Saturday, May 10, 2014

As I pulled the plug on facebook, if you need to reach me, email looivienna at 

Instead of succumbing to the systemic social engineering and irrational fear* going around us, if you're through this too, let's build things together.
*: does not mean that one does not feel fear, but rather, one chooses to take the bull by its horn -- to accept (non-judgmentally), to experience, and to understand your feelings. I believe that is how one could move further.

The Spanish Inquisition

"I truly hope I do not live to see the day when Malaysia’s Don Quixote is written. It would probably be banned anyway."

From having to print your race and religion on important public examination answer sheets to brainwashing students with 'ethnic supremacy' ala Hitler's Nazi regime, to resembling the Spanish Inquisition...

The price of purity
So many familiar tropes from the Spanish Inquisition are being played out in Malaysia now. Increasing hurdles for those who want to convert, to “prove” their sincerity. The demonisation of the other in terms of being untrustworthy, betrayers and using money to grease their way to domination.
A relentless burial of any historical references, cultural rituals or identities that speak of traditional hybridity or syncretism. The banning of books, films, dances etc. The battles over language and liturgy.
The obsession with purity and so-called Bumiputera rights to define the nation. The increasing rigidity of identity and its shallow accoutrements (what you eat, what you wear, where you hang out, who you talk to, where you go to school etc.). And the silencing of anyone who dares to step out of line.
Just like the Spanish Inquisition, what we have in Malaysia is actually a process of forced nationalisation. A rigid monolithic monoculture nationalism. And religion is one of its most powerful weapons.
Spain became a battlefield to redefine who was allowed to be a Spaniard. Who counts? And the answer was racist, intolerant, harsh, violent and extremely rigid. Those who did not fit, those who clung to previous traditions – even in the tiniest of ways – were hounded, tortured, expelled and killed.
The many hybrid cultures, the fluid identities and multifaceted rituals had to make way for only one way of seeing the world. Yet this worldview is non-traditional and (en)forced. Thus it is always insecure, in danger of dissimulation at every turn. So eventually in Spain, when someone is described as an expert curer of pork, it is actually a euphemism for secret Jew.
Lessons for Malaysia
Don Quixote, the world’s first modern novel, beautifully illustrates this act of collective forgetting, the erasing of history and culture, of meaning itself.
The forced creation of a rigid Spanish identity was shown at every turn to be a stubborn illusion. The book is a satire on the myths that sustain a national identity. Dangerous myths that are no more than tilting at windmills and serve to destroy culture and history. And all based on a lie, a dream of a pure past.
Everywhere in the book are reminders of how this forgetting, this rewriting, happens – the burning of books, over-demonstrations of identity (Dulcinea, our mythologised Spanish heroine is “an expert salter of pork”), the loss of languages, and how easily myths can be constructed to become the basis for history.
In fact, the very idea of chivalry was probably derived from Arab influence. So even that most traditional Spanish trait – that Don Quixote devotes his life to – is not “pure”.
As Maria Rosa Menocal writes of the book,
[f]orged in the bonfires of ideas, of books and of people, was the illusory conceit that there could be a pure national and religious identity, and yet this became the ultimate religion everyone had to live with. …Don Quixote is thus in part a postscript to the history of a first-rate place, the most poignant lament over the loss of that universe, its last chapter, allusive, ironic, bittersweet, quixotic.
The “first-rate place” she refers to is Spain before the Inquisition. A time when cultures, languages and faiths mixed among the people as easily as they mixed with each other.
Of course, it was not a utopia. There were conflicts, constantly negotiated differences. But it allowed for those differences to not only exist but shape society. A tolerance that was taken for granted. It was unimaginable in those days that Spain would ever be a place of only one people, one language and one rigidly defined version of only one religion.

