Saturday, 29 November 2014

Reflection 148 (caring society)

Caring Society

Today I really felt taken care off by a person I don't know very well.
It went like this:

The battery of my car broke down. Luckily there were some friends around who immediately helped me to connect the starting cables to the battery of another car and my car was soon running. That was nice and caring but "the cream on the cake" had yet to come. I asked around where there was a shop in the neighbourhood at which I could find a new battery as we had to go to another place about 1 hour away. I was given some real good advice. I went on the way and about half an hour later I get a call from a female friend. Her husband was wondering whether we had found a battery shop to replace our battery. Now that call really touched my heart.

I felt the man and the friend were really caring for us. It are these small attentions that are really on the increase and that make me firmly believe that our society heading in the right direction. We ARE moving towards a CARING SOCIETY. And that will be so nice to live in.

I rejoice whenever I think about the future. !

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Reflection 147 (kaizen)


Kaizen means small incremental improvements.
It is amazing how much has been achieved throughout history and throughout a variety of areas with small incremental improvements. This morning I read an amazing story.

In a residential area, the residents were asked to put a small poster with the message, please drive safely, in the left lower corner of one the windows at the front of their house. Almost all residents agreed. Two weeks later they were asked whether they would agree to put up a billboard in front of their property with a similar message but this time the billboard was quite huge and not very attractive. More than 70% agreed. In another residential area no small posters were used but people were asked from the beginning about the billboard. Less than 30% agreed.

I think in our personal life, at our workplace, if we want to make a positive change, it may be worth to start rather small. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Reflection 146 (complex)

Life is so complex. Science is really complex.
And then there are the people;
the people who are really complex themselves,
but they like, oh, so much to compartmentalize

I am working for a university
and there are the grants for knowledge transfer
and there are the grants for community engagement
and there are the grants for research

Each of course have their own merits and limits. But the sad thing about this is: some of the people controlling the grants want to recipient of the grants only to address the scope within their own field

I think it is quite essential for everyone to see that if we want to embark on any of the above, we have to embark on all three. Based on that we could ask the recipients of the grants to have the main focus on one or the other but not to have the ONLY focus on that. People who manage to integrate the three (knowledge transfer, community engagement AND research) can deliver results for the community not just 1+1+1= 3 but1+1+1, making three hundred.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reflection 145 (understanding mercy)

Understanding mercy

There was a man in Napoleon's army who had done something so terrible, that it  was worthy of death. The day before he was scheduled to appear before the firing squad, the mother of the man went to see Napoleon, to ask for mercy. Napoleon replied that her son did not deserve mercy. 
The mother replied that she knew that. If he deserved mercy it would not be mercy.

The above story was adapted from Alice Gray's book, stories for the heart. and under it she had the following quote from an anonymous author:

Some of God's attributes are too wonderful to understand
but even if they remain darkness to the intellect
let them be sunshine to your soul.

After reading this, I got this very warm feeling deep inside my heart.
I was thinking of the mercy of God,
I hope you experienced something like that too.

Love and mercy and lots of peace to you.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Reflection 144 (together)


I read this wonderful story in a book, titled stories for the heart:

A man got lost in the jungle. After about half an hour he met another man who asked:
"Can you please show me the way out of this jungle?"
The man responded:
"No, I cannot show you the way out of here, but if you walk with me we could find the way together"

Friday, 14 November 2014

Reflection 143 (why is my soul so quiet)


I often wonder why my soul is so quiet
It has to be so silent for me to hear my soul's voice
I often wonder why my ego is so loud 
My ego's shouts are heard, even in the loudest of noise

Perhaps the answer lies in the inherent nature
The inherent nature of ego and soul
Perhaps the inherent nature of soul is stillness
and that of ego is not quiet at all

It would be easier to live a life full of love
Surely if our soul a bit louder would cry
But it may well be that love without silence
would not be true love; perhaps that's why...?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Reflection 142 (replacing the in)

In love versus love

Being in love, how beautiful, how amazing, how all encompassing!
The subject of our "in love" means everything and we are truly convinced that it will be for ever.
For ever and ever. At least that is how our fairy tales end: and they lived happily for ever after.

