LIFE IS NOT A DISNEY MOVIE

Life is not a Disney movie. Change, especially a change for the better, does not happen overnight with a swish of a wand. There is no prince nor nobleman coming to sweep us off our feet and take us away from our troubles.

Before I embark on a new series of content on this blog, I’d like to take a day to share my own journey of transformation with you.

I am a professional storyteller by trade. I spend my days telling the story of motorsports via the written word, pictures or video. Like many of my generation, I have allowed my career to define me. While my professional skills have grown, there was little room or thought given to self development. This went on for decades.

About three years ago (in Bazi terms, that was just at the time when I was entering a new Luck Pillar), the nagging voice inside my head, telling me that there is something more out there, became louder and more insistent. That was when I decided to embark on a serious study of a topic that had fascinated me all my life – Chinese Metaphysics. Unknowingly, that was the start of a new journey.

As a Malaysian Chinese, I have known about Bazi all my life. In fact, my parents told me they consulted a Bazi Consultant when I was a baby. They said the consultant revealed that I would travel frequently in life. Which was true. Apart from that, they couldn’t remember anything else from the consult. They don’t provide reports in those days. 😊

In spite of my natural fascination, during my youth, I felt a push-pull towards the art. This was mainly due to the over-commercialization of the industry especially during the 90s. Put this crystal in the what-not sector of your bedroom, and you will soon find a boyfriend. Really? Just hang these metal coins in the whatever sector of your house, and you will be promoted. Perhaps those over-simplified solutions worked for some people, but I had my doubts.

So decades went by where I vacillated between feeling drawn to the art while at the same time repulsed by it. And then something happened.

In 2014, I went through a golden three months where everything I touched turned into gold. It was like I was on fire. Hot! I wanted to know why. Being human, I wanted to know if I could forecast that period again. Being greedy, I wanted to know what I could do to prolong the effects of that golden window.

I began searching for information in earnest. By then, Dato’ Joey Yap was already dominating the space in Chinese Metaphysics. And truth to tell, his message of action versus inanimate objects resonated with me. So in 2017, instead of spending my fun money on self-indulgent K-pop concert trips to Seoul, I decided to invest in courses.

In modern psychology, there are five stages of learning – Unconscious Incompetence; Conscious Incompetence; Conscious Competence; Conscious Incompetence; and Mastery/Flow. This corresponds with the Chinese stages of learning, and I prefer the Chinese version. It’s simply cooler. These five steps are: 1) 知To Know; 2) 明To Understand; 3) 悟To Awaken; 4) 修To Cultivate; and 5) 行To Practice.

I spend much of 2017 and 2018 on Stage 1 and 2. Apart from gaining new knowledge and an expanded social network, nothing much had changed.

Stage 3 and 4 happened in 2019 where I noticed an increased mindfulness of my own capacity, blind spots and habits. Awakening to the knowledge that I have a naturally lazy chart, what then should I do? Knowing my tendency to rush willy-nilly into projects, how can I change my approach? Do I just accept things as they are? Or should I start making changes? Do I want to continue operating on auto-mode? What do I really want?

With clarity came mindfulness and growth, as well as a drive to help others gain the clarity they need to make better decisions. Which led to the creation of this blog in 2020.

These are also the questions I now ask my clients during our consult or coaching sessions. Now that you know, what will you do? Armed with this information, what action will you take?

But the learning never stops. Now that I am at Stage 5 with Bazi and Qimendunjia, I am preparing to embark on Stage 1 again with Feng Shui. And I will continue to share my learnings through this blog in the hopes that the information will help spark an idea or inspiration in you.

To conclude, life is not a Disney movie. It’s about being 1% better every day.

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MI YUAN AND THE DUMPLING FESTIVAL

In this coming week, many in the Chinese community will be celebrating the annual Dumpling Festival or also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. No, this is not a ‘How To Make A Dumpling’ type of post. Sorry! I won’t even know where to start! However, I’d like to introduce you to the reason for the Dumpling Festival.

