Still Quoting Mark Because


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be like a child, “yield to the current of life,” “go with the flow,” “unencumbered by baggage?”  To travel light as lightest you possibly could?  But life, through time, bogs us down or we bog ourselves down with unnecessary things that look necessary to us. We fight, we struggle, we insist on what we want.  We kill each other over who’s right and who’s wrong.  We don’t have the answers and we ask the wrong questions.

It’s tiring to carry all that.  Let me stop and unload, read as much as I can to get garbage out and please stop the garbage in.  We wait, we surrender and find the karaoke song that keeps us calm and sane.  We look for signs not realizing it’s been inside us all along because we keep looking outward, distracted by the stormy dramas regurgitated by our minds, spat out as catastrophes when they are infinitesimal, except for those that do justify our attention.  How do you choose the battles to win the war?

Because the situation is quite unbloggable, let me quote liberally from Mark Harrison’s articles, again.

From a A New Way of Thinking about Your Relationships:

Developing excellent relationships is often about understanding why people behave the way they do, not from our perspective, but from theirs, and helping them to find a more productive behavior by giving them new resources. Everyone is doing the best they can, given what they have.

If a relationship is going badly, the best approach is always to think about your own behavior and how to change it. At a position of ‘cause,’ you have the ability to improve things – by seeking to understand the other person’s perspective, by listening to them, using their terms of reference and communicating on their level.

Never label people based on their behavior. This is not helpful in developing good relationships. Behavior changes all the time as we learn and grow. Bad, unproductive and ‘stuck’ relationships can be turned around when we take responsibility and learn to be proactive.

From How to Change the World:

I had a problem with noisy neighbors. They live in the apartment above me; they bang about, drag furniture and sing loudly. I don’t understand why they behave this way: I have explained to them several times that I am disturbed by their behavior, and yet, a year after they moved in, there was no change. I don’t see why they can’t try to be a bit quieter but, despite my best efforts, the situation did not improve.

The only thing I have any power to change is my own approach. So I decided to try to become more accepting and to simply observe the situation without comment, as far as possible.

They are still noisy. But since observing the situation, I actually notice the noise less. This seems odd, but I think it is because I am noticing several features of the noise that were not apparent when I was focused on being bothered by it. First, it is clear that the noise is located within a surround of silence, as if the noises are islands in a sea of silence. Secondly, the noise ebbs and flows – it goes on for a while, but then it fades away. Like everything, it changes – its intensity, its quality, its volume – they all change continually.

Through a simple process of awareness, I have changed the way I am seeing the situation. It has taken on a different quality since I stopped labeling the noise as ‘bad’ and started to focus simply on observing it. And so, in a sense, the situation has itself changed. My outer reality has come to reflect my inner perspective.

When we submit to the natural flow of things, observing and allowing life to carry us, rather than trying to use force to change things around us, the world seems to become a more peaceful and supportive place. Indeed, submission is the only sensible option. Of course, we tend to think of submission as a weakness -‘giving up’ is synonymous with failure. But, when we ‘give up’ our tendency to label, to explain, to control, things start to work.

When we stop trying to force change, we become free.

From Awareness by Anthony de Mello:

Don’t change: Desire to change is the enemy of love.
Don’t change yourselves: Love yourselves as you are.
Don’t change others: Love all others as they are.
Don’t change the world: It is in God’s hands and he knows.
And if you do that change will occur
Marvelously in its own way and in its own time
Yield to the current of life unencumbered by baggage.




Free, Awake


If one’s freedom impinges on another’s freedom, what kind of freedom is it?  If one’s freedom is labeled irresponsibility by others, if one feels imprisoned by somebody who thinks wrongly is promoting your freedom, if one feels trapped in a lie of freedom, if one controls others in the desire for his own freedom, if one is under illusions of . . . . wait, what’s the point?  There is no point, just questions and more questions and nowadays, what do you do when a question does not leave your head?  You go to the Oracle of Google and google, “If one’s freedom impinges on another’s freedom, what kind of freedom is it?”  Yes, you can put sentences as long as you want in the search box.

The Google goodie loot bag came up with this, a paragraph from an article by Mark Harrison called, The Limits of Freedom:

“The point is that we are free. And so is everyone else. That means we cannot impinge on the freedom of others. This is not some moral statement. I’m not saying we should not interfere with other people’s freedom – it is simply impossible to do so. You cannot make another person do anything. Even putting a gun to someone’s head cannot make them do anything. If someone is threatened to the extent that they fear for their life, they are likely to comply with whatever is being demanded of them, but this compliance is not a result of the threat – it is still a choice they make. If you doubt it, think about the people who have been threatened and not complied – think about people who have died for what they believe in rather than comply with an external demand.”

So now you want me to die?  Perhaps that’s what I do everyday.

So am I under the illusion that certain freedoms have been taken away but freedom can never be taken away?  Am I belaboring a fact that cannot be taken away?  What if I feel my freedom is impinged upon?  I am choosing not to have it impinged upon but conflict ensues.  And it cannot be impinged upon, he said.

