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15th Year: 2013
May
- NJC 1984 Himalayan Expedition Gathering

Jun
- I Am Gifted, Me&Dad Camp, Univeral Studio Singapore, Rock Climbing at Camp5 in KL

Jul
- Racial Harmony Day @ Unity Secondary School
Family Picnic @ Botanic Gardens

Aug
- Skateboarding, Visiting Liz Poey, Living the Agreements retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz at Teotihuacan, Mexico

Sep
- The Piano Guys, Unity PSG BBQ, SAFRA Social Enterprise Festival

Oct
- Robyn turns Hardy 15, Liz Poey's wake
Nov
- Mama Dryclean, Robyn's first guitar ensemble performance at S'pore Conference Hall, ICE Challenge, Charity Yoga

Dec
- White Christmas Ski Holiday at Changbaishan Ski Resort, China

 
   

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9 AUG 2013: Skateboarding

From research on the Internet, it seems that skateboarding will prepare one for snowboarding. So Jin and Robyn bought a skateboard from Cash Converter to prepare for their snowboarding in December.
Skateboarding zero Skateboarding no, no Robyn on skateboard
From her posture, you would imagine Jin to be the trainer... Jin expertly showed what NOT to do when skateboarding... Thanks to Jin's negative demo, Robyn learnt faster.

 

 

11 AUG 2013: Workout at the CCK Gym

Robyn brought us to the CCK gym for a Sunday afternoon family workout.

Robyn at the gym

 

18 AUG 2013: Elizabeth Poey, Alvin's Most Inspirational Teacher

Elizabeth Poey

Miss Elizabeth Poey was the teacher who coloured Alvin's love for adventure and the mountains. She was also Alvin's inspiration and role model on how to live life to the fullest, forever positive, hopeful and cheerful, come what may.

Liz led the first NJC Himalayan Expedition to Nepal in 1984 - 30 kids with 6 teachers. The expedition left all 36 individuals permanently transformed. Due to Liz's tireless effort over the years to gather us, almost all of us have managed to stay bonded.

Despite cancer stricken for years, Liz has remained joyful and even continued to travel to Mongolia, Israel and Mount Fuji. She also took an active interest to support my seva projects in Kenya.

Cancer has now eaten her to skin and bone. We came together to visit her and took the opportunity to catch up with one another.

NJC Himalayan Expedition 1984
We took turns in small groups to visit Liz at her home.

Liz Poey
Liz stayed cheerful despite the discomfort.

Angelena's home
Catching up over makan at Angelena's new home.
NJC Himalayan 1984 Gang
The NJC Himalayan Expedition 1984 gang.

 

19-29 AUG 2013: Living the Agreements with Don Miguel Ruiz, Teotihuacan, Mexico

An inner inclination to learn from a shaman surfaced in Alvin for the past month. But where in South America to hunt down a shaman to learn from! Then he recalled a set of 3 books given by Pauline and Tony 3 years ago - "The Four Agreements", "Mastery of Love" and "The Voice of Knowledge" by Don Miguel Ruiz, who is a living shaman. He read it them all again, found its website and discovered Don and his family would be hosting a workshop in exactly a week's time at Teotihuacan, the ancient sacred pyramid site where "man awaken to become god" for the Toltec. The inner calling had been answered, the sign was clear. Mexico, here I come!

16 Aug: Enquired about course vacancy at www.miguelruiz.com
17 Aug: Karla Ruiz confirmed availability by morning via email. Booked and paid for course ($1500) and air tickets ($3500) by midnight
19 Aug: Flew to Mexico via Paris on Air France
20-21 Aug: Mexico City
22-26 Aug: Living the Agreements, Teotihuacan
27-28 Aug: Mexico City

Alvin and Don Miguel Ruiz
Alvin and his master, Don Miguel Ruiz, at the summit of the Pyramid of the Sun
Discourse by Don Miguel Ruiz
Morning discourse by Don Miguel Ruiz, assisted by his sons Jose and Mickey.

The Avenue of Death with the Pyramid of the Sun
Teotihuacan - where man awakens to become god. The Sun Pyramid and the Avenue of Death.


Alvin and the Pyramid of the Sun
Jose and Don
Son and Father - Jose and Don
Don Miguel Ruiz

Thank you, Don, for being a Master in my life and showing me the way to living and being the truth.

We celebrated Don's 60th birthday on the last day.

