Self-righteousness is not yoga practice (2)

Teaching yoga, or practicing yoga, is not about ‘I am an unique spiritual being’ being chosen by ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, being initiated/assigned/given a righteous ‘duty’ from ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, being ‘self-righteous’ for helping ‘God’ or ‘Guru’ to patrol/judge/control/criticize/discipline/punish other people’s actions and reactions, or to be interfering with other people’s thinking/belief/behavior/practice that are different from one’s thinking/belief/behavior/practice, that the mind thinks and believes as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’, and interfering with other people’s different ways of life, actions and reactions, mental and physical activities that one’s mind doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, that one’s mind thinks and believes as ‘contradicting’ with the teachings and practice of yoga.

As all these ‘thinking’ and ‘actions’ coming from the mind acting and reacting towards the world of names and forms that the mind comes in contact with/perceives/experiences/acknowledges are nothing but the play of egoism born out of ignorance. Although most minds would think and believe that they are being the ‘good spiritual beings’ acting on behalf of ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, or upholding what they think and believe is ‘supremacy’, ‘authority’, or ‘righteousness’.

Teaching yoga is merely sharing the knowledge derived from one’s direct experience and self-realization, to give guidance to those who come to them to seek guidance to be learning and practicing yoga, while allowing everyone to be what they are, whether they want to take the guidance, or not; whether they want to learn and practice yoga as it is, or not; whether they want to develop awareness, correct understanding, initiative and self-discipline to discipline their own minds, or not; whether they are aware of all the egoistic urges/intentions behind all their actions and reactions, or not; whether they want to restrict their own mental and physical activities, to purify their minds to be free from egoism, impurities and restlessness, to silent the modifications of the mind, or not; and whether they want to perform inquiry towards the truth of everything and be free from ignorance, or not.

There’s no egoistic idea/desire/intention of “I want to be a yoga teacher to teach yoga to other people.” or “I am a yoga teacher performing action of teaching yoga to other people.”

Practicing yoga is also about allowing everyone and everything to be what they are, that everyone and everything are impermanent and selfless, while ‘working’ diligently to free one’s mind from ignorance and the consequences of ignorance.

Those who understand this, either they don’t need to perform any practice at all as they are peaceful as they are where their minds are free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, or if they are aware of the existence of ignorance, egoism and impurities in the minds, they will mind their own practice to discipline, to purify and to silent their own minds, while allowing all the other minds to be what they are, to be evolving as they are.

If ‘God’ or ‘Guru’ exists, they are ‘the selfless/mindless silent witness of pure consciousness’, being undisturbed/unaffected/uninfluenced/unchanged/unbothered by all the existing impermanent and selfless names and forms of different thinking/belief/behavior/way of life/actions/reactions of everyone and the consequences of that, or whatever is happening in ‘the world of ignorant egoistic impure minds functioning under ignorance, egoism and impurities’. If ‘God’ and ‘Guru’ exist, they don’t have egoism, or the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention derived from egoism to be interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing anyone or anything. If they have egoism, or the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention derived from egoism to be interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing everyone or everything, making sure everyone and everything ‘to be the way that I think it should be’, then they are not really God or Guru.

Such like some people would inflict anger, hatred, ill-will and violence towards others out of the excuse of ‘upholding peace’ or ‘upholding righteousness’. This is not yoga practice, although it’s everyone’s freedom for what they think and believe, and how they behave, act and react.

“In the name of God, I condemn you to hell.” or “These are bad and evil people, I hope that they will be punished with great suffering that they deserved.” Quite many minds/people would think and speak in such way ‘proudly’. No wonder, many of the saints and sages in the past renounced the world and retreated from the society/community to avoid wasting energy from dealing with such affairs.

Those who truly practice yoga, they withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, turning the mind inward to be ‘working’ diligently towards attaining/reaching that ‘pure consciousness of the selfless/mindless silent witness’, where they go beyond the egoistic urge/intention of interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing anyone or anything.

If one is aware of this ‘self-righteous’ thinking and behavior existing in one’s mind, and is aware of oneself constantly feels dissatisfied, or frustrated, or disturbed, or angered, or offended by other people’s different thinking/belief/practice/behavior/way of life/actions and reactions that one’s mind dislikes and disagrees with, and couldn’t help oneself being over-powered by the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention to be interfering with other people’s different thinking/belief/practice/behavior/way of life/actions and reactions, then either one can try to help oneself by developing will-power to free one’s mind from this self-righteous thinking and behavior, or one can try to seek ‘professional helps’ from the many ‘psychiatric professionals’, to have peace in oneself and stop generating ‘disharmony’ and ‘unrest’ into the surrounding environment, being free from restless impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, possessiveness, authoritarianism, offensiveness, defensiveness, hurts, hostility, animosity, aggressiveness, violence, ill-will, ill-thinking, fear and worry. That itself is a great contribution towards peace in oneself and peace in the world.

Look after one’s mind before it’s too late where one might be completely losing the reasoning power that allow yoga practice to be taking place, even if one is interested in yoga, or strongly believe in ‘God’ or ‘Guru’. One might be doing some form of ‘yoga practice’ or ‘rituals’ regularly, but couldn’t help being busy looking at other people and shouting at other people, “You people should be like this and shouldn’t be like that,” expecting everyone and everything ‘to be the way that I think it should be’. That’s everyone’s freedom of thinking and behavior. It’s everyone’s freedom whether to look after one’s mind, or they prefer to be busy minding about other people’s minds, and losing the sanity of their own mind being lost in ignorance.

Be free.

If we truly believe in God and love God, we will love all unconditionally…

If we truly believe in God existence, and God is almighty, then God doesn’t need anyone to defend or protect God from any insults or damages, as there is nobody can insult God, or can cause any damages to God, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Unless God is like a human being, with an ego that is being defensive, and easily being offended, disturbed and getting angry towards the things that the ego doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with.

How can anyone insult God and cause damages to God, if God is almighty?

If there is no insults and damages can be done onto God as God is almighty, then there is nobody needs to be punished by God for ‘generates’ insult or damage, as there won’t be one. Then who are we to judge and punish anyone in the name of God?

God doesn’t need to be angry at anyone, nor hating anyone or being discriminating, if God is almighty and loves all unconditionally. Then why are we being so angry and hating some other beings, for we think God is being insulted or damaged by someone or something, while God is undisturbed, nor affected, nor hurt, nor contaminated by anyone or anything?

If we truly believe in God and love God, we will see God in everyone and everything. We will love all unconditionally. We won’t be discriminating, nor being angry or hating anyone and anything.