Life however is no fairy tale. Being IN love does not last forever.
It was nature that provided us with the ecstatic feelings of being in love
It was nature that connected to it the invariable feeling of being forever and ever.
It was nature that wants to ensure our species does not end in this generation
that is why we get the extraordinary feelings, and that is also why it connected it to forever-ness

The want for forever-ness is there for a good reason.
Our children may greatly benefit from parents with a stable relationship.
Somehow a stable relationship is not only benefiting the children but equally the partners inside it.
Humans need affection, support, love and where else is a better place to get these things than within the harmony of a family and the coziness of a real 'home'.
But what do we humans make of it?

Love is not the same as 'in love'.
While the one with the 'in' comes spontaneously as an infatuation that is invariably only temporary, the one without the 'in' does not come spontaneously. It requires effort. People in successful marriages sometimes make this effort at a subconscious level and manage to replace the in love with love. But far more often we try to cling to the infatuation. We lose the infatuation but try to bring it back. Sometimes we can temporary bring it back but it is still infatuation and tends to fly away as fast as it comes. If we fail to make the effort to replace the infatuation with love (without the ín) we either end up in broken marriage or unhappy relationships. We can make this effort consciously!

To love with effort seems to go against nature.
But that is what humans are endowed with and are capable of doing.
We can achieve much bigger things than through just following our natural instincts.
Our nature urges us to indulge in sweet and excessive food, we can choose a healthy diet.
Our nature urges us to relax and rest so we have enough energy for the next fight or flight response, but we can choose a healthy life style with regular excercise
Our nature urges us to be lazy, but we can choose to live a life with purpose bringing us great peace of mind and elevate us to higher level of thinking, a higher level of awareness.
Our nature urges us to fall in love and then fall out of it, but we can replace the in love with true love bringing us a life with lots of harmony, support and a real home for us and our children.

Which efforts are we talking about? Just doing simple loving things, saying simple loving words, creating a unique lovely name (darling and honey are not very unique), probing each other's interests, being 100% trustworthy, assisting in each other's growth, mental, emotional and spiritual growth that is. Once love, true love is growing, romance will come back with another delightful dimension. Being 100% trustworthy (not a single lie) is perhaps the single most important one

I have reached an age where many of my friends of similar age are struggling with the so called midlife crisis. Midlife crisis is an ego problem. Our children are bigger, our jobs often quite established, our wives growing older. Our ego starts to doubt our outer worthiness and gaining the heart of a much younger girl seems a ready solution to please the ego enough and convince it we still have "ït".

Giving in to this means we have not managed to create true love within our marriage in the first place. Embarking on another infatuation followed invariably by falling out of the infatuation is not a solution. Can you just imagine how your middle aged wife must feel about you having a young girl? First let me tell you it is not a big achievement to lure a young girl, even if she is beautiful into a relationship if you are middle aged. The most ugly men of middle age can usually lurk through sweet talk young ladies quite easily. So nothing to be proud off. But every thing to worry about. First put yourself in the place of your wife! Even if your religion allows a second wife, think for a while how the one who has delivered your children must feel. A little bit of empathy. Surely if you think about a second wife you have failed to establish love, to make the efforts. You have missed out on this wonderful human achievement, but then did you also lose all forms of empathy?

It is truly never too late to make the efforts to create a loving relationship with the mother of your children. Some marriages really do not work out, but if we all put perfect honesty and so many other good values to work within ours, the number of marriages enjoying true harmony may increase sharply.

