Stephen Chong (M.Ed.) ~ A life of substance

Stephen Chong - Author and Coach

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Sunday 30th January 2022

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‘The Afterlife, a journey to’ is an inspirational voyage of discovey through heaven’s many portals - you experience heaven’s many levels BEFORE you get there.

“My name is Athar. At least it is now that I am here, in heaven. I can only tell you the story now. I couldn’t back then. Back then, it was too painful - it hurt too much. But now I know what happens. But more than that, now I know why. Yet, I am not here to tell you what to believe. I’m here to tell you what is true.”

“Finding out about the afterlife teaches us how to live.” S.P.Chong (2021)

“Do you see the seven heaven’s, dear Isaiah? We are truly blessed, we two.” “Indeed we are, my friend. If they could see what we now see, they would not be afraid.”

“Richly descriptive. beautifully written. Takes us on a journey you could never imagine.” Dr. E.M. Martin, author of ‘Journey beyond the Self’

The Ministry of Children

Tuesday 12th October 2021

At Evangeline’s behest, we took a turn down a hallway, one of the many, and stopped at a large hall of study. It was a room filled with many tomes, not dissimilar to the great library of my previous visitations. The room was full of eager young learners fixed in attention upon the master, amidst instruction at the front of the room.

       “All children who have left the earth-plane in the early stages will continue their education and wellbeing. All shall receive proper instruction to the ways of heaven. No child shall be left behind in their education of the divine laws of heaven and earth. They are all, without exception, given the knowledge required to progress through the stages of the divine.”

     “But what of a parent’s responsibility in such regard? Does not the bond between parent and child continue to blossom and hold fast to love and attachment?”

     “Indeed it does, Athar. The bond of love between a parent and child will extend across the eternal if only it is strong and true. No bond of love is ever broken. It is the cord that seeks to sustain one and the other across the vast expanse of our Father’s heaven. Yet, if no such bond exists, if the strains of earthly relationships have soured such fulfillment, then, as you see, no child will suffer for its absence. Their well will be replenished by many loving hands so that the child knows not any privation.”

     I stood in awe perhaps a while longer than supposed - until Evangeline broke the spell of my fixation.

     “Come,” she said gently, “there is more for you to see.”

We were led further along the numerous hallways, each resplendent in fine decor and colourful design, until we arrived at another chamber that, even as we approached, seemed to resonate with a chorale of beautiful voices in quiet chant. The atmosphere held a faint tint of blue colouration which radiated through a window portal in the ceiling. It seemed to fill the very air with an elixir of life that held the potential for all love to flourish.

     Inside the room, as we enetred, I could not help but notce the glow of the number of souls in attendance to the many children. Each of their robes seemed to be alive with a radiance not before seen to my eyes, and their attention to the little babes under ther care was evident to behold. Many young fledgelings lay in repose in the soft down of the vessel holding their comfort.

     “Each child is a teardrop from the eyes of our Father, dear Athar. Each child is nurtured until they reach the fullness of their spirit. Their attainment of the prime of life is by no means hindered by their early passing to this heavenly realm. Our Father’s love shines brightly upon each soul until it is of an evolvement to determine its future progress in the spirit of the divine.”

     As she spoke, without warning and of its own volition, my mind strayed to the many challenges  and hurdles of my own upbringing, and I could barely hold fast to my currency and to the love to which I now bore witness. Within but a beat, Evangeline seemed to know my thoughts in revelation.

     “Your road has been difficult, dear Athar. This is known to us of the higher realms. Yet, the cross of your harsh learning is now akin to the alchemist’s cauldron. What was before leaden, is now turning to the gold and joy of celebration to the task laying before you.”

     I couldn’t help myself. I could no longer stand on any further ceremony. The joy in my heart was full to overflowing, and I reached out my hands to hers and fell to my knees as tears tumbled in heavy droplets upon my shimmering chemise.

     “You are most welcome, my dearest, Athar,” she said helping me to rise. “But know that what I am - like these children - is what you too will become. And more so will it be.”

Chapter One (excerpt) - The Passage

Monday 27th September 2021
Rousing with a jolt, he felt chilled air streaming through the open window of his chamber. The gelid wind made the drapes sway in a silent apparition. I’m sure I closed the window before going to bed, he thought, as he threw back the blankets to rise and seal the opened portal to the outer world. His involuntary shudder when reaching to pull the window shut only reminded him to be more aware before going to bed. Despite the chill, he stood a moment, quietly in awe of the full moon, and silent flight of what appeared to be a large owl swooping around the trees just on the perimeter of his ornate garden. The ‘Hoot, Hoot’ of the owl sent another unbidden tingle down his spine. He seemed to remember reading something about an owl’s portent for wisdom, or was it a harbinger of death? He couldn’t remember which.

Despite the now firmly closed window, he tugged at the length of his bedclothes to avert the chill in his bones. It was then that he saw it from the corner of his eye, just as he turned to return to the warmth of his bed. Dark, with menacing eyes all lit up with red peril known only to another dimension. The black hood and flowing robe enveloping the otherworldly figure confirmed only that the fear that had arisen in the bishop’s chest was eminently tangible. He felt his heart turn to icicles when he noticed that the scythe held in the spectre’s left hand was even taller than its bearer.