Friday, May 9, 2014

菜根谭, 心经 Heart Sutra: The Roots of Wisdom

*not the best translation, but :)*

淡中知真味,常里识英奇Know the flavor within the plain,See the wonders within the common 
闲时吃紧,忙里悠闲Urgency in Ieisure,Leisure in toil 
澹泊明志,肥甘丧节In plainness is ambition realized,In richness is integrity compromised 
眼前放宽大,身后恩泽久Opened wide before you,Enduring kindness after 
路要让一步,味须减三分On a path,yield a step;In tasting,share a bite 
侠义交友,纯心做人Chivalry in making friends,Purity in living life 
退即是进,与即是得To retreat is to advance, Togive is to receive 
骄矜无功,忏悔减罪Arrogance negates achievement,Repentance annuls misdeeds 
动静合宜,道之真体Movement and stillness in harmony are the,Dao’s genuine body 
轩冕客志在林泉,山林士胸怀廊庙Those of coaches and crowns wish for woods and springs,Those of hills and woods yearn for halls and temples 
做事勿太苦,待人勿太枯Do not let industry become drudgery,Do not treat others with indifference 
知退一步之法,加让三分之功Know to retreat a step,Try to yield a bit 
对小人不恶,待君子有礼Do not despise the underling,Treat the gentleman with propriety 
超越天地之外,入于名利之中Transcending heaven and earth,Entering among fame and fortune 
修德须忘功名,读书定要深心Cultivating virtue takes forgetting fame,Acquiring knowledge requires a mind of depth 
真伪之道,只在一念The ways of truth and deceit reside in a single thought 
忘功不忘过,忘怨不忘恩 Forget achievement but not transgressions,Forget blame but not kindness 
恶人读书,适以济恶An evilperson's learning,Serves to abetevil 
读书希圣讲学躬行,居官爱民立业种德Longfor sageliness in learning, practice what you preach.Care for the people when in office,cultivate virtue in your career 
苦中有乐,乐中有苦The delight of ioy is often found in the midst of hardship,The pang of disappointment come in times of fulfillment 
谦虚受益,满盈招损 Modesty brings benefit,Complacency courts danger 
勿羡贵显,勿忧饥饿Do not envy eminence,Do not dread hunger 
阴恶之恶大,显善之善小A hidden evil is a cardinal evil,A flaunted good is a minorgood 
忧劳兴国,逸豫亡身 A country prospers through worry and toil,The self is lost through idle leisure 
一念贪私,万劫不复A single thought of selfish greed,A thousand pains without return 
心公不昧,六贼无踪 If master of the mind is on alert,The bandits six shall show no trace 
勉励现前之业,图谋未来之功Pushing the present enterprise,Planning for future success 
不着色相,不留声影Not caught up in material things,Not keeping the sounds and shadows 
动中静是真静,苦中乐见真乐Tranquillity amid tumult is genuine tranquillity,Pleasure amid hardship is genuine pleasure 
多种功德,勿贪权位Strive to cultivate achievement and virtue,Do not covet power and status 
文章极处无奇巧,人品极处只泰然A perfect essay takes no unusual skill, A perfect character is simply natural 
人生无常,不可虚度Life does not endure,So do not live in vain 
持盈履满,君子兢兢When grasping hold of plenty,A gentlemen treads lightly 
大处着眼,小处着手Turn your eyes to the big view,Turn your hands to the details 
爱重反为仇,薄极反为喜Love too heavy turns to hate,A meagerjot can turn tojoy 
对阴险者勿推心,遇高傲者勿多口Do not open up to the devious,Do not say much to the arrogant 
大量能容,不动声色Forbear much,Reveal little 
人乃天地之缩图,天地乃人之父母People ave microcosms of the universe,The universe is the parent of people 
伦常本平天性,不可任德怀恩Family ethics are innate,Without the need for pride or thanks 
不夸妍好洁,无丑污之辱Gone with the praise of beauty,Goes insult of the unsightly 
应以德御才,勿恃才败德 Virtue should guide talent,Without talent shirking virtue 
穷寇勿追,投鼠忌器Do not pursue a desperate enemy,Careful the object you throw at a mouse 
