Jul 31, 2007

The Joys of Skipping School

Once upon a time, the blogger known as Stressed Teacher wrote a post entitled The Parent's Letter. There he commented disapprovingly about students who skip school events, and parents who write letters to excuse their children from school events.

Stressed Teacher felt that such students are either lazy, or cowardly and kiasu. He also felt that the parents of these students are failing to instil proper values in the kids.

I left a comment on Stressed Teacher's blog to say that I disagreed. My main point was that like most other people in the world, students simply don't like to waste their time on unproductive, useless activities. Only a few students, however, are bold enough to defy the school's rules and expectations. These are the few who will skip unproductive, useless activities, and subsequently produce a parent's letter.

I suppose you can guess that during school days I was a chronic absentee myself. Anyway, the Straits Times had an article today which reminded me of my discussion with Stressed Teacher.

ST July 30, 2007
Ethnic costumes are not racism level indicators
Students more inclined to learn racial sensitivity from example
By Tessa Wong

HARMONISE, or else.

That was the underlying message of a secondary school's authoritarian decision to discipline more than 30 students two weeks ago during its Racial Harmony Day celebrations.

When students there failed to turn up in ethnic costumes, they said they were forced to stand outside the school office for 11/2 hours, missing out on some festivities.

After that, they had to fill out a feedback form on racial harmony.

It's an approach that's heavily ironic. The principal had said the school didn't think it had excluded a lot of people, only 'a minority' of the student population - this, on a day meant to celebrate tolerance and inclusiveness in Singapore.

Such an approach inadvertently sends mixed signals. How could a student learn anything from such a rigid attitude so lacking in the good will inherent in the message of racial harmony?

While promoting the message of racial harmony is indisputably a good thing, I don't see the point in strictly enforcing a practice meant as a bit of fun for students and taking it way too seriously.

When one becomes too by-the-book in a bid to remain politically correct, one also ends up coming across as overtly preachy and puritanical - a big turn-off for any student, if you ask me.

In any case, I'm not quite sure how wearing an ethnic costume is supposed to show you are a racially harmonious individual in the first place.

The school's logic - that not turning up in ethnic costume warrants suspicion of racist sentiments - seems awkward, at best.

............... increasingly, I find such superficial expressions of racial harmony are becoming irrelevant to the younger generation, who have long been taught to embrace our national identity and respect one another as fellow Singaporeans.

In the end, there is no point sledgehammering home the idea of harmonious multi-culturalism. What will work is practising what one preaches.

I am sure schools work hard to educate their young charges on racial sensitivity via the curriculum and activities such as educational games or plays.

It would be even better if educators, instead of being too rigid in enforcing political correctness, could be more sensitive to the messages underlying their actions.

After all, aren't the young most inclined to learn from example, rather than a lecture?

Dressing up in ethnic costumes is ....... exactly the kind of school event that I would skip, as a student. It might be fun, but if I had better things to do, then yes, I would skip such an event. And no, I'm not a racist. I just don't like to participate in unproductive, useless activities.

Scholarships For The New Singapore

Singapore Angle has a post about bonded scholarships. It discusses the factors that one should consider, before accepting such a scholarship. I have one point to add.

In the past, one good reason to accept a scholarship was that it would add strong value to your resume. In other words, the "ex-PSC scholar" stamp would help to open doors in future. However, in my opinion, the value of the "ex-PSC scholar" stamp has somewhat eroded. I believe that it will continue to erode steadily over the years.

The reason is simply Singapore's foreign talent policy.

Fifteen years ago, most job candidates in Singapore came from a well-standardised and easily recognisable system. They were Singaporeans; went through the same education system; studied the same textbooks; sat for the same exams; and were graded and streamed according to the same rules administered by the same government.

Accordingly, comparing the relative "quality" of job candidates was a straightforward process. Within this system, PSC scholars represented the highest achievers. Hence the "ex-PSC scholar" label was valuable in the skilled job market. It clearly marked you out as much superior to the average job candidate (the one who was posted to East Toa Payoh Junior College, took only three A-level subjects and didn't even qualify to pick up an application form from PSC).

Things are different now. A much higher percentage of job candidates in Singapore do not come from that same old recognisable system. Instead they come from education systems in diverse countries such as China, India, Hong Kong, the UK, the US, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines and elsewhere.

In other words, the common ground for easy comparison has shrunk drastically. The "ex-PSC scholar" label has become much less obvious as a stamp of excellence.

In addition, nowadays many prospective employers in Singapore are not native Singaporeans themselves. They are "foreign talent" and grew up in some other country. So they are quite unfamiliar with the local education system. Even if they have settled here with their families for some time, their children are likely to be attending the international schools here.

Thus it does not necessarily mean anything to your job interviewer if you say that you were an RJC boy who scored straight A's in your Cambridge A-levels; Distinctions in your S-Papers; and were a PSC scholar. His response may simply be: "Oh ... What is RJC? What is S-Paper? What is PSC?".

He may not even know what the Cambridge A-levels are. Depending on where he came from, he would be more familiar with "Advanced Placement", "Senior High School", "International Baccalaureate", the "STPM", the "HKALE", or the "National College Entrance Exam". If you show him your string of beautiful straight A's for your A-levels, he may simply form the impression that the Cambridge A-levels must be very substandard examinations, where many people easily score good grades.

Recently, I was telling a foreign colleague of mine about PSC scholarships. Halfway through our conversation, he said, "Oh, I guess these scholarships must be for poor people."

I said: "Why do you say that?"

He said: "Well, otherwise they surely wouldn't accept the bond. It's a kind of slavery, isn't it? In exchange for financial aid?"

So in time, you see, the things we traditionally associate with the "ex-PSC Scholar" label may change significantly. Some foreigners in Singapore already associate it with a financially disadvantaged family background, LOL.

Jul 29, 2007

Credit Cards For the Zero Income Earners

ST July 29, 2007
Have card, no income, know the risks
Be aware of legal issues facing those under 21 such as the penalty for missing payments
By Lorna Tan

EASY credit has long been a fact of life for many Singaporeans. But now the floodgates are being opened to vast numbers of people who would normally never manage to get their hands on plastic.

Eighteen-year-old youth and those with no or low income can now apply for a ground-breaking card that does away with the standard $30,000 minimum annual income requirement.

Regulatory changes have allowed Citibank to launch the card, which offers a maximum credit of $500, a fraction of the typical limit of two months' pay.

In my opinion, this new Citibank initiative is at least partly due to the recent decision by NETS to approximately triple its administrative fees for retailers.

In order to allow their customers to make payment by NETS or credit card, retailers have to pay fees to NETS and credit card issuers. Traditionally, credit card issuers charge higher fees than NETS. That's why lower-end retailers accept payment by NETS, not credit card.

Now, by raising its fees, NETS has made it possible for the likes of Citibank to compete in the space of facilitating low-cost cashless transactions. If NETS facilities are not any cheaper than credit card facilities, your average HDB shop owner who allows you to pay by NETS might as well also allow you to pay by Visa or Mastercard.

The first step by Citibank, of course, is to ensure that the average customer of the average HDB shop can have a credit card, and not merely a NETS card. Since the MAS regulations have changed such that there is zero income requirement to get a credit card, your average HDB customer WILL be able to get a credit card.

