His turn, consecrated intermediary between the entire waiting Hierarchy and the attentive Forces.
    2. The New Group of World Servers, composed at this time of all those sensitive and consecrated servers of the race whose objective is world peace, who aim at the establishing of goodwill on earth as the basis for future living and world expansion. Originally, this group was composed of a handful of accepted disciples and consecrated aspirants. Its ranks have been opened – . . to all those people of goodwill who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the helping of humanity, and who see no separating bar of any kind, but feel alike to the men of all races, nationalities and religions.
    3. The masses of men and women who have responded to the ideas which have been set forth, and who react favorably to the objective of international understanding, economic interdependence and religious unity. When these three groups of thinkers and servers are brought en rapport with each other, and when the three groups can be aligned, even momentarily, much can be accomplished; the gates of the new life can be opened, and the inflow of the new spiritual forces can take place. Such is the Group objective and idea.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

April 25, 2007

In order to understand or relate better to another person, I try to get to know his or her childhood and past experiences, family background, their astrological and psychological make-up, personality and etc.  By doing so, I become more accepting and less judgmental of the person and maybe even begin to forgive and have more compassion.  Sometimes, I experienced something that I did not even have any knowledge or understanding, and then, later, I began to see more clearly when I have sought for more information.  The following is one of them.  This information has been taken from a term paper written extensively by Joanna M Ashmun.  If you can relate to this, I would welcome your sharing in the comment section. 

“The study of human nature may be thought of as an art with many tools at its disposal, an art closely related to all the other arts, and relevant to them all. In literature and poetry, particularly, this is especially significant. Its primary aim must be to broaden our knowledge of human beings, that is to say, it must enable us all to become better, fuller, and finer people.” — Alfred Adler 

A personality disorder is a pattern of deviant or abnormal behavior that the person doesn’t change even though it causes emotional upsets and trouble with other people at work and in personal relationships. It is not limited to episodes of mental illness, and it is not caused by drug or alcohol use, head injury, or illness. There are about a dozen different behavior patterns classified as personality disorders.  All the personality disorders show up as deviations from normal in one or more of the following:
(1) cognition — i.e., perception, thinking, and interpretation of oneself, other people, and events;
(2) affectivity — i.e., emotional responses (range, intensity, lability, appropriateness);
(3) interpersonal functions;
(4) impulsivity.

While grandiosity is the diagnostic hallmark of pathological narcissism, pathological narcissism occurs in two forms, (a) a grandiose state of mind in young adults that can be corrected by life experiences, and (b) the stable disorder which is defined less by grandiosity than by severely disturbed interpersonal relations.

The preferred theory seems to be that narcissism is caused by very early affective deprivation, yet the clinical material tends to describe narcissists as unwilling rather than unable, thus treating narcissistic behaviors as volitional — that is, narcissism is termed a personality disorder, but it tends to be discussed as a character disorder. This distinction is important to prognosis and treatment possibilities. If NPD is caused by infantile damage and consequent developmental short-circuits, it probably represents an irremediable condition. On the other hand, if narcissism is a behavior pattern that’s learned, then there is some hope, however tenuous, that it’s a behavior pattern that can be unlearned. The clinical literature on NPD is highly theoretical, abstract, and general, with sparse case material, suggesting that clinical writers have little experience with narcissism in the flesh. There are several reasons for this to be so:

— The incidence of NPD is estimated at 1% in the general population, though I haven’t been able to discover the basis of this estimate.
— Narcissists rarely enter treatment and, once in treatment, progress very slowly. We’re talking about two or more years of frequent sessions before the narcissist can acknowledge even that the therapist is sometimes helpful. It’s difficult to keep narcissists in treatment long enough for improvement to be made — and few people, narcissists or not, have the motivation or the money to pursue treatment that produces so little so late.
— Because of the influence of third-party payers (insurance companies), there has been a strong trend towards short-term therapy that concentrates on ameliorating acute troubles, such as depression, rather than delving into underlying chronic problems. Narcissists are very reluctant to open up and trust, so it’s possible that their NPD is not even recognized by therapists in short-term treatment. Purely anecdotal evidence from correspondents and from observations of people I know indicates that selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac, aggravate narcissists’ grandiosity and lack of social inhibition. It has also been suggested that self-help literature about bolstering self-esteem and getting what you want out of life or that encourages the feeling of victimization has aggravating effects on NPD thinking and behavior.
— Most clinical writers seem unaware that narcissists’ self-reports are unreliable. This is troubling, considering that lying is the most common complaint about narcissists and that, in many instances, defects of empathy lead narcissists to wildly inaccurate misinterpretations of other people’s speech and actions, so that they may believe that they are liked and respected despite a history of callous and exploitative personal interactions.

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.   Additionally, there is considerable overlap between personality disorders and clinicians tend to diagnose mixes of two or more. Grandiosity is a special case, but lack of empathy and exploitative interpersonal relations are not unique to NPD, nor is the need to be seen as special or unique. The differential diagnosis of NPD is made on the absence of specific gross behaviors. Borderline Personality Disorder has several conspicuous similarities to NPD, but BPD is characterized by self-injury and threatened or attempted suicide, whereas narcissists are rarely self-harming in this way. BPD may include psychotic breaks, and these are uncharacteristic of NPD but not unknown. The need for constant attention is also found in Histrionic Personality Disorder, but HPD and BPD are both strongly oriented towards relationships, whereas NPD is characterized by aloofness and avoidance of intimacy. Grandiosity is unique to NPD among personality disorders, but it is found in other psychiatric illnesses. Psychopaths display pathological narcissism, including grandiosity, but psychopathy is differentiated from NPD by psychopaths’ willingness to use physical violence to get what they want, whereas narcissists rarely commit crimes; the narcissists I’ve known personally are, in fact, averse to physical contact with others, though they will occasionally strike out in an impulse of rage. It has been found that court-ordered psychotherapy for psychopaths actually increases their recidivism rate; apparently treatment teaches psychopaths new ways to exploit other people. Bipolar illness also contains strong elements of grandiosity. 

The disorder begins by early adulthood and is indicated by at least five of the following:

Translation: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a pattern of self-centered or egotistical behavior that shows up in thinking and behavior in a lot of different situations and activities. People with NPD won’t (or can’t) change their behavior even when it causes problems at work or when other people complain about the way they act, or when their behavior causes a lot of emotional distress to others (or themselves? none of my narcissists ever admit to being distressed by their own behavior — they always blame other people for any problems). This pattern of self-centered or egotistical behavior is not caused by current drug or alcohol use, head injury, acute psychotic episodes, or any other illness, but has been going on steadily at least since adolescence or early adulthood.

NPD interferes with people’s functioning in their occupations and in their relationships:

Mild impairment when self-centered or egotistical behavior results in occasional minor problems, but the person is generally doing pretty well.

Moderate impairment when self-centered or egotistical behavior results in: (a) missing days from work, household duties, or school, (b) significant performance problems as a wage-earner, homemaker, or student, (c) frequently avoiding or alienating friends, (d) significant risk of harming self or others (frequent suicidal preoccupation; often neglecting family, or frequently abusing others or committing criminal acts).

Severe impairment when self-centered or egotistical behavior results in: (a) staying in bed all day, (b) totally alienating all friends and family, (c) severe risk of harming self or others (failing to maintain personal hygiene; persistent danger of suicide, abuse, or crime).

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

Translation: Grandiosity is the hallmark of narcissism. So what is grandiose?

