Is this the end?

Photo by Ahmed Adly on Pexels.com

One of my biggest frustrations in life is that I work my ass off to improve myself in some area, whether in fitness or spirituality, only to have it ruined or close to ruined thanks to emotional vampires. I especially mean emotional vampires with a narcissistic personality disorder. While I train in marital arts, read ancient texts, or even struggle to meditate those same people do absolutely nothing of the sort. Many of them even indulge in their every desires. Yet, whenever they feel like, through emotional outbursts, snide comments, or simple betrayals they cause me much upset.

Yesterday was the case.

Part of the reason why my family has so much drama is that one member has a narcissistic personality disorder and is very much a high conflict person. A high conflict personality has a preoccupation with blaming others, especially one person, for all their problems yet does not seem to want to resolve their issues. In my case, I am the reason why everyone is miserable. Yet when I wanted to go back to Thailand, I was forbidden to do so.

I couldn’t even work.

I mean I was in the office and I was working, but battling with so many emotions affected my productivity. I was too distracted and too panicked to concentrate on my job. Of course, if I quit my job I will be called a bum and a lowlife by my family. The “nice” thing is I can tell them I am a bum and lowlife even if I still keep on working.

As a result of these upsets, I also couldn’t do my 2nd or 3rd readings. As a result of these upsets, I couldn’t even exercise and do qigong.

This has happened before and with different people. There was that guy Anson I knew in Korea. That guy Bosco I knew in Thailand. I also had an ex-girlfriend, also in Korea, who did everything she could to make sure I didn’t cultivate myself. I remember that smile she gave when I told her I stopped.

At work, I was thinking about all of those people and those issues. I thought about those types of people were always a part of my life and I struggle with maintaining whatever cultivation practice what I am doing while dealing with their drama.

What really gets to me to the most is that there is no chance for peaceful resolution. They have a kill or be killed mindset. No victory is too petty for them and yet no victory is enough. No matter how many times they got their way with me or I placate them, it is never enough and they will never relent.

The only way I know how to resolve this problem in a peaceful manner is to separate from them as far as possible. I know of this because once the other English teachers and I all ended our contracts and left for America or any other country, all this conflict disappeared. I would even email them to ask why they had a problem with me and many of them were like, “Yeah, we did fight a lot, but I forgot why.”

I remember why. I was trying to be happy with myself and they don’t think I deserve to be. Since they see me as imperfect, then I should feel miserable for the rest of my days.

In my current situation, it is hard for me to separate from my family. My work hours are crazy. I rack my brain on how I can get my paperwork in order. Sometimes, I have to work from home because I don’t have access to a car!

This whole situation has sapped my energy and willpower. At this moment, I work. I work a full time job and what little free time I have left I spend on cultivation such as qigong, exercise, and reading. I never read a novel or watch TV or play video games unless it is the weekend when I have more free time on my hands.

I never have fun from Monday thru Friday. The only way I can have free time is to stop with all these cultivation efforts. In Thailand or Korea it is a lot more possible. In America? Forget about it!

This is why I am at a point to give up all sorts of cultivation. Hell, I even wrote a post titled “This is the Last Workout I will ever do” for that same reason.

I know that when I give up any cultivation efforts, I have more time to fart around on the internet. I have more time to play video games, read bad sci-fi novels, and watch movies. I can have more time to wander about looking at the leaves while drinking a coffee.

Of course, I also know that if I give up on my cultivation I will struggle with this feeling of decay. I would not exercise which means my health will get worse with ages and atrophy. I would be stuck only knowing what I know, since I would not be learning anything new. I would be feeling shame for wasting what little time left, even the next 40 years is a little time, waiting until I die.

This is why I am going to take a couple of days off from cultivation. I will still exercise and do some of the readings. The rest of the time will be spent on whether or not I should cultivate myself more and how.

Greatest Salesman Report Month 5:

Full disclosure, last week was rough so I am not in the happiest of moods.

For what it is worth, I go through many days of feeling like I am at the top of the world. I also go through days where I feel frustrated at how things are at my life. The one factor in all of this is my sleep pattern. Almost every Friday I find my sleeping pattern gets radically shifted to mean either I sleep all weekend or I am a total night owl. This is annoying.

I did get a recommendation to apply to a job. I applied and got rejected the next day. That made me feel hopeless.

This month I repeated to myself this line: I will live this day as if it is my last. It is good philosophy. Do everything you can today and don’t waste time on useless and petty issues.

What doesn’t help is that I feel like I am wasting my days away. I should be working towards getting myself visa-ready to work in Taiwan or any other country, but I also find myself trying to unplug myself from the daily stressors. I need to be more disciplined about moving out and I am angry at myself for not doing so.

Sometimes, I wonder if I spend too much time in self-cultivation and not enough on getting the hell out of here.