If we think we believe in God wholeheartedly, and we love God very much, and out of intense love for God, we want to protect God from any insults or damages, we get angry with and hating some beings whom we think they are insulting God or are causing damages to God, and we want to punish these beings in the name of God, then very obvious that we don’t really believe in God’s almightiness, nor do we love God at all. As all these anger and hatred are coming from our own selfish egoism, and definitely it’s not coming from God, who is almighty and all compassionate.

It we think God will be insulted and damaged by some actions or speech from some human beings, then we don’t really believe in God’s almightiness. If God will be easily insulted or damaged by someone or something, and has discrimination and loves with conditions, then why do we still want to rely or believe in this ‘God’ that can be easily insulted and damaged by someone or something?

Same as Dharma, or the Truth. It doesn’t need anyone to defend, or protect it from any destruction or contamination, as Dharma, or the Truth can never be destroyed nor contaminated by anyone or anything, even if the world stops existing.

If we think Dharma can be easily destroyed or contaminated by someone or something, then why do we still want to rely or believe in this ‘Dharma’ that can be destroyed and contaminated easily?

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 5

My life stories – Part 5
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I always liked to stretch my body since I was little. Whenever my body felt tired or there’s some tightness or soreness I would stretch my body until all the discomforts went away. I felt so good every time after I stretched. I didn’t know that those stretches were related to yoga poses before I was introduced to yoga. I wasn’t exposed to anything about yoga until I took up the aerobics instructor course at the yoga and aerobics dance academy when I was fifteen years old. But the yoga classes at that place were only doing some yoga poses as fitness exercise classes and the teacher didn’t talk about yoga philosophy at all. I also didn’t know what was Buddhism.

My journey into yoga and Buddhism began when I first experienced disappointment, anger, hatred, frustration and unhappiness in my early childhood. I wanted to look for the way out from unhappiness and in search for the meaning of life after being depressed and frustrated for a couple of years. Most people will only think about how to transcend suffering when they experience unhappiness and disappointment beyond what they can tolerate. Everyone is looking for happiness and don’t want to have unhappiness. But we tend to get lost and confused while trying to live a happy life or have a better living condition. We end up becoming more frustrated, dissatisfied, disappointed, angry, upset and depressed.

My family was like most Chinese. We prayed to different Chinese gods and would have an altar at home for offering incense, light, flowers, water and food to all the gods and our past ancestors. Most of us were praying to a god named The Goddess Of Mercy. We didn’t know that this god was actually the great compassionate Bodhisattva Guan Yin Pu Xa, who was an enlightened being as mentioned in the teachings of Buddhism. We didn’t know what was Buddhism or its philosophy and practices. We prayed to many different gods, but only with one intention – asking for protection and blessing from them. We didn’t know what was Karma, cause and effect or the path of self-transformation.

Every time I saw pictures or statues of any gods, I would bow and pay respect to them. I was told by my parents to do so. They said gods protect us from bad things and bless us with good fortune and we must thank them by bowing and pay respect to them. I wasn’t expecting to get anything from gods because I didn’t have desire for material things or enjoyments in life. But in my own imagination, I felt very strong connection with gods and spiritual beings when I was growing up. In the past, I believed in gods and spiritual beings that they were good beings and they were my friends and protectors. I always put my palms together and bowed to them to express thankfulness for looking after me and my family. If I stopped believing in spiritual beings and gods, it’s okay. Because If they truly exist and they are wise, selfless and kind beings, they won’t get unhappy or upset if people don’t believe in them or stop believing in them. Just like, if we truly love someone, we allow this person to love us, or not. We won’t feel hurt or get angry when someone whom we love doesn’t love us, or when someone who used to love us, but has stopped loving us. We only wish this person peace and happiness, it doesn’t matter whether this person loves us, or not.

There’s nothing wrong when people have certain beliefs that they follow to be their guidance as a way of living, whether they believe in spiritual beings or not, whether they think God exists or not. It’s just a way of thinking and living. Whether people believe in spiritual beings and God, or not, it doesn’t determine that whether they are wise and kind and peaceful, or not.

Every time when someone asked me about my religion, I would tell them my religion was Buddhism because I am a Chinese. I thought all Chinese are Buddhists and all Indians are Hindus and all Malays are Muslims. I was so ignorant. Someone must had told me that I am a Buddhist because I am a Chinese. That was my incorrect understanding before I got to know more about Buddhism and what was a religion.

I heard the word of ‘cultivation’ for the first time when my mother mentioned it to me after she came back from a meeting with a medium. Many Chinese like to go to a medium to seek advice or help when they have troubles. My sister and her husband needed the help from a medium as their life had come to a critical point where they couldn’t make a living at all no matter how hard they tried in whatever they did. The medium told my mother that he couldn’t read my brother-in-law’s palms to read his destiny, as his palms and face were covered in heavy dark energy, that he would die very soon.

The medium told my sister and her husband that they had to ‘cultivate’ a lot of good actions to accumulate merits and virtues urgently to change their luck and try to save my brother-in-law’s life, if possible. But they didn’t know what ‘cultivation’ means. None in our family knew. My brother-in-law didn’t know how to control his bad temper and violent behavior. He didn’t make any efforts to ‘cultivate’ any good actions and couldn’t change his destiny.

Within that year, he died from falling off a 130 feet high platform at the age of thirty nine. No one knew what really happened and why or how he fell. There wasn’t anyone with him when it happened. He was working for a two months contract for a construction company and it was his last few days of work. He was cleaning the inside of a giant chimney at an oil refinery in Klang. My sister came back from the hospital and told us that she could hardly recognize him as his body and face were swollen with all his bones were smashed into tiny pieces.

My brother-in-law was a man who liked to hunt and drink a lot. He grew up drinking beers and other alcohols ever since he was a little boy. He always boasted about how his parents fed him with beers since he was just a toddler. He claimed that it was their family’s special tradition. He also fed his own children with beer when they were just a few months old. His temper was extremely bad. The Chinese said that alcohol increases the heat in our blood and aggravates the fire of anger. They also said that a person with fiery temper like him shouldn’t go near anything that was related to fire. But somehow he liked cooking and worked as a cook for a few restaurants before. He always ended up conflicting with his boss or his co-workers, and he would threaten to kill them with his hunting knife or hunting gun.

When his daughter was just a few months old he caned her because she was crying. One time, in the car, he slapped her for crying. He shouted at her telling her to stop crying, but she couldn’t stop crying. He hit her so hard in the face that she permanently lost the hearing in one ear. Her jaw was dislocated as well. Even to this day her mouth tilts to one side when she talks. He always argued with my sister over financial matters. When he got very angry he would smash things and kick the furniture, the walls and doors. The shouting and banging and crying in their house could be heard from far away. My heart pounded and tears fell down my cheeks. I hated him. I wished that he would leave us alone. I wished that he would die.
Later in life, I started to understand that his bad temper and mood swing with uncontrollable anger and violent behavior could be related to what he had went through in his previous marriage when he was younger before he knew my sister.