The simplest everyday way that narcissists show their exaggerated sense of self-importance is by talking about family, work, life in general as if there is nobody else in the picture. Whatever they may be doing, in their own view, they are the star, and they give the impression that they are bearing heroic responsibility for their family or department or company, that they have to take care of everything because their spouses or co-workers are undependable, uncooperative, or otherwise unfit. They ignore or denigrate the abilities and contributions of others and complain that they receive no help at all; they may inspire your sympathy or admiration for their stoicism in the face of hardship or unstinting self-sacrifice for the good of (undeserving) others. But this everyday grandiosity is an aspect of narcissism that you may never catch on to unless you visit the narcissist’s home or workplace and see for yourself that others are involved and are pulling their share of the load and, more often than not, are also pulling the narcissist’s share as well. An example is the older woman who told me with a sigh that she knew she hadn’t been a perfect mother but she just never had any help at all — and she said this despite knowing that I knew that she had worn out and discarded two devoted husbands and had lived in her parents’ pocket (and pocketbook) as long as they lived, quickly blowing her substantial inheritance on flaky business schemes. Another example is claiming unusual benefits or spectacular results from ordinary effort and investment, giving the impression that somehow the narcissist’s time and money are worth more than other people’s. “When the narcissistic defense is operating in an interpersonal or group setting, the grandiose part does not show its face in public. In public it presents a front of patience, congeniality, and confident reasonableness.”

In popular usage, the terms narcissism, narcissist, and narcissistic denote absurd vanity and are applied to people whose ambitions and aspirations are much grander than their evident talents. Sometimes these terms are applied to people who are simply full of themselves — even when their real achievements are spectacular. Outstanding performers are not always modest, but they aren’t grandiose if their self-assessments are realistic; e.g., Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, was notorious for boasting “I am the greatest!” and also pointing out that he was the prettiest, but he was the greatest and the prettiest for a number of years, so his self-assessments weren’t grandiose. Some narcissists are flamboyantly boastful and self-aggrandizing, but many are inconspicuous in public, saving their conceit and autocratic opinions for their nearest and dearest. Common conspicuous grandiose behaviors include expecting special treatment or admiration on the basis of claiming (a) to know important, powerful or famous people or (b) to be extraordinarily intelligent or talented. As a real-life example, I used to have a neighbor who told his wife that he was the youngest person since Sir Isaac Newton to take a doctorate at Oxford. The neighbor gave no evidence of a world-class education, so I looked up Newton and found out that Newton had completed his baccalaureate at the age of twenty-two (like most people) and spent his entire academic career at Cambridge. The grandiose claims of narcissists are superficially plausible fabrications, readily punctured by a little critical consideration. The test is performance: do they deliver the goods? (There’s also the special situation of a genius who’s also strongly narcissistic, as perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright. Just remind yourself that the odds are that you’ll meet at least 1000 narcissists for every genius you come across.)

2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Translation: Narcissists cultivate solipsistic or “autistic” fantasies, which is to say that they live in their own little worlds (and react with affront when reality dares to intrude).

3. Believes he is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

Translation: Narcissists think that everyone who is not special and superior is worthless. By definition, normal, ordinary, and average aren’t special and superior, and so, to narcissists, they are worthless.

4. Requires excessive admiration

Translation: Excessive in two ways: they want praise, compliments, deference, and expressions of envy all the time, and they want to be told that everything they do is better than what others can do. Sincerity is not an issue here; all that matter are frequency and volume.

5. Has a sense of entitlement

Translation: They expect automatic compliance with their wishes or especially favorable treatment, such as thinking that they should always be able to go first and that other people should stop whatever they’re doing to do what the narcissists want, and may react with hurt or rage when these expectations are frustrated.

6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends

Translation: Narcissists use other people to get what they want without caring about the cost to the other people.

7. Lacks empathy

Translation: They are unwilling to recognize or sympathize with other people’s feelings and needs. They “tune out” when other people want to talk about their own problems.
    In clinical terms, empathy is the ability to recognize and interpret other people’s emotions. Lack of empathy may take two different directions: (a) accurate interpretation of others’ emotions with no concern for others’ distress, which is characteristic of psychopaths; and (b) the inability to recognize and accurately interpret other people’s emotions, which is the NPD style. This second form of defective empathy may (rarely) go so far as alexithymia, or no words for emotions, and is found with psychosomatic illnesses, i.e., medical conditions in which emotion is experienced somatically rather than psychically. People with personality disorders don’t have the normal body-ego identification and regard their bodies only instrumentally, i.e., as tools to use to get what they want, or, in bad states, as torture chambers that inflict on them meaningless suffering. Self-described narcissists who’ve written to me say that they are aware that their feelings are different from other people’s, mostly that they feel less, both in strength and variety (and which the narcissists interpret as evidence of their own superiority); some narcissists report “numbness” and the inability to perceive meaning in other people’s emotions.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him

Translation: No translation needed.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

Translation: They treat other people like dirt.

We all have to deal with difficult people. Some days we can be pretty difficult ourselves. Recognizing the difference between normal difficulties and personality disorders can be crucial to decisions about entering new relationships and continuing existing relationships.The material on Narcissistic Personality Disorder that is published for lay readers is not very informative, even though most people have had to cope with a narcissist at one time or another. If you were raised by a narcissistic parent, then you’ve been taught that the narcissist is always right and you’re the one who’s wrong. A lifetime of such mistreatment typically instills lack of confidence in your own judgment, along with habitual shame at never getting it right or being good enough to deserve the air that you breathe. The children of narcissists may not have realized that the quirks and oddities of their impossible-to-please parents are not in any way unique or special but are in fact the symptoms of a personality disorder.The information on the Web is very repetitive and amounts to little more than the diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV. Clinical descriptions of Narcissistic Personality Disorder don’t describe the things that are most shocking and puzzling in everyday interaction with narcissists.

Almost everyone has some narcissistic traits, but being conceited, argumentative, or selfish sometimes (or even all the time) doesn’t amount to a personality disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a long-term pattern of abnormal thinking, feeling, and behavior in many different situations. The traits on this page will seem peculiar or disturbing when someone acts this way — i.e., you will know that something is not right, and contact with narcissists may make you feel bad about yourself. It’s not unusual for narcissists to be outstanding in their field of work. But these are the successful people who have a history of alienating colleagues, co-workers, employees, students, clients, and customers — people go away mad or sad after close contact with narcissists.

How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb?

(a) Just one — but he has to wait for the whole world to revolve around him.
(b) None at all — he hires menials for work that’s beneath him.

The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves. They will do this virtually in the same sentence, without even stopping to take a breath. It can be trivial (e.g., about what they want for lunch) or it can be serious (e.g., about whether or not they love you). When you ask them which one they mean, they’ll deny ever saying the first one, though it may literally have been only seconds since they said it — really, how could you think they’d ever have said that? You need to have your head examined! They will contradict FACTS. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they’ll say you’re lying, making stuff up, or are crazy. [At this point, if you’re like me, you sort of panic and want to talk to anyone who will listen about what is going on: this is a healthy reaction; it’s a reality check (“who’s the crazy one here?”); that you’re confused by the narcissist’s contrariness, that you turn to another person to help you keep your bearings, that you know something is seriously wrong and worry that it might be you are all signs that you are not a narcissist]. NOTE: Normal people can behave irrationally under emotional stress — be confused, deny things they know, get sort of paranoid, want to be babied when they’re in pain. But normal people recover pretty much within an hour or two or a day or two, and, with normal people, your expressions of love and concern for their welfare will be taken to heart. They will be stabilized by your emotional and moral support. Not so with narcissists — the surest way I know of to get a crushing blow to your heart is to tell a narcissist you love her or him. They will respond with a nasty power move, such as telling you to do things entirely their way or else be banished from them for ever. 

If you’re like me, you get into disputes with narcissists over their casual dishonesty and cruelty to other people. Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature. The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy.

Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist’s thinking (cognition) and feeling (affectivity). Even when very intelligent, narcissists can’t reason well. One I’ve worked with closely does something I characterize as “analysis by eggbeater.” They don’t understand the meaning of what people say and they don’t grasp the meaning of the written word either — because so much of the meaning of anything we say depends on context and affect, narcissists (lacking empathy and thus lacking both context and affect) hear only the words. (Discussions with narcissists can be really weird and disconcerting; they seem to think that using some of the same words means that they are following a line of conversation or reasoning. Thus, they will go off on tangents and irrelevancies, apparently in the blithe delusion that they understand what others are talking about.) And, frankly, they don’t hear all the words, either. They can pay attention only to stuff that has them in it. This is not merely a bad habit — it’s a cognitive deficiency. Narcissists pay attention only to themselves and stuff that affects them personally. However, since they don’t know what other people are doing, narcissists can’t judge what will affect them personally and seem never to learn that when they cause trouble they will get trouble back. They won’t take other people’s feelings into consideration and so they overlook the fact that other people will react with feeling when abused or exploited and that most people get really pissed off by being lied to or lied about. 

Narcissists lack a mature conscience and seem to be restrained only by fear of being punished or of damaging their reputations — though, again, this can be obscure to casual observation if you don’t know what they think their reputations are, and what they believe others think of them may be way out of touch with reality. Their moral intelligence is about at the level of a bright five- or six-year-old; the only rules they recognize are things that have been specifically required, permitted, prohibited, or disapproved of by authority figures they know personally. Anyhow, narcissists can’t be counted on not to do something just because it’s wrong, illegal, or will hurt someone, as long as they think that they can get away with it or that you can’t stop them or punish them (i.e., they don’t care what you think unless they’re afraid of you).

Narcissists are envious and competitive in ways that are hard to understand. For instance, one I knew once became incensed over an article published in a national magazine — not for its content exactly, but because she could have written something just as good. Maybe she could have — she hadn’t, but that little lapse on her part was beside the point to her. They are constantly comparing themselves (and whatever they feel belongs to them, such as their children and furniture) to other people. Narcissists feel that, unless they are better than anyone else, they are worse than everybody in the whole world. 

Narcissists are generally contemptuous of others. This seems to spring, at base, from their general lack of empathy, and it comes out as (at best) a dismissive attitude towards other people’s feelings, wishes, needs, concerns, standards, property, work, etc. It is also connected to their overall negative outlook on life.

Narcissists are (a) extremely sensitive to personal criticism and (b) extremely critical of other people. They think that they must be seen as perfect or superior or infallible, next to god-like (if not actually divine, then sitting on the right hand of God) — or else they are worthless. There’s no middle ground of ordinary normal humanity for narcissists. They can’t tolerate the least disagreement. In fact, if you say, “Please don’t do that again — it hurts,” narcissists will turn around and do it again harder to prove that they were right the first time; their reasoning seems to be something like “I am a good person and can do no wrong; therefore, I didn’t hurt you and you are lying about it now…” — sorry, folks, I get lost after that. Anyhow, narcissists are habitually cruel in little ways, as well as big ones, because they’re paying attention to their fantasy and not to you, but the bruises on you are REAL, not in your imagination. Thus, no matter how gently you suggest that they might do better to change their ways or get some help, they will react in one of two equally horrible ways: they will attack or they will withdraw. Be wary of wandering into this dragon’s cave — narcissists will say ANYTHING, they will trash anyone in their own self-justification, and then they will expect the immediate restoration of the status quo. They will attack you (sometimes physically) and spew a load of bile, insult, abuse, contempt, threats, etc., and then — well, it’s kind of like they had indigestion and the vicious tirade worked like a burp: “There. Now I feel better. Where were we?” They feel better, so they expect you to feel better, too. They will say you are nothing, worthless, and turn around immediately and say that they love you. When you object to this kind of treatment, they will say, “You just have to accept me the way I am. (God made me this way, so God loves me even if you are too stupid to understand how special I am.)” Accepting them as they are (and staying away from them entirely) is excellent advice. The other “punishment” narcissists mete out is banishing you from their glorious presence — this can turn into a farce, since by this point you are probably praying to be rescued, “Dear God! How do I get out of this?” The narcissist expects that you will be devastated by the withdrawal of her/his divine attention, so that after a while — a few weeks or months (i.e., the next time the narcissist needs to use you for something) — the narcissist will expect you to have learned your lesson and be eager to return to the fold. If you have learned your lesson, you won’t answer that call. They can’t see that they have a problem; it’s always somebody else who has the problem and needs to change. Therapies work at all only when the individual wants to change and, though narcissists hate their real selves, they don’t want to change — they want the world to change. And they criticize, gripe, and complain about almost everything and almost everyone almost all the time. There are usually a favored few whom narcissists regard as absolutely above reproach, even for egregious misconduct or actual crime, and about whom they won’t brook the slightest criticism. These are people the narcissists are terrified of, though they’ll tell you that what they feel is love and respect; apparently they don’t know the difference between fear and love. Narcissists just get worse and worse as they grow older; their parents and other authority figures that they’ve feared die off, and there’s less and less outside influence to keep them in check.

Narcissists are hostile and ferocious in reaction, but they are generally passive and lacking in initiative. They don’t start stuff — they don’t reach out. Remember this when they turn and rend you! They will complain about the same things for years on end, but only rarely do anything to change what dissatisfies them so badly.

Narcissists are naive and vulnerable, pathetic really, no matter how arrogant and forceful their words or demeanor. They have pretty good reasons for their paranoia and cynicism, their sneakiness, evasiveness, prevarications. This is the one I get suckered on. They are so out of touch with other people and what goes on around them that they are very susceptible to exploitation. On the other hand, they’re so inattentive, and so disconnected from what other people are up to, that they don’t recognize when someone is taking advantage of them.

Narcissists are grandiose. They live in an artificial self invented from fantasies of absolute or perfect power, genius, beauty, etc. Normal people’s fantasies of themselves, their wishful thinking, take the form of stories — these stories often come from movies or TV, or from things they’ve read or that were read to them as children. They involve a plot, heroic activity or great accomplishments or adventure: normal people see themselves in action, however preposterous or even impossible that action may be — they see themselves doing things that earn them honor, glory, love, riches, fame, and they see these fantasy selves as personal potentials, however tenuous, something they’d do if they didn’t have to go to school or go to work, if they had the time and the money.

As Freud said of narcissists, these people act like they’re in love with themselves. And they are in love with an ideal image of themselves — or they want you to be in love with their pretend self, it’s hard to tell just what’s going on. Like anyone in love, their attention and energy are drawn to the beloved and away from everyday practicalities. Narcissists’ fantasies are static — they’ve fallen in love with an image in a mirror or, more accurately, in a pool of water, so that movement causes the image to dissolve into ripples; to see the adored reflection they must remain perfectly still. Narcissists’ fantasies are tableaux or scenes, stage sets; narcissists are hung up on a particular picture that they think reflects their true selves (as opposed to the real self — warts and all). Narcissists don’t see themselves doing anything except being adored, and they don’t see anyone else doing anything except adoring them. Moreover, they don’t see these images as potentials that they may some day be able to live out, if they get lucky or everything goes right: they see these pictures as the real way they want to be seen right now (which is not the same as saying they think these pictures are the way they really are right now, but that is another story to be discussed elsewhere). Sometimes narcissistic fantasies are spectacularly grandiose — imagining themselves as Jesus or a saint or hero or deity depicted in art — but just as often the fantasies of narcissists are mediocre and vulgar, concocted from illustrations in popular magazines, sensational novels, comic books even. These artificial self fantasies are also static in time, going back unchanged to early adolescence or even to childhood; the narcissists’ self-images don’t change with time, so that you will find, for instance, female narcissists clinging to retro styles, still living the picture of the perfect woman of 1945 or 1965 as depicted in The Ladies’ Home Journal or Seventeen or Vogue of that era, and male narcissists still hung up on images of comic-book or ripping adventure heroes from their youth. Though narcissists like pictures rather than stories, they like still pictures, not moving ones, so they don’t base their fantasies on movies or TV.