趋炎附势,人情之常 To flock to power and influence is common to human nature 
须冷眼观物,勿轻动刚肠Observe with a cool eye,Do not rashly vent your spleen 
人心惟危,道心惟微When the human heart is unresolved,The moral mind is indistinct 
自然造化之妙,智巧所不能及It is the wonder of natural transformations, That cannot be matched by human ingenuity 
云去而本觉之月现,尘拂而真如之镜明 When the clouds are gone,the moon appears,When the dust is cleared,the mirror shines 
急流勇退,与世无争Bravely retreat in rapid currents,Struggle not against the world 
文华不如简素,谈今不如述古 Better to have plain simplicity than elaborate embellishment,Better to recount the ancients than discuss the moderns 
修身种德,事业之基Cultivating virtue within yourself is the foundation of successful endeavor 
心善而子孙盛,根深而枝叶荣With a good head,children and grandchildren prosper;With strong roots,leaves and branches flourish 
勿妄自菲薄,勿自夸自傲Do not be quick to belittle yourself,Do not boast or act arrogantly 
道乃公正无私,学当随时警惕The Dao is a public thing,Learning is a home cooked meal 
律己宜严,待人宜宽Be seveye with yourself and lenient toward others 
人情冷暧,世态炎凉Peeple's feelings are warm and cold,The world's atfftude is hot and cool 
慈悲之心,生生之机A mind of compassion,A motive for life
为官公廉,居家恕俭In Office,fairness and integrity,At home,tolerance and thrift 
处富知贫,居安思危In prosperity,understand poverty,In stability,think about peril 
不得罪小人,不奉承君子Do not antagonize the petty one,Do not flatter the gentleman 
喜忧安危,勿介于心The vicissitudes of life are not worth dwelling on 
宴乐声色名位,三者不可过贪Parties and pleasure,music and lust, reputation and status,Several things to be approached with temperance 
冷静观人,理智处世Observe others coolly,Conduct affairs intelligently 
躁性偾事,和平徼福A frenzied nature injures the world Peace and harmony invite blessings 
恶不可即就,善不可急亲Do not immediately,accept rumored evil,Do not immediately approach rumored good 
酷则失善人,滥则招恶友Severity drives away good people,Carelessness invites wicked friends 
不轻诺,不生嗔,不多事,不倦怠Do not make blithe promises or lose your temper,Do not meddle in others’affairs or fail to finish 
守口须密,防意须严 Closely guard the mouth,Staunchly check ambition 
不忧患难,不畏权豪Neither troubled in hardship,Nor fearful of authority 
The Roots of Wisdom 
言行多不顾行,谈者未必真知Talkers rarely pay attention to actions, Debaters don’t necessarily understand 
无为之作,优游清逸Doing nothing with nothing to do,Carefree playing in purest leisure 
世之广狭,皆由自造The confines of the world are created by us 
乐贵自然真趣,景物不在多远Taking joy in nature’s delights,Stunning views ape never far 
心静而本体现,水清而月影明The mind quiet,original substance appears,The water clear,the moon’s reflection shines 
观形不如观心,神用胜过迹用 Better to see the interior than know the exterior,The spirit employed always beats the form employed 
心无物欲乾坤静,坐有琴书便是仙The head free of desire quiets heaven and earth,A home with books and music becomes a magic kingdom 
知机真神乎,会趣明道矣 The wonder of knowing the mysteries,The wisdom of seeing delight 
万象皆空幻,达人须达观 The myriad appearances are empty illusions, The enlightened person must have comprehension 
泡沫人生,何争名利In the bubbl'e that is life,Why fight over fame and fortune 
广狭长短,由于心念Narrow or broad,short or long,they’ye all from the thoughts of the mind 
与闲云为友,以风月为家I makefriends with the leisurely clouds and take the scenery as my home 
隐者无荣辱,道义无炎凉Recluses have no honor or disgrace,Morality knows neither hot nor cold 