He came from a renowned family in a small town somewhere in Perak. His family was quite wealthy before his father died. But then things were not the same after his father was gone. They owned a small old oil palm estate near to their house. He grew up as a Christian and was English educated. He was married at very young age. He had a daughter and a son from his first marriage, and the ex-wife was from another renowned wealthy family. Her father was one of the rich and famous business men in Malaysia at that time. My sister said that he had loved his ex-wife and children very much.

Unfortunately, his ex-wife was being unfaithful to him and had an affair with his best friend. One day he came home early from work and saw the ex-wife and his best friend were in their bedroom, on their bed, naked. He got really angry and went crazy, and had a huge quarrel and fight with the wife and her lover, in front of their young children. His wife grabbed the two children who were seven and five at that time, and sped off in their car. The car lost control not too far from their house. The ex-wife suffered serious head and spinal injury and multiple broken bones, and had to be hospitalized for six months under the intensive care. While the son died at the scene instantly from being plunged into the steering wheel, and the daughter had suffered serious injury with one broken arm and one broken leg from being plunged out of the car’s windscreen. He was very angry, but at the same time, being deeply guilty and depressed for the whole incident. Since then he drank even more and suffered from serious mood swing.

He had filed a divorce, but the ex-wife didn’t want to give consent and the case went to the court and had been prolonged for a long time. Somehow he managed to kept the daughter with him. Before he met my sister, he had tried a few relationships with some women with the intention of looking for a good step mother for the daughter, but all the relationships didn’t last long, as the daughter didn’t like those women to be her step mother. He was a very handsome young man, and many women were attracted to him. He had no difficulty to find a girlfriend at all. Somehow he met my sister and they had fallen in with love with each other. Surprisingly, the daughter didn’t reject my sister, and so they got married under the Chinese tradition ceremony, without registering themselves at the city hall marriage council because he wasn’t legally divorced yet. After many years later he finally got the divorce approval from the court because the ex-wife finally gave her consent and signed the divorce paper, as she wanted to get married with another man at that time. But then my sister thought that it wasn’t necessary for them to register their marriage legally. And that had given my sister some problems with the husband’s family when her husband died.

Not long after my sister was being in a relationship with my brother-in-law, she resigned from her many years office job to run a seafood restaurant with him on Pangkor Island. They joined venture with his uncle to set up the restaurant. The restaurant was built on top of a leasehold land with a beautiful beach front location. In the beginning there were quite many people patronizing the restaurant and they made some good profits shared among the three of them. Somehow a few months later, they realized that his uncle had been taking money from the cash machine without informing them. They went to talk to his uncle and ended up in a quarrel and my brother-in-law kicked his uncle out of the business. From then on, their business was becoming very bad. They didn’t understand why. There were many tourists passing by their restaurant everyday, but nobody would come in, as if their restaurant was invisible.

A few months passed by and they were losing more and more money. At the same time, there was some itchy rash started to appear on my brother-in-law’s body every day after midnight, and it became more serious night after night. Someone told them that they should try to look for a medium to find out what was happening to him and their restaurant. And so, they went to a medium and found out that his uncle had saved hatred towards my brother-in-law and had asked a Bomoh to put a curse on him and their restaurant. The medium told them that only a Bomoh would know how to help them. And so they had asked a Bomoh to help them to remove the curse. The Bomoh realized it was a very serious curse that my brother-in-law would die very soon. And immediately, the Bomoh had went to their restaurant together with my sister and my brother-in-law. He brought along a live chicken with him.

When they arrived at the restaurant, the Bomoh cut the throat of the chicken while chanting some prayers and let the chicken walked free with blood dripping down its throat to bring them around the restaurant, until the chicken stopped walking and dropped dead at a place right in front of the restaurant. Then the Bomoh started to dig into the sand, and dug out a piece of human shaped steal plate with a lime being nailed onto it with a thick needle. My brother-in-law’s name and his date of birth were also being engraved onto the steal plate. The thick needle was started to rust as well. Immediately the Bomoh made some prayers and blessed my brother-in-law and the restaurant with some water. And then he told them that the curse was cleared, but my brother-in-law had to take shower with water mixed with some flowers and lime leaves for the next few weeks. The Bomoh said that they were lucky enough to have discovered this earlier, or else when the needle went completely rusted, my brother-in-law would have no possibility to be alive. But before the Bomoh left, he also told them that whoever had been cursed by a Bomoh’s curse, would be having bad luck for the rest of their life. And there wasn’t anything a Bomoh could do about it.

Miraclely, my brother-in-law stopped having the rash from that day onward, but the bad luck never stopped following him. Though there were people starting to come into the restaurant, but the business wasn’t good enough to cover their cost. And so, they closed the restaurant and came back to Kuala Lumpur hoping to make a living, which turned out to be very difficult for them. They had to borrow money from family and friends to have food on the table.

Anyway, my sister was never welcomed by his family. My sister’s mother-in-law didn’t like her at all. One of the main reason that the husband’s family didn’t like her was because my sister came from a lower class family background, and she also didn’t know any of the Chinese traditions which was being observed in her husband’s conservative Chinese family. My sister’s elder daughter was less than one year old when they lived with the husband’s family for about a year, as they couldn’t make a living at that time and had to depend on his family’s help. Because of this, my sister’s mother-in-law believed that my sister was a bad luck carrier and they treated my sister like a servant for the family. My sister was always being scolded for not being able to do things the right way or the proper way according to their family’s traditional cultural belief. From washing the laundry, to cleaning the house and cooking for the family, to the way she talked, walked, stood, sat, and the eating and serving manners on the dining table, she was being criticized and shouted at, all the time. If it was me in her shoes, they wouldn’t have the chance to treat a person in such way as I wouldn’t allow something like that to happen to myself. But my sister was a very patient and angry-less person. She needed to protect her baby daughter as well. She swallowed all those ill-treatments in silence and keeping her head down all the time.

My sister had tried to find work in offices again to make a living, but somehow he didn’t like her to work. He wasn’t happy about my sister being the family finance provider while himself couldn’t have a stable income, and so he would prefer to borrow money from family and friends instead. And so, my sister tried to make a living together with him by venturing into a few small businesses such like selling Bak-Kut-Teh at food court, selling fried noodles in the night market, selling vegetables in the morning market, and growing beansprout for wholesale, but none of these businesses worked out nicely for them. They ended up accumulating more and more debts instead.
They frequently came to my parents asking for money during their financial difficult times. My parents wanted to help them to get the money to start a business, without realizing that their kind intention to help my sister had dragged themselves into financial problem later.