Grandiosity can take various forms — a narcissistic woman may believe herself to be the very model of perfect womanhood, the standard by which all others are measured, and she will try to force her daughters to be just like her, she will not be able to cope with daughters who are taller or shorter than she is, fatter or thinner, who have bigger or smaller feet, breasts, teeth, who have different favorite colors than hers, etc. Narcissistic men can be infatuated with their own looks, too, but are more likely than women to get hung up on their intelligence or the importance of their work — doesn’t matter what the work is, if he’s doing it, by definition it’s more important than anything you could possibly do. Narcissists I’ve known also have odd religious ideas, in particular believing that they are God’s special favorites somehow; God loves them, so they are exempted from ordinary rules and obligations: God loves them and wants them to be the way they are, so they can do anything they feel like — though, note, the narcissist’s God has much harsher rules for everyone else, including you.  We are in love with ourselves and evaluate churches, ministers and truth-claims based upon how they make us feel about ourselves. If the church makes me feel wanted, it is a good church. If the minister makes me feel good about myself, he is a terrific guy. If the proffered truth supports my self-esteem, it is, thereby, verified.

Narcissists have little sense of humor. They don’t get jokes, not even the funny papers or simple riddles, and they don’t make jokes, except for sarcastic cracks and the lamest puns. This is because, lacking empathy, they don’t get the context and affect of words or actions, and jokes, humor, comedy depend entirely on context and affect. They specialize in sarcasm about others and mistake it for wit, but, in my experience, narcissists are entirely incapable of irony — thus, I’ve been chagrinned more than once to discover that something I’d taken as an intentional pose or humorous put-on was, in fact, something the narcissist was totally serious about. Which is to say that they come mighty close to parody in their pretensions and pretending, so that they can be very funny without knowing it, but you’d better not let on that you think so. [Interestingly, this is the only trait on this list about which there seems to be any controversy. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky! I’ve known narcissists who’ll make fun of others, repeat jokes they’ve heard others laugh at, and laugh at jokes when others laugh, but knowing how to make people laugh is not necessarily the same as having a sense of humor.]

Narcissists have a weird sense of time. It’s more or less like they are not aware that the passage of time changes things, or maybe they just aren’t aware of time’s passing at all. Years can pass without touching narcissists. Narcissists often look, or think they look, significantly younger than they are; this youthful appearance is a point of pride to them, and some will emphasize it by either preserving the styles of their golden youth or following the styles of people the age they feel they “really” are. That their faces don’t show their chronological age is a good sign that they haven’t been living real lives with real life’s wear and tear on the looks of normal people. The narcissists’ years have passed without touching them. Bear in mind that narcissistic adults have had decades of not being in synch with the times or with other people, so that by now they are really out of it. Sometimes it just seems like they have a highly selective memory — which, of course, they do, sort of; they pay attention only to what has their name in it in the first place, so after 30 or 40 years, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear a narcissist say something like, “Didn’t the Beatles have a couple of hit songs while we were in high school?” or to suddenly discover that the narcissist doesn’t know that M&M’s have little m’s on them or that smallpox was eradicated over 20 years ago. They are not being ironic: they really don’t know. They were off in their own little world of fantastic perfection. On the other hand, as far as I’ve seen, all that stuff really is in there, but is accessible only intermittently or unpredictably. Narcissists ordinarily have spotty memories, with huge and odd gaps in their recollections; they may say that they don’t remember their childhoods, etc., and apparently most of the time they don’t. But they will have sudden accesses of memory, triggered by God knows what, when they remember details, everybody’s names, what people were wearing, why the people in that picture from 1950 are standing the way they are, what the weather was like, etc. — in other words, every once in a while, their memories will be normal. But don’t count on it. 

Narcissists are totally and inflexibly authoritarian. In other words, they are suck-ups. They want to be authority figures and, short of that, they want to be associated with authority figures. In their hearts, they know they can’t think well, have no judgment about what matters, are not connected with the world they inhabit, so they cling fanatically to the opinions of people they regard as authority figures — such as their parents, teachers, doctors, ministers. Where relevant, this may include scientists or professors or artists, but narcissists stick to people they know personally, since they aren’t engaged enough with the world to get their authoritative opinions from TV, movies, books or dead geniuses/saints/heroes. If they get in trouble over some or another opinion they’ve put forth, they’ll blame the source — “It was okay with Dr. Somebody,” “My father taught me that,” etc. If you’re still thinking of the narcissist as odd-but-normal, this shirking of responsibility will seem dishonest and craven — well, it is but it’s really an admission of weakness: they really mean it: they said what they said because someone they admire or fear said it and they’re trying to borrow that person’s strength. 

Narcissists have strange work habits. Normal people work for a goal or a product, even if the goal is only a paycheck. Normal people measure things by how much they have to spend (in time, work, energy) to get the desired results. Normal people desire idleness from time to time, usually wanting as much free time as they can get to pursue their own thoughts and pleasures and interests. Narcissists work for a goal, too, but it’s a different goal: they want power, authority, adulation. Lacking empathy, and lacking also context and affect, narcissists don’t understand how people achieve glory and high standing; they think it’s all arbitrary, it’s all appearances, it’s all who you know. So they try to attach themselves to people who already have what they want, meanwhile making a great show of working hard. Narcissists can put in a shocking amount of time to very little effect. This is partly because they have so little empathy that they don’t know why some work is valued more highly than other work, why some people’s opinions carry more weight than others’. They do know that you’re supposed to work and not be lazy, so they keep themselves occupied. But they are not invested in the work they do — whatever they may produce is just something they have to do to get the admiration and power they crave. Since this is so, they really don’t pay attention to what they’re doing, preferring the easiest thing at every turn, even though they may be constantly occupied, so that narcissists manage to be workaholics and extremely lazy at the same time. Narcissists measure the worth of their work only by how much time they spend on it, not by what they produce. They want to get an A for Effort. Narcissists lack empathy, so they don’t know what others value or why. Narcissists tend to value things in quantitative ways and in odd quantities at that — they’ll tell you how many inches of letters they received, but not how many letters or from how many correspondents; they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

A narcissist may, in fact, hold himself to a grinding work schedule that gives him something like an addictive high so that, when wrought up, he can be sort of dazed, giddy, and groggy, making you wonder if he’s drunk or otherwise intoxicated — now, that’s a real workaholic. Usually, this excessive busyness appears to be — and some will even tell you this — an attempt to distract themselves from unpleasant or inconvenient feelings (i.e., it’s a manic defense against depression — and, note, with narcissists it’s inaccurate to use “happy” or “unhappy” because their feelings are just not that differentiated; “euphoria” or “dysphoria” are as close as they get to ordinary pleasure or distress) or to make themselves unavailable to others’ emotional needs.

Narcissists feel entitled to whatever they can take. They expect privileges and indulgences, and they also feel entitled to exploit other people without any trace of reciprocation.

Some narcissists spend extravagantly in order to impress people, keep up grandiose pretentions, or buy favorable treatment, and some narcissists overspend, bankrupt themselves, and lose everything. My personal experience is that narcissists are stingy, mean, frugal, niggardly to the point of eccentricity. This is a person who won’t spend $1.50 on a greeting card but will instead send you an advertising flyer that came with the newspaper. This is a person who will be very conscious of her appearance but will dress herself and her children in used clothes and other people’s cast-offs. [Note: Thrift is not in itself a narcissistic trait; neither is a fondness for old clothes. The important element here is that the narcissist buys clothes that other people she admires and wishes to emulate have already picked out, since she has no individual tastes or preferences.] These are people who need labels or trademarks (or other signs of authority) to distinguish between the real thing and a cheap knock-off or imitation, and so will substitute something easy and cheap for something precious and dear and expect nobody else to know the difference, since they can’t. These are people who can tell you how many miles but not how many smiles.

Narcissists are not only selfish and ungiving — they seem to have to make a point of not giving what they know someone else wants. Thus, for instance, in a “romantic” relationship, they will want you to do what they want because they want it and not because you want it — and, in fact, if you actually want to do what they want, then that’s too much like sharing and you wreck their fun and they don’t want it anymore. They want to get what they want from you without giving you what you want from them. Period. If you should happen to want to give what they want to get, then they’ll lose interest in you.