隐者高明,省事平安The reclusive one is intelligent,Reducing tasks brings peace 
超越喧寂,悠然自适To transcend splendor and solitude,To be at comfort anywhere 
得道无牵系,静躁两无关Enlightened ones have no attachments,Quiet and calm make no difference 
理出于易,道不在远Understand ing is found in simplicity,Enlightenment isn’t far away 
动静合宜,出入无碍 Movement and stillness come with ease,Leaving and entering without obstruction 
执著是苦海,解脱是仙乡Holding on means a sea of suffering.Letting go means a land of paradise 
卧云弄月,绝俗超尘Sleeping and playing in nature,Escaping the dusty world 
云中世界,静里乾坤 A world among clouds,A univPrse in tranquillity 
不希荣达,不畏权势No hope for splendor,No fear of power 
圣境之下,调心养神 An inspirational environment,Attuning the mind, cultivating the spirit 
春之繁华,不若秋之清爽 Better the brisk air of autumn than the vibrancy of spring 
得诗家真趣,悟禅教玄机Achieve the true sentiments of a poet,Realize the mysterious truths of Zen 
像由心生,像随心灭An image is born,issued from the mind An image is gone,following the mind 
来去自如,融通自在 Coming and going at will,Dissolved in confident ease 
欲心生邪念,虚心生正念An acquisitive mind breeds deviant thoughts,A vacuous mind breeds decent thoughts 
富者多忧,贵者多险The wealthy have many worries,The noble have many dangers 
处世流水落花,身心皆得自在Live life like flowing water,drooping flowers,The body and mind must always be at ease 
处世忘世,超物乐天Living in the world,forget the world,Transcending things,enioy nature 
人生本无常,盛衰何可恃Life itself does not endure,How can prosperity be counted on 
宠辱不惊,去留无意Scorn or favor brings no surprise,Going or staying makes no difference 
苦海茫茫,回头是岸The sea of suffering is vast and far,Turn your head to the other shore 
求心内之佛,却心外之法Seeking the Buddha on the inside,Spurning the dharmas on the outside 
野趣丰处,诗兴自涌In the charm of the wilds and places replete,Poetical springs well up from inside 
在世出世,真空不空Live in the world,transcend the world,The True Emptiness is not empty 
毁誉褒贬,一任世情Praise and slander,libel and fame,Resigned to all the world can give 
彻见自性,不必谈禅He who knows his original nature has no patience for talk of Zen 
真不离幻,雅不离俗The genuine leaves not the illusory,The refined leaves not the mundane 
布茅蔬淡,颐养天和A blanket of straw and vegetables plain nourish a natural harmony 
断绝思虑,光风霁月 To cut off all your worries,A sunny breeze,an afterrain moon 
操持身心,收放自如Minding the body and mind,Freedom in indulgence and restraint 
自然人心,融和一体Nature and the mind,Harmonize as one 
雌雄妍丑,一时假相 Winner and loser,beautidul and ugly are just momentary illusions 
祸福苦乐,一念之差Good and bad fortune,suffering and joy,There is only the difference of a single thought 
若要功夫深,铁杵磨成针With quiet patience and constant discipline,A foot of iron is ground into a pin 
雨后山色鲜,静夜钟声清After a rain,the mountains seem fresh;In the night,a bell rings clear 
雪夜读书夜清,登山远眺心旷 Snowstorm studying purifies the spirit, Hilltop vistos expond the mind 
万钟一发,存乎一心A thousand gallons,a singlehair,Each exists within the mind 
就身了身,以物付物Understand the self based on the self,Allow for things to take care of themselves 
不可徒劳身心,当乐风月之趣Do not over work yourself,Enjoy the beauty of nature 
风迹留影,过而不留A passing wind,the moon’s reflection,Leave and then are gone 
月盈则亏,履满者戒On reaching fullness,the moon wanes,One who reaches fulfillment abstains 
把握要点,卷舒自在Grasp the essentials and move about freely 
超越口耳之嗜欲,得见人生之真趣Transcend sensual desires Achieve life’s delights 