The tic in his left eye, the one that he did most days exert influence over, flickered like it was on steroids, and he could feel his body tremble without volition before this unbidden manifestation from across the ethers. A soundless scream found a way to his strangled vocal cords, and he could do little to control the trembling of his chin. Then a stolen glance at his mitre placed strategically on his desk beside the wall, reminded him who he was, or at least what his title was. It succeeded little as he tried his best to straighten his spine and project a modicum of gravitas.

          “Who, who are you?” was all the bishop could stammer as he leaned toward his side dresser for support.

          The being merely lifted the bones of its right hand to point directly at the man of God.

            “It is time. You must come,” was the only reply from a guttural depth, as if the words were wrenched from a furnace pit of black ooze.

          The bishop’s mouth fell agape, and he pleaded with his eyes, trying to force words through his strangled vocals.

          “Do you mean that death is upon me, and I go to heaven?”

            The otherworldly being did not reply, merely stood silent, eyes aglow and fixed to its purpose.

          A few eternal heartbeats passed as the bishop’s eyes then fired with growing realisation.

          “I’m going home – to God,” he said in confirmation to his inner-urgings. “I am to be welcomed at the Gates by the Holy Hosts. My life as Bishop has seen me to the portals of heaven.”

          Again, the guttural voice resonated like a thousand drumbeats of thunder.

          “Bishop, you are a long way from home,” said the Reaper as he stepped closer to the still trembling man.

          “But I don’t understand. I am a man of God. I have been His voice and hand as Bishop of my See. How can it be? I have brought many souls to His door. Given redemption to His flock …”

          The reaper said nothing more, merely extended its bony index finger to touch the bishop fully between his terror-filled eyes. Suddenly his mind filled with a blinding light. He reeled backwards as a thousand images poured into his being, as a panorama in a moment describing a lifetime. With a slackened jaw and crumpled visage, tears exploded from the bishop’s eyes to flow in a cascade down his cheeks. Then, of the million images that etched across his soul, one seemed to repeat itself ad nauseam. “What have I done? What have I done?” he cried in abandon, to heaven and a fate now uncertain, but surely eternal.

Abode of Reunion (Part 2 of 2)

Monday 10th May 2021

Without further need for prompt or invitation, we each took the crook of the others’ arm and made our way down the hillside and strolled amongst the throng of souls in various degrees of earnest conversation and/or embrace. As we strolled in grip of our agog, it was Isaiah who stopped suddenly in observation of someone standing alone and separate from others. The stretch of his silver cord evident reaching back over the mists, and his stunned bewilderment to his surroundings most evident.

          ‘Brother, Brother Isaac,’ cried Isaiah as the startled visitor recognised the voice of attraction.  

          Isaac seemed so surprised at first that he could barely fall to his knees before his old friend without toppling over. ‘Bishop, I, I …’ he stammered as he was lifted to his feet and embraced heartily by Isaiah. Turning to look at Cassiel, I could tell from her finger poised to her lips that she desired that I stay mute and in awe of the unfolding events.

‘It is so good to see you, your Grace. You have been sorely missed by those that have mourned your passing. But how, I mean, where am I? I have not passed over myself, have I? I mean, I am not … dead? And what are these robes you wear? They are beautiful …’

           Isaiah, through his kind look of compassion, was able to at least calm somewhat his friend’s anxiety.

           ‘No, my friend, you are not dead. It is not yet your time. Look! Do you see the beautiful silver cord attached to your heart that stretches back over the mists? You merely sleep but come seeking answers to some dilemma you face in your earthly abode. It is for us to determine what that problem is.’ As he spoke, Isaiah cast a hastened glance towards us as we watched in observation. It was a glance that at once told us that he was sure to his purpose but would call upon us if the need arose to a point of his impasse.

           Isaac’s frown did much to describe his inner turmoil as he at first struggled to articulate his conundrum. Then it was as if a dam broke open and the words came tumbling forth without restraint.

           ‘Oh, my Bishop, my heart is sorely troubled. I can no longer hold to the rigid doctrines of our church and the expression of its sanctity. I have heard much in the thralls of confession that has so troubled my faith that I no longer know whether God’s grace resides in my ability to minister His word. My lips have been sealed by the confessional, but my heart is rendered by holding its misdeeds within. In short, Bishop, I think I am losing my faith …’.

           Isaiah took firm hold of Isaac’s shoulders and led him to repose under the welcome of a nearby elm that seemed to offer solace and support to the occasion.

           ‘Isaac,’ he said as he sat next to his charge, ‘know that I am no longer your bishop, rather, that here, in heaven, I am known as Isaiah. I have been de-robed by the wonders I have both observed and experienced here within heaven’s realm.’

           ‘But, by the grace of God, you were our bishop. How is that possible?’

           ‘Fear not, my friend, the experiences by which I will now assist you have been sown by His divine hand. My eyes have been opened to the wonder of His laws of love and which guide my voice to assist your suffering.’

           At once Isaac looked down at his chest and it was evident that his time at heaven’s gate was shortening, for his silver cord became more vibrant and was tugging softly at his chest.

           ‘Our time is short, my brother. Your human form reclaims its’ spirit’s presence. Know therefore what is most important before you leave.’ Isaiah inhaled deeply before continuing and seemed to offer a silent prayer to He that held his hand. ‘Lose not your faith in God, my friend. The consequences to be borne by those that give scant regard to those precious souls under their care are destined for harsh judgement in the halls of heaven. I know, I have been there. Follow the love in your heart. Treat all His children under the guidance of your care as if the children were your own. Protect and serve those that come to you for spiritual nourishment and NOT the bastions of the church that demand only fealty to its doctrines. I have seen much anguish here in heaven as caused by conformity to misguided orthodoxy and self-righteous obeisance.’