Mark Harrison continues:

“In every situation, there is a choice. Accept that we cannot control other people or try to force, coerce, manipulate and bully to get our own way. The latter course of action damages relationships and, in the end, leads to pain and dysfunction. Or, we can accept people as they are, accept they are utterly free agents, accept that we cannot force them, and concentrate instead on building relationships with them and on building the inner world which echoes back to us as our experience. When we have good relationships, things work. Perhaps not in the way we might have expected, or even in the way we would have preferred, but things will work. The world is not ours to control, so let it go, and let it work in its own miraculous way. This is the effortlessness to which Lao Tzu alluded when he wrote, ‘The world is a mysterious instrument, not meant to be handled. Those who act on it never, I notice, succeed.’

“We are responsible for ourselves. We make our choices and then we must live with them, not blaming others or circumstances, and not cowardly abdicating responsibility to some external forces. We are not victims! We are in control.

“By the same token, we are not responsible for other people. Their fear, their anger, their pain, their misery – it’s all a choice they make, as freely as we make ours, and they need to shoulder the consequences of these choices – they are not our crosses to bear. Their happiness, their success, their joy – it’s all their doing, not ours.

“So here lies our freedom – it is inside us every moment and we can recognize it and live our lives according to the truth of this freedom, or we can continue to behave in the way we have been conditioned by society and try to force our way through life, pushing and coercing others into doing our will. One way is peace and happiness, the other way is pain and madness.”

So I may be choosing the way of pain and madness, struggling against this situation I think I cannot change but I can change the way I view it and react to it.  I need to let go but what if your concept of freedom and responsibility conflicts with another?  Mark just said you are responsible for your own state, not others.

Excuse me while I go on having an imaginary conversation with Mark.  I am grappling with how to apply this.  This is from another of his article, The Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer.

“While much cannot be changed, there are certainly things which can yield to our influence. Lasting change, however, is rarely brought about by direct action. Any sense of direct control we might have over the world around us is almost all illusion, and we would be better to think of effecting change in terms of influence.

“The world we experience is, essentially, a kind of echo of our inner landscape. We make mental models which enable us to navigate through the world, and we interpret the outside world in terms of this framework. Keeping a positive mindset, then, tends to draw positive experiences towards us. From this place, we are able to act in ways which will bring about change, often in indirect and surprising ways.

“Keeping a positive mindset can be difficult, especially if we are used to playing negative scripts in our head. We need to be courageous. Courage is not aggression, violence or force. It is seeing the world at its best, and it is proper action, executed in the right way and at the right time.

“Lao Tzu, reputedly the founder of Taoism, wrote, ‘A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troops will feel they did it themselves.’ Action is best kept to a minimum and best kept in the background.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” – Lao Tzu

“Sometimes, we rush in and act when we should not have done so. At other times, we hold back when, perhaps, we should have acted.

“And yet perhaps it is not so difficult, after all. It seems to me that the key is being detached. When we observe in a detached way, we are more likely to make the right calls. Even when taking action, we should not be emotionally blinded by our own involvement. What matters most is the way you see the world. Anthony de Mello, a great modern mystic, called it ‘being awake.’ He wrote, ‘It’s not your actions, it’s your being that counts. Then you might swing into action. You might or might not. You can’t decide that until you’re awake.’

“Being awake – being aware and unattached – can make a huge difference to the way we interact with the world. When we have the ability to know when to act, how to act, and to be sufficiently detached as we act, our influence can be enormous.”

I have been trying too hard, struggling too much and I am tired.  Sleepless and tired. Helplessly trying to cut attachments, feign detachment.

How do I know I’m awake?  (I just said I was sleepless.)  Again, I consult the all-knowing Almighty Oracle of Google and find this, the Seven Qualities of Awakened People:

1. When our identification with a form ceases, a new space is generated between us and the form, and we are able to recognize that we are not identical to that form.

2. We virtually step out of the psychological time frame, we stop mulling over injuries of the past, and do not build our identity for the future.

3. Ego disappears, telling personal history stops, and the line of our accustomed identity is broken.

4. We are awake, only the present moment exists for us. Our soul is permeated by the quiet of the Miracle that is the consciousness and the joy of the existence.

5. We are free and independent of the forms and shapes, and of the necessity of choosing from them. All our suffering and problems have vanished, we are surrounded by peace and tranquility.

6. There is only the pure existence, we are eyewitnesses, contemplating the dance of forms and shapes around us. We do not identify with anything, we are a consciousness free of the obligation to make choices.

7. We accept life as it is, and it is not done under pressure, since that acceptance is the result of our complete freedom.

Based on this, I seem to be asleep most of the time.  I think I’m getting five hours of sleep at night but I’m getting more during the day eyes wide open!  Not funny.

