Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shifting Gears

I recall a story.

Hui Neng, the 6th Master of Shaolin, once overheard two men arguing about a flag fluttering in the wind.

"The flag is obviously moving!" cried the first man.

"Don't be stupid! It's obviously the wind that is moving" cried the second.

"The flag is moving!"

"No! The wind!"

"Flag!"

"Wind!"

The argument went back and forth, until they almost came to blows. At this point Hui Neng interrupted.

"Neither the flag nor the wind is moving. It is only your hearts that are moving."

Enlightened, the two men joined Hui Neng for his daily meditations.

****

What is Buddha?

Three Bushels of Rice.


****

The California Bar Exam has not moved, but I have.

The California Bar Exam is not a pleasant experience by any measure. It tests your knowledge on 14 subjects - all of which are boring as hell. You have two months to prepare. You have 6 essay questions, 2 performance tests and 200 multiple choice questions to complete within a 3 day testing period, of 6 hours of exam time a day.

I am not, however, writing this entry to express my mental and physical exhaustion, which is admittedly considerable. I'm writing about the scope of the exam because it will give you some idea of how emotionally draining the experience is.

Especially when you are unsure if you wanted to be a lawyer in the first place.

The California Bar Exam therefore tests one more aspect of me - how badly I want to be a lawyer in California. In light of that, everything other bar-exam related stress seems to pale in comparison.

I've written about why I am here and why I am doing this. It isn't enough, I've discovered. Yet, has anything really changed from then till now? No. But I was almost resentful enough to call it quits, pack up and go home.

Until I was made to realise that what I thought I was doing out of love, I was ultimately doing out of cowardice - it is always easier to make yourself think you don't have a choice, and that you are the one making the hard choices, taking the pain, being the victim.

That no one was making me a victim but me.

I can blame Singapore for my twisted upbringing. I can blame my wife and my stupid sense of duty for my circumstances. I can whine, complain, shake my fists at the world, wonder what the fuck went wrong and stomp my feet.

Or I can realise that I am human, and thus have free will, despite false choices and imperfect knowledge, and being burdened with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. That I can hate my choices, or I can take control and transfix myself onto the World Tree and sacrifice of an eye for a drink in the Well of Wisdom.

A sacrifice of myself, for myself.

****

I write in symbols because symbols have power. I show improvement on my mock tests, but I note with some detachment that this particular symbol has ceased to exert power.

Has anything changed? Nothing - except my heart.

****

What is Guilt?

Three Points on the MBE.

2 comments:

Gilbert Koh said...

Hmmm ... Wonder if this is the same Hui Neng".

Anthony said...

The same.