           At once, Isaac could withstand the calling no longer. The urge from his awakening body was much stronger in its beckoning.

           ‘May I come again, my …, I mean, Isaiah? Your words have been as a balm to my wounded spirit. Yet, I think there is much more I must learn.’

           Standing and waving farewell, Isaiah, spoke truly, ‘By the grace of God, I will be here for you whenever you need me. I stand to no other law but the law of love. My heart will tell me when it is time for us to meet again. Go with God, my friend.’

           He watched with a gentle smile as Isaac felt the pull of the silver cord in beckoning to his return.

           ‘Oh, oh, and one more thing,’ implored Isaiah as his friend started to drift away. ‘Never confuse chastity with purity. It is only the pure in heart who can see God.’ He watched as Isaac waved acknowledgement with a smile just as he was moving across the mists. Isaiah prayed it was enough.

Upon Isaac’s departure, we moved together with smiles of gratitude and wonder, before again seeking answers from Cassiel. Questions that had started to form as a huge logjam in my burgeoning bag of unknowns. We strolled for a time, our silence filled with the surrounding chatter of conversations of the many souls and their companions, some in earnest, some in tears. But this time it was I who stopped suddenly in my tracks only to have the others turn in surprise at my reticence.

           ‘Cassiel is it….? Would it be …? Could I …?’

           ‘Speak your heart, dear Athar, and if it is within my power, I will surely open my heart to your inquiry.’

           ‘My mother … Could I …,’ I managed to mumble further. ‘We were much estranged in my previous life. This is a burden I have carried for too long. Could I, I mean, is it possible for me to have visitation. To express now my, ah, forgiveness for that which has passed between us.’

           Cassiel thought deeply upon my request for a moment. It was a moment that seemed to evoke a flash of light transmitted to another sphere or a higher realm. Yet, in a moment, her answer was upon her lips.

          ‘Yes, my dear friend, such a reunion is indeed possible. Yet, be aware that sometimes forgiveness is not readily received in the same spirit which it is given. Sometimes the denial of responsibility is a stronger elixir than truth.’

          I looked at her with an understanding that transcended my anxiety and nodded my confirmation which she acknowledged with her eyes.

           ‘Walk, then, over the hillside yonder,’ she said pointing in the direction. ‘It will be seen what your heart yearns to unfold.’

Walking in the direction of her finger, my steps started to falter the closer I came to the crest over which I could not see. It was as if my heart was fixed strongly to its purpose, but my mind found falter the closer it came to its realisation. That’s when I saw her. I knew it was her even though her back was turned to my presence. She could neither see nor hear my approach, but I knew it was her. The slant and slope of her taut shoulders and hands fixed firmly to her hips was something I recognised from many years of her overbearing.

           ‘M, moth, mother’ I croaked over vocals that did not wish to function without rasping over burning coals. ‘It is I.’

           ‘What, who, leave me alone,’ she said without turning and with venom dripping from her tongue. ‘I don’t know where I am, I have no wish to be here, and I certainly do not wish to speak with anyone. I want to return home. Leave me be.’

           Despite my ill-at-ease, I took a further few paces forward in persistence.

           ‘Mother, it is I, your son …’

           Her quick turn to face me made me stop fixedly in my tracks. Her face, full of the fire of malice, made her already stern visage even more difficult to admire in recollection. There were so few precious moments.

           ‘I am glad you are here,’ I said holding my hands forward to bridge the gulf between us. They were hands that remained empty of touch for she could only look at them as if they were foreign objects from an alien being.

           ‘I just wanted to say, I mean, I sought this meeting to tell you that I forgive you. To tell you that despite the harshness of my life, the many trials that I endured by your neglect, I am happy. Here, now, in heaven, I am at peace with who I am. I came to thank you. For without you, I would not be in the exalted place in which I now abide. If it had not been for your self-centred intent, I would not be where I am today. I could not have risen so high in God’s holy order.’

           In the eternal moments after I had finished speaking and before she could utter a reply, I could but wonder where and why all those words just tumbled forward in presentation. My heart lay open in expectation of their gift of giving but quavered in fear as to what may be her reaction. I could not say that I was surprised, but I confess to a sense of disappointment in her response.

           ‘Forgiveness? What are you forgiving me for? I did nothing wrong. I did what I thought best for you. I was your mother, you were my child - you were meant to obey me. That’s how it works, isn’t it! I stand no sense of regret for what I have done. My only disappointment is that I did not send you to that boarding school sooner. That way, I could have realised my true calling - without being hamstrung by the apron all that time. I mean, your father was never there, was he? Why don’t you go to him with your forgiveness?’

          I could barely keep my knees from buckling and struggled hard to hold fast to the truth about myself I had recently discovered. Yet somehow, I found the way to speak my heart before she was called back by the glare of her silver cord.   ‘Go with God, Mother. He will be forever a light in your darkness. I stand steadfast in His glory but see that your eyes are closed to His brightness. I wish you could see what I see, but I fear your eternity will be a long one.’