How about the religion? 'It is allowed, Mohamed had multiple wives'. That was in a time when women outnumbered men by huge multiples since men were dying in wars and huntings. Now we are living in a different era. While it could be considered a noble and good thing to take care of a widow and multiple women in the year 400, this does not justify in any way a lust-driven instinctive poor and selfish solution to an ego driven selfish midlife crisis. The much better solution to midlife is to make some of efforts, simple efforts to find true love with your wife, respect her more than anybody else in the world and not let her suffer in silence because of a misplaced male ego problem.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Reflection 141 (aim)

Focus on aim

(inspired by R. Sharma's the monk who sold his ferrari)

I like the part of Alice in Wonderland where Alice asks the rabbit which way she should go. The rabbit responded that it depended on where she wanted to go. When Alice said she did not know where to go, the rabbit responded that then it did not matter which way she would take.

If we have no aim in our life, we may just drive around in circles and 10 years from now, we may be at exactly the same level of achievement that we are now.

So important to take on and of some time and think about our aim in the short term, medium long term and long term. Best to write it down. Why to write it down?
1. It will allow us to get focused
Think about a few rays of sunlight. If not focused they give a little bit of warmth.
If focused through a magnifying glass: can light up a flame
Focus can convert our aim in to small flame that may give us light and warmth
2. If we  write down and read our aim, it will tell our subconscious mind that this thought is more important than the other 59 999 thoughts we think in a day.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Reflection 140 (the sky)

The sky

How many days go by
that we do not see the sky?

This evening I came back from work and it was almost getting dark.
Usually I go out of the car and straight into the house.
But today, i took a small walk in the garden and noticed the sky.

.               These were the words that came to mind
Tomorrow I plan to take a few minutes in the morning
a few ninutes in the evening, just to watch the sky.
I think I have missed too many amazing clouds
I think I have missed too many glorious colours
I think I have missed too many wonderful skies

If today you have not taken a few moments to look at the sky
Please stop reading now, walk outside and take a look.
it may be breathtakingly beautiful

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Reflection 139 (what I know for sure)

What I know for sure

This is the title of a book by Oprah Winfrey.
In her foreword she states that during an interview she was asked the question and was so surprised by it, that she really had no answer. Can you imagine, Oprah at a loss of words! Afterwards however she gave it a lot of thought and over her life time she has encountered so many situations that made her sure about quite a variety of things.

Of course it is a very relevant question: What do I know for sure?
If someone would ask me, the immediate thing I would come up with would be that kindness is the fastest way to peace of mind and happiness. That is perhaps the thing I am most sure about  in my life. I am sure that I will die.
If I would be allowed to think for much longer I could come up with quite a number of other things I am sure about.

I am curious what others are sure about. If on the spot without lots of thinking you can come up with things you are sure about, please write them in the comments section of this post. No need to register or put your name or address.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Reflection 138 (fear)

`Today I read a religious magazine.
It had an article about women going to hell
There were plenty of articles about sin

How do all these writers know so much about who will go to hell and who not?
As a matter of fact they do not know at all.
They are just threatening people with something completely beyond their knowledge.
They try to instill fear and as such try to control the minds of followers
while love for our Creator is what encompasses the essentials of our religion.

This "If-you-do-not-follow-what-I-believe,-I-can-guarantee-you-hell" mentality is so desperately outdated and completely narrow minded. It is blocking any progress in spirituality or thinking or emotion or anything else not only for the one claiming this nonsensical statements themselves but for every unwitting follower they may have inadvertently gathered.

Let us leave as far as possible this abominable mentality as soon as we can for ever and ever and ever.

Reflection 137 (Peck and Freud)

The road less traveled

Recently I started (again) the book with the title: "the road less traveled" by Scott Peck.
In the first chapters, he fully blames the parents for children's and later adult's deviant behaviour.

Of course he is a psychiatrist and sees among the most extreme behavior problems and a number of them are truly related to poor parenting practices. But to use the Freudian dogma that all problems results from childhood is going a bit overboard, no matter how strongly the psycho-analysts believe that is true. If they were right, they would be able to cure virtually everyone with their psycho-analysis. But not so.