In desperation to help my sister, my mother had involved in a ‘villagers money scheme’. This was very popular among the Chinese community in rural villages at that time, but it was also illegal. The idea was the villagers joined together to help among themselves financially, especially when someone needed a lump sum of money for emergency or starting a business. Instead of borrowing money with high interest rate from the bank, they helped each other by gathering money through the scheme. Every member would contribute a fixed amount of money to the scheme every month. They would select a person who was trustworthy to be the head of the group to collect and safeguard the monthly gathered money and organize fortnightly or monthly meetings. My mother had always been selected as the head of the group, as everyone trusted her and she had been very helpful to all the villagers.

My mother would organize the monthly meetings at different timing and in different houses to avoid the police’s attention. Those who were in need of money would turn up in the meeting for that month and bid for the gathered money. The one who had successfully bidding for the money would continue to contribute to the monthly lump sum for other members who would bid for it in the next meetings. Everyone should pay back what they had taken in a fixed amount bit by bit, month by month. Unfortunately, many of them were dishonest. They had took the lump sum, but they didn’t want to pay back every month as it should. And so, my mother had to take out money from her own pocket every month to cover the missing money.

She couldn’t go to the police because it was illegal. My parents were very kind and softhearted people. And all these people who didn’t pay back the money they had taken were my parents long time friends and fellow villagers. Every time when my mother went to collect money from them, they would give excuses that their business was bad or someone at home was sick, that they had not enough money to pay back after taking other people’s contribution.

My parents were very responsible people and they sympathized with the other people who had been contributing money, but still waiting for their turn to bid for the lump sum. So my mother had to use a big part of the household income from my father’s monthly salary to cover the missing money. There were many months, she had to cover as much as 1,400 Ringgit per month which was more than what my father earned every month. It was a lot of money for us at that time, and this situation lasted for a couple of years. My sister had her own financial problem. My elder brother was working in a precision mould engineering company and had a very low salary which he gave it all to my parents to help out our living expenses, to have food on the table.

I am always very grateful for my brother’s generosity. Though he’s an honest hardworking man, and a very good son to my parents, and a good friend to many people, but life was very hard on him. He went through lots of hardships for many many years until today.

My second elder brother and I were still studying in school. We were very disturbed by our family financial problem. We were very upset and angry because we thought we were robbed by those greedy and dishonest people, that we had to lived in poor condition because of that. My parents were very compassionate and forgiving. They didn’t save hatred towards those people who had robbed our money and left us living in a state of poverty. Especially my mother. When she passed away in the end of 2006, she looked like she was smiling and looked so peaceful. She always told me that it was okay for other people to be in debt with us, but we never wanted to be in debt with anyone.

It was also during those couple of years I went into seclusion. I didn’t want to talk to my family and I secluded myself to stay away from friends and people. I was full of anger and hatred.

Though I was always one of the top students, my school studies had started to decline dramatically. I started teaching aerobics classes and decided to leave school before I finished the final year. I had never regret about that decision. I am happy and contented with what I have experienced and learned in life so far. I am glad and grateful for what I am doing now which is a very meaningful thing to do. I learned that in our schools, no body taught us how to be happy and peaceful in life. They taught us how to read and write and count, and how to make a living with certain skill and be successful in life, where all these things are not a guarantee of peace and happiness.

I’m so glad that during those difficult times I didn’t do anything stupid to ruin my life that I will regret for the rest of my life. At that time, Madonna and Buddhism had come into my life when I needed them most. One was there to encourage me to have hopes and dreams and never give up. The biggest inspiration from Madonna was from watching her concert’s video – Virgin Tour. And the other one was there to teach me how to change the conditions of my life and take control over my own fate and destiny, and to know what is true happiness and how to attain it. Buddhism also taught me to be open-minded and questioning the truth of everything.

While I was teaching aerobics exercise classes in my own aerobics dance studio I came to know a wonderful lady who came for the aerobics classes. She was a sincere Buddhist and she started a Buddhist library in her house in Taman Sri Sentosa a couple of years later. She had helped many people who had came to her for help in many ways.

She told me that the Buddhist library will be finished one day. She said to me that it didn’t matter whether there would be thousands of people coming to the library looking for her help or one day people would stop coming. Her prediction came true a few years later. The library had to close down due to karmic reasons according to the law of nature. Everyone who had come to the library before had deserted her and condemned her. But I continued to respect her because I knew she did nothing wrong and she had performed lots of selfless service to help these people. She knew what she was doing and she told me that she forgave everyone with her great compassionate heart.

She was there to help everyone in my family during our worst years. My parents, my elder brother, his wife and I had volunteer to help out in the Buddhist library. Twice a month on the new moon day and the full moon day, we helped her to prepare and cook vegetarian meal for the people who came to the library and I would be the emcee for the chanting session after the vegetarian meal. That was how I started to become an occasional vegetarian.

During some other days, my mother and my brother would send her to different places in our van to help the people who were in need of help, or to get the things for the library. I also helped to wrap the Buddhism books and arrange them on the book shelves. I read many Buddhism books from the library and I came across books written by Ajahn Chah. He was a great teacher to me, even though I didn’t meet him personally in this life time. But it didn’t matter because I never feel separated from all the Dhamma teachers.

I also helped to record chanting session into cassette tapes to be distributed among the people who were interested in the chanting session, so that they could have chanting session at home everyday. I had duplicated thousands and thousands of cassette tapes for the library.

Though my English was very limited she had asked me to translate some Chinese Dhamma into simple English for the people who weren’t Chinese educated. It was about the six fold path of the Bodhisattva. Since then, without any intentions, I started to write about Dhamma in Chinese everyday for almost a year. I had no intention to write anything, but it happened naturally. One day she found out from my mother and she asked me to read to her about what I had written. Afterwards she asked me to give Dhamma talks from what I have written after the chanting session. All these experiences in the Buddhist library was another great learning process for me.

The Buddhist Library frequently organized visiting trips to many old folks and children homes. Seeing the sick and unfortunate people in the old folks and children homes was another transformational experience for me to cultivate compassion and gratitude. Anyone who always complains a lot about life and feel meaningless and unhappy about themselves or the world, they should frequently visit old folks and children homes, or be volunteers in places like these. It will change their perception and perspective about life and how they feel about themselves.

After the library stopped operating, many people came to me trying to speak bad about her. I just gave them a smile and didn’t want to get involved in any of the gossips and criticisms. All these people came to her when they needed help and sought comfort from her in the past. She gave them Dhamma, money, food, clothing, books and shelter when they had mental and emotional problems, and family and financial crisis. She had to fight with ‘evil spirits’ while trying to help those who were disturbed by ‘evil spirits’. But she didn’t complain about all these ungrateful people and move on in her journey on the path of Buddhism, alone by herself.