Living the Agreements for Life gang

 

ALVIN'S JOURNAL

22 Aug 2013

7pm - Miguel’s discourse:

We are all born free and authentic. However, through domestication from young by our parents, teachers and society, we got hooked onto lies of all sorts – this is good, that is bad, to be this, to be that, can do this, can’t do that, etc – and we began to live a story and we are the main character in it.

At first when we were young, we were being domesticated. Later on, we began to domesticate ourselves and reinforce the story to the point that we completely identify with the story that is woven together by all sorts of lies. That identity became who we believe ourselves to be. But that is certainly not the truth.

Living the Agreements is about our awareness to see the lies for what they are, to reclaim the power to make choices based on what we truly want, to recognize that everyone else is also living unconsciously in his/her own story. Therefore, we must not take others personally for they too are asleep. We have to be disciplined to walk the path all the way to become the truth. That is when life becomes a celebration of freedom.

Our body is matter. Matter is not alive. Matter moves only when acted upon by a force, and it can’t change direction unless acted upon by another force. Our body moves because we give it life. Our body is dead all along until we came into it with our life force, multiplying from a single cell into who we are. Therefore, we must understand that we are not our body. Our body will die one day, and we’ll leave our body, but we are eternal.

We are not our mind either. The mind is a data storage of knowledge and memories and it is supposed to serve us. However, our mind tends to trap us in the past or project us into the future. Human is the only animal that punishes itself a thousand times from one single mistake. This is due to our habit of replaying the same past mistake in the mind over and over again.

The Judge inside us always makes judgment on everything that we do or not do. The Victim is also played out by ourselves. So as our story continues in an automatic mode, we continue to suffer a life of misery.

It is wise to be able to stand back and watch our story like that in the movie. (This is the same idea behind Osho’s witnessing self.) Being a witness to our own story will allow us to detach ourselves from it so as to reclaim the power to make new choices for a more and more authentic life.

Mickey:

We must be careful not to turn the 4 Agreements into 4 Conditions. Conditions are mutated agreements with conditions attached. That’s why the 5th Agreement “Be skeptical, but be open to listening” is significant. Be skeptical not to others, but to any negativity that might bubble up from within ourselves.

Honesty and discipline. Be honest to ourselves. We are WIP so no need to beat ourselves up when we realize at any moment when we fall short of the 4 Agreements. When we are honest with ourselves, we accept our shortcomings and thus know where we have to make improvement, and then act with discipline. This way of respecting our self is how we would be able to respect others. We can’t give to others what we don’t have within.

Jose:

How do we forgive ourselves? Gratitude. Have gratitude towards those who hurt us. It will open our heart to learning the lesson that is offered through that situation, and grow from there.

23 Aug 2013

9am - Miguel:

Teotihuacan is where man awaken to become god or the truth. In this sacred ground of the Toltec, we are invited to be our own truth, to become free, through letting go of our story, lies and agreements.

Toltec means Artist. To be a Toltec means to be an artist for life, practicing the Art of Living in painting our own story on the canvas of life.

4 challenging agreements that we have to overcome are: Fear, Power, Knowledge, Death.

Toltec saying of a plain truth: “You are either happy or stupid”. Whenever you are unhappy, you are just plain stupid.

We often think too highly of ourselves. Given the 7 billions others on earth and uncountable number of universes out there, how insignificance we are as an individual. Knowing how long existence has been around before we are born and how infinitely long it will continue to exist after we are gone, we realize how insignificant our own short life span matters to the whole. Understanding that frees us up to live a life of joy and happiness.

Just be happy, is the message.

Mickey:

Assumptions. Our mind has an immense urge to know. When we are not presented with full info, our mind tends to complete the info by filling in the gap with assumptions. And we tend to choose assumptions that fit with our own story. Therefore, everyone fills in gaps with one’s assumptions, misinterpreting situations and one another’s intents, complicating life with misunderstanding. Refraining from making assumption is a key agreement to keep.

10am - Teotihuacan (Group led by Eva): Lesson on letting go of our agreements in order to write a new story. I picked 3 rocks to represent 3 agreements to be dropped. I took my time to stroll around the Quetzalcoatl ground that represented the mitote (maya). That is our mind, constantly having a thousand voices chatting away concurrently, like in a busy marketplace. I ponder over what might be 3 disempowering agreements that I should drop…

Ceremoniously, each of us let go of the rock to symbolize letting go of these agreements that held together our stories. I did it at the platform that signifies the safe place, where we all take refuge and develop a resistance to change, and therefore staying stuck within the mitote. Casting away our old agreements was to prepare the way for us to be ready to reconstruct our story anew.