Something I had not connected with narcissism until I read about Reactive Attachment Disorder is that narcissists I’ve known have had unusual eating habits or appetites, including eating match heads, dry cake mix, chicken bones, raw meat, dog kibble, egg mash, bits of paper, wood pencils; some binge or gorge on ordinary foods, others seem always to be on one or another self-imposed, self-invented eccentric dietary regime. This behavior does not seem to have much in the way of affective component compared to, say, “normal” eating disorders.

Narcissists are very disappointing as gift-givers. This is not a trivial consideration in personal relationships. I’ve seen narcissistic people sweetly solicit someone’s preferences (“Go ahead — tell me what you really want”), make a show of paying attention to the answer (“Don’t you think I’m nice?”), and then deliver something other than what was asked for — and feel abused and unappreciated when someone else gets gratitude for fulfilling the very request that the narcissist evoked in the first place. I’ve seen this happen often, where narcissists will go out of their way to stir up other people’s expectations and then go out of their way to disappoint those expectations. It seems like a lot of pointless work to me.

First, narcissists lack empathy, so they don’t know what you want or like and, evidently, they don’t care either; second, they think their opinions are better and more important than anyone else’s, so they’ll give you what they think you ought to want, regardless of what you may have said when asked what you wanted for your birthday; third, they’re stingy and will give as gifts stuff that’s just lying around their house, such as possessions that they no longer have any use for, or — in really choice instances — return to you something that was yours in the first place. In fact, as a practical matter, the surest way NOT to get what you want from a narcissist is to ask for it; your chances are better if you just keep quiet, because every now and then the narcissist will hit on the right thing by random accident.

It’s very hard to have a simple, uncomplicated good time with a narcissist. Except for odd spells of heady euphoria unrelated to anything you can see, their affective range is mediocre-fake-normal to hell-on-Earth. They will sometimes lie low and be quiet, actually passive and dependent — this is as good as it gets with narcissists. They are incapable of loving conduct towards anyone or anything, so they do not have the capacity for simple pleasure, beyond the satisfaction of bodily needs. There is only one way to please a narcissist (and it won’t please you): that is to indulge their every whim, cater to their tiniest impulses, bend to their views on every little thing. There’s only one way to get decent treatment from narcissists: keep your distance. They can be pretty nice, even charming, flirtatious, and seductive, to strangers, and will flatter you shamelessly if they want something from you. When you attempt to get close to them in a normal way, they feel you are putting emotional pressure on them and they withdraw because you’re too demanding. They can be positively fawning and solicitous as long as they’re afraid of you, which is not most people’s idea of a real fun relationship.

I always have the problem that I get fed up and stay away from THEM long enough to forget exactly what the trouble was, then they come around again, and every narcissist I’ve known actually was quite lovable about half the time so I try it again. A clue: Run for cover when they start acting normal, maybe expressing a becoming self-doubt or even acknowledging some little fault of their own, such as saying they now realize that they haven’t treated you right or that they took advantage of you before. They’re just softening you up for something really nasty. These people are geniuses of “Come closer so I can slap you.” Except that’s not the way they think about it, if they think about it — no, they’re thinking, “Well, maybe you do really care about me, and, if you really care about me, then maybe you’ll help me with this,” only by “help” they mean do the whole thing, take total responsibility for it, including protecting and defending them and cleaning up the mess they’ve already made of it (which they will neglect to fill you in on because they haven’t really been paying attention, have they, so how would they know??). They will not have considered for one second how much of your time it will take, how much trouble it may get you into in their behalf, that they will owe you BIG for this — no, you’re just going to do it all out of the goodness of your heart, which they are delighted to exploit yet again, and your virtue will be its own reward: it’s supposed to just tickle you pink to be offered this generous opportunity of showing how much you love them and/or how lucky you are to be the servant of such a luminous personage. No lie — they think other people do stuff for the same reason they do: to show off, to perform for an audience. That’s one of the reasons they make outrageous demands, put you on the spot and create scenes in public: they’re being generous — they’re trying to share the spotlight with you by giving you the chance to show off how absolutely stunningly devoted-to-them you are. It means that they love you; that’s why they’re hurt and bewildered when you angrily reject this invitation. 

Appearances are all there is with narcissists — and their self-hatred knows no bounds. The most dramatic example I can think of is from John Cheever’s journals. Throughout his life he had pursued surreptitious homosexual activities, being transiently infatuated with young men who reminded him of himself in his youth, while also living in a superficially settled way as a married family man, a respected writer with an enviable suburban life, breeding pedigreed dogs and serving on the vestry of the Episcopal church. When his secret life (going to New York City for a few days every now and then to pick up sailors and other beautiful boys for brief flings) came to scandalous light, his family sought to reassure him by telling him that they’d known about his homosexual activities for years. Now, a normal person would be ashamed and embarrassed but also relieved and grateful that scandal, not to mention chronic emotional and marital infidelity, had not caused his wife and children to reject and abandon him — but not the narcissist! Oh, no, Cheever was enraged that they would ever have thought such a thing of him — if they really loved him, they’d have bought his artificial “country squire” persona: they would have seen him as he wished to be seen: they would have believed his lies without question or doubt.

Narcissists don’t volunteer the usual personal information about themselves, so they may seem secretive or perhaps unusually reserved or very jealous of their privacy. All these things are true, but with the special narcissistic twist that, first, their real life isn’t interesting to them so it doesn’t occur to them that it would be interesting to anyone else and, second, since they have not yet been transfigured into the Star of the Universe, they’re ashamed of their real life. They feel that their jobs, their friends and families, their homes and possessions aren’t good enough for them, they deserve better.

Narcissists not only don’t recognize the feelings and autonomy of others, they don’t recognize their own feelings as their own. Their feelings are sort of like the weather, atmospheric, acts of God. The narcissistic think that everyone’s having the same feeling as they are. This means that usually their own pain means nothing to them beyond the physical discomfort — it has no affective component. When they do get some painful affect, they think that God is punishing them — they think that their trivial errors are worth God’s specific attention to their punishment. If you try to straighten them out, by telling them that your feelings are different, beware: their idea of sharing their feelings is to do or say something that makes you feel the way they’re feeling and, as they make a point of not sharing anything desirable, you can expect something really nasty. The sad fact seems to be that narcissists feel just as bad about themselves as they make others feel about them. 

Narcissists are noted for their negative, pessimistic, cynical, or gloomy outlook on life. Sarcasm seems to be a narcissistic specialty, not to mention spite. Lacking love and pleasure, they don’t have a good reason for anything they do and they think everyone else is just like them, except they’re honest and the rest of us are hypocrites. Nothing real is ever perfect enough to satisfy them, so are they are constantly complaining and criticizing — to the point of verbal abuse and insult.

Narcissists are impulsive. They undo themselves by behavior that seems oddly stupid for people as intelligent as they are. Somehow, they don’t consider the probable consequences of their actions. It’s not clear to me whether they just expect to get away with doing anything they feel like at the moment or whether this impulsiveness is essentially a cognitive shortcoming deriving from the static psychic state with its distorted perception of time. 

Narcissists hate to live alone. Their inner resources are skimpy, static, and sterile, nothing interesting or attractive going on in their hearts and minds, so they don’t want to be stuck with themselves. All they have inside is the image of perfection that, being mere mortals like the rest of us, they will inevitably fall short of attaining.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….”
To my knowledge, none of the narcissistic individuals I’ve known personally have had official diagnoses of Narcissistic Personality Disorder; they have not sought help and so haven’t been assessed clinically. On the other hand, members of their families have sought help to cope with them — and I have sought help in understanding every one of them! Thus these pages.These are field notes — that is, descriptions and observations to assist in identifying narcissists and also, I hope, to give aid and comfort to others who live and work with narcissists. I’m sorry that I cannot also give hope, but, since a prime characteristic of narcissists is believing that they are always right no matter what, narcissists are extremely resistant to change and, unfortunately, tend to get worse as they get older.I have also never had to cope with a physically aggressive or sadistic narcissist. The narcissists I’ve known have pretty much stuck to neglect and verbal and emotional abuse. But lots of people have not been so lucky, and their narcissist parents or partners have been relentlessly interfering and cruel in efforts to reform and re-form their “beloveds,” including but not limited to plastic surgery or bleaching and perming little babies’ hair to make them more perfectly beautiful blondes. 

