THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Neuro Semantics, NLP, Personal Development

In the Hebrew Scriptures, there’s a saying by the person Jesus Christ that goes: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdomof God.” The eye of the needle here is referred to the “smallest hole” possible and symbolizes the impossibility of the circumstances for someone who is “rich”, meaning someone who is encumbered, weighed down, burdened, distracted and misaligned, to enter the kingdom of God or heaven or Nirvana or Paradise, however one choose to understand the term “kingdom of God”. And in many ways we’re all “rich”, “attached” and “burdened” by much of the external and insignificant incidentals of this life, be it riches, grudges, resentment, the need for recognition or revenge, etc. to such an extent that it’s easier for a “camel to go through the eye of a needle”!

 

 

The solution to this predicament is detaching oneself from these attachment, to the riches and cravings of this world, one’s baggage’s, be them in any shape and form, and unburdening oneself from anything that encumbers one from living and leaving this life freely and in a love. Only when “unburdened and unencumbered” can one make the passing through the “eye of the needle” into the “Kingdom”.    

 

“The essence of the Way is detachment.”

-Bodhidharma

 

My blog this week is about this journey that all of us must take; the journey of “detaching” and “unburdening” oneself so as to be unencumbered, the journey through the “eye of the needle”. This “journey” is exemplified in the life and death of one of my dearest friends, a brother and relative, Mr. Ang Tun Seng who passed away on the 15th of November 2011 from cancer. Much was his suffering but even greater was how much he loved and forgave right to the very end: when his body eventually succumbed to the disease but his spirit, unencumbered, passed through the “eye of the needle”.

 

 

I got to know “Mr. Ang”, as I used to fondly call him, when I first met my wife some years back. A man small in stature but BIG in heart, he was the proverbial “man behind the scene”, the lynchpin who kept things moving along smoothly for everyone. At home, he was the “bill man”, helping to pay the bills for everyone, the “repair man” who took care of domestic break downs, “the driver” who faired his wife to shopping, “the dog whisperer” who took his dogs out for their daily walk and “the organizer” who kept domestic things in the right place, organized and in good order.

 

At school he was the much loved discipline teacher who genuinely cared for his students. Most “discipline teacher” I know are “disliked” by their students BUT not Mr. Ang, he was loved, respected and revered both by his students and colleagues. I remember the amount of visits he received from his students and their parents and his colleagues   when he became ill, the cookies, flowers, cards, notes and photos he received; they were enormous! His students even went to the extend of making their own “Pray for Mr. Ang” wrist bands which they distributed to all his students so as to remind them to pray for his recovery! This was testimony to his qualities as a teacher who loved his job and was passionate about empowering his students to be the best that they could be.

 

The most beautiful aspect of him though, for me, was his simplicity, patience, humility and sense of humor. Always with a smile, he was easy to get a long with, unassuming, genuine and ever so helpful; qualities that made him dearly loved and respected by all those who knew him. Nonetheless it was the impact of events that took place over the last two years of his life that would stretched and test this very “loving and caring” nature of his to the “breaking point” and beyond, leaving a powerful lesson on the journey of passing through “the eye of the needle”.  

 

“If we study the lives of great men and women carefully and unemotionally we find that, invariably, greatness was developed, tested and revealed through the darker periods of their lives. One of the largest tributaries of the RIVER OF GREATNESS is always the STREAM OF ADVERSITY.”

-Cavett Robert

 

In 2009 Mr. Ang’s only child, his beloved daughter, finished her SPM and decided to pursue her studies in Medicine. She started her studies in 2009 and one could see the pride and joy in both Mr. Ang and his wife. They were indeed happy and proud parents. Nothing was spared to provide her with the best that they could afford, even going to the extent of buying her a brand new car for her use. Things were going fine until sometime in mid 2010 when his daughter’s grades suddenly began to fall as she started acting oddly. Then the unthinkable happened, she ran away from home, eloping with a young man she had recently met while abandoning her studies and her dreams to become a doctor. She was only 18.