Upon dropping our old agreements, it was time to ascend the Quetzalcoatl to take the leap of faith across the abyss onto the Quetzalcoatl pyramid to begin the journey of re-writing our story anew.

After that, we were free to spend time at the pyramid sites until we met again at 5pm. I walked along the Avenue of Death to the Pyramid of the Moon with Moises, crossing the squares of Fear, Power, Knowledge and Death.

Homework: “Forgive everyone, forgive myself.”

I forgive myself for all my past mistakes, for all the lies that I created myself and the lies that others created and dumped onto me, for my past failed attempts and ill-disciplines in righting them. I thank myself for walking on the path of self-realization, for enquiring deeper and deeper into how to awaken from my own deep sleep, and for continuous effort to remain aware, conscious and to be the witness to my own thoughts and stories.

24 Aug 2013

9am – Miguel:

He shared his death experience. On 8 Feb 2002, he awoke with a shearing pain at 4am and knew he had a heart attack. Amazingly, he was actually excited and was looking forward to his experience of leaving his body.

About a month prior to that, he led a program at Teotihuacan. It dawned upon him that he would soon leave his body while conducting a ceremony at the pyramid site.

During his 8-week coma, he related how it was like to return to the source. Imagine we perceive everything through our senses from a point behind our eyes and between our ears. Imagine that one point being at the top of a mountain perceiving light from all directions. Light is the messenger of Life; what we see is brought by the light that comes from different objects in different places. Now imagine this one point is on a ray of light in a straight line extending from it to 2 opposite directions into the infinity. An infinite number of rays of light cross this one point. Every ray of light in a straight line is formed by an infinite number of points extending to the infinity. That means any one point is also connected to every other points in the entire existence. Knowing this, we know we are One with every other being and matter that exists. Thus, coming out of his death means returning once again from that plane of total connectedness with the All back to a specific individuated body as Miguel.

He reminded us that our body is already dead from conception. Our body is alive because we give life to it. Therefore, we are not our body. We are eternal. We are in our body only temporarily. There is no need to fear death.

10am - Teotihuacan (Group of men led by Leo, Jose and Mickey.):

Lesson on Forgiveness and Identity as Man vs Woman.

At my point of conception, 2 living forces, sperm and ovary, merged to become me. Both the sperm and ovary are already alive, so the life force was there before my own conception. But my sex was only determined later as the chromosomes played out the chances and I became a male. I could well have become a female.

At birth, I was born as a human with no sexual orientation but domestication quickly entered to teach me that I was a Boy. Soon, more domestication on how a boy should or shouldn’t be, what is a good vs bad boy, what a kind of man should a boy grow up to become. Later, more domestication entered to conditioned me how to be a good man, good husband, etc.

“Be a good boy,” is what the adults often tell a child, and that sets up the idea in that little mind that he is not a good boy. So for the rest of his life, he is programmed to think that he is never good enough, and has to forever strive for perfection but never able to ever reach it. It’s a program set up to fail from the start!

How does a man measures himself, whether he is good enough? He takes the responses from the other sex, women. Thus, man uses woman to judge himself. If the mother is happy, he is a good boy. If the wife enjoys an orgasm, he is a good husband. If his daughter scores A’s, he is a good father.

This program is set up to fail him because if he is looking outside of himself for love, happiness and truth, he will always be disappointed. No one can be responsible for another’s happiness. Only I, and I alone, can be responsible for my own happiness.

On the other hand, the woman is set up to look to man for her happiness. Thus both man and woman are set up to fail each other!

Only when I love and respect myself will I be able to truly love and respect my woman. I can’t give what I don’t have. My job is to take responsibility of my half, and let her take responsibility of hers.

Mickey said that there is no need for any relationship to be happy. Man and woman feeling needy for a partner is only a belief to be dropped. When we are centred in our own being and awaken to the truth, we will be happy and be love itself. In that state, we are love and we will love everyone and anyone. We then will be like a magnet that will draw to us people who resonate with our love. When someone comes along that fits into our likings, and we decided to co-create a shared dream together, who says ‘Yes’ to one another, then we can choose to be partners. Otherwise, no need. (This is similar to Osho’s teaching.)

