Traveler or Dreamer?

Journeys

Part of my ‘growing up’ process has been accepting that there is “no happily ever after”… however I am also learning that there is no “unhappily ever after” either… hence as a temporary visitor I am free to fill all the time and space ‘in-between’ haha… with words?

 

Am I a traveler

Or a dreamer?

 

Space,

Time,

Restless mind?

 

Home?

Where is home?

Precious home of my dreams?

 

Am I dreaming?

Or am I travelling?

 

Images flow

Of mountains, rivers and trees,

Trains and planes,

Birds and cranes,

Scattering the boundless sky

Free finally free?

Or locked

in this cage of Dreams?

 

Perfect home family wealth success fame respect body pleasures satiated…

Is there an end to this stream?

 

With thirst,

Comes the journey

 

Fallen journeys

Leaf like memories

Dance with the wind

As winter comes

 

Seasons change

So do places, people and nature

So I sing,

 

Am I a traveler

Or a dreamer?

Yungang Grottoes 云冈石窟

Friday, May 27th 2016

From my dwelling place in a hostel in the ancient city of Datong, historically known as Pingcheng, I was brainstorming ways to visit Mount Wutain or “五台山” in simplified Chinese. I really wished to pay a visit to this sacred pilgrimage site associated with the Bodhisattva of Wisdom — Manjushri.

‘What is a bodhisattva?’, you may ask.

A ‘bodhisattva’, although impossible to fully define using words, can be imperfectly explained as an ‘awakened’ being who manifests in a myriad of forms to deliver sentient beings from the sufferings of cyclic existence or ‘samsara’.

As my mind worried itself to finding ways to reach this mountain, the hostel manager Gary told me that there was another person staying in the hostel who was also planning to go visit Mount Wutai. He said I could meet him later in the evening and perhaps we could plan the journey together.

When the scorching sun had set, Gary introduced me to this ‘mystery’ person. His name was Zatko. A tall man, with short curly hair, slightly chubby and spoke a gentle British accent voice that warmly emanated intelligence and peace. He told me he was a traveler and freelanced for travel guides as a job. His latest assignment was to write a section for a travel guide about places to visit in the city of Datong and Mount Wutai.

‘Have you been to Mount Wutai?,’ I asked with scintillating eyes of admiration.

‘Yes, a few years ago. I want to visit again, remember some places and write about them.’ He replied with a kind smile.

‘Nice.’

‘If you want we can travel together to Mount Wutai. I recommend us sharing a taxi because the bus ride is not very comfortable and the service only runs during certain hours of the day. If we book a taxi, we can make stops on our way and you can visit a beautiful place called Yungang Grottoes filled with ancient Buddhist cave art.’

‘That sounds great. Let’s do that then.’ I tried replying with a stable tone although inside I was bursting with joy and excitement because I had just found a travel companion who really knew how to Travel. I saw Zatko as a manifestation of Freedom — he travelled to places and wrote about his travels for a living. How much ‘Freer’ can you be? I thought to myself.

 

To be continued… or not haha

but here are some photos of the Yungang Grottoes, enjoy:)

For more information, you can always check…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungang_Grottoes

Snapshots from rally at WSP

On January 25th 2017 CAIR-NY which stands for Council on American Islamic Relations New York Chapter together with a coalition of New York civil rights and interfaith organizations rallied at Washington Square Park to protest President Donald Trump’s intention to implement a ‘temporary’ ban  on Muslim immigration. Let’s stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in this struggle against hate and Islamophobia.

Read more at:

CAIR ‘Emergency Rally’ Against Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban Rocks Washington Square Park

http://www.ibtimes.com/muslims-protest-trumps-travel-ban-heres-how-people-are-reacting-new-middle-east-2481172

https://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/24/action-alert-125-rally-against-muslim-travel-ban

 

I don’t know about filial piety

So I was working in my parent’s Chinese restaurant and this stream of words came to my mind and I typed it up and blogged about it…

 

 

I don’t know about filial piety

And I’ve been ungrateful to parents

 

I don’t know about filial piety

And I’ve caused much suffering to parents

Which in turn propelled back to me

 

Blind

I tried to be a filial son

Without knowing what is filial piety

 

 

One year later

I still don’t know about filial piety

But I know of bondage

 

No, I don’t know about filial piety

But I know of attachment

Attachment to parents

To their material wealth and comfort

 

Not knowing about filial piety

I’ve exploited fellow brothers and sisters

In order to maintain wealth and status

For the family

 

Ignorant about filial piety

I fixated my sleepy eyes to external wealth

And I’ve tried suppressing

All my inner dreams and desires

In order to be filial to parents

 

The heart giggles like a child

Seeing the mind searching

 

What is filial piety?