 

 

This impacted both Mr. Ang and his wife greatly. To see their only child run away from home, abandon her dreams, her loved ones and them, was heart breaking. No effort was spared to find her, reason things out and to reach some kind of compromise but to no avail. Eventually she kept minimum contact; married the young man who she had ran away with without informing them and months later became pregnant with her first child.

 

Mr. Ang’s world was rudely turned inside out. Not only was he disappointed but terribly hurt. I guess that parents alone can understand the amount of effort, love and sacrifice made through the years to bring up their children but to be at the receiving end of such behavior in return is almost unbearable; one can only imagine the deep sense of betrayal that Mr. Ang and his wife endured: the dark doubts that entered their minds, the painful questions that they faced, the crisis of faith and the deep sense of loss and emptiness that eclipsed them. Dealing with the “death” of their daughter and their hopes and dreams was excruciatingly painful.

 

Then on the 25th of February this year, Mr. Ang was diagnosed with stage four lung cancers and given six months to live. He was only 54. This came as a massive shock to him as he experienced no ill health over the years. It brought much disarray to him and his wife. Just a few months before he had “lost” his only daughter and now, without any opportunity to recover and heal from that blow, he was dealt with more shocking news. One can only imagine his “burden” of anguish and confusion. I remember my own sadness and confusion when I heard the news, quietly whispering that life had a way of allowing “bad things to happen to good folks” like Mr. Ang and his wife!

 

 

“Indeed one’s faith in one’s plans and methods is truly tested when the horizon before one is the blackest.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

 

Here’s the thing with such situations, when life throws us not just a “curve ball” but everything it has including the sink, we only have one of two options: to “get bitter” or “get better”.

 

“Gold is tested by fire, people by God”

-Chinese Proverbs

 

It would have been really easy for Mr. Ang to get “bitter”, to hate the “hand of cards” that fate had handed him despite all the good he had done. The amount of unrelenting pain and discomfort he had to endure, frequent hospital admissions and emergencies, lung taps, chemotherapy and radiation treatments that brought horrifying side effects, cardiac treatments and the realization that he was fighting a loosing battle, could have easily left him “burdened”, “encumbered” and “attached” to bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and self pity.

 

However, the choice that Mr. Ang took was to “get better”, not physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It was here that I witnessed his journey of passing through the eye of the needle, a process of “letting go and embracing” what looked or seemed like “loss” but was in fact the passage and passing into the “Kingdom” where true wealth and lasting happiness lay.

 

 

“The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.”

-Atisha

 (11th century Tibetan Buddhist master)

 

The following is my account and perspective of the “pearl of great value” which he left behind in this choice to get better and make the journey through the eye of the needle”.  

 

Forgiving, Letting Go and Restoring:

The journey of unconditional love, unending mercy and gentle self giving.

 

“Forgiveness is Truth itself, it is Righteousness, it is the Veda.

 It is the Supreme virtue in this world.

 Hence, all people should develop the quality of forgiveness.”

-Sri Sathya Sai Baba

 

During the months of debilitating impairment and break down of everything familiar to him, Mr. Ang made a choice that shocked many: he chooses to forgive his daughter. Here was a man and a father who was hurt beyond measure by the daughter he loved so very much, his only child, who sparingly visited him even after learning of his terminal illness, make the choice to break the cycle of hurt, anger and resentment. A decision that was strongly opposed by those closest to him because of their genuine concern of not wanting to see him gets hurt again.        

 

Needless to say, Mr. Ang stood by his decision to forgive his daughter and then going one step further, “restored” her to the family and her “status” as his only beloved daughter. What do I mean by this? Well, not only did he embrace her and welcome her back into the family.

 

 

By this act of mercy, Mr. Ang intentionally choose to opt out of the cycle of anger, hatred and resentment, without needing or waiting for his daughter to repent or change. He did not need to hate and to resent to find justice or fairness, to “get back” what he loss or to “correct” the fractured relationship. He simply “let go”: making the critical distinction between the person of his daughter who he loved dearly and her behavior. His was a “divine” choice; one that many would not have even contemplated.