I haven’t seen her for years since I moved out from Taman Sri Sentosa. But I believe she is fine wherever she is.

READ ON…

My life stories – Part 4

My life stories – Part 4
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

Since I was a little girl, I didn’t desire to have material things or enjoyments. I grew up in a simple family with very humble background. During the financial difficult moments, we didn’t even have the money to buy food. My parents had to borrow money from friends and relatives to survive those few years. I was grateful for every little thing we had and contented with everything as it was. But, if I really wanted something and willing to work hard on it, it would come to me.

On the opening day of my aerobics studio in Taman Sri Sentosa, one of my long time students introduced me to her cousin sister who was an astrologer. I wasn’t interested in astrology, but she walked up to me and told me that both my thoughts and my speech were very powerful, that I needed to be very careful for what I think and say, that I should only have good wishes and utter only kind words, whether I believe it, or not.

When I was a kid, I would have spontaneous thoughts and feelings about something good or bad about a person or a place, and most of the time I was right. Sometimes I would have vision of something that was going to happen before it actually happened. I really didn’t want to hurt anyone intentionally whenever I had some bad feelings or thinking about somebody. I tried to control my anger when I experienced something that would upset me. There were times when I was over-powered by anger and hatred I would have bad wishes for the people whom I was angry at, and bad things would be happening in their lives. When I realized the evil tendencies in me, I made a decision to develop self-control to overcome the impurities in my mind, and was determined to free myself from evil thinking and behavior.

During the time when I was unhappy and angry, I had wished or cursed many people with bad wishes intentionally. Most of the time my wishes would come true, which later made me felt guilty for making those bad wishes for other people and had caused them bad luck. I also had visions or feelings about something good might be happening and they came true as well.

After I came in contact with Buddhism teachings, I learned that everything happens according to their related karmic cause and effect, that there’s no one can interfere with others’ karma, that one can only creates good or bad karma for nobody, but oneself. We all are the creator of our own karma. We are the writer of our own fate and destiny, and the painter of the colour of our life. The thoughts or visions that I had were merely some forecasts about what was going to happen. It was like something or someone was trying to inform me, to guide me, to protect me and to prevent me from undesirable encountering.

The happenings around me whether they were good or bad, they were meant to happen because of the law of karma – cause and effect. I was just happened to be able to feel or know before it happened by having visions and feelings about them before they happened. But, all these happenings weren’t caused by me. Knowing this, I had stopped blaming myself for other people’s unfortunate or bad happenings. 

All these experiences were in the past and I left them there where they belonged. I had to forgive myself for being evil when I was very ignorant, as whether I had intentionally or unintentionally inflicted suffering onto other people’s life, I can’t go back to the past to undo anything. If I will be receiving some bad karma because of my past evil thoughts, actions and speech, I will accept them as they are and take full responsibility for the consequences of my own actions, if I was the one who was responsible for someone else’s suffering.

I learned that even if I was the one who was responsible for inflicting somebody’s unhappiness or suffering because of my bad wishes or curse onto them, it’s also part of their karma to experience such unhappiness or suffering, but just happened that I was the instrument. Most important was that I realized my wrong doings in the past and I truly repent. I forgave myself for hurting others whether intentionally or unintentionally, in thoughts, actions or speech. I also forgave those who had hurt me whether intentionally or unintentionally, and let go of the past and move on with better and clearer understanding, awareness and self-control.

I learned that even though I could predict things that were going to happen before they actually happened, I couldn’t change anything or stop things from happening and I couldn’t change other people’s karma. I knew that my mother was going to suffer stroke. I dreamt about half of her face was paralyzed one week before it actually happened. I felt very strong bad feelings about my father when he was injured in a work accident. I had bad feelings about my sister, my late brother-in-law and my brother when they suffered injuries in road accidents or before they were going to encounter some undesirable happenings.

The moment my brother came home to tell us that he was going into partnership with some friends to start a business, I knew that he would get into troubles. He did. He and two other good friends had joint venture to set up a precision mould engineering company as they didn’t want to work for others anymore and earn very little monthly salary. They wanted to be their own boss and earn bigger money. Not long after the joint venture started, one of his friends pulled out from the company. He was lucky. The problem began when the company started to receive a few big contracts that brought them a lot of money. The partner became greedy and ran away with the huge up front payments they received from the clients, and left my brother to present the products to their clients. And so, my brother had to borrowed lots of money from friends and relative to be able to pay the rentals and bills and to get the materials to finish his work. On top of that, he didn’t have any profits from all the works he had done as the partner had taken all the profits with him, and left my brother in lots of debts. Life was really difficult for my brother until today, but he didn’t give up. I saw him cried a few times when life was very hard. But, he was still cheerful and kept smiling most of the time.

I also knew that my brother-in-law was going to bring unhappiness or bad luck into our family. I told my parents about my unpleasant feelings the moment I first saw him on the day my sister brought him to our home to introduce him to our family. I was only eleven years old. Of course my parents ignored me. They thought I was just a child, that I was just talking nonsense. But soon, they realized I was right. Some times I could feel people I saw on the streets as well. There were many times when I thought of something spontaneously out of no where, it would come true.

One day a thought of a Walkman came into in my mind while I was at school in the classroom, and my mother handed me a Walkman when I came back home that evening. She said she had bought it for my brother as a birthday gift, but my brother didn’t want it because he didn’t like it. He wanted another brand. And so she gave it to me.

We seldom went out to restaurant for meals. One day I had a spontaneous desire or craving that I wanted to eat seafood which was too expensive for our family. A few days later, my wealthy uncle had invited us for a delicious seafood dinner in a restaurant.

I had visions of thieves coming into my aerobics studio the night before it actually happened. It helped me to prevent myself from loss of money or physical injury. Usually I didn’t go back home to sleep. I slept in the aerobics studio instead. Two weeks before the break in, out of intuition I asked my mother to bring home the cash that we kept in the studio and I started going back home to sleep. On the evening of the break-in, I actually saw shadows and images of people in the studio and the stairway while I was closing and leaving the studio. I had a strong feeling that a break-in would be happening.

The next morning when I arrived at the studio, there were many policemen already arrived and they told me that my studio and the office downstairs had been broken into. They asked me to check the aerobics studio if I had lost anything valuable. I lost nothing. Though it was a mess everywhere as the burglars searched for valuables, but they didn’t take anything. There’s no valuables for them to take. There were some smelly branded sports shoes of my clients if they wanted, but they didn’t take them. They didn’t damage anything else in my aerobics studio except the door-lock. The policemen said that I was very lucky because the office downstairs had lost a lot of cash and valuables.