Don’t get me wrong, and here is what I can say is going for me, my health and fitness has been improving quite steadily. I enjoy doing this calisthenics workout twice a day, the same with qigong. When I am awake enough, the readings I do including the Greatest Salesman one are enjoyable.

But I really got to get myself moving and pronto.

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The picture above is Vishnu in his incarnation as Vamana, the dwarf priest. This is probably the most wholesome story in regards to Vishnu’s avatars.

If you read my last post on Vishnu as a lion-man, you will have read about this prince Prahlada who disobeyed his father and continued to worship Vishnu. In this story, we have his grandson Mahabali who is both devout and ambitious at the same time. King Mahabali was getting so ambitious that Indra, the king of Heaven, was afraid that he would be dethroned. So Indra asked Vishnu for for help and so Vishnu came to Earth and turned into Vamana.

When Vamana walked into the king’s court, Mahabali was willing to give the priest anything he wants. Vamana then asks for a piece of land that is no bigger than three paces of his feet. The king was aghast, since Vamana is a little person, and told the priest that he can grant more. There was another priest in the court who knew Vamana was Vishnu in disguise and told the king to take back his promise, but the king refused and told Vamana so.

Vamana then grew into this really really huge giant and put one foot on the whole of the Earth. He then put his other foot on Heaven. The King obviously saw that the dwarf truly is Vishnu in disguise and was humbled by the sight of the dwarf’s powers. So everyone who witnessed this event was like, “Well the dwarf took Earth and Heaven, what else is there for him to take? He basically has everything.” The king was like, “No, he didn’t take me.”

Out of reverence the king knelt down, with hands folded, and his head in a bow. The king then asked if the priest can put his foot on the king’s head, symbolizing his devotion to Vishnu, to which the priest complied.

Most of the avatars stories that I have been revisiting tend to be very violent with lots of climatic encounters. This feels like a wholesome tale of surrender and devotion. There is no real villain, save for one evil priest but he wasn’t a big deal. In the end lives happily ever after and all is well.

What is also interesting is that this is a first human avatar of Vishnu and the last of the short story/fables in the canon. Starting from the next avatar, they will be a more drawn out in a (dare I say) epic fashion.

You can see a cartoon of this story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lnanB4tvYQ

You can also see an Indian performance done in a traditional manner here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2x8U4yTzlU

Thoughts on My Qigong Life 2022年7月24日

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Long time ago, I watched a video from late Australian Kung-Fu Master Geoff Pike. It’s basically him teaching Ba Duan Jin/Eight Pieces of Brocade which is one of the most popular and widespread qigong routines in the world. What makes this video different from others that teach the same thing is that Pike also has the viewer do a light stretching and warm up before getting into the actual routine.

I tried that before. I would do my daily calisthenics workout (based on Walter Camp’s workout) and then do the qigong routine I learned from David Carradine’s book. I stopped doing that, unfortunately, due to my job.

As nowadays I do a North Korean calisthenics routine and then a qigong routine from Lam Kam Chuen, I came to realize I am finally doing what Master Pike instructed albeit in a different fashion. It’s an observation I had a couple of days ago.

I do want to do more in both in terms of qigong and physical fitness. The next thing I plan to try is to do my Western qigong routine twice a day. Sure, it is not a traditional routine, since I made it, but it helps in both breathing and flexibility. Can I do more? I wish I can but I doubt it. Sleep is an issue and so is the fact that my coworkers would not like me doing any type of self-improvement work while I am on the clock.

Which is why I am going to make sure I drink green tea and listen to John Coltrane whenever I go to work.

My work is not very taxing, physically speaking. I simply show up to my office, clock in, put in my headphones, and get started on whatever tasks I need to do for the day. Mentally speaking is a differently matter. I have all these things that need to be done within 8 hours and I am working really really hard to get them done as soon as possible. Not only do I have to get those regular tasks done, I also get emails coming in to do more on top with what I already have to do. For that matter, since some of my coworkers are taking time off for their vacations, I also have to do their work. Move move move! Get it done get it done get it done! Now now now! Those words run constantly in my mind from when I clock in to when I clock out.

Thanks to all that mental load, I already would feel tired and drained out by the shift’s end. With my already horrible sleeping pattern, I don’t get enough rest to do the same work the next day.

According to Chinese medical theory, it is stress that blocks our flow of qi which brings about all kinds of health disorders. While I am an agnostic on all teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I still agree with that notion that stress is as bad for us as smoking. Stress is what ages us and stress is what tires us. Speaking of “no excuses”, why is tiredness an “excuse” to not exercise? Simply it is because we get too stressed out at work. Sometimes we stress ourselves out, other times other people stress us out, and then we stress other people out. The modern workplace today is an orgy* of stress.