Friday, May 2, 2014

D-Cent (



When asked about why the radio is always turned off/what music I like, sometimes you will get a "I'm enjoying equanimity more than songs" answer. 

Very often I don't bother explaining myself...

Monday, January 13, 2014

"If you were to adhere to this view — so pure, so bright — if you were to cherish it, treasure it, regard it as 'mine,' would you understand the Dhamma taught as analogous to a raft, for crossing over, not for holding on to?"
— Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta (Majjhima Nikàya 48)

Friday, July 26, 2013

If  time permits, want to scribble thoughts on the topic of
entrepreneurship / social enterprise.
internship abroad.
yoga, meditation.
international buddhist-muslim collaboration platform.
international network of engaged buddhists conference.
some thoughts, stuff, projects im working on of late.
Stay tuned if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013



a simple homemade tofu,
a touch of mom's,
what could be better?


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chapter 16: Thyself

little one, 
when was it that you would turn on the radio to music you like and danced freely naturally
you would arrange little chairs for guests who come to your home to listen to your stories that you read from the storybooks and wrote yourself sailing along the imaginary journey
you would sing to songs and melodies you spontaneously composed on a long car trip with the windows wind down till you fell asleep
when was it that the piano violin guitar ballet shoes vienna were left in the corner;
was it dreams forgone
or dreams anew
or lens to surroundings added
is this what is to be done

some remained

little one,
dancing to whats playing in her hearts
simpley. dreams.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chapter 15: Unlearning; ego

One cannot add tea to a cup that is already full.

I have learned to unlearn things that I have learned.
I have reflected, realized, and learned how to empty my cup;
I will embark from ground zero again, but I'd forever contemplate to keep my cup humble and open.

I realized how much it was of an arrogance on knowledge to boast my ego;
who could ever claim to have a grasp on truth?
Through experiencing actions and knowledge that are good and beneficial for many, perhaps, then, I will find it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed.

By Bronnie Ware (who worked for years nursing the dying)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chapter 14.1: Who 'in their right mind' would choose suffering by choice?

"We are dedicated to the defense of rights of individuals to free and truthful life.
In other words, our passion is liberty.
Passion translates as suffering.
And I would contend, in the political context as in the religious one, it implies suffering by choice.
A deliberate decision to grasp the cup that we would rather let pass. It is not a decision made lightly.
We do not enjoy suffering, we are not masochists.
It is because of the high value we put on the object of our passion that we are able, in spite of ourselves, to choose suffering."

I concur wholeheartedly with what she has to say; I apprehend.
I understand the backlash of passion (as with any form of attachment), and the sacrifices that needs to be made.
Still, I made a deliberate decision.

That deliberate decision started the night before Bersih - to go, or not to go.
I've watched Bersih 2007 plenty times before. I have mentally prepared myself for the worst.
I visualized that I might get kicked, punched, and beaten up badly that I might lose my limbs for the rest of my life, etc. I might get arrested, and get locked up in the jail for an indefinite period of time. I might be one of the few people (~10 people) who were there in our yellow shirt.
Going means risking my life, and my freedom.
After all that visualization, I asked myself if I would accept the worst of such consequences like death or being disabled for the rest of my life.
I answered yes. I will accept such consequences if it happens.
[No, I have never participated in a demonstration.
In fact, I was at a point of life where I was about to live the 'monastic' way - accepting that personal transformation was the only real way I could change the world, and to focus very much internally. I doubted if any demonstration will achieve anything.]
So my plan during Bersih was actually to sit down and meditate in front of the police or army forces for an hour.
I will be there - alone or not - to stand for my own values.
(Again, having laid out the 4 reasons I live my life for, years go, helps. I will try, to the best I can, to stay true to this - to stay true to myself. If I die doing what I live for, then what did I lose? (You don't lose what you don't cling to) Then, I may also well say, "My life was worth it. I lived for my values - won't cower to threats against my values/living purpose; never was a day less than 100%. I lived and leave without regrets. And, not forgetting I will smile before my last breath. What is it that you're sad for me?")