One night I was at home by myself and out of a sudden I just felt like crying, and I couldn’t stop crying loudly for quite a long time. More than half an hour later, my sister called me from the hospital in Kuantan telling me that she suffered some physical injuries from a serious car accident. It was a head-on collision with another car, and the passenger on the other car died at the scene while the driver suffered serious spinal injury and both his legs squashed. One of my sister’s friend who was sitting at the back seat of the van she was driving also plunged out from the windscreen and landed on the other car. But my sister was so lucky that she only suffered a few cuts from the seat-belt with one of her shoulders dislocated and one of her feet broken. The other two people in my sister’s van only suffered minor injuries from the strong impact.

By having this sixth sense or intuition, I could change my own fate. I would know beforehand about something good or bad was going to happen to me. I had prevented many bad happenings onto myself. But, if it was about some other people such like my parents, or my sister and brothers, or my friends and the people on the street that I passed by, I could only know, but I couldn’t change their karma, unless they wanted to help themselves and did something to make changes.

One day, I realized all these visions and predictions had disturbed me more than what I could be benefited from it. I didn’t know how to deal with this sixth sense business at that time. It was really disturbing for me as I was too sensitive towards other people’s feelings and energy. When I told my friends about my visions about what was going to happen to them, they ignored me and stayed away from me. And when my predictions came true, they thought the bad things happening on them were coming from me and they were afraid to be friend with me. They thought I was weird and evil.

I knew that I wasn’t pure. I had intense anger and hatred. I really didn’t want to hurt anybody with bad wishes if I couldn’t control the anger in me. And so, I had made a wish for all these visions or sixth sense to go away. After that the visions had started to become less. But I continued to have feelings about places and people’s good and bad energy. Such like when I was being at a place full of unpleasant energy, I would feel dizzy and heaviness on my forehead, and that was my instinct telling me that I should leave the place immediately. Sometimes naturally I just walked away from certain people in the middle of a conversation, it didn’t matter if people thought I was very rude.

Besides having the sixth sense, I could control my dream when I was little. In my dreams, I knew that I was dreaming. I could control what I wanted to dream in my dreams. I could repeat or replay what I wanted to dream on the next day. I could have part one tonight and continued my dream on part two tomorrow, and so on. I could change the storyline of my dream. I could remember my dream clearly when I woke up. I liked to play with my dreams when I was small, but I don’t bother about what I dream now. I stopped playing with my dreams when I went through the unhappy stage in my life.

I had some dreams or ambitions when I was a little girl just like everyone else. I wanted to dance and sing to perform on stage in front of the world. I wanted to be a dance champion. I wanted to be a national champion for once in life. I wished I would be good enough to be qualified to compete in international dance competitions representing my own country. I wished to travel to many places in the world, especially France. I wished to live in the countryside and somewhere near to the beach. I wished to be happy. And it all come true one by one in my life.

When I was still a little girl, a fortune teller told my mother that my life would be very hard, that my dreams would never come true, that I would never win in any competitions no matter how talented I was, or how hard I tried. It also meant that I would never be a champion. She was right about my life being hard, but I had proved her wrong on the rest.

It’s true that I didn’t have good luck in any types of competition before I was twenty eight years old. At school, I won every time when I played badminton and ping pong matches among my classmate, but I never won when representing my class in inter-class competitions. I would get A+ for singing, but I was never chosen to represent my class in school singing competitions. I didn’t mind about win or loose, but I dreamt of being a champion one day. I was very passionate to be performing on stage and I would do my best in whatever I pursued.

Competitions are of two types. One is very professional with good judges and fair judgment where you will win if you are the best. Another type is non-professional competition with unfair judgment, buyer judges and things that are not very nice behind the competition where you may not win even though technically you are the best. Though there is one exception – you might be the best and the competition is fair, but you might not win because it isn’t your day to win, or you might not be the best, but you might win because it is your day to win.

I was around fifteen years old when I started to enter dance competitions even though I hadn’t went through any formal dance training. Some of my classmates went to dance lessons, but I was not so lucky. My parents couldn’t afford dance lessons for me. Though I wasn’t in the top three of the competitions, I got lots of cheers and supports from the audience and the judges. One of the judges told me that I had talent and I always won consolation prizes of hampers filled with crackers, chocolates, packet drinks and preserved fruit.

I took up an aerobics instructor’s course and started to teach aerobics classes as part time job after school. I gained more experiences and I entered a few aerobics dance competitions. Instead of consolation prizes I came in second or third place. But, I still hadn’t achieved my dream of being a champion. I took part in the first Malaysia national Fitaerobics championship in 1988 held in a ballroom of a five star hotel in Kuala Lumpur. There were many participants in that event, where all the participants were judged in the preliminary round where everyone following the instructors on stage to be doing an aerobics dance session. Sixteen participants who made it to the final round had to perform a two minutes self-choreographed aerobics dance routine with one of the random songs chose by the organizer, and I came in fourth place. The competition had been broadcasted on Malaysian television national channel and many of our villagers started to know about my participation in aerobics dance competitions. All these competition experiences were from 1985 – 1989. After that I didn’t enter any competitions until 1993.

It was the first official national aerobics championship organized by Reebok Malaysia in 1993. I came in fifth place. Technically I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t have the technical skill and didn’t have a good choreography even though I was flexible and energetic and good at dancing, but I wasn’t very good at aerobics dance that requires strength, speed and power. I didn’t have all these qualities at that time. Though my enthusiasm had drew the attention of the fitness affiliate of Reebok Malaysia. She also told me that I was talented, but I needed good coaching and training. I stopped competing after that because of heavy responsibility to support my parents financially.

Five years later I entered an aerobics marathon championship at the IOI Mall in Puchong. There were about forty participants. It didn’t require any choreography, but was judged on stamina, strength, flexibility and energetic performance. It was easy for me and I won. Though it wasn’t an official national event I tasted the feeling of becoming a champion for the first time. But it didn’t make me became arrogant. Since then my luck in competitions began to change. I had proven that the predictions of the fortune teller didn’t have to be true.

On the same day, there were a few professional aerobics instructors and national champions were performing at the national stadium in Bukit Jalil. Both our events were reported in the newspaper on the same page the next day. I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to be training and competing with these national champions later.

A few months later, the Reebok Malaysia fitness affiliate called me one day and told me that a few people were training for the upcoming First National Sport Aerobics Championship in the national gymnastic federation training center in Cheras. She asked me if I would be interested to enter the competition, but of course I had to learn what was sport aerobics first, and then had to train for it. Without any hesitation I told her I was very interested to do that. I knew that it was an opportunity for me to pursue my dreams. She gave me the contact details and since then I started my sport aerobics training with my mentor who was also my good friend.