That’s one of the big issues in my workplace. Lots of people in my office try to stress me out. So why I should I help them in stressing myself out? Yes, those same coworkers will feel a sense of temporary satisfaction knowing that I am stressed out as they are, but it’s not like they feel any gratitude towards me for doing so. Never had I had anyone say, “Hey man! Thanks for stressing yourself out for me. Let me buy a six pack for doing me a solid!” If anything, it what is expected of me so that I won’t antagonize them.

Either way, I am getting the short end of the deal. So why not look out for number one and see to it that I relax myself while working? This might seem like I am going to become lazy and not do as much, but I think that is a misconception. Stress zaps our energy which is what we need to do our work. The less stress we feel, the more energy we have. The more energy we have, the more we can do.

Thankfully, I am one of the few who work in the office with the rest working remotely. I won’t have as much trouble getting myself in a relaxed mood. Even if I do have a coworker who tries to make me anxious, it’s mainly because he has too much free time in his hands and feels sorry for himself.

So I figure why not, when I am about to start my shift, I make myself some green tea? Why not play some John Coltrane or Chet Baker songs? I also feel peaceful listening to the koto/guzheng/gayaguem. Why not play those as well? Maybe I can even watch those new videos of rainfalls and waves crashing on the beach to help bring my heart rate down a few notches and then get working.

Some time ago, I wrote about how I would work 45 minutes and then take a break for 15. I don’t do that often enough. Whenever I do, I feel so much better. Maybe, after every 45 minutes, I can do one qigong exercise. Then I can spend those 15 minutes reading. After I am done reading, spend 1 minute one deep breathing. After that: work.

Starting Monday, I want to try. I want to see if, after the work day, I feel as refreshed and rejuvenated as I started.

I certainly hope so.

*Yup, I said a dirty word to get your attention.

 

 

Greatest Salesman Month 4 Report

I just finished Month 4 of the Greatest Salesman Course by Og Mandino. I am glad that I finished this month as quick as I did. Last “month” went on for 2 months to make up for the times I skipped/slept through the thrice daily readings.

For the most part, nothing really remarkable happened during this time. That was until I got a reply to a job application, which I wrote about here, and failed miserably, which I wrote about there.

Another interesting event was that I got a Facebook message from this head teacher in the last school I taught in Thailand. In her roundabout way, she was wondering if I can go back to teach at her school. That did make me happy as I liked the school, I liked the kids, and I also loved the teachers’ quarters. That time I didn’t live in an apartment, I lived in a one bedroom house!

I didn’t accept her offer, though. The head teacher likes me and loves how diligent I am in my work. Unfortunately, she loves my diligence so much that she made me do extra tasks. I had to help her out with administration work. I also had to play mediator between her and my rival, “Bosco”. I had to convey her orders to Bosco because he wouldn’t listen to her and he thought he was above school policy. Last, but not least, she metaphorically twisted my arm to stay after school to teach her and her coworkers’ children to improve their English. Why? Because she caught me studying Thai. If I didn’t study Thai, she would not have me work extra hours teaching the teachers’ kids.

While I had a couple of false starts on the job hunt, I like to think of these two incidences as signs that my life is changing and that I am going somewhere. Again, nothing is more frustrating than trying to make my resume have a nice format and craft a cover letter only to receive no reply when I send them both. Insofar, this gives me motivation to apply to more jobs.

I also wrote on this post that I am not going to work out like an athlete or a martial artist and stick to a more minimalist approach. I workout 3 minutes twice a day, do a 5 minute qigong routine twice a day, and a seated stretch workout at least once. So far, I am surprised how much my life improved. It’s not much, but a little goes a long way. I will write more of this in 7-10 days.

The main message of this month’s essay/scroll is “I am nature’s greatest miracle.”

Of course, nowadays this sounds a bit weird as people on the internet call each other a “special snowflake” as an insult. I have met too many people who are entitled narcissists and I can understand why this insult exists. At the same time, though, self-belief is something needed for one to strike out and find one’s fortunes. One has to believe that s/he has the potential to do well and s/he will be able to overcome any obstacles that s/he will encounter.

There is a lot to unpack here, so maybe I will write more on my thoughts of this later . . . .if possible.

Starting tomorrow, Month 5!


The picture above is Vishnu in his 4th avatar Narasimha. I like to refer to him as the Hindu Lion-Man for obvious reasons, although Lion-Man is not really an accurate term and I will explain why later. As a kid I liked the story. As an adult, I loved it more.

Here is the summary.

After years of penance and prayers, a god appeared before King Hiranyakashipu to grant the king a wish. The king wished that no human, animal, nor god can kill him and that he could not be killed on heaven or Earth to which the god complied. After getting his wish, the king then declared himself a god and that other ones will be worshiped but him. Everyone in the kingdom complied, except his son Prahlada (who I think is the real star of the story). Prahlada insists that his father is not a real god and that everyone is better off worshiping Vishnu and/or Shiva.