Nearly everyone has some narcissistic traits. It’s possible to be arrogant, selfish, conceited, or out of touch without being a narcissist. The practical test, so far as I know, is that with normal people, no matter how difficult, you can get some improvements, at least temporarily, by saying, essentially, “Please have a heart.” This doesn’t work with narcissists; in fact, it usually makes things worse.  It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of narcissists’ lack of empathy. It colors everything about them. I have observed very closely some narcissists I’ve loved, and their inability to pay attention when someone else is talking is so striking that it has often seemed to me that they have neurological problems that affect their cognitive functioning. These are educated people with high IQs, who’ve had ordinary middle-class backgrounds and schooling, and their thinking is not only illogical but weird: with narcissists, you have to know them pretty well to understand their behavior. For instance, they always fill in their gaps (which make up just about the entirety of their visible life) with bits of behavior, ideas, tastes, opinions, etc., borrowed from someone else whom they regard as an authority. Their authoritative sources, as far as I know, are always people they’ve actually known, not something from a book, for instance, and narcissists’ opinions may actually come from someone you know, too, but who is not to you obviously an authority on the matter at hand, so narcissists can seem totally arbitrary, virtually random in their motivations and reasoning. They are evidently transfixed by a static fantasy image of themselves, like Narcissus gazing at his reflection, and this produces an odd kind of stillness and passivity. Because their inner life is so restricted and essentially dead, it doesn’t contain images of how to live a full life — these things are not important to them, they expect others to look after day-to-day chores, they resent wasting their specialness on common things, they don’t put their heart into their work (though they’ll tell you how many hours they put into it), they borrow their opinions and preferences and tastes from whomever strikes them as authoritative at the moment.From my personal experience, and from what I’ve seen in the clinical literature, narcissists don’t talk about their inner life — memories, dreams, reflections — much at all. They rarely recount dreams. They seem not to make typical memory associations — i.e., in the way one thing leads to another, “That reminds me of something that happened when I was…of something I read…of something somebody said….” They don’t tell how they learned something about themselves or the world. They don’t share their thoughts or feelings or dreams. They don’t say, “I have an idea and need some help,” or “There’s something I’ve always wanted to do…did you ever want to do that?” They do not discuss how they’ve overcome difficulties they’ve encountered or continuing problems that they’re trying to solve (beyond trying to get someone else to do what they want). They often say that they don’t remember things from the past, such as childhood events, their schooldays or old friends, and it seems to me that they really don’t most of the time. Anyhow, for all these reasons, I’ve tried to refrain from speculating about (i.e., novelizing) what goes on in their heads. Writer John Cheever (who recorded having been diagnosed as a narcissist when he went to marriage counseling at his wife’s insistence) describes some of his persistent fantasy images — and, with Cheever, they’re very striking, as you’ll know if you’ve read any of his fiction; his characters and plots tend to be narcissistic (i.e., self-obsessed tunnel vision spiraling into nihilism), but his stories often contain memorably glorious set pieces or tableaux, such as the the hunt for the golden Easter egg in one of the Wapshot novels. Cheever also gives unself-conscious expression to the ways in which his obsessive preoccupation with himself (and his penis — sort of a magic wand in his mind) obstructed his ability to relate to his wife and children, obstructed even his ability to perceive them: to see what they looked like, to pay attention to what they said and did, though with Cheever everything is also soaked with the sorrows of gin. Alice Adams’s novel, Almost Perfect, also gives things from a narcissistic point of view in a way that I found convincing and credible, based on my personal experience of narcissistic individuals. A striking thing about narcissists that you’ll notice if you know them for a long time is that their ideas of themselves and the world don’t change with experience; the ones I’ve known have been stalled at a vision that came to them by the age of sixteen.There are different theories of how narcissists are made. Some psychologists trace NPD to early infantile neglect or abuse, and some blame over-indulgence and indiscriminate praise by parents who don’t set limits on what’s acceptable from their children. Others say that NPD shows up in adolescence. Some say narcissists tend to peak around middle age and then mellow out. Others say that narcissists stay pretty much the same except they tend to depression as they get older and their grandiose fantasies are not supported, plus they’re not as good-looking as they used to be. The narcissists I’ve known have apparently always been “that way” and they get worse as they get older, with dramatic regression of their personas after the deaths of their parents and other personal authority figures who have previously exerted some control over the narcissists’ bad behavior. And, yes, chronic depression gets to be obvious at least by their forties but may have always been present. Depressed narcissists blame the world, of course, and not themselves for their personal disappointments.

Essentially, narcissists are unable or unwilling to trust either the world or other people to meet their needs. Perhaps they were born to parents unable to connect emotionally and, thus, as infants learned not to let another person be essential to them in any way. Perhaps NPD starts later, when intrusive or abusive parents make it dangerous for the child to accept other people’s opinions and valuations. Maybe it comes from a childhood environment of being treated like royalty or little gods. Whatever the case, narcissists have made the terrible choice not to love. In their imaginations, they are complete unto themselves, perfect and not in need of anything anyone else can give them. (NB: Narcissists do not count their real lives — i.e., what they do every day and the people they do it with — as worth anything.) Their lives are impoverished and sterile; the price they pay for their golden fantasies is high: they’ll never share a dream for two.Now, it is possible to have a relatively smooth relationship with a narcissist, and it’s possible to maintain it for a long time. The first requirement for this, though, is distance: this simply cannot be done with a narcissist you live with. Given distance, or only transient and intermittent contact, you can get along with narcissists by treating them as infants: you give them whatever they want or need whenever they ask and do not expect any reciprocation at all, do not expect them to show the slightest interest in you or your life (or even in why you’re bothering with them at all), do not expect them to be able to do anything that you need or want, do not expect them to apologize or make amends or show any consideration for your feelings, do not expect them to take ordinary responsibility in any way. But note: they are not infants; infants develop and mature and require this kind of care for only a brief period, after which they are on the road to autonomy and looking after themselves, whereas narcissists never outgrow their demands for dedicated attention to their infantile needs 168 hours a week. Adult narcissists can be as demanding of your time and energy as little babies but without the gratification of their growing or learning anything from what they suck from you. Babies love you back, but adult narcissists are like vampires: they will take all you can give while giving nothing back, then curse you for running dry and discard you as a waste of their precious time.

It is also essential that you keep emotional distance from narcissists. They’re pretty good at maintaining a conventional persona in superficial associations with people who mean absolutely nothing to them, and they’ll flatter the hell out of you if you have something they can use or if, for some reason, they perceive you as an authority figure. That is, as long as they think you don’t count or they’re afraid of you, they’ll treat you well enough that you may mistake it for love. But, as soon as you try to get close to them, they’ll say that you are too demanding — and, if you ever say “I love you,” they’ll presume that you belong to them as a possession or an appendage, and treat you very very badly right away. The abrupt change from decent treatment to outright abuse is very shocking and bewildering, and it’s so contrary to normal experience that I was plenty old before I realized that it was actually my expression of affection that triggered the narcissists’ nasty reactions. Once they know you are emotionally attached to them, they expect to be able to use you like an appliance and shove you around like a piece of furniture. If you object, then they’ll say that obviously you don’t really love them or else you’d let them do whatever they want with you. If you should be so uppity as to express a mind and heart of your own, then they will cut you off — just like that, sometimes trashing you and all your friends on the way out the door. The narcissist will treat you just like a broken toy or tool or an unruly body part: “If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off” [Matt. 18:8]. This means you.