[It helps that I think about death pretty early in life. 17?]

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chapter 14: Politics

Sometimes I think, thanks to categorization to simplify the understanding of knowledge, we are oversimplifying and misunderstanding things. (Yes, it helps our understanding to a certain extend; maybe it helps us to understand half the truth, but 50% is mediocre.)
Labeling and categorizing things makes us see knowledge and matters as discrete - science, economics, philosophy, politics, you, me, her, they, etc.

I think, the other half of the truth lies in the context, the relatives, or the interconnections.
“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
East is only east because of west - to the west of it.

Since people often ask me why I am "involved in Politics", I will hereby explain and examine this matter.
Can we actually say "I don't care about Politics?"
Yes, you can; but that would be impossible. (Since, everything affects & is interconnected to one another. Politics, moreso.) Unless, you sincerely do not care about the hole in the roads, your Education, your safety, your life, your money (lost to corruption), your family's well being/life, or you've achieved such a Zen state that nothing can ever bug or affect you. In that case, I'll have to either pay my highest respect to you, or stop to wonder what has become of you?

  • Hey there. U r quite the activist arent u?
     ·  · November 7, 2011 at 6:20pm · 

  • Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Chapter 13: Education

    Many people often ask me why I decided to drop out from college (not that I was failing, I was on the Dean's List of one of the World's Top 10 ranking university for International Relations undergraduates; World No. 8 for Masters and was one of the few international students - if any - awarded with a Leadership Award Scholarship). They also asked why I decided to self-study. :)
    Here's the unrefined "Why I dropped out", off the top of my head:

    Chapter 12: Beauty.

    There was a day where I saw an advertisement for Personal Image Branding & Consulting workshop in Bangsar. The workshop - which includes make up classes - boasts that attending it would boost self-confidence. I could not disagree further.
    If anything, I think that make up makes a person less confident.
    Has anyone really thought of the implicit implication to their ego and "being"? (In comparison, the implication of applying all these chemicals to our skin becomes quite minuscule 1 A blind allegiance and focus on the tangibles with a complete disregard of the intangibles breed ignorance and suffering - without one even realizing why one's suffering.)
    How can a person be more confident when they don't even love themselves for who they are - as they are?

    I beg to digress.
    I accept that I have dark eye circles, wrinkles, and I don't have flawless skin. The list goes on.
    Regardless, I will love, accept, and take good care of myself.

    "You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
    “Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.”

    I interpret it as if you spend all your time drilling over your "self" how you look etc etc, and forget about giving and helping others; really, you will only devise your own demise and misery. You will never feel good that way - maybe only as long as your 'mask' is on. And, is that even a real good feeling?

    Chapter 11: People Empowerment

    So, I was recently asked by a friend for a reply on this:

    Malaysian, any comment on this post? (don’t attack or fighting, this is only one of the example that how people laugh at us on doing this, how can we handle and explain to them better?)
     ·  ·  · Share · about an hour ago via Mobile

    • Vienna Looi 
      If you ask me, the purpose and focus of our gathering is not even on the government, but on the people.
      We want to educate, activate, and empower the people.

      A government is only a mirror of its people. (Their attitude etc. Ie: If the people only talk and talk and talk and don't do anything, the government will also only talk and talk and talk and don't do anything. If the people don't care, the government don't care. Why should they?)

      The simple formula of change (no miracles and magic involved):

      We shan’t talk about a change in the government without a change in the people.
      But, we shan’t talk about a change in people, without first a change in ourselves.

      Start small, start now.
      A jug fills drop by drop.
      Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
      34 minutes ago ·  ·  3