I’ve tried searching around

I’ve read through the 24 Paragons of Filial Piety

Tears flowed through my eyes

I’ve stumbled upon the Tale of the Filial Parrot

And flew all the way to Mount Putuo

Ending in Mount Wutai

Searching for Compassion and Wisdom

After a long climb up

Flowers blossomed

Swallows flew in circles

Blossoming Flowers Wutaishan.jpg

 

And the four golden letters ingrained in the wall

edited (2 of 5)

edited (4 of 5).jpg

感恩  Gratefulness

惜福 To cherish one’s fortune

A wise teacher

Once taught me

How love is like a ladder first parents then society

And Love, expansive Love!

What is filial piety without love?

 

Filial piety without love

Is like pig-like patriarchy masked  with make-up and lipstick to fool foolish children

 

Hahaha

The childish heart giggles

 

I still don’t know about filial piety

But I know of patriarchy

I’ve experienced it

I am slowly becoming enveloped by it

As the eldest son of a immigrant Chinese family

Patriarchy!

Sense of duty!

Obligation and morality!

Male breadwinner

Women in the house

Marrying and having babies

And aging and dying

 

Hahaha

The childish heart giggles

 

Down with patriarchy!

Oh Heart break open from your cage

Fill yourself with Love

And gratefulness

And change and Revolution!

 

Love your parents with all its contradictions

And climb up that ladder of Love

And towards…Death

 

Hahaha

The childish heart giggles

Lisboa, Minha Amada

Dei uma grande volta

E estou de volta a ti

Lisboa,

Minha amada,

Mulher difícil tu és

Mas eu te amo como és

Aceitas-me de volta?

.

Abres-me a porta

Para o teu coração

Minha amada

Acolhes o cansado pássaro na tua mão

Por favor

Não me encarceres outra vez

Nessa tua gaiola dourada

Em que estive prisioneiro

Durante dias, meses e anos…

Sofri e sofri muito

De solidão,

Discriminação,

Um dia me davas atenção

Noutro soltavas uma gargalhada macabra

Na sombra do Outro vivia

Nessa gaiola tua

Sim deste-me comida, casa e sustento

Mas a Luz não chegava aí dentro…

.

Por isso quando vi a gaiola aberta

Escapei

Seguindo o canto de um cuco viajante

Atravessei mares, rios e vales

E cheguei a conhecer as tuas Irmãs

Falei sobre ti

Minha amada

És amada e odiada ao mesmo tempo

Pelo sofrimento que causaste

 Ao mundo

.

Sou pássaro Livre agora

Como as nuvens dançantes no Céu

Por favor

Não me encarceres

Nessa tua gaiola dourada

Minha amada não,

Respeita-me como sou

E eu conto-te as minhas viagens

Te cantarei o que eu sinto por ti

Mas quando for tempo

Voarei para os quatro cantos do Mundo

.

Aceita a minha Liberdade

Minha amada,

E juntos podemos ser felizes

Até essa próxima jornada

.

Esta é a vida de viajante

Escolhi e não escolhi

Desculpa

Mas eu aceito o que me foi dado

E tento fazer o melhor dele

Perdoa-me por não estar sempre para Ti

Mas no meu coração você está

Aí nesse altar secreto

Jaz o meu Amor por si

.