           The urge from her silver cord was now one she could not refuse, and it was only her scowl that remained to pierce the darkness she had left behind after she flew back over the mists.

           After she had gone and as I strode back over the hill and across the vale with leaden feet, I was never so pleased to see my two friends awaiting my return with arms open.

Abode of Reunion (part 1 of 2)

Thursday 6th May 2021

Isaiah and I took pleasure in the others’ company. It was as if the recent experience with the Master had required us both to cast our spirit free upon the sands of restfulness. Not that we both felt in any way traumatised. Rather, it was as if we needed to assimilate the transformation. Sitting on the balcony of my abode as we were, we interspersed our recollections and conversations with giant pauses of, well, just sitting. It seemed to provide both the luxury of repose mixed with the elements of wonder and magnitude. We even took time to speculate about what we may achieve as we both evolved forward.

           I was most eager to see my newfound knowledge used to its greatest effect for the many in need of its succour. Isaiah expressed the similar, but more to correct some of the errors and misdirection of religious and spiritual instruction for those with open ears. The reality was, however, that we were none the wiser as to how we could achieve such ends. I mean, to cross (back) over. To break open the veils between heaven and earth so that those with open hearts may hear. To cross the border and cast what we now know to be true to those in need was, for us, a grand undertaking. Yet one we knew not how to achieve.

           ‘I guess when the time is right, we will know what to do?’ he said as I nodded my agreement. ‘Isn’t that how it works? I mean, two eager disciples, as we are, will surely not be left to rest in repose as we attend future revelation.’

           It was right about that same moment that we saw her approaching through the garden. A stranger by regard, but not by a smile. A person unknown to both Isaiah and I, yet not without the bounty of love that preceded her introduction. Her mastery evidenced by the blue and yellow radiance festooned within the glimmer of her robe. When we saw the variant colours, we knew instantly that her being was filled with both the wisdom of truth and the grace of charity.

           ‘May I join you?’ she asked with an open-handed gesture that spoke of a joyous welcome of its own.

          ‘By all means,’ I replied, as I positioned a chair such that she could join us in welcome communion on the balcony.

          Both Isaiah and I rose in anticipation of greeting and thus had the opportunity to make first impressions of the delightful soul who joined our small gathering. Her flawless skin, though dark, seemed to radiate a lightness that bespoke of the purity of her heart. Her eyes were like pools of obsidian that seemed to find no depths in their well. Yet, despite her grace, her dignity seemed only a reflection of her humility and compassion.  

           She required no need of our introduction for she spoke as if old friends, but told us that on earth, many centuries ago, she was known as Olivia, but that here, her ‘nom d’heaven’ was Cassiel. Pleasantries were cast forward and the grace of our Father’s heaven was much discussed before she broke word to the purpose of her visitation.

          ‘I come bearing the gift of your desire. I am sent as the Hierophant to further guide your education about the laws of heaven. Blessed knowledge that will serve you well on your quest to bridge the gulf between heaven and earth - for such cannot be used with malice or misdirection. It is only with the blessed touch of divine reason that this wisdom is freely given.’

           By glancing askance to quickly view the eagerness of my expression, Isaiah confirmed our earnest commitment to our task and implored her further elucidation of what we most needed to commence our journey.

          ‘Come then, let us be away. There is much that I need to show you,’ she said standing to gently extort us to do the same.

Within but the fleeting moment of Cassiel’s directive thought, we trio stood upon a small hilltop. The vista over which we laid collective eyes seemed but a short distance away, but far enough that we remained objective observers to the events as they unfolded. In amazement, what we saw impacted Isaiah so much that he could not restrain his exclamation of awe.

           ‘By the grace of God,’ he exclaimed. ’I have never witnessed such as that which now lays open before me. The closest I can resemble my observations to my previous life is that it is much akin to a train station of embarking and departing passengers.’

           ‘This analogy serves in close description to what is in effect happening,’ replied Cassiel.

           ‘Look,’ I said pointing. ‘There, besides that grand oak tree. There seems such a great reunion between separated kin. A mother and child perhaps? And look! What are all those silver cords leading from many hearts that stretch across the ethers and over the mists?’ There was so much going on that I could scarcely describe one scene without being distracted by another.

           ‘Watch as their story is told and I will do my utmost to describe events for you,’ said Cassiel as we stood in silent amazement as the proceedings unfolded.

The mother, having hugged her son in a loving embrace, now moved to sit under the grand protection of the oak tree with her kin, whereby she commenced speaking in earnest to his open ears.

          ‘What does she speak of?’ I asked.

          ‘Her son is much in need of guidance in his life and is sorely tempted to pursue a path that would not be in his eternal best interest. She seeks to instruct him in a manner that will secure him in the pursuit more fitting to his future progress.’

          Isaiah turned suddenly from his riveted attention to stare fixedly at Cassiel’s declaration.

          ‘But how? Is he not … dead and already passed to our abode here in heaven?’

           Her smile of knowing did much to relieve both our pent-up inquisitiveness and augmenting frustration.

          ‘By no means. He will soon return to where he may, or may not, express the wisdom he has learned. The gift of free-will is forever writ as law upon the flesh.’

          ‘But how …?’ I said in equal surprise to Isaiah.

          ‘This, what you witness, is the meeting place. It is where those that sleep on earth can renew acquaintance with that kin with whom they are connected in love. Do you see those many silver cords attached to those many hearts? Do you see how they arc over the mists?’