 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

-Matthew 5:7

 

“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”

- Corrie Ten Boom,

a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust

 

It was a decision that went against much of what contemporary culture preaches regarding hurts; where the memory of past offenses and traumas are made into a “sacred cow” and victims are encouraged to nag at them, relive the experience over and over again, conjure toxic beliefs about themselves and life from them and to seek “closure” only by some form of vindictive payback. A culture where hatred and anger is regarded as strength rather than a poison that destroys relationships, snubs out inner peace and kills the soul.

 

The choice to get better instead of bitter amidst so much discomfort, uncertainty and ultimately the weakening and break down of his physical body, also saw Mr. Ang never stopped smiling and gently greeting anyone who came to visit him, cracking his very own unique brand of jokes, never wanting to trouble or burden anyone with any request of help or assistance, always concerned about his students studies and never failing to encourage them, was eternally grateful to his mother in law for cooking for him and his brother in law for his endearing support, madly in love with his beloved wife who he never wanted to burden anymore than he could, ever polite with the nurses and doctors who treated him, humble and simple in his request for prayer, ever hopeful even in the darkest hours of his life with the fighting spirit of a warrior and the surrendering heart of a humble servant. If anything, his illness, though testing and laboring, brought all these qualities of his to its finest expression.

 

“Faith given back to us after a night of doubt is a stronger thing, and far more valuable to us than faith that has never been tested.”

-Elizabeth Goudge

 

What is the “pearl of great value” that I picked up? It was the gentle reminder of the importance of loving unconditionally, practicing unending mercy and gently giving of oneself in service minus the need for recognition and applause. This was how Mr. Ang loved, showed mercy and served: being the proverbial “man behind the scene” who kept the show going. These qualities were the foundation of life, his beliefs and acts of service and love and they were ever so glaring in his “divine” act of forgiving, “letting go” and restoring his daughter to himself, the family and to life itself.

 

 

If one could merge all these qualities into one, it would simply be unconditional love: to love others passionately regardless of their actions, to withhold revenge and punishment by forgiving and gently giving to others that which is unmerited by them through selfless service. That was how Mr. Ang lived his life and left behind a legacy of great value to all those who knew him, an experience of grace.

 

“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.”

- Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare 

 

As I sat behind the huge crowd during the final day of his wake and listened to numerous eulogies by his colleagues, students, relatives and family members, I realized just how much Mr. Ang had impacted the lives of so many individuals. For me though, he stood out as an example of one who passed the test of the journey through the “eye of the needle”; passing through the “smallest hole possible” by the grace of God, unattached, unencumbered and unburdened by the external and insignificant incidentals of this life into the Kingdom because he loved unconditionally, showed unending mercy and gently gave himself in selfless service.

 

 

“Service is the highest spiritual discipline. Prayer and meditation, or knowledge of scripture and Vedanta (holy scriptures of India), cannot help you reach the goal as quickly as service can. Service has a double effect, it extinguishes the ego and gives bliss.”

-Sri Sathya Sai Baba

 

I miss you my dear friend. I will miss the times we sat together during your last months chatting, wondering, questioning, laughing, sitting in silence and praying together. You have left me and the many who knew you a pearl of great value and my prayer is that someday I will be able to achieve at least half of what you have achieved. Rest in peace dear one, your suffering has ended. Enjoy now your reward and eternal blessings!                             

 

The song below, angle, is a tribute to my dear brother and friend Mr. Ang Tun Seng….may you find peace in the arms of angles. Thank you for the “pearl of great value.”

 

 

Stay committed to transcending, transforming and transferring value back to your world!

 

Catch new blogs fortnightly at let us know what you think below.

 

Conrad Rozario is the founder of Alchemy Resources, a cutting edge human potential and peak performance development company inMalaysia. He has more than 15 years experience in people development from the diverse fields of Sales, Marketing, Customer Engagement and Service, Business Management and Talent Development. He is a Certified & Licensed Neuro Semantics and Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) Trainer from the International Society of Neuro –Semantics,USA, a Master Practitioner in Neuro Semantics and NLP (ISNS,USA) and a Language and Behavior Profiling for Coaching Practitioner. He holds a MBA fromGordon University,Illinois,USA.

 

 

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