Jose shared how he stabbed himself at the stomach to end his life due to a failed abusive relationship. Luckily he was fat and so the tip of the blade missed the deadly spot, and he survived. When his father visited him at the hospital and asked him why he stabbed himself, Jose started on his story. Miguel pronounced him stupid and helped him realized how he could drop his story and learn from it. Jose is today thankful to his ex-wife for training him to emerge from the ‘underworld’. Jose said to have gratitude for all the good and bad that happened, for every negative relationship holds within it a gift of realization and transformation. However bad a past event was, it is now over and gone. Having experienced it, we can now choose never to re-enact it in the present moment of now.

Leo shared that Guilt has only one function – to make us aware of a regrettable act so as to ensure that we don’t ever repeat it again. Beyond that, should we retain Guilt in our system, it simply becomes self-abuse.

Forgiving myself is the way to release Guilt.

Not forgive another is like drinking poison myself thinking it will kill the other.

Man to say to woman: “Please forgive me for using you to judge myself.”

25 Aug 2013

7am – Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan

This morning was when we get to awaken to be the truth, said Miguel. He told us to walk in silent from Hotel Villa to the Pyramid of the Sun.

As I walked in the cool morning air, accompanied by the breaking of the dawn, I reflected on my past story of 47 years and wonder how I might wish to create my future story anew for the rest of my life.

I decided it is best to flow along the river of life like a leaf afloat, non-resistant and light, simple and pure, with awareness, consciousness, honesty, respect of myself, moment by moment. I decided it is unwise to live either in the past or future, to have expectation of self and others. I decided the 5 Agreements are a great tool to help me live in this world, but not of this world.

There might still be moments of doubts and negativity, of going astray, of losing awareness, of saying/doing things that I don’t mean to, and of unconsciously hurting myself or others. But I must remember that that is all okay, that it is all a game of life, that I mustn’t be attached to anything for longer than is necessary to grasp the mistakes I’d made, and then to drop the past and to move on in life.

I tried to seek out existing lies and disempowering agreements to be dropped. On one hand, I was glad there seems not to be any giant monsters to slay; on the other hand, I wonder what might be in store at the next corner on my journey in life. Then I realize it’s stupid to expect any monster to jump out on me. If I choose to, and to expect so, then monsters have to materialize to match my desire. Law of attraction, period. Isn’t it stupid to creatively manifest problems into my life this way, consciously or unconsciously?

At the base of the Pyramid of the Sun, Mickey and Jose spoke to the group while Miguel climbed slowly to the top to await us. Mickey invited us to take every step with full consciousness of our body and the entire surrounding, to sense the connectedness of us with every other beings and things in this world. Today was the day for us to reconstruct our story anew.

My gradual climb up became a reflective journey. I was filled with gratitude to the Toltec people for laying this magnificent pyramid so many centuries ago, so that I, out of 7 billions people who are alive today, got the chance to climb up the foundation they laid in search of my own self. I am thankful for how an intention for the Toltec to support its own people to awaken to become god in a bygone era was today offering the same opportunity for me to ascend to my own godliness.

This realization showed me the light to the kind of story that I could create for the rest of my life. Humble and tiny my own life may be, but significant the sparks that I could create and leave behind may bear for future generations. However small or grand, I understand it would just be another story. The thought of it gave birth to sparks of passion and longings – what a worthwhile dream to go for and invest my short life into. However, I must not let such a dream becomes a burdensome task or it would lose the purity of the very intent. I must not let a good agreement turn into a condition.

As I took each step, I saw how unique was the stone arrangement on each step where I placed my foot. It showed that every moment in my life is unique. There is never the same moment. Therefore, to live even for a second in the past or future would mean to miss out on that very present moment of truth and beauty. This is a realization to keep aflame always.

Before I knew it, I arrived at the top. It was a great viewpoint of the surrounding extending to the far horizon, peppered with hot air balloons flying about. Miguel was sitting at the top of the stony hump with the ash of the late Erica. Erica was among the dreaming group and had recently passed away due to cancer. Her wish was for her ash to be scattered around Teotihuacan by Miguel.