          Neither Isaiah nor I could respond, being struck by amazement as we were, but our collective nod was enough for our guide to proceed in explanation.

          ‘These are visiting souls who, while in the depth of sleep, can join loved ones upon their request. Their spirit is attached to their body through the silver cord that you witness. It is only when this silver cord is broken that their journey to heaven is considered ‘one way’, and they pass through the mists of judgement.’

           ‘Do you mean to say that all souls, when asleep, can connect with those they love?’ I asked in earnest.

          ‘Yes, of course. Love is the bridge, and as long as it remains strong and true, then one may call upon the other to guide and assist.’

          ‘But this is extraordinary,’ replied Isaiah. ‘If only such were known by many on earth. That one could connect with those we love beyond the veil. It would change much about how life is lived and in communion with those that have passed.’

          ‘Yes, it would. It is for this very reason that I have brought you here. To witness the magnificence of our Father’s love for his children.’

           ‘Cassiel, do you mean to explain that the process of sleep whilst on earth is more than just a cause for the physical body to rest and recuperate from its travails?’ I hastened to inquire further.

          ‘Oh, yes, much more. Think about it this way. When the human body rests, so does the mind. In such quietude, the spirit is free to explore the pathway between that which is on earth to that which is in heaven. No coercion or control is exercised, rather, the key is love and a heartfelt earnest desire to seek remedy and wisdom for life’s burdens and hurdles that will enable the soul to bridge the veil by visitation.’

          ‘But how are they to know? How do they remember? How do they discern what is a dream and what is, well, real? If such connection is true, then much grief for loss would lessen in the knowledge.’

          ‘These are astute questions and observations, dear Athar. Let us, therefore, stroll amongst those that arrive. Perhaps then we can discern answers that as yet remain elusive.’

The Return

Tuesday 13th April 2021

‘Would that I could go back, to return and make right that which I had previously misdirected,’ said I, as we both reclined on the banks beside the vast expanse, the cool water into which we dangled our toes in delight. ‘I carry a heavy burden of trouble for that which I have done in ignorance to the truth.’

           By rummaging around, the small, flat pebble wasn’t hard for Elijah to find. He clasped it gently, then tossed it into the still waters to watch it skip many times across the surface. So many times, in fact, it was impossible to count. I could only stare aghast, remembering as a lad only conjuring at most six skips before my stones were lost to the depths.

           ‘Those deeds committed in ignorance or without intention are not weighed to balance in heaven, my friend. Only those who have erred with deliberate intent, or for determined self-interest to another’s detriment or negligence, are committed for their rightful consequences. It’s like peering at your face through a window and baring the results of a lifetime.’

           ‘Yet, it is so that my errant deeds and insouciance to others now effects my eternity. My glance in the window of reflection speaks to me with unease. Is it possible to return to undo that which I have done?’

           ‘To return is indeed possible, but the circumstances upon which the journey is to be constructed require consultations from those higher above.’

           ‘Yet it can be done?’

           ‘Yes,’ replied Elijah with a smile hidden behind the frown of his brow. ‘But first you must pass a great test. Then, and only then, can you make such a supernatural return through the mists.’

           My eagerness was akin to a small child about to visit a fairground. The very thought seemed to lift the weight of burden from my shoulders whereby my animation could barely be constrained. ‘What do I have to do. I will do anything. Anything you wish.’

           ‘So be it,’ said Elijah solemnly. ‘First you must find a flat stone, much the same as the one I made dance to eternity across the waters.’

      It wasn’t hard to find, and I proudly held my stone forth for examination. ‘Will this suffice to purpose?’ I asked admiring its symmetry and to which I received a cursory nod.

           ‘Now, see how many skips it will make.’

           I felt the weight and flexed my arm in preparation. Recollections from my youth came flooding back to the art of the practice. I knew what to do. It was like riding a bike. I tossed the pebble into the water and stood in anticipation and expectation of the many skips of its journey. Alas, I fell most notably from my crest when the pebble could only manage five skips before descending into the depths.

           Elijah’s mirth at my disappointment was barely contained under his gruff exterior. Yet his eyes told an alternate story.

           ‘Does this mean I have failed?’ I asked in abject disappointment. ‘Does it mean that I cannot return to mend my mistakes?’

           ‘My friend, the showing of our misdeeds can only delay, they cannot prevent, the ultimate realisation of the truth. The truth does not care what you choose to act upon – it remains unchanging.’

           I watched carefully as Elijah bent down to pick up another flat pebble. He seemed to hold it in his hand with loving care. He even whispered words to it that I was unable to interpret. Without so much as a practice swing, he tossed the pebble into the water and watched with a quaint smile its multitudinous skips across the water well out of sight of eye’s reach.

           ‘But how? How did you do that?’

           ‘Find another pebble,’ he said adamantly. ‘But this time, speak to it with love and devotion. Acknowledge its’ beauty. After all, it too is a reflection of the divine. Praise it as worthy and equal to the task of its journey.’

           I, at first curiously, then with the dawning of wisdom, did so speak to the pebble held lovingly in my hand. Then, with a motion as fluid as the water into which it was cast, did I toss the pebble and watch with joy as it skipped upon the water to join its friends on the other side of eternity.

           ‘Good,’ said Elijah as he clasped my shoulder. ‘Now we can see to the next part of your journey. The return.’