Due to his son’s disobedience, the king tried to kill his kid in many ways, including trying to burn him alive. Yet, despite all his attempts, Prahlada still lived. The king finally decided to confront his son and tried to get the kid to change his mind one last time. Prahlada told the king that there is no way the king can become a god since the gods are every where. The king then asked, “Is there a god in that pillar?” Prahlada said, “Yup.”

The king then broke the pillar and out came Narasimha. The Lion-Man destroyed the palace like a rock star gone wild. After that, Narasimha put the king on his lap and then tore the king apart with his nails and his fangs. Why did the king die despite his powers? Well Narasimha is not a god, animal, or human being—he is all three. The king was on Narasimha’s lap, so the king was not on heaven nor on Earth.

Here is a cartoon version in English. Here is the scene from a movie I watched as a kid depicting the Lion-Man wreaking havoc.

As a kid, I enjoyed this movie and story as much as anyone who enjoyed Godzilla destroying Tokyo. It was the climax of a somewhat preachy tale of staying true to one’s religion.

The only thought that comes to mind about this avatar is that this is a morality tale about arrogance.

Whatever gifts we have, whether they are developed by ourselves or given by a god, we should never abuse them in any which way we would like. If we use our talents to harm and put down other people, someday those gifts of ours will turn out to be a curse.

As a guy who has seen arrogant martial artists and spiritual masters, I am often reminded of this story and how arrogance sets oneself up for failure.

It is always a good thing to be humble.

Me-a Cope-ah

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

About a week ago, I was on Cloud 9 once I received an email from this company to take an aptitude test before I can get an interview. 3 days ago I took the test and failed really hard which bummed me about. Yesterday, though, I am feeling much better from the experience.

As you may or may not know, I am currently studying the Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino which requires reading a certain essay/scroll three times a day for 30 days before switching to the next scroll.

One of the passage that I read for my current scroll states this:

“I have been given eyes to see and a mind to think and now I know a great secret of life for I perceive, at last, that all my problems, discouragements, and heartaches are, in truth, great opportunities in disguise. I will no longer be fooled by the garments they wear for mine eyes are open. I will look beyond the cloth and I will not be deceived.”

I know that just because I failed in getting that dream job, I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. I should learn from my mistakes and move on. If there are no mistakes for me to learn from, or if I can’t learn from them at all, I should move on anyways.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

Perhaps I dodged a bullet

As we all know about jobs, they will never advertise themselves as being horrible places to work or that everyone is miserable there. They all like to act like everyone is 110% satisfied there and that everything is hunky-dory. The thing is, of course, sometimes the most advertised workplaces are a nightmare and that some people don’t speak up out of fear for being fired or that NDA clause they signed in the contract.

I don’t know for certain if the job that rejected me is a horrible place to work, but there is that possibility. What if the company frowns upon having a life or hobby outside of work? What if talking about one’s own fitness goals or Youtube hustle gets that person in trouble? In my current job, there is a guy who believes that we are not allowed to think about anything but the job and our industry even if we are not on the clock. Thankfully, he’s not in charge or else my office would be a lot worse.

What if my competency of my work doesn’t matter and that the best way for me to get ahead is to schmooze (or sleep with) the boss? I have a friend with an MBA and a lot of experience worked his ass off at a company and expanded the business only to have a new guy get hired to become VP because that dude was the CEO’s college friend.

Plus, I don’t like wearing suits. Sure I might look handsome, but those things are uncomfortable. You would think with all these advances in fashion technology that someone can design a comfortable, but nice looking suit. But no, they have to be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I like things casual.

This also reminds me of 3 articles I have read from Reader’s Digest about Human Resource Officers and how judgmental and slimy there are. Some of them would try to skirt the law in order to deny someone a job or get someone fired. 1 article I read was on print, the other two are here and here.

I should still be appreciative at how far I got

Nothing is worse than sending a resume and not hearing from the job. If my resume shows that I don’t have the experience and education for a job, that’s one thing. Sometimes there are other superficial reasons. I was told that my resume looks too old-fashioned, but I have yet to find out how to make it all snazzy. No snazzy resume means no interview.

There is a phenomena in which people getting rejected for having a non-Anglo name, especially by people who have a stereotypical “Black sounding” one. I am not a Black guy, but I am Indian-American with a very Indian name. A couple times, I have had people tell me “Sorry, we cannot sponsor your visa.” Yes, I was born and raised in America but some people still see me as an immigrant.

While it’s easier for me to get a job teaching English in Asia, I also get rejected because of my skin color. As I am to post a photo of myself with my resume, I’ve had jobs in Asia tell me that I’m not qualified due to my brown skin.