Applicants under 21 need the consent of their parents, but the bank will not require parental income information. However, the bank is playing it safe: If the minimum monthly payment is not made, the card will be blocked.

The Citibank move - which could admit more than 900,000 people to the ranks of new credit card users - has sparked debate over whether Singaporeans, particularly teenagers, can be trained to use credit responsibly.

It is a pressing issue as more of such products are in the pipeline, with OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank saying they will introduce similar cards soon.

Some people are concerned about the danger of raising a generation of young adults who chalk up debts even before they leave school.

I think the attention got a bit misdirected. They forgot about the adult uncles and aunties in the heartland - the ones who queue up at the 4D and Toto outlets, and/or who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet.

"My income close to zero, what. I also over 21.
Maybe can use credit card to buy 4D."

How much will one be able to borrow via credit card, if one has no income? According to the ST article, it's $500. Of course, this is on a per bank basis, and we also learn from the article that apart from Citibank, two other banks - OCBC and UOB - will be introducing similar cards.

If you have zero income, but apply simultaneously and successfully to all three banks, you'll be able to borrow $1,500. If you wait and see if HSBC, Maybank, ABN AMRO and Standard Chartered come up with similar cards, who knows, you may be able to get 7 cards x $500 = $3,500.

Not bad for someone with zero income. A pretty good recipe for financial disaster too.

One interesting thing to watch is how the nature of credit card advertising will change as a result of the new rules. In the past, credit cards were often marketed as a symbol of the customer having "arrived", being successful etc. In fact, a credit card is one of the
five C's that commonly represent material achievement in the Singapore lifestyle. But now that kids and poor people can also get credit cards, I think that the usual advertising/marketing themes will have to change.

Into what? That's the interesting question.

Jul 26, 2007

The Carnegie Secret

This man is Andrew Carnegie. If you draw up a list of the 50 most successful people who have lived anytime in the past 100 years, there is a very good chance that his name would be on that list.

Carnegie grew up in a poor family. His father was a hand loom weaver. His mother was the daughter of a shoemaker. One of Carnegie's first jobs was as a messenger boy in a telegraph company , earning $2.50 per week.

Despite these humble beginnings, Carnegie ended up building one of the most powerful and influential corporations in the history of the United States. By the 1860s, he had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, as well as bridges and oil derricks. In the 1870s, he founded the Carnegie Steel Company, which eventually became the largest and most profitable industrial enterprise in the world.

Carnegie wasn't just a business tycoon. Among other things, he was also a scholar and a social activist. He became one of the best-known philanthropists in the world, and had a special interest in funding local libraries, world peace, and scientific research. By the time he died in 1919, he had given away USD $350,695,653 (approximately US$4.3 billion, adjusted to 2005 figures). After his death, his estate continued to donate millions of dollars to charitable causes.

Carnegie, as social activist, also had several interesting theories. One of his key ideas was that wealthy people had a responsibility to redistribute their wealth back to the poor in society, for the greater good of mankind. He called this idea the
Gospel of Wealth.

Anyway, Carnegie had a secret. It was later known as the Carnegie Secret. Apparently Carnegie discovered this secret all by himself. He felt that it was very, very important. It was basically the secret to achieving just about any goal a person might have. Carnegie felt that he should teach this secret to everybody, to share it with the rest of the world. How did he try to do this?

He met a young journalist. He explained the Carnegie Secret to the journalist. He wanted the journalist to write about the Carnegie Secret. However, Carnegie didn't want the journalist to simply take Carnegie's word for it, that the Carnegie Secret was true and really worked. Carnegie wanted the journalist to vigorously investigate and test the Carnegie Secret and be personally convinced of it . How? By researching the most successful people in the United States, and meeting them personally wherever this was possible, and asking them if they too, knew the Carnegie Secret.

It was a project that lasted 20 years. During this time, the journalist personally met with, or did research on, people like
Henry Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, John Rockefeller and many others. In total, the journalist did his research on more than 500 extremely affluent, powerful and/or successful people. And eventually, that journalist, Napoleon Hill, did write a book about the Carnegie Secret. First published in 1937, the book continues to be sold today, 70 years later. It is one of the bestselling books of all time.

The book, of course, is about TAR.

It is not one of my favourite books. One reason is that I find it rather dated - the examples and illustrations it uses are drawn from the world as it was in the 1920s and 1930s. The book also presents conventional, non-TAR wisdom such as the importance of persistence and good planning, which is rather obvious and self-explanatory to me. However, a good chunk of the book does revolve around key words like "thought", "faith", "visualisation", "imagination" , "subconscious mind", "reality", "the sixth sense", "autosuggestion", "positive affirmation", "the transmutation of sex energy", "the science of prayer", "Infinite Intelligence" etc. In other words, hardcore TAR.

As I said - it's not one of my favourite books. But it is one of the pioneering works, and it would be unfair to regard it as anythng less than a true modern classic. It is Mr Andrew Carnegie's secret. In case you're interested, this is the book -
Think and Grow Rich.

Jul 24, 2007


Walking on the street, I bump into an old friend, from university days, whom I haven't seen for years.

We start catching up, talking about what we've respectively done since the last time we met - career, marriage, kids, hobbies and so on.

I mention that I had been blogging a lot. "Oh really?" he says. "What about?"

"Oh, until recently, it was mostly about social and political issues in Singapore," I said. "The blog is very popular! Lots of people read it."

His eyes widen. "Heeeey, don't tell me ... YOU are Mr Wang!?!"

Jul 22, 2007

Christianity and TAR

On an ongoing basis, I have been corresponding by email with several readers concerning TAR. Two of them mentioned that they are Roman Catholics, and had some questions, comments and thoughts about TAR from a Christian perspective.

As a starting point, let me point out that I am not a Christian, and what follows are merely my own views. My additional qualifier is that if you are not a Christian, then the rest of the post may make no sense to you and you can stop reading right around here. (This qualifier is similar to
the one that I had previously used, when I wrote about TAR from the Buddhist perspective).

No person who considers himself a true Christian can at the same time logically dismiss TAR. The Christian faith is incompatible with a disbelief in TAR. This is because prayer and the effects of prayer are an integral aspect of Christianity, and prayer is also a fundamental example of thought affecting reality.

The Bible has numerous examples of people calling on God for help or guidance. In response, the help or guidance comes, and specific events begin occurring in reality.

Sometimes these events are mild and subtle, and they occur in the person's "internal" reality. For example, he receives, or he believes he receives, a message or instruction from within. Sometimes the events are big and unmistakeable, and they occur in the "external" reality (a drastic example would be the ten major calamities which Moses, through God, inflicted on Egypt).

Events can also be drastic and powerful within the person's internal reality (such as a very direct, "loud" message or instruction from within) or they can be mild and subtle in the external reality (for example, the person prays for help on a personal problem, and a few small events then happen in his external reality to solve his problem).

As a Christian, you probably have personally experienced, and/or know of other fellow Christians who have experienced, such events, in the four main permutations as described above. In other words, there are many examples - they are not merely biblical or historical.

So far, we have seen that prayer is a form of thought. You can regard it as a deliberate form of thought that a Christian adopts, when he seeks to establish a direct connection with the divine. What about other kinds of thoughts, that is to say, the kind of thoughts that a Christian thinks, not when he is praying, but merely going around his daily routine - driving, working, showering, feeding the cat etc?