So, yes, it’s possible to get along with narcissists, but it’s probably not worth bothering with. If family members are narcissists, you have my deep sympathy. If people you work with are narcissists, you will be wise to keep an eye on them, if just for your own protection, because they don’t think very well, no matter what their IQs, they feel that the rules (of anything) don’t apply to them, and they will always cut corners and cheat wherever they think they can get away with it, not to mention alienating co-workers, clients, and customers by their arrogance, lies, malice, and off-the-wall griping. Narcissists are threatened and enraged by trivial disagreements, mistakes, and misunderstandings, plus they have evil mouths and will say ANYTHING, so if you continue to live or work with narcissists, expect to have to clean up after them, expect to lose friends over them, expect big trouble sooner or later.

If you’re reading this because of problems with someone you know now, the chances are excellent that one or both of your parents was a narcissist. Narcissists are so much trouble that only people with special prior training (i.e., who were raised by narcissists) get seriously involved with them. Sometimes narcissists’ children become narcissists, too, but this is by no means inevitable, provided stable love was given by someone, such as the non-narcissist parent or grandparents. Beyond that, a happy marriage will heal many old wounds for the narcissist’s child. But, even though children of narcissists don’t automatically become narcissists themselves and can survive with enough intact psychically to lead happy and productive lives away from their narcissistic parents, because we all love our parents whether they can love us back or not, children of narcissists are kind of bent — “You can’t get blood out of a stone,” but children of narcissists keep trying, as if by bonding with new narcissists we could somehow cure our narcissistic parents by finding the key to their heart. Thus, we’ve been trained to keep loving people who can’t love us back, and we will often tolerate or actively work to maintain connections with narcissistic individuals whom others, lacking our special training, find alienating and repellent from first contact, setting ourselves up to be hurt yet again in the same old way. Once narcissists know that you care for them, they’ll suck you dry — demand all your time, be more work than a newborn babe — and they’ll test your love by outrageous demands and power moves. In their world, love is a weakness and saying “I love you” is asking to be hurt, so be careful: they’ll hurt you out of a sort of sacred duty. They can’t or won’t trust, so they will test your total devotion. If you won’t submit to their tyranny, then you will be discarded as “no good,” “a waste of time,” “you don’t really love me or you’d do whatever I ask,” “I give up on you.” (Note: In many instances, narcissists’ demands are not only outrageous but also impossible to fulfill even if you want to please them. Plus if you actually want to do what they want you to do, that would be too much like sharing, so they won’t want it anymore.)

If you’ve had a narcissist for a parent, you are probably not afraid of dying and going to hell — you have lived hell on Earth. Narcissists cannot be satisfied and do a tremendous amount of damage to their children and partners in their relentless demand for a perfect outer appearance to reflect the perfect inner image that obsesses them. Kyrie eleison.

Remember that narcissism is a personality disorder and narcissists’ personalities are disordered: they don’t make sense! They are not concerned with making sense and they are also impulsive, so you will waste your time trying to understand the details of every little thing they do. 


Narcissists can and do control themselves when someone’s good opinion is sought — in front of a judge, for instance — and are skilled at presenting a respectable, even admirable, public face; some are actually meek and mild in public. Most of us who’ve lived with narcissists have had the experience of being disbelieved when we dared to tell what goes on in private; in some ways, we can hardly believe it ourselves. Life with a narcissist is like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from. As a child, I used to be dazed by my narcissistic parent’s public demeanor — I wanted to take that person home with me or else live our entire family life in the protection of the public eye — so attractive, modest, and sweet that even I could hardly believe that this same person could be the raging fiend I knew at home and had seriously thought, for a while when I was about ten, might be a werewolf. But truthful reports about narcissists’ private behavior are often treated as symptoms of psychological problems in the person telling the tale — by naming the problem, you become the person with the problem (and, let’s face it, it’s more gratifying to work on changing someone responsive than it is to tackle a narcissist). And I’m talking about the experience many of us have had with “the helping professions,” including doctors, teachers, clergy, counselors, and therapists. This stuff is hard to talk about in the first place because it’s weird, shameful, and horrifying, and then insult is added to injury when we’re dismissed as overreacting (how many times have we heard “You’re just too sensitive”?), deluded or malicious, as inventing stories, exaggerating, imagining things, misinterpreting — it goes on and on. The fact is that there is next to nothing anyone can do to modify a narcissist’s behavior and the only useful advice I ever got (first from my non-narcissistic parent, later repeated by my Jungian analyst) was “Get out and stay out.”

But that’s much more easily said than done. We’re still members of families that have been damaged, corrupted and corroded by narcissists’ pathology, and we can’t totally remove ourselves from the narcissists’ sphere of influence without also forsaking other family members and old friends. Parents sharing child-rearing or custody with narcissists, or who have narcissistic children, can’t just get out and stay out.


The nature of narcissists’ personality disorder is so profound and so primitive that narcissists damage virtually everyone who comes into contact with them. They hurt their children in ways that are hardly imaginable to anyone who hasn’t been there. Narcissists elicit profound and primitive wrath and hostility from sane and stable people. This damages the social fabric by alienating the very people who might possibly be able to counterbalance the narcissists’ malign influences.  The children and other victims of narcissists often seek psychotherapy to come to terms with the damage suffered at the hands of narcissists.  Narcissists are generally not candidates for conventional analytical treatment, since psychological analysis is a dialogue and narcissism is a soliloquy. Because of narcissists’ incapacity for genuine relationship, their treatment tends to be of the “Band-Aid” variety that deals with specific acute difficulties, such as depression, which can be treated with drugs. Part of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the conviction is that “I’m okay, it’s everybody else who’s not okay,” so narcissists rarely seek treatment voluntarily. Some wait until they are in such bad shape that they require hospitalization. Because narcissists’ self-image is so scanty and fragile, they depend on the reflection of themselves in others’ perception to be aware of themselves; sometimes it is really as if these people do not have bodies, have no real material existence. Therefore, social isolation, such as comes following the loss of a job, the failure of a marriage, or the alienation of friends and family, has swift and terrible effects on narcissists. Their thinking quickly deteriorates into chaotic incoherency and disorganization. For this reason, when they do receive treatment, the therapists’ first order of business is to restore and fortify the narcissists’ ego defenses — i.e., the therapist must help the narcissist recover the habitual grandiose and self-obsessed self-image. When reasonably recovered, the narcissist usually leaves therapy before any work can be done on the underlying personality disorder.

World Prayer

April 14, 2007
I have come across many, many dear friends who lament about the sufferings and the insatiable world situation, the inappropriateness of the decisions and actions executed by those in power or has been given the responsibility or the mandate to do so.I feel their genuineness and sincerity in their heart really aching for the condition.  For some of them, the only reality they see, is futilty.  I do have compassion for these people who personally take on the burdens of the world and dwell in misery and wish they could do more and yet feel they are not doing enough.Some even feel like giving up their life because the world condition in their view is too painful.  Some have experienced the war themselves and wish no more for others.  Some even got into the cycle of a broken record of not having to let go a day without some form of release of their frustration, criticizing and condemning.  The only thing that probably pacify them for the day is the chance to find someone who takes the same stand and have a good political discussion, maybe, over a drink.

There is no right or wrong to this as we create our own world that is around us.  The following is just my personal view.  For those who can do something about it, it would be best to take proper action.  For those who cannot do anything about it, they, actually, can still do something about it.  First, is to stop lamenting about it.There is enough misery in the world, why do we add on to it by frustrating ourselves and maybe others around us, possibly affected by the projected misery.  As crude as it may sound, why save the world when you cannot even save yourself.

How about starting by making things right and happy for yourself and around you. E.g. taking care of yourself and health first.  By being happy, you radiate happiness to those around you, your family, your friends.  Thus, the world has one happier person, i.e. you plus your others or in other words, one less miserable person, you, plus others.

