Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category


For the past 15 years or so the opportunity to reflect on spirituality has been placed before my path. I receive this as a gift in the soul’s journey. The reward has been rich although the path, tumultuous. Numerous individuals intersect on this path through various avenues be it academic papers, publications, conversations, and texts in various forms including narratives. I have witnessed those who claim expertise on spirituality through acquisition of vast knowledge of the field or via vigorous research. It seems ironical in a way because spirituality is the path toward emptiness and it is within the realm of nothingness that spirituality is experienced in variety of dimensions. It is in emptiness that we come to experience God more fully. It is when a self is able to strip itself of all societal affirmations that one can stand before God being truly authentic. Making a name for oneself out of spirituality is an oxymoron. Toward the unknown seems the Divine path toward becoming a full self before God. And so I like to think that my goal in life is to amount to nothing.


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So I learn this from a movie and often remember when looking at stars in the night.

“Star light, star bright

First star I see tonight

I wish I may

I wish I might

have the wish

I wish tonight”

I have so many wishes but for tonight I pray that life will be kind, that goodness may come to all the people I care about, that children will not go hungry at night, that fearful people will find courage, that voiceless people will be able to speak, that those in poverty will understand that worth is never tight in to currency, that restless souls will find peace and quietness, that mothers will always have strength to care for children, that countries will seek peace instead of domination, that world resouces will find even distribution, that children will know that they are loved, that those who are broken will know that they are not alone, that every tear drop will be heard, that people will learn that life is much bigger than who they are, that there will be more smile and laughter in the world, that mothers will be blessed with more sticky kisses from their children.

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Recently a friend asked what my faith is to me and I ponder the depth of what this question mean to me. What is Seventhday Adventism to me? In the process I was drawn to the question of the Sabbath, the concept of rest.  What is so restless about our society that makes rest a rare commodity?  We always talk about rest but it does not seem as if there’s really a place in our world. Even in the world of Adventism that I’m in. There are plenty of striving and struggling to be good enough as defined by the religious insitution and interpreted locally and regionally. When perfection is demanded, there’s no room for vulnerability. And without vulnerability, there’s no room for rest neither.

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of sitting with a Thai professor from Chulalongkorn University. I asked him about sustainability and he invited me to reflect back to the time with Thailand was a agricultural society. People learned to live and give and share. There were not major disparity between wealth and poverty. The distribution of wealth was within appropriate range. Then came industrial revolution, the progression of machines and technology that enabled mass production that was once not within reach.  This mass production as a result of machines and technology result in the widening of the gap in production and hence income. Disparity of distribution increased. Where once farmers used to take turn to assist one another in harvesting and planting, with the arrival of machines and mass production, sharing was no longer practiced and replaced by wages.  Farmers stopped helping others and started demanding wages for their sweat. I suspect the repitition of this process further played an important role in rewriting local and national narratives on what it means to succeed in a society. A new public discourse emerged.  A new measure of success articulated and populated. Quantification became the means for the measure of success.

But really, is there a basis by which quantification become the standard measure for success? Why not sharing, why not contentment, why not happiness, why not compassion s as measures for success? There are no more ground for accumulative quantification as measure for success then contentment and happiness and compassion. I have nothing against quantification. But to set this as a standard for measure seems arbritary. We can probably say I like to acquire and accumulate because I like comfort or for the pleasure it can afford but I think success needs to be redefined.  Because success becomes the place where people measure themselves and their worth. And there’s nothing more important for a person than to realize their worth. But the society caught in this definition of succcess (and here I am looking way beyond economics. There are always so many standards of measure for so many different areas in our lives such as good looks, reputable careers, cognitive ability as meaasured by standardized tests etc).  I think for this very reason it becomes difficult for us to find that place where we can rest. And I do not mean rest only in a literal sense but  figurative sense as well.  When there’s room for validation of simplicity, rest becomes a possibility. And as a result, this philosophical shift toward simplicity becomes sustainable.

I guess this is perhaps the place in my current journey into what my faith means to me at this point in my life. And who knows what might happen in the futurer…..

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I used to dream dreams and they often were consisted of transformation for the marginalized, healing for the wounded, relief for the oppressed. Then dreams were slow to come by. And the soul became desolate and the longing deepen. I would keep searching for means and ways, for the renewal of dreams. I searched for the most vulnerable and asked myself what role can I play. And the search never ceases because  ‘most’ is a category that changes with time and the socio-cultural context. And I search for the most sustainable ways to offer permanent solutions to these populations. The search immobilizes me because the most sustainable and permanent solution exists, in my estimate, only as an ideology that does not seem able to be translated into the lived experience of every day people. And I started to realize that making a difference is not always eternal in its scope. That we may play a little part in people’s lives and that making a small difference is a difference that is made and it is significant in itself. It may be simply transient and it is ok. One of the most gratifying things during the last couple of weeks is the assignment that I required for students. They each have to do one intentional act of charity. And the most amazing things happen…buying pens from a poor student, driving old people around, buying burgers for the homeless, stop on the freeway to help change tires, spending time with mentally challenged kids, giving ride to needy people etc. Perhaps it is the little transient act of random kindness that makes little difference for people. And it is ok.

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There are times in life where nothing seems to be going the way you want it to go. Life takes its own path. And the journey is beyond your control.  The path we wish to take seems like the one we consider the most beneficial and appropriate.  But it seems to me that in every path we wish to take lies the imprint of our metaphysics that both consciously and unconsciously governs our lives. It is well integrated in our functional reality.  And in the process of divine redemption, God breaks into this reality modifying, altering, challenging, and deconstructing. Often, it is such a painful process.  I like to think that God does not leave us there to be all alone either.  Although it may feel that way.  In a strange way, through strange encounters, via some random and recurring events the unfolding meaning of grace enters my life like never before. Like a voice from a far saying, things happen for a reason. And the recurring moments of grace slowly transform this metaphysics, this functional reality and the stars shine brighter.  Miracles sometimes happen through people.  And I encountered this Divine moment.

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I’m looking at putting together materials on snake dreams and would like to request those who recall dreams of snakes to share their dreams on this blog.  You can click response/comment and share your dreams and also your interpretation as well if you have one or feelings that these dreams evoked in you.  If you have other interesting dreams other than seeing snakes, I would appreciate that as well.  Not that I know how to interpret them but I’m curious to see if there’s any significant pattern when people dreams of snakes.  I would also like to know what snakes often represent to you or what feeling snakes evoke in you.  Thank you very much for considering sharing your dreams.

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What have I learned from growing old?  I do hope with all my heart that I learn some important lessons about life.  Well what have I learned when my body is not the body of a 22 and my brain does not remember things as I used to, my waist line is expanding into infinity, my metabolism is going at a turtle speed, my mind is operating on a very slow wave, my opthamologist recommends three layer lens, my medicine cabinet is filling up pretty quickly, and you actually find comfort in the utilization of restrooms.  Well I learn that I know very little, that I have made many mistakes, that people do forgive, that life goes on even when I do not get it right, that most of my worries do not come to pass, that I am not any more special than most people, that I’m not in control of many things in life and how my future will unfold, that there are many good people around, that people do care, that goodness even in the midst of the cloudy days does exist, that even though the rain does come on a sunny day (like in CCR’s lyrics) it can be sunny (in my student’s words) even when it rains.  I’m beginning to see that shift from half-empty to half-full.  It still is half but it does matter which half we see.  So what am I going to do as the number of my years on this planet climbs rapidly toward the geriatric definition?  A wise person said to me, “Go and live.”  It is not as easy as it sounds.  But there really is not much option to life than to go and live and pray that God’s grace will abound.

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