The Christian God, as described in the Bible, is an omniscient one. Okay, that is subject to some debate among the theologians (there are some technical complications arising in connection with free will) but let's just make that assumption for the purposes of the present discussion.

The basic point is that even if you're not praying, the Christian God knows what's on your mind, yes? If you wish to have a much more direct connection with God, you will pray. But even if you don't, God knows what you're thinking, and what's happening in your life, and for that matter, just about everything else in your reality (think falling sparrows - Matthew 10:29).

Once you see the interrelationships, you will understand better the more "absolute" types of argument about how thought affects reality. Within the Christian framework, we could say that since every one of your thoughts is heard by God, and God has omnipotent powers over everything in your reality, every thought of yours has at least the potential to affect some aspect of your reality, because God can orchestrate it.

And perhaps you will even understand why the Buddhists place emphasis on disciplining the mind and the kind of thoughts that go through it. For example, in Buddhism, it is insufficient to refrain from doing cruel acts - one must endeavour not to think cruel thoughts at all.

(For Christians, I would add this - even if God always knows what's on your mind, it's when you pray that He knows you really want His attention. So that's when He'll give his attention to you. So pray, ok? Don't stop praying just because He always knows what's on your mind anyway).

One big difficulty that many Christians will have with TAR is that they may feel slightly appalled at the idea of altering their thoughts so as to get what they desire in reality - especially if what they desire are materialistic or physical or "selfish" in nature (for example sex, money, power, material things etc). The other big difficulty is that God, as seen from the Bible, has His own distinct personality, ideas and plans. He doesn't necessarily give you what you want - instead He may have his own very specific plans on what you should be doing and where you should go (think Jonah and the whale).

These are points which I will discuss in future (this post is long enough). Suffice to say for now that a lot of the difficulty stems from the idea that you are not God - that there is a separation between "you" and "God" and that there could be a difference between what you want and what He wants.
In my opinion, this difficulty is an illusion, because the "you" does not even exist - there is in fact no separation between "you" and the rest of reality, or beween "you" and "God", whatever that is. But as I said, more on that, another time. It's a complex idea, not explainable in just a few short paragraphs.

We'll end today's post with some biblical verses, which I invite the Christians to reread and think about, with TAR in mind. This is taken from Matthew 7:7 and 7:8, and is part of one of the longest, most extensive set of public teachings (I think) given by Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
Don't take my word for it, on anything I've said in this article - I'm not even Christian, remember? This post is just food for thought. Go think about it for yourself. If you still have lots of questions after that, try asking your own Christian God directly for the answers. That, in my experience, tends to work quite well too. Ask, and it will be given.

Jul 21, 2007

Political Video

I have been writing about Buddhism, meditation, quantum physics, near-death experiences and the reticular activating cortex. But according to Singabloodypore's recent rankings, I am still the second-best sociopolitical blogger in Singapore, after Mr Brown. Don't ask me, LOL, it's Singabloodypore's methodology.

Anyway, for old times' sake, here's a Youtube
political video about Singapore. Entertaining and ... provocative.

Jul 20, 2007

The Benefits of Meditation

What are the benefits of meditation? To find out, you could simply ask people who regularly meditate. One of them happens to be Mr Wang.

And Mr Wang would tell you: “Based on my personal experience, meditation sharply improves concentration. It makes you smarter. You will understand things faster, and become more creative. You will even become wise. Furthermore, meditation brings you happiness. Therefore I encourage you to meditate.”

Whereupon the skeptical might say: “Well, Mr Wang, how do you know this? Have your claims been verified in any double-blind experiment? And if so, I insist that the double-blind experiment be replicated by other scientists. Make sure that the sample size is good and please do your statistical analysis properly. Otherwise I shall not believe your ludicrous claims.”

Mr Wang would reply: “Oh well. If you don’t believe me, you could go ask other people who meditate regularly. Based on their personal experience, they would probably tell you the same things as I have. In fact, some old people say that meditation helps them to stay alert and think as sharply as much younger people. And why would they lie to you? Anyway, the effect of meditation is something you can easily verify for yourself. Just try it three times a week, for about 20 minutes each time. And you will see.”

Whereupon the skeptical would say: “Nonsense! Do you actually expect me to trust my very own experience? Show me evidence, in the form of a scientific paper published in a scientific journal! And not just any scientific journal, but a peer-reviewed scientific journal. And not just a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but a top-tier peer-reviewed scientific journal. And make sure the scientists come from world-class academic institutions like Yale, MIT or Harvard Medical School! Anything less will be totally unacceptable to me!”

And then Mr Wang would say: “Eh, you think I very free ah? I give you good advice, if you don’t believe, then don’t believe lah. Like I owe you money, liddat. Throughout the history of mankind, people have known about the benefits of meditation for THOUSANDS of years, not as if it’s a DAMNED BIG secret or what. Is it my fault that modern science is so slow in catching up? Next time you want to know anything, don’t ask me lah, go and google for the answer yourself! Duh.”

Meditation found to increase brain size
Mental calisthenics bulk up some layers
By William J. Cromie

People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don't.

Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input.

In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That's intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age.

"Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being," says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. "These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrated increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. In other words, the structure of an adult brain can change in response to repeated practice."
.... Link.

What is Reality?

Interesting Wikipedia entry. Some excerpts:

1. "Some schools of buddhism hold that reality is something void of description, the formless which gives birth to all forms which are seen as mental illusions or maya. Buddhists hold that we can only point to things and discuss things which are not reality itself and that nothing can be said of reality which is true in any absolute sense ...... ."

2. "In psychiatry, reality, or rather the idea of being in touch with reality, is integral to the notion of schizophrenia, which has often been defined in part by reference to being "out of touch" with reality. The schizophrenic is said to have hallucinations and delusions which concern people and events that are not "real." However, there is controversy over what is considered "out of touch with reality," particularly due to the noticeable comparison of the process of forcibly institutionalising individuals for expressing their beliefs in society to reality enforcement."

3. "Certain ideas from physics, philosophy, sociology, literary criticism, and other fields shape various theories of reality. One such belief is that there simply and literally is no reality beyond the perceptions or beliefs we each have about reality. Such attitudes are summarized in the popular statement, "Perception is reality" or "Life is how you perceive reality" or "reality is what you can get away with" ...., and they indicate anti-realism, that is, the view that there is no objective reality, whether acknowledged explicitly or not."

4. "On a much broader and more subjective level, the private experiences, curiosity, inquiry, and selectivity involved in the personal interpretation of an event shapes reality as seen by one and only one individual and hence is called phenomenological .... From a phenomenological perspective, reality is that which is phenomenally real and unreality is nonexistent. Individual perception can be based upon an individual's personality, focus and style of attribution, causing him or her to see only what he or she wants to see or believes to be true."