Surely parenting is very important but it is perhaps the most difficult task thrown on the shoulders of young adults (who just underwent parenting from their own parents :) ) without any formal training. If you ask, who is more important for a child's well-being: the parents or the paediatrician. For the huge majority of children, it will be the parents. No way anyone can become a paediatrician without extensive and thorough training spanning over more than one decade. Parenting however, it comes to you, expected or unexpected but most often without any experience or training. And for educated and uneducated people alike, the tasks of parenting seem as daunting and challenging or much more daunting and challenging than our own profession or job.

I have read many books on parenting, but none seems to fully agree with the other. If you read ten books on how to give a good PowerPoint presentation, nine will tell you the same essential things. If you read ten books on parenting nine or ten will be tell you almost completely different things.

I think the most prominent common thing in good advice for parents is the factor, named love. Almost all parents will claim to love their children very much. How can we not love a baby? Still many young adults do not love babies. Among the majority who loves babies, quite a number get easily tired of caring for them. Babies demand so much, they change your life style, your life completely. Then toddlers challenging authority, how do we discipline them. Of course many say with love. How much love do parents use in disciplining? How strongly can we control our own emotions? And the example we put up as a role model. The axiom of children will follow what we do and not so much what we say. True enough.

An common problem, also is the parents projecting their own wishes on the children's future. These parents tell themselves they love their children but limiting the freedom of the child to choose their own path in life is often more a reflection of the parent's self-love and need for pride than real love  and respect for the child.

While many psychiatric problems may indeed have a firm origin in childhood and in "wrong" parenting, for most adolescents and later adults it is a complex interplay between the personality, intellect, emotional and spiritual status of the adolescent/adult and the parenting. So true, parenting styles affect us life long but it is by far not the only thing. A lot of adolescents with major problems have siblings who do not have such problems, even though they had the same parents. Sure enough parents do not treat all siblings the same way but the role models stand.

I'd love to conclude that parenting is a very important task. It deserves a lot of thought and reflection and effort to make the right choices as parents. But as adults and even adolescents, we cannot blame all of our problems on our parents. The choices we make are ours. Whether or not our children become successful is the result of an extremely complex interplay between parents, children and any outside influence. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Reflection 136 (praise)


Many of us think we have to praise our God because our God will be angry if we do not.
What a mistake, do we think we are so great, we can make our God angry?

But still it is so good to praise our God
Not because God is vain and will bask in glory while being praised
God is not like human kings or sultans who demand and thrive on protocol

We were given prayer as a gift, as a present.
Praying and praising our Creator  sincerely from the heart
elevates our heart and brings our soul a bit closer to Him.
Praising our God is something that brings us peace of mind
Peace at heart, peace of soul.

It puts us in a state of gratefulness, thankfulness,
A thankful heart is a gift.
A gift from our God to us

Try to say sincerely thanks and see if it ever can make you feel bad?
Not so, it is truly a wonderful gift.
If we understand this, praying will never again be a sacrifice
It will be just delight, a present, a gift.
Not a gift from us to God,
A gift from God to us.
A pleasure, a joy
A pure delight

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Reflection 135 (today)


This morning I wanted to be the sunshine
in the life of everyone i'd meet

Now at night, I am not so sure
Not sure if any rays have shone

Sometimes small gestures or a kind word
can make a difference in someone's life

I hope I had some of these today
'cause of big good deeds I am not aware

Perhaps the small talk with my son
or here or there a hi or smile

I still hope that my day  has meant a thing
for here or there a soul, a heart or mind

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Reflection 134 (child-like)


This morning my nephews and nieces were visiting.
I had a really good time with them, making jokes and laughing.
How nice is it to laugh together with (not at) children!
Sometimes I feel that if the world would be a bit more child-like.
it would be sooooooo much better.

Child-like does not mean childish.
Child-like is just thinking simple like a child does
Liking simple things, being able to laugh at simple jokes

Let us make it our aim for today to be a little bit child-like