Lisboa

Cidade amada

Vestida de cores

Bronzeada do Sol

És caprichosa como a Lua

Teimosa como a maré

Vais e vens,

Em tristeza de fadista

Às vezes

És tímida,

Escondida por detrás das tuas

Irmãs europeias

Mas não tens nada a menos que elas

Só a mais…

Mas não fiques demasiada convencida

Amor

Tens de ter cuidado com essa tua atitude de superior

Sabes que ainda magoas as tuas Irmãs

Do Brasil, Angola, Moçambique, Cabo-Verde, Guiné, Guiné-Bissau,  São Tomé e Príncipe…

Por favor não continues com este

Ciclo vicioso

Colonial

Desconstrói a tua história

Memórias do passado

Sim tu e eu estamos manchados de sangue

Sofrimento que vamos levando

Vidas e vidas

Nos nossos barcos imundos

Até atravessar o tortuoso Oceano

Sim talvez devagarinho

Chegaremos lá,

Minha amada

Com Amor e Compaixão

Chegaremos lá sim

Eu acredito em si

Na sua humilde força

Um dia lá em cima estaremos

No altar do Mundo

Brilhantes como uma constelação

Tu e eu

Lado a lado

.

Com amor,

O teu pássaro viajante

When you meet another bird

When you meet another bird

You learn to let go

Wow I’m not that special

Just a wondering bird among many

Perched in this world-tree

~

When you meet another bird

You learn to let go

Your worries, attachments and cravings

Fall down like cold snow

As it touches the witnessing Earth

It becomes the cool stream

That flows and flows and flows

Oh this stream has flowed through

Rivers and mountains and forests

And so it shall continue to be

~

When you meet another bird

You learn to be Free

Dharma and Love are not mutually exclusive

Love is Freedom

Not the egocentric selfish cage

That imprisons the soul

So be Free little bird

Fly and go see the world

Experience it and suffer from it

To finally internalize Buddha’s Noble Truths

~

Oh Lord Buddha

When will I stop craving?

The bird sings

You have a long way to go

Perhaps

When you flow through

Enough lives and experiences and sufferings

You will let go

Let go of all

And dwell in Nothingness

Storm in Midnapur – Experimenting With Photography

On May 1st 2015, together with a group of friends we traveled to Midnapur. Our purpose was to go assist a team of Spanish doctors running an eye clinic in St. Joseph’s Hospital located in the Midnapur area. We boarded a local train from Howrah station and arrived in Midnapur station after a travel time of about three hours. The train passed through urban slums to rural green fields to bridges that crossed rivers to finally arrive at our destination—Midnapur.

Midnapur, also known as Midnapore or Medinipur, is located in the state of West Bengal, India and on the banks of Kangsabati River which flows into the sea at Bay of Bengal. Historically, Midnapur is known for its contributions to India’s Freedom movement for it was a place of revolutionary activity. For instance, Khudiram Bose was born near Midnapur and studied at Midnapur Collegiate School before becoming a leading revolutionary during India’s Freedom struggle which eventually led to Indian Independence Act of 1947.

Another historical fact of Midnapur that really fascinates me is that near the town of Tamluk lies the fabled port of Tamralipti. This port on the margins of the Rupnarayan River (a tributary to the Hughli-Bhagirathi-Ganges River) has long disappeared but its wealth and fame is referenced in the Indian epic Mahabharata, in Buddhist writings during King Ashoka’s time and in the travelogues of Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hsien and I-Tsing (Darian, 2010).

In Fa-Hsien’s travelogue A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, version translated by James Legge, it is referenced that from the kingdom of Champa, Fa-Hsien continued his journey east and reached the country of Tamralipti in which the capital is a seaport. After staying for two years, writing out Sutras and drawing pictures of Buddhist images, Fa-Hsien embarked in a large merchant vessel to the country of Singhala or Ceylon (Legge, 1886).

Moreover Tamralipti is also referenced in writings during King Ashoka’s reign, it was from the port of Tamralipti that the precious gifts were dispatched by ship to the King of Ceylon as sustainers of harmonious diplomatic relationships.  As a final note, in the Mahabharata epic, there is the frequent mention of the soldiers of Tamralipti who fought bravely in the great War.

This is an attempt to share my experiences in Midnapur through this set of photographs. It’s about a mysterious and mighty storm that suddenly hit the Catholic Hospital where I was volunteering during an eye-clinic. I’ve never experienced such as storm before and it is my hope this set photographs can give a glimpse of this experience.

Bibliography:

Darian, Steven G. The Ganges in Myth and History. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2001.

Hsien, Fa. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms. Trans. Legge, James. Oxford, 1886.