5. "Berkeleyan idealism is the view, propounded by the Irish empiricist George Berkeley, that the objects of perception are actually ideas in the mind. On this view, one might be tempted to say that reality is a "mental construct"; this is not quite accurate, however, since on Berkeley's view perceptual ideas are created and coordinated by God. By the 20th century, views similar to Berkeley's were called phenomenalism. Phenomenalism differs from Berkeleyan idealism primarily in that Berkeley believed that minds, or souls, are not merely ideas nor made up of ideas, whereas varieties of phenomenalism, such as that advocated by Russell, tended to go farther to say that the mind itself is merely a collection of perceptions, memories, etc., and that there is no mind or soul over and above such mental events."

6. "Quantum mechanics (QM) has kept physicists and philosophers in debate on the nature of reality since its invention .... Primarily, one cannot measure the location and velocity of sub-atomic elements such as an electron precisely because the more one looks for the former the less accuracy one can achieve for the latter. This imprecision introduces an uncertainty into the overall state of the system and the necessity of a choice on the part of the one making the measurement, namely which aspect will he find accurately at the cost of the other. This decision on the part of the measurer has created no small problem for objectivists who insist that at its core reality is objectively present whether anyone notices or not. Several experiments such as the double slit and Bell's have confirmed that the simple act of observing does impact the system's state in a noticeable way; since the detector itself has to be changed to detect anything at all, there is necessarily a change in the observed particle because of quantum entanglement. But also the state of correlating particles which have not been measured appears to be affected.
Even the notion of cause and effect is brought into question in the quantum world where irreducible randomness cannot currently be avoided as a basic assumption. In theory large numbers of random quantum elements seen as a group from a very great distance can seem like cause and effect which is why our level of experience appears to function almost completely deterministically.

It has led some people to assume that there is no reality existing, independent of our own consciousness as observer."
I like the last part, heheh.

On a separate note, I've been investigating the unusual friendship between
David Bohm (the world-famous quantum physicist who contributed to the invention of the world's atomic bomb) and the Indian spiritual guru J Krishnamurti, who was believed by many to be an incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha.

A seemingly unlikely pair, but Bohm and Krishnamurti maintained their friendship over 25 years. Bohm and Krishnamurti exchanged
many ideas about the nature of reality. Specifically, the nature of space and time, and ... consciousness. Yeah, as one related package.

I'm still digesting, so I shall not comment too much. Still it is really not that unusual as you might think, for spiritual leaders to end up investigating quantum physics, and for quantum physicists to end up investigating religion. The Dalai Lama and Professor Fred Alan Wolf are two living examples.

Jul 17, 2007

Time For Another Example

Okay, time for another example of thoughts affecting reality. This man is Masaru Emoto. He is a Japanese researcher who studies water.

Emoto is best known for his claim that if thoughts are directed at water before it is frozen, images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the thoughts were positive or negative. In other words, thoughts affect the molecular structure of water.

According to Emoto's research, thoughts can be directed at the water by prayer, concentration, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

For instance, crystals formed from holy water taken from a church will be distinctly different from crystals formed from water at which a person has directed hateful, angry thoughts. Crystals formed from water exposed to loud rock music will be distinctly different from crystals exposed to nice, pleasant written words like "Love" or "Thank You".

I'll let the
pictures speak for themselves. Here are a few examples:

The above is a crystal sample taken from Fujiwara Dam. No special thoughts had been directed at the water.

This one is a crystal sample taken from the exact same source, Fujiwara Dam. However, the water had been prayed over, before it was frozen and the crystal sample was taken.

This crystal sample is taken from water that had been subjected to the words "You Make Me Sick, I Will Kill You".

Whereas this one above had been subjected to the words "Love & Appreciation".

This one had been subjected to the words "Adolf Hitler".

This one had been subjected to the words "Mother Teresa".

Etc etc. Emoto has thousands of photos, and his research goes on. By now, you get the idea.

In one way, Emoto differs from the other scientists I've recently been mentioning on my blog. Those other scientists are highly eminent, come from top universities and academic institutes like Oxford, Stanford and Princeton etc; have multiple PhDs; are Nobel Prize winners and so on.

Masaru Emoto, however, graduated from a rather obscure university and isn't particularly well-known for academic brilliance or rigour. In fact, his experimental methodology has been criticised for lacking various technical controls (and my personal suspicion is that Emoto really doesn't know scientific methodology very well).

However, the validity of his claims was recently established in a double-blind experiment conducted by Professor
Dean Radin and others. The citation is Radin, D. I., Hayssen, G., Emoto, M., & Kizu, T. (2006). Explore, September/October 2006, Vol. 2, No. 5, a peer-reviewed journal.

I understand that a
triple-blind experiment is now underway, to test Emoto's theories.

Emoto's theories, if correct, of course have very wide implications. For example, if thoughts can affect the molecular behaviour of water, how might thoughts affect the molecular behaviour of, say, our own red blood cells or white blood cells or cancer cells or other cells?

Of course, those who already believe that consciousness is required for the collapse of the wavefunction resulting in the creation of waves or particle will not be altogether surprised by Emoto's theories.

Jul 12, 2007

When Should Sex Education Commence?

I would have thought - maybe around age 13 or 14. Hence I was somewhat surprised to read this in the regular parents' newsletter from my kids' kindergarten/preschool:

"Birds & Bees - It is natural for K2 and primary school children to start wondering about where they came from and how babies are made. At [name of school deleted], we introduce sex education to our K2 students, explaining the scientifically complex and wondrous processes of human conception and birth in ways that are appropriate for young children's understanding. It is important for us to demystify or clarify any misconceptions that young children may have about these topics."
But I have confidence that this school will do a good job at teaching this topic. I've been very happy with the high quality of education provided by this school so far. They teach at quite an advanced level for all their kids who attend the different classes (three to six years old), but the lessons are always done in a fun, enjoyable way and all the kids generally seem to be very happy. Plenty of games, hands-on projects, field trips, artwork and so on. Some other stuff that the K2 kids are doing this term:
"We will take a closer look at human cells, genes, DNA and chromosomes, and understand what determines a baby's gender. For social studies, children will be inspired by the life stories and incredible achievements of sports personalities like Lance Armstrong (cancer survivor and world cycling hero), Terry Fox (disabled cross-country runner and founder of Marathon for Hope), Nadia Comaneci (world's youngest Olympic gymnastics winner at age 13 and devoted to charity work today) and Tiger Woods (overcame racial discrimination to become a world golfing champion."
I've decided not to mention the name of the school, because I don't want them to get into any trouble with the Ministry of Education for using an "age-inappropriate" syllabus (they may not, but why take the chance). Personally, I don't think I knew what a chromosome was, until I was fifteen years old and had to study that one solitary chapter on genetics, in the Lam Peng Kwan textbook for O-level Biology.

Jul 11, 2007

Blogging Break

Mr Wang shall be taking a blogging break for some time, to focus on some other pursuits. In the meantime, if you have questions about TAR, feel free to post them in the comment section below. Mr Wang welcomes TAR questions from the skeptical, the curious and the budding practitioners alike.

Jul 10, 2007

Mere Coincidences

Just received a follow-up email from one of my readers, Ming, who had tried out my recommendation of writing down goals. He shared an account of an interesting incident that just happened to him.

Ming had written down a goal which, let's just say, requires technical expertise that Ming does not have. Anyway, a day after writing down his goal, Ming was at a HDB void deck when a complete stranger walked up to him, introduced himself and started helping Ming with his technical challenge. For free.