I make these points because this time, I had a chance to prove myself (un)worthy of the job. Instead of my resume disappearing in the Internet ether, someone actually took the time to look at my CV and then gave a challenge.

Better to be proven unfit for a job than to be assumed as someone who can’t hack it.

The aptitude test did teach me something

As I went through the test, I came to realize how weak my math skills are. I know I can’t do math as well as I did in high school, but I never realized how much my math skills deteriorated since then. That’s why I bought a couple of math books and saved a few videos on my bookmarks to refresh and hopefully improve myself in that area.

Mathematics is a valuable skill. Even if I don’t get another job like the one I applied for, at the very least I can use my newfound math skills to improve other areas of life such as finance. If I am stuck in my current job, perhaps my newfound math skills could help me advance far enough that I might be comfortable staying in the same job.

Today I watched an old video of Scott Flansburg, aka The Human Calculator, who gives a lot of useful tips in doing basic arithmetic in large numbers by using one’s brain only. It’s quite a fascinating watch.

History’s greatest people were the biggest losers

A lot of people who achieved success did so after many failures. Abraham Lincoln lost many elections before finally becoming the President of the United States. George Washington is revered in the US as a great military leader, but he was quite mediocre when he was a British officer fighting the in the Seven Year’s War. Colonel Sanders had a long history of screwing up before starting his business of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

My favorite “failure” is Edgar Rice Burroughs. He got fired from every job he worked in and was so much of a failure that his wife left him with the kids to care for. He was basically at the end of his line. He then decided to write a novel which got published. After that, he spent his time writing other adventure and science fiction novels such as the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars series, both became very popular in the early 20th century. Speaking of which, I love the first three of the John Carter books. While he couldn’t expand on the Mars series except for a few comic strips, he made money expanding on the Tarzan series with comic strips, movies, and movie serials.

So the lesson that I must learn is to keep trying until I can’t try anymore. 

Once the weekend ends and I am done relaxing, I am going to start anew with my quest for better employment.

Well that sucked . . .

Last post I wrote about how after applying to many positions in this Bangkok-based company, I was finally given the chance to take an aptitude test. I was feeling good about this as this was the chance for me to get back to Thailand. I thought about all the places I want to revisit, such where I used to work, the people I wanted to see and the places I have yet to go.

After work, I sat down in front of my computer, logged on to my email, and then took the test.

I bombed.

I thought the test would be a combination of an IQ and LSAT test. One of the links I was provided showed me an LSAT type of question. I’m no lawyer or former law student, but I find them doable. No, instead, these involved statistics. One question was like “In 1999 Zimbabwe had $30 million in GDP and the GDP of each head was $450. What was the total population of employed citizens if 60% of the population makes up the workforce?”

Yeah, I knew I was in way over my head.

I took the test and let the recruiter know that I completed it. She has yet to reply, but I can already figure out the response. I may not be able to track the value of the Euro in relation to the Lao Kip, but I can already figure that I would not be asked for the first round of interviews.

I already knew that this was a possibility. I was even prepared for this to happen and that I should appreciate that I made it this far. Yet here I am, feeling bummed out and like a loser.

Maybe I am going through a chemical imbalance. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am going to take time to rest and to grieve. After that, I will double my efforts to get that English teaching job in Taiwan and also still apply for those multinational firms at the same time.

Holy Hole in a Donut, Batman! (I can’t believed it worked)

Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep out of anxiety.

Going through the same list I always complain about: I don’t like my job and its hours. I deal with family drama. My sleep cycle is messed up.

The main solution to my problems is a better job. I get a better job, with better pay, then all I have to do is move out. Once I move out, I can workout anytime I feel like and maybe even have some space to myself to rewire my crazy sleeping pattern.

But would that be possible? When I got back to the US and got stuck due to COVID, my parents told me to never teach English again. I am to work a real corporate job and move up the ladder to become supervisor, manager, or whatever. No more teaching English.

For the longest time, I applied to many other positions from New York to Taipei to see if they can hire me. No go, no dice. I might get an email saying, “Thank you very much and good luck with your job hunt” but that was about it.

A few weeks ago, I was resigned that the only way I can move out is to work as an English teacher in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work and I sure as hell enjoy it, but job growth is limited and very few can retire working as one if one does it as a career.

While I was willing to go back to English teaching, I was wondering if that’s all I can do with my life. Will I not be able to do anything else? Will I not be able to even have my own home, so to speak?

I decided to go on Linkedin and looked at the same jobs and companies I used to apply. Then three thoughts came into my mind:

  1. From Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World, “I will persist until I succeed.”

  2. From the first Billy Jack film, The Born Losers, well . . . “I am born to lose.”

  3. From my mind, “If I apply to become company president, the worst that will happen is that my resume will get laughed at. So what the hell!”

