Free or enslaved?

Some teenagers think that freedom is doing whatever they want.
What they don’t know is that they have actually become slaves to desire.

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Ultimate cause of mental suffering

is false belief.

Once you are able to let go of that false belief, the self-inflicted mental suffering is gone.

We are not miserable when we are in deep sleep.
We are not miserable when we are distracted.
We are not miserable when we are engrossed in doing something.

Enlightenment is perceiving the truth to awaken ourselves to the nature of self and reality.
Your world will not fall apart when you let go of long-held beliefs. It may be scary. But that’s the nature of freedom. The nature of liberation.

For Mr Lee Kuan Yew and all the others who have contributed to Singapore

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Man in the arena excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on Citizenship in a Republic

You are?

There’s a difference between who you are and who you think you are.

When you start thinking about who you are, certain concepts come to you:
Your name, your race, your nationality, your tribe, your religion, your political preference…

But are these concepts really you?
Or are they what you think you are?

There is a main perception that informs you of your own presence. This is the perception that is identified by your mind as ‘you’.
This is your core identity, stripped of the clothing of concepts.
Recognize this perception in its pure form, and recognize who you are.

Character development 2 (Great Learning – 大学)

大学之道,在明明德,在亲民,在止于至善。
知止而后有定,定而后能静,静而后能安,安而后能虑,虑而后能得。物有本末,事有终始。知所先后,则近道矣。
古之欲明明德于天下者,先治其国;欲治其国者,先齐其家;欲齐其家者,先修其身;欲修其身者,先正其心;欲正其心者,先诚其意;欲诚其意者,先致其知。致知在格物。物格而后知至,知至而后意诚,意诚而后心正,心正而后身修,身修而后家齐,家齐而后国治,国治而后天下平。
自天子以至于庶人,壹是皆以修身为本。
The above are the first few lines of the classic Chinese book of “Great Learning”.
It is also a good guide on how the ancients look at character development (修身), which to them is the focus of education.
Note how the stages of character development is described in reverse.
欲修其身者,先正其心
To develop the character, first right the mind
欲正其心者,先诚其意
To right the mind, first be sincere
欲诚其意者,先致其知
To be sincere, first send to the ‘know’ (or the ‘thing’ that knows)
致知在格物
Knowing is in noting (giving things form) and keeping out distractions like desire, emotion…
You would realise that the ancients actually advocate a meditative approach to character development: turning the attention inward, studying the self, training the mind.
However, many education institutions nowadays teach ‘character development’ like a content subject – at the intellectual level of disseminating moral rules and promoting moral reasoning. I don’t think such an approach would develop the character of our students and children. More likely, we are only improving their ability to win arguments against their teachers and parents.

Excerpt from former PM Lee Kuan Yew’s first National Day rally speech in 1966

Never be depressed, never be deflated by setbacks. We suffered setbacks. In 1964, there were two communal riots. And we do not pretend to ourselves they were not communal riots – they were. We face facts. And this is one of the greatest strengths about Singapore: its willingness to face reality including the 9th of August. We used to celebrate 3rd of June; then, it was the 16th of September, when we promulgated Malaysia. Then, it went back to the 31st of August because other people celebrated the 31st of August. And then it had to be the 9th of August, and the 9th of August it is, not because we wished it to be but because it was.This capacity to face up to situations, however intractable, however unpleasant, is one of the great qualities for survival. A people able to look facts squarely in the face, able to calculate the odds, to weigh the chances and then to decide to go it, are a people not likely to go under. And when this time last year, before the news was broken to the world, my colleagues and I carried that heavy burden in our hearts of having made the decision on your behalf, we consoled ourselves with this thought: that whilst thereafter, the multi-racial society that we had set out to create could be implemented only within the confines of Singapore, we knew deep down that ultimately, its impact must spread far beyond its shores.

No geographic or political boundary can contain the implications of what we set out to do when we succeed. And, there is no reason why given patience,tolerance, perseverance, we should not, in this hub, in this confluence of three indeed, four great civilisations, create a situation which will act as a yeast, a ferment for what is possible, given good will, forbearance and good faith. Every year, on this 9th August for many years ahead – how many, I do not know – we will dedicate ourselves anew to consolidate ourselves to survive; and, most important of all, to find an enduring future for what we have built and what our forebears will build up.

Thank you.

(9 August is the National Day of Singapore, when it was separated from Malaysia)