It turned out that the stranger is a professional (ie earns his living) out of this kind of technical challenge. The stranger then passed Ming his name card and told Ming to contact him if he needed to tackle more technical challenges of this sort.

I'm deliberately being vague here, because there is no point going into full details. The skeptics would just say that it was a strange and unusual coincidence. As I had previously
mentioned, it is quite easy and tempting to dismiss such occurrences as mere coincidence. And that is precisely why I said that you must record your coincidences in writing, so that eventually you will see a distinct, consistent, regular and unmistakeable pattern emerging, between your "coincidences" and your written goals:

"If you really want to thoroughly investigate whether thoughts affect reality, then quite apart from doing the writing exercises every day, you should also keep a diary to record significant daily events or occurrences in your life. Pay attention especially to synchronicities that crop up in response to your written goals.

The term
synchronicity was coined by Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. It refers to the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally inexplicable to the person or persons experiencing them. Jung's own definition was the "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.

"For example, suppose you write these goals - "I have very good friends" and "I find a new job that I really love, in interior design." Two days later, you bump into an good old friend whom you had lost touch with and hadn't seen for 10 years. While you're happily chatting with him, he suddenly says, "Hey, I'm now working in an interior design firm. We are looking to hire a new person. Do you happen to know anyone who might be interested?"

This would be an example of how reality reacts synchronistically to your thoughts. You will, of course, be inclined to dismiss it as a strange but random coincidence ... until you see it happening again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Record all these down, so that you can review them later and analyse the probability that in fact it was all random.

If you do your recording faithfully, I believe that you will soon realise that reality is constantly shifting and bending to make your thoughts to come true. If your thoughts are focused on your goals, then reality will constantly shift and bend to make your goals come true.

I have asked Ming to consider the following:

(a) How many times in your life has any stranger walked up to you in a void deck, introduced himself and struck up a conversation?

(b) What are the chances that this stranger would turn out to be an expert in the exact kind of technical problem you were wanting to solve? And that the stranger would help you for free?

(c) is it not a rather REMARKABLE coincidence that all this happened just one day after you wrote down yoyr goal of tackling this technical challenge?

Of course, Ming may still not be convinced. Which is why I told him - in that case, just go create another coincidence with your thoughts. And another, and another, and another. Each helping you to get closer to your goals. Make as many coincidences as you need. And if you're still not convinced, well, never mind, because by then you will have achieved all your goals anyway.

Anyway, there's another trick I want to elaborate on. It relates to Point 9 of my previous post, where I had written:

"Frame your goal in positive terms. Do not say: "I learn not to be so shy." Say: "I am a confident, sociable person, comfortable around other people."
There are two things which your unconscious mind is not very good at. Firstly, it does not understand time very well. It cannot really tell the difference between past, present and future. It tends to take every statement as being a description of the present, not the past nor the future (I'll elaborate on this next time).

The second thing is that your unconscious mind cannot understand negatives. It cannot understand words like "not", "cannot" or "never". If you try to plant a message like ""I learn not to be so shy" into your unconscious mind, it's likely to get the message "I learn to be shy" - that is, the direct opposite. That is why hypnotherapists are always very careful about how they choose their words.

To give you a somewhat bizarre example, late last night I composed my preceding post about Sudoku etc. (The time-stamp says 7:33 pm but that is the time I started writing - I actually finished writing it and posted it later than that). Soon after posting it, I went to bed. Now notice Point 1 of my goal-writing post:

""1. The best times to do this exercise are early in the morning, soon after you've woken up, or late at night, shortly before you go to bed."
I had not been writing about my goals, but I had been writing my Sudoku post, and in that post, I had said:

"...... ever since I started on my new job, I've been reading less and less of the Straits Times, and more and more of the news from Bloomberg. Nowadays, several days can go by without my reading the Straits Times at all.

My previous job was already quite regional in its scope. My new job is even more international.I find it more important to focus on international news than local news. And by default, the news that shows up on my Bloomberg is "top news" from around the world. Singapore is never "top news" ..."

Now, as I said, the unconscious mind is very bad at understanding negatives. Given a sentence like "Singapore is never top news", the unconscious mind will likely interpret it as "Singapore is top news". That's because the unconscious mind just doesn't comprehend words like "never".

What happens next is that my unconscious mind will start bending reality to make my reality a reality where "Singapore is top news".

This morning, in the office, I logged on to my Bloomberg and checked the news. For once, Singapore was right there among the Bloomberg top news articles. Not only that - Singapore was the top article among all the top news articles worldwide.

Singapore Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Years (Update2)
By Shamim Adam

Construction at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore's economy grew at the fastest pace in two years as soaring demand for apartments and offices spurred construction. Stocks surged to a record.

Gross domestic product expanded an annualized 12.8 percent in the three months ended June, up from a revised 8.5 percent in the first quarter, the trade ministry said today. Growth exceeded all forecasts by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Construction increased the most in a decade, reflecting success in attracting companies including Citigroup Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. to expand operations or set up new ones. Singapore's prime office rents have gained more than three times as fast as in rival hubs Hong Kong and Tokyo, while investors are paying record prices for luxury apartments ....
Heheh. Of course the skeptics will laugh. As I said, don't be shy. What's the harm in trying it out? Write down your goals, keep your diary, and watch the coincidences pile up. One after another, and another, and another, and another, and another ......

To make your experiment more interesting, try thinking bizarrely positive thoughts, or just plain bizarre thoughts. What you will experience shortly thereafter are bizarrely positive coincidences, or just plain bizarre coincidences.

Jul 9, 2007

You Can Play Sudoku Just About Anywhere, Really

I had already said that I would be moving away from sociopolitical blogging. But looking back over my blog entries for the past month, I'm quite surprised to see how complete the transformation has been. I had imagined a more gradual transition, not something as total as what actually happened.

Part of the reason for the rapid change is that ever since I started on my new job, I've been reading less and less of the Straits Times, and more and more of the news from Bloomberg. Nowadays, several days can go by without my reading the Straits Times at all.

My previous job was already quite regional in its scope. My new job is even more international. I find it more important to focus on international news than local news. And by default, the news that shows up on my Bloomberg is "top news" from around the world. Singapore is never "top news". I guess that on a worldwide scale, the little red dot is just too little.

Whenever I can, I still pick up a free copy of Today. I often find that the articles in Today are more thought-provoking and insightful than those in the Straits Times. Also, I like Sudoku. There's one Sudoku puzzle in every issue of Today. Anyway, in today's Today, I found this editorial:
How to deal with media double whammy
Monday • July 9, 2007
P N Balji

VARIOUS reasons have been given for the unabashedly pro-government stand of the Singapore media: Restrictive media and libel laws, journalists who have surrendered to the Government or been convinced by its argument that an unbridled press is not for Singapore, general public support for the Government by readers who believe Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team are always right because
they have delivered an economic miracle.

Another reason, not well-documented and hardly articulated in public discussions, is how the media has benefitted from the Government's delivery of economic growth. Like nearly everything else here, it is money that drives this place. Minister Mentor Lee said as much over the weekend.

"Once you have growth, all problems can be managed," he said in his pragmatic and straight-talking style about Singapore's success.

Good economic growth means more advertising dollars for media companies, which means higher salaries for editors and journalists, which means don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg. And which means support a government that delivers.