There is this one company based in Bangkok I have been trying to apply for about a year and a half. Every time I applied for a position I thought I would excel at, I would get rejection after rejection. That night, I decided to apply to almost every open position I saw on Linkedin. I might have even applied for a senior management position which I had no business applying for!

Tonight, I was checking my email before I sleep and I got an email from the company. I was expecting the usual “Thank you for applying and have a nice day” type of drivel.

Instead, I got an email from the company saying they are interested taking the next step in my application!

I still cannot believe my eyes. I am amazed at how far I went with this throwing caution to the wind approach. Basically, I have to take an assessment test before I get an interview. I am hoping that I will pass for the round. Soon enough, I hope I can get that job and move to Bangkok.

Seriously guys, this is a dream job for me and I never expected that I would be able to take the next step. I hope it won’t be my last.

If it is my last, though, I will still be happy. To me this is a sign that things are looking up and that if I can get this far in the application process of this company, I might be able to get farther in an another one.

How it’s going 5/21/2022

I know I have been acting like a wet blanket for a couple of weeks so I want to try to change that and write about some of the good things that are going on in my life.

As I have written before, as I am studying Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman Course I must read a scroll three times a day daily for a month. At the same time, I also read Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong’s “Polishing the Diamond” as well as “The Buddha’s Words of Wisdom” edited by Ven. Shravasti Dhammika. In both cases, I also read the same passage three times a day and read a different one tomorrow.

A few years ago I made this resolution to read more books than I did the last year. This itself is an ongoing goal. However, some years I would read a good 20 books. Others no more than 10. Because of this habit of reading 3 times a day, I am actually making a point to do some reading. Because of this habit, I am guaranteed to finish at least 2 books before the end of the year. In fact, I am almost finished with Dharma Master Kim’s book and now I am thinking of replacing that one with another to study. I might replace it with “Dropping the Ashes on the Buddha” by Ven. Seung Sahn, “The Mirror of Zen” by Ven Sosan, or “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson.

I don’t read as many novels as I would like, but I am getting better on that front.

I told myself that I will not do anything more than qigong for fitness. Well I decided to change that and added the exercise routine I modified from Walter Camp’s workout. Sure I won’t get fit anytime soon since it’s a 10-15 minute workout, but I feel good when I do it.

I do want to do both the calisthenics workout and qigong twice a day, but I am not too serious about it now. If I am, I might get frustrated whenever I couldn’t put in a second calisthenics and qigong practice. In fact, most of this week that was the case. I was only able to do a second qigong practice Sunday night.

Monday night was when I was able to do a second calisthenics practice. I didn’t use the workout I posted on my blog, however, but I did practice the routines put up by a Asian governments. That night, I did a South Korean routine, a Taiwanese one, and even one from the North Koreans living in Japan. I didn’t sweat too much since the night was very cold, but I felt nice and relaxed after going through them.

It gave me this idea of maybe memorizing all the routines that are available from the Japanese Radio Taiso to the Chinese Broadcast Exercises and do them in succession for an entire workout, 3 times a week.

Also, Thursday I had a really good qigong session.

Ever since I got back from vacation, I haven’t been able to do qigong. Once I started, I resigned myself into thinking that I would have to wait 30 days until I can enjoy qigong and derive from its benefits. Yet here I am, practicing for less than a week and it felt like I was picking up from where I left off.

At this point I am focusing more on getting to Taiwan. One of the requirements is to get myself fingerprinted for an FBI background check. If I were to go my local police station, I need to bring my own set of fingerprint cards, which no one provides me. I could go, and usually went, to the state’s central police office and I could get fingerprinted there no problem. However, they require an appointment nowadays and my parents use the car during the daytime anyways. Now I found a place that opens late into the evening so I am going to call them up and set up an appointment there.

Also, last night, since almost everyone in my office wants me to work 24/7, I decided to also add in an office workout program. I don’t expect much from it, and I am going to slowly build up the habit of working out in the office, but I am hoping it will become a valuable life skill. The one I am using is one from Denise Austin.

Oh, and since I plan to work as a public school teacher in Taiwan, I found out that they institute nap periods after lunch for all students and teachers. That means either I can rest up or . . . . I get to do put in another qigong practice!

Hell yeah.

. . . then I will work on in despair

The title of the post comes from the 3rd scroll of Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman book. The full quote goes like this:

“I will never consider defeat and I will remove from my vocabulary such words and phrases as quit, cannot, unable, impossible, out of the question, improbable, failure, unworkable, hopeless, and retreat; for they are the words of fools. I will avoid despair but if this disease of the mind should infect me then I will work on in despair. I will toil and I will endure. I will ignore the obstacles at my feet and keep mine eyes on the goals above my head, for I know that where dry desert ends, green grass grows.”

For the past couple of weeks, I feel like I am being tested in that regard. Ever since I got back from my vacation, everything seemed to stop going my way. My sleeping pattern was more erratic than before. Home life is getting more chaotic. And I’ve been putting more time in the office than I would like.