Okay, so what do I take away from this?  No direct action, Mark said.  No direct action. Yes, I got that trying to be Lao Tzu.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” – Lao Tzu





You sleep soundly because no demons chase you they come after me oh what luck to know that one is right and not swinging and tortured by whether it’s one or the other one day it’s right and wrong the next because there can only be one right and that right belongs to the one who sleeps soundly innocently because the demons are kept at bay while the sleepless owns the monster who calls nightly at precisely 1:05 in the morning tapping on the keyboard like a lunatic ravaging the city for a sense of one right but it doesn’t work that way sorry to say it’s not a contest to be won it’s a battle you fight against the shadow of yourself and if the shadows hide folded inside the comfort of sleep and unawareness then it is their journey not yours it is simply another planet you are never ever welcome to step on because yours is the only planet you rule and know with all its beautiful and unbeautiful beasts devils riding their dragons around your head till you can’t see through the dust their hooves agitate stirring the microscopic sins of the past thundering into the present giants at your doorsteps knocking at your gate at 1:12 in the morning like it’s not a matter of life and death it’s a toothache that refused to acknowledge its smallness sleep does not come to the undeserving you have to earn it like you’ve murdered your confession washed your hands of any wrongdoing and believe that there is no one more moral than yourself of course the one who does not sleep will tire out and lose agility during the day which gives the one who sleeps an advantage but you said it’s no contest no prize for the one who is counting rights and wrongs distinguishing the distinguished judges because no judgement can ever be made no prize can ever be given no certainty can ever be awarded because our prize is the unknown whole in its unknowability it is given as a gift and your only response is to take it



What am I up against this stubbornness that is unwilling to change to budge to give way to reason what am I up against this boulder intractable immovable but even Bruce Lee said be like water and pass through pass over be the water in that container and funny thing is I understand this madness like I designed created fashioned it in another lifetime purposely to haunt me in this explicitly for the aim of making the stone in me into water as well as the well of life water that doesn’t seek anything but where it is supposed to flow but why this agonizing wait for all the broken strings inside to weave themselves into wholeness we’d be dead by then we’d be fucking dead by then and nights like these when bleakness weighs and the scream nobody hears reverberates throughout have you ever met somebody so selfish beyond belief beyond measure beyond trying being water and failed over and over to pour the self into that earthen vessel clay pottery not certainly worth getting upset no indeed because there is the choice between levity and heft don’t let the thief run away with your laughter if you fail to see the mirth that is the cosmic joke on you then turn your back the instance it splashes surf the wave like an amateur about to fall because something catches you it’s the water you were meant to be and the minute you drop your droplet you the water already is you inside inside you peel your skin to reveal it is minus that thin barrier you are already are always been nothing else but that water you seek

San Fran


San Francisco is San Freakingexpensive!   Thank goodness, my friend, Edmund introduced us to Goodwill, the chain of second hand stores all over the country so in case we need anything, it’s easy to get at non-shocking cost.  Coming from China and the Philippines, the price of everything from food to non-food is quite astronomical.  My Ninong Ariel was spot on about my slightly underestimated budget but hopefully as we find ways to save, daily expenses will decrease.  We got a second-hand pick-up truck that we could sell at the end of the trip to recoup the investment and beat renting.  We went to the Chinese and Asian groceries to get supplies so that we can cook for ourselves instead of eating in restaurants.  I didn’t realize how “Chinese” I’ve become until I stepped into America and started missing good, affordable, varied Chinese food on the third day.

Aside from having a family bonding adventure, the other purpose of this trip is to do my research on alternative forms of education.  I was so looking forward to going to Tinkering School after listening to the TED Talk about it but they never replied to my emails and we were turned away at the door because the kids had a field trip.  We’ll try to catch some sessions in New York because the Tinkering workshops are offered among homeschoolers over there.

We stopped by 826 Valencia that is a Pirate Supply Store fronting for a young writer’s center. It’s a great community-building initiative which links young people with writers through workshops and tutorials.  They come out with published anthologies of stories and poems created by the kids themselves.   I love the bustling creativity oozing out of San Francisco pores but exorbitant parking limited our time to tarry.  After depositing a few quarters into the meter, I rushed back to refill.

Next stop is Cotton’s place, my highschool BFF whose kids, Jade and Noah are near the ages of Joshua and Jimmy.  They have a blast playing.


A Short Thank You Note


We’re about to leave one of our homes for an adventure.  Most people are excited for us while a few are worried sick, knots in their stomachs not understanding the why behind it all.  Maybe that’s me too, a few days before the flight.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed our last days in Manila and look forward to exchange stories when we get back.   Just wanted to share what I’m grateful for during this stay in Manila, the most important one being — spending quality time with family and friends.  The following are added bonus:

  1. Joshua and Jimmy being able to get in four sessions of football practice
  2. The kids being able to find new instant playmates and reconnect with old ones
  3. Climbing trees
  4. Seeing my niece’s bamboo instrument music chorale perform
  5. Seeing my aunt’s new place
  6. Swim and beach time
  7. Discovering new playgrounds
  8. Learning finally how to download apps courtesy of RM

Loving Baby


We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for a shameless plugging for . . . . LOVE!  A quasi-stranger texted me this quote on Valentine’s day, “Love is our true destiny.  We do not find meaning of life by ourselves alone, we find it with another.  T.M.”

Our family spent February 14 by pouring attention on the newest, cutest, chubbiest member of our clan: Wam.  The beach is truly the happy place for babies who take adults back to days of pure, unadulterated wonder at the freshness of everything: sand under your feet, sand in your mouth and the sound and spectacle of splashing water.