So far, so good. But last year, something happened that might put a strain on this cosy relationship between economic and advertising growth. For the first time, a yawning gap between economic and advertising growth has got media owners worried.

A double whammy is at work here. Some of the top advertisers, such as SingTel and Asia Pacific Breweries, are getting more and more of their revenue from outside Singapore.

Advertising dollars are being channelled to countries where these companies are opening up new operations. Why should such companies continue to put all their ad dollars in Singapore?

Then, the new businesses that are coming here are very different in nature, using Singapore as a launching pad to the region.

One example is Olam International, an agricultural commodities firm which is listed here. However, its revenue — 100 per cent of it — comes from outside Singapore.

Why should such outfits advertise in our media?

Throw the slow but pervasive influence of alternative news and information-on-the-go, though not so pronounced and immediate yet, into the pot and you have a media meltdown in the making.

So, what are the media managers doing? Opening up new revenue streams by investing overseas, kick-starting alternative media ventures and wooing expatriate readers who are surging into Singapore now that the floodgates have been thrown wide open.

But these are slow-burn measures, risky and tentative.

What is more important is to relook the kind of news in our media ....
I guess that if I were still the old Mr Wang, this is the kind of article that I would dissect and analyse at length. Frankly, now I can't be bothered. See, I chopped off the article even before the editor got to his main point (if you'd like to know what the main point is, click on the link above).

All I feel like doing is draw a few analogies between my current job, and some of the examples mentioned in this Today editorial.

In a way, my work feels like the businesses of Singtel, Asia Pacific Breweries and Olam. I'm located here in Singapore, but at work, I've barely touched a "Singapore" transaction since I started work three months ago. I'm working on deals where the assets and clients are in China, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, New York, Hong Kong, the Middle East .... almost anywhere, but not Singapore.

It feels kinda strange, really. It's like Singapore isn't real. It's just a construct of my imagination, an abstract puzzle with its own peculiar rules. Intellectually, it can be fun to try to work out those rules, but they don't necessarily mean anything in real life. Singapore is just a place where I can situate my butt on an office chair, and from which I can make telephone calls and send emails to people in other countries. Apart from that, it doesn't seem to have much relevance.

Today is trying to revamp its approach to news reporting, so as to stay relevant to readers in Singapore. Meanwhile, I, as a reader in Singapore, grow less and less interested in Singapore, and more and more interested in the rest of the world. And for news about the rest of the world, I don't need Today. I just need my Bloomberg. Which is REALLY relevant to my work.

Increasingly, my best reason for picking up a copy of Today is its Sudoku puzzle. Now if Today had two Sudoku puzzles every day, I would definitely want to get my copy.

Strangely, nowadays my foreign colleagues take a bigger interest in local news, than I do. And I have many foreign colleagues. I think at least half of my colleagues are foreigners or PRs. I often hear them talking about local news - the current hot topic being the property market.

But then they also make funny jokes about PAP ministers. One of them, an Indian national, was cracking father-&-son political jokes today, about LKY and LHL. In some vague way, as a Singaporean citizen, I suspect that I ought to feel mildly offended. But I don't. The jokes are quite hilarious, really. Even more fun than Sudoku.

Jul 6, 2007

Oh Look, More Crazy Scientists!

In more recent posts, we've started to leave quantum physics and Buddhism behind (yes, Quek, I still owe you one more post on your Buddhist question - I will get around to that), and venture into neuroscience. See my post - "The RAS at Work".

Today we'll continue our interesting adventure by investigating some interesting theories thrown up by neuroscientists and neuro-psychiatrists:

"Thu 11 Sep 2003
Study into near-death experiences supports theory of a 'sixth sense'

BRITISH scientists say there is convincing evidence that a significant proportion of the population possess psychic powers.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science was told an increasing number of experiments support the theory of a human "sixth sense" - an ability which may have its roots in our past, when the ability to sense the presence of a predator was a matter of life or death.

The view that people are capable of paranormal feats, such as premonitions, telepathy, and out-of-body experiences, is supported by new research by the Institute of Psychiatry, which suggests the human mind may exist outside the body like an invisible magnetic field.

The research is being led by Dr Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist at London University, who has just completed a survey of heart patients claiming to have had "near-death experiences" after their hearts had stopped beating.

"There is now convincing evidence to challenge the current theory that consciousness can only exist inside the brain - and if you can have consciousness without associated brain function, that is enormously important for our understanding of the mind," he said.

For his latest research, 60 patients at Southampton General Hospital’s coronary care unit were interviewed after heart attacks had left them temporarily brain-dead. Seven reported near-death experiences - defined by characteristic features such as a feeling of leaving your body, going through a tunnel and entering an area of "love, bliss and consciousness".

"The significance of this is that after a cardiac arrest you lose consciousness within eight seconds; within 11 seconds the brain’s rhythms become flat, and within 18 seconds there is no possibility of the brain creating a model of the world - so the brain is down," said Dr Fenwick.

"Yet whenever we asked people when their near-death experiences occurred, they said it was during unconsciousness. If that’s true, their experience was occurring when there was no blood flowing through the brain - and consciousness would appear to exist outside the brain." ...

For the full article, click here.

A quick point about near-death experiences. They're pretty interesting. Apparently they are also getting easier and easier to research. That's because ever since the development of cardiac resuscitation techniques in modern times, many more people have been successfully saved in medical emergencies and have come back with accounts of what happened "on the other side".

The really interesting point raised by Dr Peter Fenwick is the possibility that consciousness can exist outside, or without, the brain. If this is true, then ..... heheh, well, I can see lots of intriguing possibilities that could follow (disembodied consciousness? Something like souls? ghosts? telepathy? God without a physical body? Voices in your head?). But why should I invite a new lynch mob of angry readers. Perhaps it's better to provoke them into drawing their own conclusions.

I shall only add that completely different kinds of scientific research and experiments have been done, to investigate the possible effects of a person's consciousness (or thoughts) on physical phenomena situated in an entirely different location. I see such research as somewhat related to Fenwick's (if consciousness doesn't need a physical brain, where might it travel to, on its own, and what might it do there ...?).

In the near future, I will discuss one such interesting experiment. It was done by a Stanford professor emeritus and physicist, and the results suggest that consciousness can not only affect physical phenomena (in this case, the rate of development of fruit fly larvae), but can affect it over long distances (in other words, the person thinking thoughts about the fruit fly eggs need not even be in their physical proximity).

Stay tuned, for more TAR adventures with Mr Wang!

A Quote for the Day

“Consciousness is a phenomenon that is part of the physical world, although some people don’t like to think of it as physical at all.” - Sir Roger Penrose, mathematical physicist at Oxford.
Ah, yes, I think you're right, Roger. They don't like it at all. It makes them nervous. ;)

A Letter From A Reader

From one Mr Lin:
Hi Mr Wang,

Thanks for your reply, and sorry for taking so long to continue correspondence.

About NLP, mindhacking, etc. The more I think about the subject, the more I realise it's one of those "facts of life" that is quietly moved into the metaphorical closet, along with all the other skeletons that mankind hid because they are too "irrational" or too "unscientific".