Before I begin my story, I should probably explain that I have an insane love for ancient history, particularly ancient China. I find them fascinating, especially the fact that their work from thousands of years ago still survive to this day. So every once in a while, expect me to share some stories on my favourite historical characters. For that reason, I’m creating a brand new category in my blog. We shall call it ‘Useless But Fun Information’.

So back to the reason for the Dumpling Festival. Meet Mi Yuan, a minister from the state of Chu during the Warring States Period. He is also often referred to as Qu Yuan or Chu Yuan, meaning Yuan from the state of Chu. Today, the state of Chu is known as Hubei in Central China (yes, Wuhan is the present-day capital of Hubei).

To make it easier for you to place the timeframe of the Warring States, I will use the First Emperor of China (Qin ShiHuang) as reference. Mi Yuan served as Left Minister of Chu during the time when the First Emperor’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was King of Qin. That means he lived and served before the First Emperor unified China, more than 2000 years ago.

Most of what is known about Mi Yuan today comes from the Records of the Grand Historian written by Sima Qian during the Han Dynasty. In the book, Mi Yuan was portrayed as an extremely idealistic and patriotic minister, surrounded by greedy and unprincipled colleagues and serving a weak king. He was often slandered by the other ministers and was twice exiled from court.

During his time in exile, Mi Yuan was said to have roamed the countryside and collected folklores, but his most enduring work would be the anthology Chu Ci (Songs of Chu) in which the poem Li Sao (Encountering Sorrow) is probably one of the most famous.

Here’s a translated excerpt from Li Sao: “I marvel at the folly of the king; So heedless of his people’s suffering; They envied me my mothlike eyebrows fine; And so my name his damsels malign; Truly to craft alone their praise they paid; The square in measuring they disobeyed; The use of common rules they held debased; With confidence their crooked lines they traced.”

While Mi Yuan struggled to stand tall and cling to his principles in the rapidly weakening state of Chu, he faced a formidable opponent in the form of Zhang Yi, the premiere of the Qin state during the Warring States Period. Where Mi Yuan was blunt of speech, Zhang Yi was famed for his silver tongue, able to weave together alliances from a string of words. Zhang Yi’s work as a strategist set into motion events that would eventually weaken the other states.

Unfortunately for the state of Chu, Mi Yuan’s warnings fell on deaf ears. Exiled and in despair, Mi Yuan walked into the river with a rock in his arms. Here’s the thing about Mi Yuan, though. While the court hated him, the general populace loved him. He was seen as an incorruptible government official, which he probably was.

Legend has it that the villagers raced their boats into the river but were too late to save him. That was how the Dragon Boat Festival began. To stop the fishes from feasting on his body, the villagers threw their rice dumplings into the river. That was how the Dumpling Festival came to mark the passing of a patriotic man.

Little else is known about the personality of Mi Yuan. In the drama series The Qin Empire, poetic/creative license had him portrayed by Yang ZhiGang as principled but lacking in people skills. In the drama series, he often scoffed at the opinions of his fellow ministers, sometimes pushing his views to the point of shouting at the Chu King. Fists balled and jaws clenched, he barged his way through delicate diplomatic situations like a bull in a china shop.

If I were to put it into Bazi terms, he was like a thriving Jia Wood Structure, rigid and unbending to the extreme.

In the series, the Chu King once said to Mi Yuan after a prolonged bout of shouting, “Mi Yuan, you have no idea how lucky you are to serve a patient master. Any one of my fellow Kings would have relieved you of your head by now.”

I guess the King finally lost his patience.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

If there was a lesson to be learned from Mi Yuan’s story, I guess it would be the importance of learning to be mindful of how our own behaviour play a part in eliciting response from others.  That it is okay to cling on to our principles, but we all need some flexibility in delivery.

But here’s a thought to end my self-gratifying post, more than 2000 years later, only hard-core fans of ancient Chinese history would know about Zhang Yi. But everyone is still ‘celebrating’ Mi Yuan. So how’s that for legacy?