By taking a detour from the main road in Batam centre, I was hoping to find a short cut back to the hotel. Instead, I stumbled upon a poor neighbourhood district where kids played on polluted streets amid wooden huts. One would wonder why the authorities have chosen to spend the nation’s budget on building lavish shopping malls instead of improving the basic infrastructure of the residents. Nevertheless, one lesson I took away from this experience is the inverse relationship between happiness and material attachments.
The closer we are to Nature, instead of being cooped up in concrete buildings or hemmed in by motor traffic, the happier and healthier we are. The more we allow ourselves to be carefree and not rush, the freer and lighter we feel. And the simpler we live instead of making our lives complicated, the more joyful we become.
Having spent a couple of days in the cool and green Cameron highlands in Malaysia, which happens to bear some ominous signs of increasing development and air pollution from the traffic and from the surrounding regions (specifically the temporary haze from the forest peat fires in Sumatra), and especially after taking part in a tour of a tea plantation and mossy forest that is soul expanding, thought provoking and spirit connecting, I felt a need to type a blog and try to make sense and articulate some of my thoughts while taking a long, sleepy bus ride back to Singapore on the third day.
No (as I would like to clarify to myself), this is not a diary or journal for the sake of romantising Nature or academic meandering (as much as there is sometimes an inclination for me to do so). This blog is neither for development nor against development in an absolute sense. It also isn’t really about modern civilization versus ancient civilization. If anything, it is about bridging the gap between these two (if that were possible at all). Ultimately, it is an attempt to put together seemingly raw unfiltered thoughts, like raw apple cider vinegar, hoping to find a coherent message or two from the mishmash of ideas.
The natives or the original inhabitants of Malaysia who have sought to modernize Cameron highlands, or Malaysia in general, appear to have lost sight of the natural beauty and heritage of their lands. Why? Because in their quest to develop the economy and build infrastructure, they are trying to generate more income at the expense of the environment, the wildlife and the remnants of the indigenous people (eg Orang Asli) who retain their ancient self-sustainable lifestyle and culture.
It takes the outsiders such as the westerners to bring the message of nature conservation to the Malays, to remind them to save their own land and culture. The strange thing is that these westerners do not speak their native language; rather the Malays were taught to speak the English language.
Through colonisation, the Malays became westernized and sought to be modernized and ended up destroying their own environment and culture. Now, westerners – many of whom used to colonise Southeast Asia – are telling the Malays (or more specifically, the government and large corporations) to conserve their own heritage of nature and culture.
Can anything be more paradoxical than that?
One question may arise at this point: why is it considered strange that the westerners do not speak the language of the local Malays? Wouldn’t that be expected of foreign colonialists?
Yes, but I believe there is a significance to this self-evident fact. For example, isn’t there a passage in the bible that says “you shall be ruled over by people whose language is foreign to you”? Doesn’t it sound like the experience of the indigenous people in Malaysia when they were colonised by westerners for a period of time?
Similarly, isn’t there a passage that says “because you have rejected the gospel, it shall be preached to the Gentiles and and those who did not seek me shall find me”? Wasn’t it the case whereby the inhabitants of Malaysia refused to listen to their own native prophets and continued to destroy the environment in the name of development, and the good news of nature conservation is preached to the foreigners, who in turn shall bring back the gospel to the inhabitants of Malaysia, not in their native tongue but in the foreign English language? By rejecting their own and risking doom and destruction to their land, the message of salvation comes from outside their land.
Once again, how paradoxical can it be?
Now, who is the messiah? Who are the prophets? What is the gospel in this context?
I venture to say in this context that the messiah is our true self that defies time and space, and any form of outward identification, such as nationality, gender, race, language or religion. The prophets are the voices of the ancient spirit that reminds people of who they really are and warns the people who are oppressing the less privileged and destroying the environment. The gospel is the good news of our true identity and the call for us to reconnect to Nature, thereby reconnecting to our own soul and humanity.
I enjoy and resonate with Jon Jandai’s message very much as I also support the carefree, Nature-based way of life. I noted that in his farming village, people work only 2 hours a day, and 2 months a year during the planting season and harvesting season. I totally agree with him that when people have time to be with themselves, they can understand themselves and can see what they want in life, such as happiness, love and enjoyment of life, and they also see a lot of beauty in their life, which they can express in many ways, such as making handicrafts.
I am happy for him to have chosen to go back to the countryside and live life freely like when he was a kid, and it is awesome that his sustainable way of farming rice and more than 15 varieties of vegetables and growing fish in two fish ponds can produce more than enough food to feed his family and to sell, and it took him only 3 months of working 2 hours a day to build an earthly house.