           ‘Lead thou me on,’ said I with a mind still skipping across the water like a flat stone.

By

Stephen Chong

2nd April 2021

Saturday

Thursday 29th March 2018

In life, some things are just more important than winning … a story:

The young lad came bounding into the kitchen with an enthusiasm only a nine-year-old can display. He was attired head-to-toe in the colours of his favourite team - bedecked in a black and yellow striped jumper, scarf and even a beanie. A vestment totally unsuited to the mounting temperature of the day’s morning. The boy’s father, munching on a piece of toast asked with a slight smile,

“Hey son, what day is it today?”

The look the boy gave his dad could only best be described as incredulous. “Why it’s Saturday, silly.”

“Oh,” replied Dad with a smile behind his eyes, “I almost forgot.”

“Dad, remember, we’re going to the footy, aren’t we?” asked the lad in innocent concern.

“Sure are,” replied the elder as he took another bite of toast.

“Hey, son,” he continued after he had swallowed the morsel. “Do you know where the word Saturday comes from?”

The boy’s brow furrowed as he looked curiously at his father. “Ah, nah!” was the genuine reply.

“Well,” continued dad, “the word Saturday originates from ancient Roman times. It comes from the planet Saturn, who they worshipped as one of their really important gods.”

The lad looked at his father with only a modicum of interest, trying his best to stay focused on the conversation.

“And do you know what else,” continued the older man?“ “In ancient Rome, well over two thousand years ago, they used to have games in large arenas just like our own.”

The boy’s eyes seemed to glow at this extra piece of half-relevant information.

“Yes, except that the games were held with gladiators, and these gladiators used to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd.”

“Oh, my!” exclaimed the lad. “Do you mean to say that they battled one another until their opponent was killed?”

“Yep!” replied dad after another bite of toast.

The boy’s brows creased together in consternation. “Why did they do that?”

“Well, they fought to the death for the glory of winning and the roar of the crowd. If they won their battle, they were even called, ‘a god of the arena’. A great laurel in those days.”

“Geez, Dad,” said the boy, “I’m glad we don’t live in those days.”

“Yeah, I guess not, son. I mean, to have to kill someone to win the game would be pretty horrible, don’t you think?”

“Sure would,” replied the boy with certainty.

A quiet few moments descended between the pair as they both pondered the magnitude of the information before them.

“Hey, son,” said the father, “it makes you wonder why winning is so important, doesn’t it?’

“Huh?” replied the nine-year-old a bit out of his depth.

“Well, in our game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Isn’t that so?”

“Yeah, and I hate it when we lose,” replied the boy as his shoulders sagged.

“I guess,” continued father, “winning isn’t everything. Maybe it’s even more important to lose than to win all the time.”

At this, the lad’s eyebrows really did join together.

“I mean to say,” continued dad, “isn’t the most important thing, after you lose that is, to get up and try again? To fight hard to do better next time and to learn from your mistakes, so that you improve and practice some more and get better than you thought you were.”

“Yeah, I guess it is,” replied the boy.

Then, after a little more toast, Dad asked, “Hey, son, do you think the Tigers will win today?”

The boy’s brows once again cemented. “I dunno, Dad. But you know what? I reckon it really doesn’t matter.”

“What?” replied father with surprise.

“Don’t you see, Dad? Even if we lose we will get off the canvas, fight hard to get better and become a stronger team for it.”

The older man looked at his young cadet with evident pride as he picked up his hat and rose from his seat. “You know, son, I think you’re right.”

The two looked at one another in a compact. As if by osmosis, they knew what time it was as they made their way towards the front door. Then, just as they were about to open the door to leave, the young boy stopped suddenly and turned to his father.

“Hey, Dad, do you know what’s so good about Saturdays?”

“No, son!” replied the father somewhat bemused by the question.

“I’m spending the day with you,” said the nine-year-old with a sparkle in his eyes.

The father looked at his son with love as he placed his arm around his boy’s shoulder as they left the house. “I reckon so, my son. Thank God it’s Saturday.”    

The Cassowary King

Wednesday 24th August 2016

The Cassowary King

The man sat at the base of the large silky oak tree, his head firmly placed in the palms of his hands. He paid little mind to the sweet sounds of the rainforest in which he sat. Neither the agog tweets of the lorikeets at play, nor the quaint twits of the tiny finches and sunbirds, caused to balm his troubled mind. None of these alive sounds made impact through the man’s inner turmoil. All the man could do was to mumble laments to his woe and kick the dirt and small scree away with his feet.

           “What more do you want from me?” wailed the man to only the trees who were listening. “You have taken everything. I have no more to give.”

           At these words, the man picked up a fallen stick and tossed it, rather forcefully, it must be said, into the dense underbrush of the rainforest.

           “Ouch,” can the dolorous cry from behind a dense thatch of wait-a-whiles. “Who threw that stick,” commanded the rumbling retort. “I have mind to see that you pay dearly for your mistake.”

           The man lifted his head in surprise at the uncommon intrusion. He did not know there was somebody to where he threw the stick. Immediately he got to his feet and walked the small distance in effort to peer through the thick under-brush, yet he could still not see the source of the voice of anger.

           “I, I, I’m sorry,” he mumbled in somewhat confusion, “I did not mean to hit anyone with the stick. It was an accident. I am dreadfully sorry.”