From young, we are told that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to, which is a very primitive version of mindhacking. However, much like how we eventually grow to learn that Santa Claus does not exist, our experiences tell us that we "can't" accomplish everything we want, because we're very much limited by supposedly natural laws imposed on everyone. We try to rationalize our inadequencies, if only to make ourselves feel better and accept the situation that we are in.

Eventually, humans reach a stage in their growth that they cease to believe. They sneer at those who choose to continue to believe, instead choosing to be cynical (or as they claim, scientific).

Which leads to your current predicament, if I may call it that. While you are trying to expose and expound on a "truth" you've discovered, a truth that many successful people use to reach their current positions in life, people are calling heresy because it sounds about as concrete as castles on clouds.

It leads me to think that maybe humans are just not ready. The Jews supposedly condemned Jesus to be a heretic because He claimed to be the Son of God (because the concept is just too far out from their mainstream ideology). Galileo was called a nutcase for suggesting that the Earth was round (again, because they weren't ready yet).

A hypothetical wager, maybe? If mindhacking had been repackaged into self-motivation, if a couple of other auxiliary concepts such as hard work and perseverence were thrown in to smoothen the rough edges, I dare say that there would be less people who would contest you, but more who would say that this is old news.

Interesting that humans would believe that success needs to be exchanged, but fail to grasp the idea that the key is not hard work, but the simple belief (true, unwavering belief) in oneself's success.

When one has true unwavering belief of something, one has a direction and a goal. If it is a real true unwavering belief, that person needs no other motivation to act on that belief. If so, that person would naturally put in the hard work required, and succeed.

Even in the past, Leonardo da Vinci wanted man to fly. He put in hard work, worked around our physiological issues, and created the first flying machine (based on design, anyway). The Wright Brothers too had that dream, and put their determination into action and made it work.

We can't fly, not by our own bodies anyway. We are highly doubtful of psychics and mind reading now, because it seems so implausible. But if someone had enough motivation to dig into flying and work around problems to result in the jumbo jets of today, who's to say it's impossible for us to work around our current problems to reach psychic mastery?

I doubt my interpretation of mindhacking and NLP is accurate, but I feel that it's a stepping stone. A middle ground, if you will. I just feel that what's happening to you right now is the reason why hermits stay far away from other human contact - because only those who can accept will approach them for advice, while the rest will simply ridicule or slander him.


A question: people claim that many people go through life without ever knowing their direction, and end up doing fine still. How true is that? I find the idea of aimlessly floating through life both wasteful and scary... :(

Jul 5, 2007

The RAS at Work

In my earlier post on goal-writing, I had provided various links. One of them was to an article which mentioned the reticular activating system (RAS) in the human brain. In the present post I will discuss the RAS.

The RAS is the part of the human brain that deals with motivations. Although there is no scientific consensus on this point yet, some people believe that one of the functions of the RAS is to direct a person’s attention towards things in his environment that are relevant to his motivations and interests. Simultaneously, the RAS will filter out things in his environment which are judged not to be relevant.

For example, suppose a man enters into a big room full of strangers, walks around for ten seconds, and then leaves the room. If you then ask him to describe all the people he just saw, he may be able to describe just a few of them. But there’s a very high chance that he will remember the sexy young lady with the big breasts and the long legs. In fact, he probably noticed her almost immediately upon entering the room, instinctively picking her out from a big crowd of faceless strangers. This is his RAS at work.

Here is another example. You take your time to read the newspapers on a leisurely Sunday. When you're done, you would have read, say, fifteen full articles in detail (because these articles were interesting to you). However, there could be another twenty articles which you had skipped completely, because they were not interesting to you and you did not want to read them at all.

Now, if you were then asked to put aside your newspaper and say something about those 20 articles, you would struggle. You would not even know what it is that you cannot remember. The funny thing is that when you were going through the newspapers, at some unconscious level you MUST have noticed these 20 articles. Otherwise how were you able to judge that they were uninteresting and should be skipped?

What happened here is that your RAS automatically filtered those 20 articles away and out of your field of perception. Your unconscious / subconscious mind took note of those 20 articles, decided that you shouldn’t waste your time on them and directed your attention elsewhere. Your conscious mind played no part in this. In effect, you had no choice. Therefore you can neither remember anything about the 20 articles you skipped nor understand why you had skipped them.

Most of us know what we like, and what we are interested in – therefore we know what are the kind of things we notice. What we don’t know is what we don’t notice. What we don’t notice is probably a heck of a lot of things. But that’s mostly unconscious to us.

That’s because our RAS works on the basis of our subconscious / unconscious mind. A heterosexual man does not have to tell his RAS, “Please direct my attention to sexy young ladies in my physical proximity.” A newspaper reader interested in professional golf and Australian politics does not have to tell his RAS, “Please direct my attention to newspaper articles about professional golf and Australian politics.” It all happens automatically.

Since the RAS operates on the basis of our subconscious / unconscious mind, the beliefs and thoughts that we hold at these levels in effect decide what we perceive about the world - every minute, every hour, day after day, month after month, year after year.

So for instance, if you subconsciously believe that you are a useless idiot, your RAS will constantly direct your attention towards all available evidence and events in your physical environment that indicate or suggest that you are a useless idiot.

If you subconsciously believe that hard work is the only way to succeed (and you want to succeed), your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that the only route to success that you can perceive is through hard work.

If you subconsciously believe that it is very possible to make lots of money, your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that you keep perceiving many possible opportunities to make a lot of money.

If you subconsciously believe that you are great at solving difficult problems, then your RAS will constantly direct your attention such that you keep perceiving difficult problems, AND keep perceiving great ways to solve them.

If you subconsciously believe that you are too young / too old / too weak / too poor / too lazy / too unlucky / too disadvantaged / too busy to do _____________, then your RAS will constantly direct your attention towards perceiving evidence that you are indeed too young / too old / too weak / too poor / too lazy / too unlucky / too disadvantaged / too busy to do _____________.

As I’ve said before, your reality is basically (a) what you perceive about reality, and (b) your interpretation of your perceptions. In the end, your reality is totally constructed out of your thoughts. Things which are deeply against your deepest beliefs will simply not be perceptible by you.

For example, the staunch atheist will look around the universe, the stars, the sun, the seas and the moon and say, “I cannot see any evidence at all of the existence of God!”. While the religious believer will look around the same universe, the stars, the sun, the seas and the moon and say, “I see God everywhere! What kind of fool one must be, not to be able to see this!”. Both of them are absolutely correct, within their respective realities.

There is no escape! Your mind is your universe. Change your mind, and you change your __________.

Well, This is Unfortunate

I actually welcome disagreement and vigorous discussion about my posts - I always have, it is one of my charming characteristics as a blogger.

But unfortunately two or three particular individuals have degenerated into passing insulting remarks of an ad hominen nature and making personal attacks etc etc.

Such remarks (1) don't add any value to the discussion, (2) adversely affect the quality of the overall exchange between readers in the comment section and (3) also create an unfriendly atmosphere that intimidates other readers who genuinely want to post questions or comments.

So I'll have to turn on the comment moderation function.

Readers who sincerely disagree with me on any point should feel free to post comments indicating their disagreement. I give my assurance that these comments will continue to be published if they are genuine comments addressing the subject matter of my posts (as opposed to comments calling me a "fork-tongued lawyer"; a "retard" etc).