Indeed, such sustainable, nature-based lifestyle gives us a lot of freedom to do what we want in life and time to be with ourselves and connect with ourselves and one another. I like how he learn to spend time to go back to himself during times of sickness and learn to heal his own body the natural way too where possible, such as using water and earth to heal himself.
I agree with him that true civilisation is where food, house, clothes and medicine are easily available and accessible for everyone, as compared to the so-called modern society where these things are hard to get, and it is no surprise that he considers this era the “most uncivilised era on planet earth”. I also like how he chooses to focus on living easy and light, and not be concerned about what others think of him because he considers himself normal and those who follows the system are abnormal.
Interestingly, his video message is similar to a recent video message by Ralph Smart which I listened to yesterday morning, in which he said that creativity comes when we relax and do nothing.
Like Ralph Smart said, “sometimes, doing nothing is the most productive thing in the world.” Yes, I agree that meditation, for example, enables us to become more creative, and I noted that he also shared how simplicity has helped him become his greatest version because the more simple he becomes, the more creative he becomes.
“Origins (2014)” is a very important and meaningful documentary. I found it to be a useful reminder and summary on how looking back on the origins of our species some 20,000 years ago can enable us humans to understand the keys to the survival of ourselves and our planet. Yes, I have always believed that, however simplistic as it may sound, one way to resolve the problems in modern societies, whether chronic health issues or socioeconomic woes, is to go back to Nature, back to the original and ancient wisdom and ways of our ancestors who live and thrive in traditional, nature-based societies.
Indeed, our bodies and souls are designed to flow in synch with the timeless rhythm of Nature instead of the artificial clocks of the system, and it is like experiencing the deep reset in our circadian rhythms whenever we retreat and re-immerse ourselves in the bosom of the forest or the coolness of the river or the breeze of the sea. I like especially the part shown in the 48-minute segment of the video on how people can reconnect to their true selves and Nature by doing qigong and meditation in the peaceful nature sanctuary, such as by the river.
I also agree with the need for people to support traditional local farms and farmers’ markets that offer live, grass-fed, free-range, organic food – indeed each of us has the power to help ourselves and the environment through the choices we make, such as choosing where to get our food from.
“It is clear that in this age of globalisation, what happens to one of us, happens to us all. We are all interconnected, and we are all co-responsible. But even with the greatest good will, if we are swept away by our daily concerns for material needs or emotional comforts, we will be too busy to realise our common aspiration.
“Contemplation must go together with action. Without a spiritual practice we will abandon our dream very soon.
“Each of us, according to the teaching of our own tradition, should practice to touch deeply the wonders of Nature, the wonders of life in each of us, the Kingdom of God in each of us, the Pure Land, Nirvana in each of us, so we can get the healing and nourishment, the joy and happiness born from the insight that the Kingdom of God is already available in the here and now. The feeling of love and admiration for nature, that we all share, has the power to nourish us, unite us, and remove all separation and discrimination.
“By being in touch with everything that is refreshing and healing, we can free ourselves from our daily concerns for material comforts, and will have a lot more time and energy to realise our ideal of bringing freedom and compassion to all living beings. As it says in the Gospel, “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or wear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
“How To Change The World” FREE eBook: https://www.facebook.com/HTCTW.book
In this video, Elina St-Onge shares observations about Money, Scarcity, Ownership and Government. If you want to know more, check out her eBook: http://cdn2.collective-evolution.com/assets/uploads/2014/01/How-To-Change-The-World.pdf
Scarcity is a myth, as it is caused by mis-distribution of resources.
“Basically, economic growth means that you have to find something that people once got for free, or did for themselves, or for each other, and then take it away and sell it back to them somehow. By turning things into commodities, we get cut off from nature in the same way we get cut off from community.” Charles Eisenstein
Nature is my second home, if not my true home, where I find solace and refuge from the madness and chaos of the consumerist and exploitative system and mindset of the world.
Nature is such a perfect teacher because she reminds us we have always been free. Video from Simon Paul Harrison. Music by Ian Mackinnon. http://www.simonpaulharrison.com for blog, books, audio programs and personal mentoring.
This inspirational video resonates with me. I agree with the message that Nature reminds us that we have always been free, and being in Nature enables us to enjoy the freedom from the burdens of the expectations of modern societies and know there is nothing to run after or out-compete, as we remember who we really are – we are already perfect here and now.