           All at that same instant, a large cassowary came bounding through the trees to confront the man and his meek apology. So startled was the man that he jumped back many-a-metre, to stand, once again by the base of the large tree of his previous musing.

           ‘How dare you hit me with that stick,” said the cassowary with venom. “Why I’ve a good mind to give you a karate kick that you will never forget.”

           “Please, please, do not hurt me,” pleaded the man. “It was an accident. I did not mean to hit you.”

           The cassowary did see through his anger that the man was sincere in his apology and this did cause him to abate his ire somewhat.

           “Well, okay,” said the mollified rainforest creature, “but don’t do it again. Otherwise I will be sure to make you pay a heavy price.”

           “Yes, yes sir,” stumbled the man, as his chin approached his chest.

           The cassowary turned to leave the man to his own, but then his peaked casque tilted side-wards in question.  

           “Tell me something before I go. Why did you throw that stick, if you did not intend to hurt me?”

           The man scratched the earth diffidently with his feet in effort to draw forth the tumult from his mind.

           “Well, it’s just that … well … I, I’m frustrated, you know.”

           “Frustrated? What is frustrated?” asked the confused bird.

           The man still struggled with himself for a few moments, so he crouched to his haunches and scratched at the earth with the points of his fingers.

           “Well, if you must know, I am frustrated because everything I try, I fail at. My whole life has been one big blob of failure. I’ve never succeeded at anything.”

           Once again the cassowary’s casque tilted beyond the vertical.

           “But, I do not understand,” intoned the cassowary. “What have you got to worry about?”

           The man looked at him strangely, as if trying to work out why this bird could not see the extent of his lament. So much so, that he even felt the heat of anger enter body to seek an outlet through his mind.

           ‘What’s the matter with you? Can’t you see that I am nothing, nothing but a failure?”

           “I can see nothing of the sort,” replied the cassowary, followed by a pregnant pause. “Anyway, what have you got to worry about?”

           “Huh?” was the man’s confused reply.

           “Look,” said the cassowary, “I am nearly the last of my kind. Soon I and my few remaining brothers and sisters will be extinct.

           At these words, the man’s jaw almost dropped to the earth.

           “You cannot be serious. Why, you are a magnificent rainforest creature, a miracle amongst the North Queensland rainforest. Why, the rainforest would not be the same without the statement of your being here.”

           “Well, it is so,” replied the cassowary wearily. “Soon, much sooner than you think, I and my kind will be no more.”

           “This is an outrage,” cried the man. “It should not be so. Something must be done.”

           “I’m afraid it’s too late,” replied the cassowary in despair. “There a so few that will listen to our cry.”

           At these words from the cassowary, the man drew himself to his full height in declaration.

           “I will not have it so. I am going to march out of here and do everything that I can to ensure that you and your kind do not die to extinction.” The man then stumbled over his next thoughts before he found voice. “Why, I will shout from the very rooftops. I will plead with the powers that control our sacred rainforest. I will speak to all ears that will listen. I will not stop until it is done, and you and your kind are safe.”

           The cassowary’s face lightened with joy and a strange warble entered his chest that he could not stop from expressing.

           “You, you would do this for me?” he asked of the man.

           “Yes, most certainly and I will not stop until I have succeeded,” exclaimed the man with determination

           The cassowary’s casque, once again tilted to the side a little. “But, what about your, your frustration? Your lack of success.”

           The man stood to his full height and looked steely at the cassowary.

           “My friend, I will not fail you.”

By Stephen Paul CHONG

24th August 2016      

What are we going to tell them?

Monday 22nd August 2016

“What are we going to tell them?”

“Boys, are you almost ready to go?” I asked of my three teenage boys in the usual mayhem of an early morning start in preparation to get them to school - knowing full well the time it takes to drive the Kuranda Range to arrive at school on time.

           “Nearly, dad,” was the reply from one son.

            “Have you put the washing on the line yet?” I enquired in the knowledge that they are generally most diligent in completion of their morning chores.

           “Not yet, dad,” was the response from another.

            “Okay, but you better get on with it,” I replied without due concern, “otherwise we’ll be late.”

           A few moments later, I hear …

           “Dad, you better come and see this, quickly.”

           Attuned to the sense of urgency in my son’s voice, I made haste to the lounge room where each of my lads was aligned at the front door.

           “Oh, my God, will you look at that?” was my astounded response to what was prancing up and down right in front of our front door.

           There he was, as large as life, a rather sizable cassowary, marching up and down in front of our house. We all watched in awe as this magnificent creature of the rainforest paraded himself before us.

           “Can we go outside?” intoned one son.

           “Not on your life,” I replied in earnest, “those things are dangerous.”

 At that same instant, the cassowary decided that he’d had enough of his prancing and stood directly in front of us and started this warbling sound.

           “Warble, warble, warble,” said the cassowary.

           “What’s he saying, dad,” asked another son.

You know how it is as a father of teenage children – you are supposed to have all the answers to life’s important questions.

           “Dunno, son,” was my informed reply, “I don’t speak cassowary.”

Anyway, after a few more minutes of listening to the cassowary, our dilemma became apparent. The washing still had not been hung out. But, how to get to the line unscathed while Mr. Cassowary was playing sentry?

           Then, our real dilemma became apparent.

           “What are going to tell them?” asked one lad.