Oh, that includes those two or three individuals as well (or rather, the two individuals, one of whom has been masquerading as two separate individuals). You're still welcome to post comments if you refrain from bad behaviour.

Jul 4, 2007

How to Write Down Your Goals

For background, first read this and this. My present post is written for three categories of people:

(1) those who believe that thoughts do affect reality, and wish to experiment with goal-writing as a specific means to alter their reality in specific ways;

(2) those who do not believe that thoughts can affect reality in any "magical" way, but want to experiment with positive affirmations as a possible method to motivate themselves, generate creative ideas or focus their energy; and

(3) those who feel unsure or undecided about whether thoughts affect reality, and just want to experiment and investigate this possibility.
Depending on which aspects of mindhacking you prefer to emphasise, there are several ways to go about writing down your goals. Bear in mind that the common principle is to plant the desired goals as deeply as possible into your subconscious mind. In future, I will describe some of those different ways. For now, let's stick with one simple exercise.

1. The best times to do this exercise are early in the morning, soon after you've woken up, or late at night, shortly before you go to bed. (This has something to do with your brain wave functions, but let's not get too technical). Otherwise, just pick a place and time that's quiet and peaceful and where you know you won't be interrupted or distracted for the next 10 to 15 minutes.

2. It's important to do the exercise with a clear mind. In other words, don't do this when you're angry or upset or busy or worrying about other things. Your writing exercise will last only 10 to 15 minutes, so during this short time, focus properly on it.

3. You'll need a single, blank piece of A4 paper and a pen. Personally, along the lines of Tony Buzan's mindmapping principles, I like to use pens of different colours, but these are frills, moderately useful but not strictly necessary.

4. Once you start writing your goals, do not stop until you finish the exercise. You do not need to write fast, but you simply must not stop. Keep writing steadily. The reason is that if you pause, you will start to analyse logically, and doubt will creep in. In other words, your conscious mind will have time to kick in, and you will start thinking, "Hey, this goal is not realistic. How could I really double my salary? Maybe I'll just aim for a 30% or 40% increase." Do not allow this to happen - just keep writing steadily, without pausing to analyse whether your goals are plausible or not.

5. State each goal in a single sentence. Write down whatever goal comes into your mind - it could relate, for instance, to your studies; your career; your family; your health; your personal habits; your hobbies; your sex life, and so on. Choose goals that are personally important to you and which would really make a difference to your life if they were achieved. As soon as you've finished stating one goal, move on to stating the next one.

6. Overstate all your goals. Make them very ambitious. If your goals are modest, then there is a strong likelihood that they could be achieved even without any special mindhacking methods. As a rough rule of thumb, just take what you think is a "realistic" target and then give it a significant bump upwards. For example, if you "realistically" think that you will score about 2 A's and 2 B's in your next exams, just bump it up into 4 straight A's.

7. If you face mental resistance towards writing down huge, ambitious goals (eg mental doubts such as "How am I possibly going to be able to achieve this?"), just tell yourself, "I permit myself to imagine and daydream. For the next 10-15 minutes, I will just let myself be foolish and pretend this is possible."

8. Wherever possible, state your goal in the present tense, as if it had already happened. For instance, do not write: "My goal is to earn $120,000 a year, by next year". Simply write "I am earning $120,000 a year" as if this goal had already come true. By tricking your unconscious mind in this way, you will cause your reality to bend more rapidly to make your false, unconscious belief true.

9. As far as possible, be clear and specific. Do not say: "I lose weight and become slim." Say "I lose 5 kg and weigh 50 kg, my ideal weight." Frame your goal in positive terms. Do not say: "I learn not to be so shy." Say: "I am a confident, sociable person, comfortable around other people."

10. End the exercise when you've finished filling up one A4 page, or when you've listed at least about 20 goals.

11. Put away the piece of paper in a folder. Do not throw it away. Retain it for your future records.

12. In the initial stages of this experiment (eg the first three weeks), do this exercise about twice a day, every day. It also works if you do it less frequently, but it will take more time before you see the results. Later on, as you become more experienced with how this works, you can cut down on the frequency.

13. Each time you do this exercise, do not look at the previous pages of goals that you've already written. Just do the exercise afresh. Most of the goals that you wrote about previously will therefore be repeated again and again (in slightly different wording), Each time you do this exercise, it's perfectly ok to omit a few previous goals or add a few new ones.

Through constant repetition by writing, you're programming your unconscious mind to accept that your goals are possible, or likely, or realistic, or even already fulfilled. Then your unconscious mind will start bending reality to make your goals come true.

After doing the exercise, you can just get on with your normal routine. If you suddenly feel new motivation to take personal action towards your goals, by all means go ahead. If you do not, just carry on with your usual daily life. Do whatever feels right. You don't have to put any unnatural pressure on yourself to behave in any particular way.

If you want to compare the goal-writing exercise to the Rosenthal experiment, it is as if the teachers are being told twice a day, every day, that Student A is smart, and Student B is stupid, and Student C is average, and Student D is smart, and Student E is stupid ...... . The teachers are told these things so often that at some unconscious level, the teachers start believing those things about those students.

And you know the rest, about what happened in the Rosenthal experiment. Whatever the teachers believed just started coming true. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Whoever is believed to be smart, becomes smart. Whoever is believed to be stupid, becomes stupid. No extra effort or action needed by the teachers, even if they had actually had any concrete ideas on what they should do.

The 13-step process I've outlined above is shaped by my personal experience. Others, like Scott Adams, will have slightly different takes. For example, he will write the same goal 15 times a day, but I would prefer writing a list of many different goals in many different areas of life, just once a day. To some extent, these are just differences in personal preferences. My preference simply reflects my personal view of the meaning of success in life.

Some other people's takes on goal-writing exercises are
here, here, here and here.

If you really want to thoroughly investigate whether thoughts affect reality, then quite apart from doing the writing exercises every day, you should also keep a diary to record significant daily events or occurrences in your life. Pay attention especially to synchronicities that crop up in response to your written goals.

The term
synchronicity was coined by Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. It refers to the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally inexplicable to the person or persons experiencing them. Jung's own definition was the "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events."

For example, suppose you write these goals - "I have very good friends" and "I find a new job that I really love, in interior design." Two days later, you bump into an good old friend whom you had lost touch with and hadn't seen for 10 years. While you're happily chatting with him, he suddenly says, "Hey, I'm now working in an interior design firm. We are looking to hire a new person. Do you happen to know anyone who might be interested?"

This would be an example of how reality reacts synchronistically to your thoughts. You will, of course, be inclined to dismiss it as a strange but random coincidence ... until you see it happening again, and again, and again, and again, and again.
Record all these down, so that you can review them later and analyse the probability that in fact it was all random.

If you do your recording faithfully, I believe that you will soon realise that reality is constantly shifting and bending to make your thoughts to come true. If your thoughts are focused on your goals, then reality will constantly shift and bend to make your goals come true.

This is related to what Buddhism calls karma, and that's why Buddhism emphasises the importance of thinking good thoughts. Whatever you think will translate back into your personal reality. More on this Buddhist angle, another time. Meanwhile, go on, try the goal-writing exercise. Don't be shy now.

This post is dedicated to Mr G Singh. All the best!