If everyone has the capacity to will and do that, can you imagine, what the atmosphere will be like?  The world will have more happy people.  This happy vibration will reverbrate and perpectuate to alleviate the misery in the world and hopefully to a nil level.  The other thing that everyone can do about it is to pray for the situation or pray that those who are in power will come to their senses or get out of a stuck situation to do or allow for the highest good.  If everyone starts condemning these leaders, when will they ever get a chance to come out of it. 

This is only my humble opinion.  I would like to share this world prayer with you channelled by Ann Albers and the angels.  I amended the last sentence.  Thank you for all the blessings that is showered on us.  

Divine Source
We call to You with open hearts and the innocence and purity of children.Bless each of us, our families, our communities,our nations & our world with sweet peace.

Help us heal the war between our heads and our hearts so there will be no more wars between nations.

Help us soothe our own pain and anger so there will be no more violence on our streets.

Allow us to release all our lost expectations so we may walk in the beauty of the Present Moment.

Erase from us the fear of lack so we can share our resources, our time, and our stories with one another, knowing that all will come back to us tenfold.Teach us to love ourselves so we can truly love others.

Remind us we are precious in Your sight.  

Help us see our uniqueness, experience our beauty, and know our powerful ability to create.

We ask you to help us experience life as it was meant to be lived.Gift us, Dear Divine Source, with the energy, the faith, the will, and the guidance to create our dream of Heaven on Earth.

We pray for peace on earth, support for all victims of natural and unnatural disasters, healing for hurting hearts, bodies, minds, and souls, and clarity in all our decisions. We pray for quick and easy resolution to all difficult and painful situations and lessons. We ask you to guide us and those we love with Grace and assist us in learning our lessons as gently as possible so we can release the struggle in our lives.We pray especially for all our special intentions of all souls coming from pure love.

Learning how to lose things.

April 13, 2007

Yes, an odd title isn’t it? I have something to share which is true to my many experiences of losing things, being an absent minded person, at times.  After reading my story, you will understand, as to why, such a title.

My first lesson in losing things was when I was in Neale Street, London, England.  I was there to get some astrology books based on a recommendation of my astrologer friend from Los Angeles, USA .  After purchasing a few books at the astrological shop, Equinox, I went to a nearby bright red phone booth, typical signature of London, to make a call.

After making the call, I carelessly left the books on the counter.  Within a few minutes, I realised that I had forgotten about the books.  With high hopes, I quickly went back to look for them.  Much to my disappointment, it was gone.

I started looking around at the walking crowd sourcing for one that might carry the bluish bag with the gold astrological chart printing.  Without much luck, I decided to go back to the shop and told them that I had just lost the books.  I left my contact information with the staff in case anyone would return the books.

I then walked to the nearby terminal to catch a train back to the hotel.  I was low in spirit. As I was walking, I suddenly had this thought.  I said in my mind as if I was talking to God.  I said, well, if I really have to lose the books, may it go to the hands of someone to whom the books would be of much benefit.

As I have surrendered to the incident, I was able to sleep peacefully that night.  I had forgotten about it the next day, when a call came in for me from the Equinox bookstore, informing that they have possession of my books.  I was thrilled.  Apparently, someone tried to get refund for the books.  I made my prayer of thanks.

So the lesson here for me is to not be attached to our wants and desire.  In the midst of our loss, we are to stay calm and be at peace.  We are to trust that if we are meant to have it back, it will happen anyway and if not, it would be for our highest good or others.

To be continued ………………….

N.B.  The picture is one of the Trinity rivers, Northern California, taken in the early summer of 2005.

Creating a home in my heart.

April 13, 2007

When I was young I had always yearned to travel far, far away.  My wish came true after the birth of my daughter, Shandel.  Holding my baby for the first time, it was one of my happiest moments.  I have to say that I have always felt very blessed having Shandel in my life.

When she was five months old, I made my maiden voyage, over the seas, to England, following my husband who had to attend part of his MBA course in Bath, a beautiful floral city.  It was one of the hottest summer in England.  We had a very pleasant trip.

When Shandel was eighteen months old, I was offered a job that allowed me to travel more.  It was hard on the three of us, and at the same time, it was something that I really wanted to do.  I really missed my family and home, and yet, to see the world, was exciting, and I had waited a long time.

So, here goes, the process of creating a home in my heart.  It involves learning to be comfortable wherever I am.  It also involves having to make choices to be calm or peaceful or contented where I am.  Another lesson is surrendering to what is right in front of me and in the present moment.  The bigger one is trusting that everything would be fine, and knowing that all experiences, though challenging at times, would be good if you learn something at the end of it. And finally, having gratitude.

This journey to the home in my heart has been well tested recently.  I was put in a situation where I was left out to dry, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Despite the challenge, I was shown kindness, generosity and love by my friends and even by strangers, who became my friends for life and I was just in gratitude.

My higher realisation now is that when you have a home in your heart, you actually have a home in everyone’s heart and that we are all connected at a divine level. 

N.B.  The picture is one of the Trinity rivers in Northern California taken in the early summer of 2005. 

Creating an altar in my home.

April 13, 2007

The year, 1994, was a significant year for me.  First, it was a very happy occasion, the birth of my daughter, Shandel.  Following that, spirituality in different forms came knocking on my soul’s door irrespective of whether I was ready or not, mentally or emotionally.  Books on Buddhism and Bibles were sincerely shoved into my hands.  Hard and intense encouragement from my friends to meditate, whether I totally get it or not.  The opportunity to listen to spiritual experiences.  Meeting spiritual practitioners.  Attending workshop on pranic healing. I was introduced to aura and crystals. Reading the book, Celestine Prophecy, which had a big impact on me then.  And so on…

Amongst them, I was also encouraged by an experienced and religious Buddhist practioner to set up an altar for Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, also known as Avalokishtera.  I was initially reluctant, first and foremost, for the following reason.  I grew up, generally as a  Buddhist, observing and practising some of the Buddhist rituals, like praying with incense sticks, without fully understanding the reasons for doing it.  I felt as if I am not worthy of an altar in my house.  I thought that one has to be very disciplined and observe unfailing daily practice in having an altar.  This task, to me,  was insurmountable, and therefore, I was not encouraged at all by that suggestion.

Secondly, I told this well intentioned friend of mine, that I understood that when you pray to Goddess of Mercy, you cannot eat beef and I said that I was not ready to eliminate beef from my diet.   He gently persuaded me by saying, that was alright and that I should do it at a pace that was comfortable to me .  He said, one day, I would be able to relate to Kwan Yin and it would be beneficial for me.  To further pacify me, he went on to say that, in the old days, the people used to worship cows because it is the main source of their livelihood.  The farmers relied on the cows to till their land and that is one of the reasons why beef is prohibited .  Since it was a gentle persuasion with good intention, I thought I would have nothing to loose to set up the altar and do the best that I can.  

So I went about scouting for a Kwan Yin figurine to my liking.  It took a while to get one that I resonated with and within my budget.  I finally found one that was petite looking, had the facial expression that I felt good, looking at it, each time, one hand holding a vase and the other a blessing palm towards the universe.  It was mainly cladded in white coloured robe.  The figurine had be to be filled with sandalwood powder and left in a Buddhist temple for a few days, to be blessed.  I even had the altar constructed to a specific height and facing the main door.

If I may share with you, the following understanding, that is palatable to my psyche, in having an altar.  People who pray reverently and have their prayers answered is because thoughts creates reality.  Generally prayers are positive, thus, a positive outcome.  It is like an affirmation.  And some may need a focus to identify with and thus one of the ways is having an altar.  When you are praying to the altar, it is like having a communion with your Higher Self or God.   Third, it is a form of meditation.

 Over the years, in creating the altar and performing the rituals to my ability, I have to admit that it has brought me a lot of hope, comfort, faith, understanding and unconditional love.  I feel that the divine love, guidance and support has always been there for me, whether I remember it or not. Each time I look at my altar, it imbues in me a feeling of goodness and I am sure, to some of my friends who have connected with the altar.  Like my home, I also carry this altar in my heart.