He was the one who had helped me in making of my dreams come true – representing Malaysia on the stage of world championship in France and also won the Malaysian National Open Championship one month later. Usually anyone has to become a national champion before he or she can represent the country for world championship, but in my case it was the other way round. Strange, isn’t it? Without him, I wouldn’t had the chance to be entitled to participate in the world championship representing Malaysia and then won the Malaysian national championship later. I have to admit that there were other people who were better than me. But, it was my karma to be there and it was my day to win, and I was blessed to have my dreams come true. When I won the national champion, it was mainly due to good luck besides I had to work very hard on training for three hours a day, six days a week, for one whole year.

There weren’t many people participated in this first sport aerobics competition in Malaysian – only five of us. As usual, I only came in fourth place. I was happy enough for my performance – it was a lot better than before. I didn’t care so much about the placing. I learned how to do proper push-up and improved my overall fitness and choreography though I still wasn’t good enough for competitive competitions. I gained lots of experience and improvement through participating in that competition, and I really enjoyed the intensive training and the feelings of performing on stage. I would love to continue training in sport aerobics after that competition, but again, the responsibility towards my family had been a huge burden for me, as well as some other family issues at home, made it very difficult for me to have the focus for such intense training for competition. And so, I stopped training with them.

Meanwhile, I did some volunteering work in a Buddhist library in Taman Sri Sentosa. Somehow I had started giving Dhamma talk twice a month to the people who came to the library. In one of the talk, I had made a resolution in front of everyone who came to listen to the Dhamma talk that I wished to be a Malaysian champion one day and be qualified to enter the world championship within the next five years.

My mentor had went back to Australia for further study at that time. I thought that it was finished for me in sport aerobics competition. I was already thirty years old. I thought I was too old for any more intense training and competition because sport aerobics is really tough and requires a lot of intense physical fitness training. Though I thought I had to let go of sport aerobics I didn’t give up my dream to be a champion.

For the next few years I was busy with teaching aerobics classes and gave all the money that I earned to support my family.

Three years later, I got a phone call from my mentor. He was back from Australia. He said to me that he planned to retire from sport aerobics, but he would like to coach me if I was interested to train again for the upcoming national championship. Well, YES! Of course! I knew that if I won I could represent Malaysia in the world championship in France. I thought it might be my last chance to have my dream come true. My trainer laughed at me when I bought a lottery ticket hoping to win enough that I could go to France. Of course I didn’t win the lottery, but that didn’t stop me training for the national championship with him again.

We started training again. It was so hard in the beginning. I hadn’t done any training for a long time. But I was determined. We started training at my studio for a few days a week, for a few hours a day, and eventually we increased the training to six days a week. Sport aerobics is very different from normal aerobic dance. It requires a lot of strength, speed and power. There are artistic components, gymnastic elements and technical skills involved. We needed to choose a suitable piece of song or music and the choreography of the routine has to be artistically matching the song we used. We also had to be able to show appropriate and natural facial expressions to portray the artistic components of the choreography while performing the high energetic routine. After many months of intense training my flexibility improved so much that I could easily do the splits in any directions. I did hundreds and thousands of jumping jacks, high kicks, straddle jumps, free falls, standard push-ups and one-arm push-ups. I could hardly do four push up consecutively before the training, but after many months training I could easily do fifty. 

Initially the plan was he coached me to enter the individual women category. I was doing all the strength and flexibility training under his coaching and we choreographed the routine together with the song that I chose – “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls. I always thought that he was so talented and he shouldn’t give up competing at his age. He was still very strong and flexible. He was the best in Malaysia for many years. He was Malaysian champion for many consecutive years and had achieved good result and ranking in world championship.

I suggested to him that he could do the training and practice the routine with me to motivate me to work harder. He agreed. As we practiced the routine together, we realized that the choreography was more suitable and much nicer as a partner routine than a single routine. I asked him to cancel his plan for retiring and to partner with me in that routine to enter the mixed pairs category. He loved that idea. And so, we worked together for many months thinking that there would be a national championship coming up. But it didn’t happen.

Just a few months before the world championship in June 2002, we were told that the national championship was cancelled because lack of sponsorship. But it didn’t stop us from training. In fact we trained even harder.

Being the national champion for the previous year he was qualified to represent Malaysia without the need of going through national championship selection if there wasn’t one. So he suggested that we should continued practice to enter the world championship. That’s how I was able to represent Malaysia and participated in the world championship. I didn’t even need to be a Malaysian champion to do that. I owed it to him. I also suggested to him, since we were going for the world championship, he should also prepared himself for the individual men category. He agreed with me.

Anyhow, the training wasn’t going smoothly all the time. I suffered injuries from time to time. But I didn’t give up. Injuries couldn’t stop me from training.

Doing the mixed pairs routine was definitely harder than doing a solo routine. In the solo routine one can just execute one’s highest ability of strength and flexibility. But in the mixed pairs routine, it was about teamwork and synchronization. Two people with different strength and flexibility had to learn to adjust a little to be synchronized with one another. It wasn’t about the ego showing off the best ability of oneself. It was about putting aside the tendency to show off one’s highest ability and lowering one’s ability to accommodate the partner who was less strong and less flexible. At the same time the weaker one would try to train harder to catch up with the stronger one. In our case, I was more flexible than my partner and he was stronger than me. We had no problem adjusting our ability to each other’s level.

Some of his friends had came to assist us in the training. Somehow one of my shoes kept falling off while we practiced which was a guarantee of points deduction. They told me that I needed to be good enough for partnering with him and I had to be good enough for Malaysia. And so, I worked really hard.

Just about two months before the world championship, one of his best friends who was also a Malaysian champion before, told him that I wasn’t good enough for him and would only make him look bad, that I should pull out of the competition so that he could focus on his own individual category. He came to tell me about that and asked me if I wanted to pull out. I was very disappointed and angry, but I kept my emotion down and I told him, “No.” I wanted to continue after so many months of intense training and it was only two more months to go. I knew I could do better. I was ready to worked harder. Luckily and thankfully he believed in me and ignored his friends’ criticism. We trained even harder, so hard that I suffered a few more injuries, but that could never stop me.

When we decided to go to France for the world championship I didn’t have enough money. I need about eight thousands Ringgit Malaysia for the entire trip. Somehow I didn’t have to support my parents anymore for a few months. My sister had received some compensation money for my late brother in-law’s death about ten years ago. He fell down from above 130 feet height and died immediately with all his bones broken into tiny pieces. Two days ago, I saw his face was blackened that I couldn’t see his features at all. I didn’t mention anything about it to my family until after he died from the work accident. Since my sister had the insurance money I was dismissed from giving all my money I earned to my parents for the next few months, and I could save enough money for France. After I came back from France, I had to continue to support my parents living because my sister had spent all the money within a few months because she had a lot of debts and continued to accumulate more debts from different banks.

The big day drew closer. We booked our flight ticket to France. I had never been on a plane before and I had never travelled any further than Singapore. To say I was excited about the trip would be an understatement.