When everyone had arrived at the top, we all sat around Erica’s ash and began a ceremony. The Miguel family and the elders took turn to speak. Jose’s “Fly free” touched me most. Miguel sprinkled some of her ash at this spot. They passed Erica’s photo around and she looked so beautiful. Mickey reminded everyone to look into each other’s eyes, appreciate their beauty and to say “I love you” truthfully in that person’s face. We must not wait till it’s too late and to have to say “I love you” to that person’s photo.

I hugged Miguel, thanked him for being a master to me, and told him I love him. I shall remember this moment of hugging my master at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun on 25 Aug 2013. We all hugged and said “I love you” to one another.

This was to mark the start of our reconstructing our story anew, letting go of Fear, Power, Knowledge and Death.

Then we descended to the plaza to celebrate the death of Erica. Miguel reminded us that everyone comes and eventually goes. Once upon a time here at Teotihuacan, it was a thriving university for the Toltec, but that was also gone now. We all die sooner or later. Death is part of life so there is no need to fear death. And since we can’t know when is our moment of death, all the more we must treasure every moment of now, and take action on what matters to us.

He'd said the night before that to not sit and hope. Hope means something in the future. God is hopeless. God is action. Action, action, action is what counts, moment by moment.

When someone whom we love dies, it is okay to miss him and allow our emotion to be expressed. But we must not feel sad for the decease. Imagine you were Erica who died and now saw all the people whom you love gather together to feel sad over you. How do you like it that they are using you as an excuse to feel hurt and therefore abuse themselves? At the point of death, we should celebrate the life of the decease, and bless the decease to “fly free.”

Miguel reminded us that we all come across many people in our lives. People come in and get out of our life, people move away to other places. What is the difference when someone we know died compared to him having moved away to a distant place such that you would never meet him ever again? Why is there a need to respond to death with sadness?

Miguel repeatedly emphasized that life is just a game. However our story turns out, it’s just a story. There’s no good or bad, right or wrong. In each moment, be authentic, honest with ourselves in whatever we want, and act with love and integrity to joyfully create that story. Just be happy.

Based on Erica’s wish to scatter her ash around Teotihuacan, Miguel turned it into a lesson for all of us. He asked each of us to take a pack of her ash to scatter around Teotihuacan. He wanted us to imagine the ash is that of our own, upon our own death. It was a powerful act of dying while alive, and to leave the fear of death to rest permanently at Teotihuacan.

I took the ash up to a remote mini pyramid. I was alone with a tiny part of this stranger in the form of her ash. As the significance of the act dawned upon me, I weep tears of gratitude to Erica. She was a stranger whom I never met, yet I was honored to carry a part of her, in the form of her ash, to learn a lesson of my own through her death. She died a death so huge as to have impacted the lives of 38 participants on this course. I was so deeply moved by how selflessly giving the death of a beautiful stranger could serve so many others. I was so thankful to Erica and wished her fly free to the beyond. It is the kind of death that I would look forward to designing for myself.

How wonderfully significant it must be to design my death experience for Robyn to bring my ash to scatter at significant locations, with some of her friends, to learn life lessons that could be amplified through my death? This is something to bring back to share with Jin and we shall have fun designing our death together.

I stayed at the place for quite a while, letting go of fear of death (which was not a big deal for me I realized), and contemplating the beauty that death could bring to others. I’m determined to design my own death to be of service to others. So exciting an idea to make my death a Seva!

1pm: Celebration at Hotel Villa.

Before the celebration of Miguel’s 61st birthday (27 Aug 1952), I seized a chance to sit with him.

I: “Miguel, may I ask you a question? Your description of points of light being connected to all points of light, that state must be so blissful. Why did you decide to return to this body?”

Miguel: “There’s no choice. The body wanted me back.”

I: “No choice? It wasn’t due to some unfinished business?”

Miguel: “No choice.”

I: “Whatever, I’m so glad that you came back.”

Silence.

I: “Miguel, sitting with you, I realize I have no question to ask you. May I know what advice would you give to me?”

Miguel: “Do you need any advice? Just be happy.”

Pause.

I: “Do you say that to everyone?”

Miguel: “No. If someone needs advice, I’ll give it. You are ok. Just be happy.”

I: “Thank you. That’s reassuring to me.”

So I realized I still doubted myself… But Miguel’s response gave me a lift to a higher confidence level. But I must be watchful of my ego… With the celebration, we gathered for a last round of talks by Mickey, Jose and Miguel. The trip officially ended.

 

 

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