Speaking of which, the weather is getting warmer and summer vacation is about to start. What makes this a bad situation for me is that most of the staff, especially with kids, will take frequent vacations which means more work for the rest of us . . . including me. I am not liking what the future may hold.

I have written before about doing more qigong, doing more conventional exercises, reading more books and so on. However, all those plans went awry as they do. Most of the time I would work, struggle with sleep, oversleep, wake up and go back to work. I almost never have time for anything else.

The only one cultivation practice I have been keeping up is the readings I do for the Greatest Salesman course. Otherwise, nothing much else.

Today, May 14, I have finally done one qigong set. At this point, I am determined to do just that for the next 100 days. That is to say I am restarting My Qigong Life, I just stick to 1 set a day. Maybe I can do a second set if I am lucky. Although today’s qigong practice wasn’t as “uplifting” as weeks before, I am grateful enough to at least get myself back to practice.

Another good news is that I am much more determined to get myself to Taiwan. For some time I was trying to work in an office there, like in a multinational company. At this point, I don’t care. I am going back to teach English as a Second Language. While it is not considered an honorable profession by many, even in East Asia, at the least I can do some good. Besides, I enjoy teaching. Sure I have to deal with that one disruptive punk in the class and there is paperwork involved, but it feels less like work than what I do now. Some of my favorite memories of Thailand and Korea are the funny interactions I had with the students even if I was the butt of their shenanigans.

Plus working set hours means I can depend on having free time to do more important things such as Zen cultivation, playing video games, and reading bad sci-fi novels. I might even write one of my own in the same vein as Edgar Rice Burroughs and L. Ron Hubbard. I dropped those two names because I do not see myself as equal to Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, or even the underrated H. Beam Piper.

I don’t really have any strong religious beliefs, except for one: A person’s life can change for the better as long as he or she changes him or herself. Because I should be able to focus more on self-cultivation and self-change, I can see my luck improve for the better. Maybe the school teaching job will be the very last one for me and that I will stay there for the rest of my life. Maybe that job would help me find better employment in Asia or in North America. Either way, though, I feel optimistic about my upcoming move.

I do have to say that the only problem that I have still yet to figure out is what happens whenever I deal with controlling individuals. As you might figure out, I always think about when I was in Korea and dealing with that Anson guy as well as the Korean-American professor. Both of them tried to micromanage my free time to a point I would face harassment for not capitulating to their demands. The last place I worked in Thailand, I dealt with this guy who I call Bosco and how he was always trying to bother me because he was too bored with his life. I never wrote about him before, but I also dealt with an American in my first time in Korea who always personally attacked me and threw temper tantrums if I did not obey his commands or even parrot his opinions.

Therein lies the question, will I deal with people like them if and when I move to Taiwan? Will I meet with a Brit or Kiwi who thinks that my sole purpose in life is to serve them? Will I meet an American or Canadian who will spend time making my life hell because I stand up for myself instead of complying to their demands? Will there be an Aussie who will manipulate me into doing things I don’t want to do and get disrespected for it?

That is a possibility. One stereotype that is enduring in East Asia is that Westerners who teach in Asia are maladjusted losers who couldn’t get a job back home. I’d hate to say this, as I met lots of awesome teachers abroad, but it is true on some level.

While I am planning for my move abroad, I also have to plan on meeting those types of individuals. The one tool at my disposal is that I have a decent indoor workout that can be done in an apartment. I can definitely use that as a way to improve my health and channel out any stress that I would incur by meeting those creeps. I can try to think of other coping methods, but the workout is a good start.

Until then, I just have to keep moving no matter how slow.

Greatest Salesman Month 3 Report

This has been the “longest” month in my Greatest Salesman study so far. As I have a rule to add in a week for every day I miss, plus my vacation to the Cascades, my 30 days of study extended to many many weeks.

I figure it’s not a bad thing. The psychological function of the Greatest Salesman course is to impress upon my subconscious mind the values to help me become a better salesman, or at the least a better worker.

This is what I like about the course thus far.

A lot of us have these morals and values that we love to espouse to be true and righteous. However, as we all know, it is easier to talk the talk rather than walk the walk. We might pontificate about the importance of being kind, honest, upright, and so on only to have past habits and our environment influence us to act otherwise.

The biggest problem with keeping up with our own sense of ethics is that we often try to do so from an extrinsic point of view, as in through our conscious thinking. The thing is, though, our subconscious mind influences our thinking and actions more than we realize.

Therefore by doing something similar to the Greatest Salesman course, such as reading an essay or a list of rules over and over again, your subconscious thinking and your outlook gradually changes to a point that you act out these ethics out of instinct rather than compulsion.

On that end, I can tell it is working. It will take time, but it works.