We finally finished our full routine in one piece. When we practiced the routine we didn’t do the whole routine every time. We practiced part by part and kept practicing one part until we were good at that particular part mastering all the little details of the moves, and then we would add in another part. Imagine that we had to listen to one part of the song repeatedly over and over again. I even kept practicing in my dreams as I heard The Weather Girls while I slept.

Finally we arrived in France. There was a big parade the day before the competition, with teams from more than forty countries walking through the streets of Montpellier. While some teams had ten or twenty participants the Malaysian team had only two – just me and my partner. He held a board that said ‘MALAISIE’ and I proudly held our national flag – the Jalur Gemilang. It was a very emotional moment for me.

After we came back from the parade, we practiced our routine in a big hall with many other contestants from other countries doing the same. Everyone in the hall was a champion, except me. But I wasn’t nervous at all. I was very confident. The other contestants saw our routine and were very kind to inform us that part of our routine needed to be changed because it was against the rules.

It didn’t stop us anyway. Immediately we thought of some other steps and practiced it by hard. We practiced until late night when we were confident of the new steps. And the next morning, we were ready.

All the contestants were waiting backstage – waiting for their names to be called. I doubled check my shoes, lacing them tightly hoping that they wouldn’t fall off during the routine.

Just before they called our names we told each other, “No matter what happens, just keep going and do our best, and enjoy.”

Then our names were called. We hold each other hands and walked towards the stage.

As soon as I walked onto the stage seeing so many people in the stadium with many judges sitting in front of the stage, with many spotlights heading towards us, I told myself in my heart – my dream come true. There was nothing to be afraid of. Just do my best and enjoy the moment that I had always dreamt of.

The music started. Our routine went exactly as we had practiced.

Until one of my partner’s shoes came off.

Points will be deducted for sure. But it really didn’t matter. We didn’t panic and continued our routine as if nothing happened. In the beginning, there weren’t many people noticed that one of his shoes was missing from his foot but it was on the centre of the stage. We didn’t stop or make any mistakes or expression. We were very natural like nothing happened. But very soon, we could hear the crowds making noises as everyone in the whole stadium had stood up and watching us. They cheered for us and clapped to support us. We were so thrilled and so touched by the encouraging supports from the entire crowd in the stadium. We could hear all those cheers and claps. We danced more energetically. We finished the routine with the loudest cheers and applause.

Of course we didn’t win, but it didn’t matter. We came in tenth place out of thirteen teams. But we were very happy and satisfied with our performance even though there was an unexpected incident. I didn’t blamed him at all. How could I? He told me that of all the competitions he had done over the years it was the one his enjoyed the most. He already decided to retired and was very pleased to end his sport aerobics career on such a high note.

Dozens of people came to congratulated us for continuing despite the missing shoe, and afterwards, during the dinner, the Malaysian team’s missing shoe was discussed as one of the highlights of the day’s event. Later one of the judges told us that if there had been a prize for sportsmanship we certainly would have won it.

Other teams also had encountered their own problems on stage, but they scowled at each other and lost their concentration – affecting their performance and making more mistakes. But we just kept going as if nothing happened.

After the competition, we drove around the southern part of France and visited many beautiful places. It was my first time seeing so many sunflowers and lavenders on the fields, and also first time tasted the sweet cantaloupe. It was my first experience of cool climate, that we had to turn on the heater in the car. It was my childhood dream to be in France. I had two dreams come true together.

After two weeks in France, we came back to Malaysia. On the next day, my mentor told me that there was a national open championship coming up in the next month in Sibu, Sarawak, East Malaysia. Since I had been training regularly, I should keep it up and enter that competition as well. Why not? I hadn’t achieved my dream of becoming a Malaysian champion. But this time, I was really confident and without any pressure from anyone. I needed to make some changes to the routine because this competition has different rules. But it wasn’t a problem at all. My mentor continued to help me to change the routine. I prepared myself for my next dream to come true.

It’s going to be a tough competition because it was a mix individual competition where men and women compete in the same category. There was particularly a strong competitor, a young man who was many times champion for that particular championship. He was technically stronger than I. I knew he would win the competition, but I entered all the same. I had proven the fortune teller wrong, and already had my dreams come true in France.

I arrived in Sibu two days before the competition. On the day before the competition I learned that the previous champion had to pull out of the competition because one of his wrists was injured during training a week ago.

They say to catch a train you have to make the effort to go to the station. I certainly had some luck, but that luck would have meant nothing without those hours and hours of training and practice. I couldn’t have come so far if I hadn’t believed in myself and persevered in my training. The path had been very hard, but I had turned around what was supposed to be my pre-ordained fate, changing my life and my luck, and realizing my dreams of performing on international stage representing my country.

The first competitor did his routine. I was next. There were thirteen more contestants to go. I sat through their performances, eager to learn the final result. I knew I had done quite well, but there were two other competitors’ performances had both been very strong. Finally the results were announced. I stepped up on stage and was handed the trophy for becoming the new Malaysian national sport aerobics champion.

Because the organizer didn’t expect a woman to win, they had prepared a trophy with the title ‘Juara Lelaki’ – Men’s Champion. They scratched off the ‘Lelaki’ and left the ‘Juara’ when they learned that the winner for that year was a woman. But, actually it didn’t matter at all. I was really grateful for all the supporters there who gave me so much supports although majority of them were from Sarawak and Sabah to support their representatives. That was what sportsmanship is about.

Without all the coaching, helps and supports from my mentor I wouldn’t have my dreams come true even if I was strong and flexible and trained very hard. For all that he had done for me, he had never asked for any credits or acknowledgements. Most people will want to take credit for what they have done for others. If it’s something good people would say, “It was me. I did it!” But if it isn’t good people would either keep quiet or they would say, “It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it.” That’s how the ego reacts in everyday life. My mentor wasn’t just a champion, but he had lived the spirit of sportsmanship.

Thanks to my mentor and everyone who had involved directly and indirectly in making my dreams come true. May all of your dreams come true as well.

I wanted to live in the countryside and somewhere near to the beach. Here I am now teaching yoga and living in a simple but comfortable house in a small village surrounded by nature about a few minutes drive away from the beach.

I wanted to be happy, and I am happy.

I didn’t earn much money and live a very basic simple life, but whenever I need money for something, the money will come to me.

I had a feeling or prediction since I was a little girl. I believed that my future husband or life partner will be two years older than me and I always felt that he was somewhere faraway from where I was. And it’s so true. My husband is two years older than me and he is from Ireland, exactly on the other side of the world faraway from Malaysia. And it was meant to be for us to meet each other in India in an Ashram while studying yoga in the same course at the same time.

This is our 2 minutes sport aerobics routine “It’s raining men”

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