I looked at the central messages of each scroll in the Greatest Salesman course and what I can say that I won’t be learning anything new. I am familiar with a lot of the concepts that Mandino teaches from other books. However, the biggest question has always been how to incorporate those teachings, which is being resolved through this course.

Last month, I was reading an essay/scroll about being more loving. While I never felt more loving during that month, a couple weeks after I was done reading that essay love has started to bloom in my heart. As people who read my blog, I would ruminate over people I met in my travels who did me wrong (in my defense, it’s because I have been trying to figure how to deal with people like them). However, by thinking in love, especially silently saying “I love you” whenever I think of them, my frustration has been slowly disappearing. Do I still think of them in anger? Yes, but a lot less now and it’s only a matter of time when love will replace those negative emotions.

The same could be said for the current month. I have been getting myself to become more tenacious and persevering in my thoughts and actions. To be brutally honest, though, my life has been rough and there were times I spend half a day asleep out of hopelessness and depression. By all appearances, I am doing the opposite of what I am studying. However, I have faith that in a couple of weeks, I will find myself becoming more persistent with my efforts to succeed in life.

As it is, I am already planning on what I can do to teach English in Taiwan at the very least.

Qigong will still be a primary means of fitness for me for the time being. I still want to mediate, but I cannot see myself doing it for sometime since I don’t see my life settling down any time soon. Right now I am incorporating more of Shakti Gawain’s creative visualization techniques, both to get myself working a better job and giving out good vibrations to a workplace rival.

I am glad I took that vacation to the Cascades region, but it did throw my off in my cultivation pattern. As it is, I feel like I am starting from square 1 in qigong. The only thing for me to do is keep on practicing and be patient in doing so. I might go back to practicing only 1 qigong set a day and slowly add another set and another once my sleeping pattern stabilizes. I might even get myself back to adding more meditation to my life, again when I can sleep a lot better.

Tomorrow I am going to start Month 4.


The painting above depicts Vishnu’s 3rd incarnation, Varaha the Boar.

Traditionally Hindus believe that all the planets float upon a cosmic ocean. In fact, you might see paintings of Hindu gods floating on water and that is why.

When the universe was recreated Earth was stuck underwater in that cosmic ocean. So Vishnu turned into a boar to pick up the planet and move it above water. There was a demon who conquered heaven and wanted to kill the boar, knowing that boar was Vishnu. The two fought, Vishnu kicked the demon’s ass. The Earth is now floating on the ocean, the heavens are free, and everyone is happy.

That’s the boar’s story in a nutshell. You can watch a cartoon version here. Also, here is the an old school Bollywood depiction of the fight, with bad-but-oh-so-good special effects and all.

So far, the common theme in my writing about Vishnu’s avatars in how I have to research and rediscover all of the stories I forgot about growing up. I may not have been the most religious kid, but I loved the stories and it was probably the only thing I liked about growing up Hindu. So rereading some of the tales is quite an enjoyable thing for me.

It’s also a bit frustrating.

Usually whenever I research these stories, I start on Wikipedia. Wikipedia being Wikipedia, reading up the stories also means reading up the various retellings and inconsistencies from one text to the next. It has become quite a task for me to figure out which details in the legends are important and which aren’t.

One day, I was reading this anthology collection of Batman comics and then I had this thought: are the changes in Hindu mythologies no different than the changes in superhero comics?

If you think about it, superhero comics tend to reinvent themselves in style and story telling over and over again. The way Bruce Wayne becomes Batman gets retold in different movie and comic book versions. Batman’s personality changes over time, from a upright do-gooder* to a brooding anti-hero.

Also who is the Joker? Is he a giggling, mischievous maniac like how Caesar Romero** portrayed him? Is he a suave, sophisticated gangster like how Jack Nicholson played? Maybe he was an insane criminal in the vein of Heath Ledger? What about the crazy emo-goth incarnation of Jared Leto? How about a sad, tragic man driven to crime like that of Joaquin Phoenix’ interpretation?

The whole point is that even in modern times people take beloved tales and retell them with their own spin. Why not the same for Hindu mythology? Just like how a regular schmoe like me is trying to figure out these ancient Hindu tales, it could be possible that someone thousands of years into the future will look at a comic book heroes and get all confused with the inconsistencies that is part of the subculture.

And yes, what is considered popular, low-brow art today will be considered higher forms of literature in the future.

* Adam West is my favorite Batman. When I first watched his version of Batman as a kid, I thought it was just an action TV show. When I watched it as an adult, I realized that it was more of a comedy and it made me laugh.

** Since Adam West’s Batman is my favorite, Romero’s Joker is also a favorite of mine. You can tell Romero was having too much fun with that role. Whenever Romero gets interviewed on camera, though, he exhibited a classy personality that I aspire to become.