           “Huh?” was my informed reply.

           “Dad, if we are late for school, what excuse do we use?”

All at once the penny dropped – I understood our predicament with perfect clarity. Schools have heard them all before, haven’t they?

           ‘The dog ate my lunch and I had to make another one’, or maybe, ‘The cat got run over and we had to get another one’ is probably another.

           Anyway, as all of these possible excuses ran through my head, I thought that maybe we should just tell the truth, but … ‘A cassowary wouldn’t let us out of the house’ just didn’t have that ring of credibility to it.

           Thankfully though, Mr. Cassowary got bored of prancing and warbling and eventually succumbed to the pleasures of the rainforest, allowing us to put all hands to task and hang out the washing.

           As fortune would have it, we managed to make it to school with a few moments to spare. A fact for which I am most grateful, given that I was still in debate about whether to tell the truth (at risk to my reputation), or tell a wee-white lie that did not defy any sense of reason.

By

Stephen Chong

15 August 2016

mob: 0414 438 909

A video

Monday 22nd August 2016

“What are we going to tell them?”

Episode 1 … “Alfred’s story must be told”

Monday 22nd August 2016

From the moment his father pushed him out of the front door of the burning and collapsing wreckage of their house, life took on some kind of surreal quality for Alfred. Time seemed to rush past, and yet it seemed to stand still all at once. The weeks that had passed since the earthquake that had shattered his home and the community of the pond were a blur of pain floating in a never-ending sea of anguish.

The pain he felt for the loss of his beloved father and mother was like a band constricting tightly around his chest. He could still smell the charred ashes from the embers that were all that remained of his house, and he could smell the acrid scent of the burnt corpses every time he took breath. Even now, his mind vividly returned to the memories of identifying his parents’ bodies in the makeshift morgue that was the final home to many of the fallen. It was hard to believe that his still-developing teenage body could harbour so many tears – yet they had flowed unabated.

He knew he had to leave this agony behind him. So he flew westward with the sacred Book of Mysteries tucked firmly in the folds of his cloak. As he flew, he could still hear the last screams of his father running back into the burning house – it was a continuing nightmare.

Despite his long anguish, the Book of Mysteries had been a constant source of succour to his damaged spirit in this terrible time. The words of the legendary manuscript proved time and again to be an elixir for his pain. Without the book’s wisdoms he was certain that he would have flown into an abyss, never again to return.

There was no one else! No family, no friends that he could find, and certainly no semblance of a community of ducks from whom he could draw support. He was alone – a teenager in a frighteningly disturbed world.

After the devastation of the earthquake, he had flown off, not really knowing why, only knowing that some irresistible and compelling force was telling him to do so. But to where and to what, he had no idea. His nose continued to point westward, but he was cold and tired, and his hunger burned a hole in his stomach. He had not eaten for many days. The meagre fare that he had packed to sustain himself was a mere semblance of the rich offerings he was used to devouring. The meals his mother had put on the table were now but a faint memory. Yet, despite his pangs of hunger, he managed to raise his eyes to the horizon. As he did so, he picked up a strong scent of a storm heading his way. Soon, he saw cumulonimbus clouds assembling menacingly on the horizon.

His better instincts told him to find shelter – and quickly, before disaster turned into catastrophe. He banked to the left after catching a glimpse of a patch of trees that looked as if they might provide some semblance of cover. Maybe there would be a pond or a water hole from which he could forage a meal. He flew down to take a look.

Alfred managed to scavenge a few meagre morsels that did little to lift his feeling of hunger, although they were better than nothing. He also assembled a rudimentary shelter from the wind and rain that were gathering apace. The shelter and food made his brief sojourn in this desolate backwater a respite from complete disaster, but it was still an uncomfortable situation.

He scrunched his body into a foetal position, arranging some of the leaves and twigs to create a semblance of warmth for his chilled body. He closed his eyes and tried to get some sleep – but alas, sleep did not come. There were only images of his mother and father, flashes of the burning roof of his house collapsing around him, and the ever-present smell of ashes still fresh in his nostrils.

He wasn’t sure whether he was awake or dreaming, for he seemed to exist in some nether-zone where he was cognisant of his thoughts but aware that he was not fully awake. He could hear his father calling his name and he could see his mother’s face as she lay dead in the morgue. He had only one answer as to relief from these excruciating images … he began to cry.

Once again, his tears ran unabated from a well that seemed bottomless. His heaving and dishevelled body was shaking with fever, and his breath came between anguished sobs. Cramping pains gripped his stomach, and his limbs felt leaden and atrophied, as if they no longer obeyed his command to move as directed. The chilling wind and driving rain managed to find their way through his meagre defences. The dark spectre of the trees and the malevolence of their shadows in the moonlight only compounded his feelings of dread; in addition to that, the crash of falling branches and twigs made the night air full of exaggerated peril.

The veil of darkness continued for goodness knows how many hours, and each separate moment seemed to be as deep as or deeper than the last. Yet, all of a sudden, some-thing seemed to shift. It was like the lifting of a burden or the release of a pressure valve … out of the blue he felt lighter, as if his burdens were no longer the ordeal that they had first seemed to be. It was hard to explain, really. Maybe the best way to describe it was to say it was as if someone (or something) had taken away the burden of his negative thoughts – had released his thoughts from the bonds of enslavement to the negative.

Then, in a split second, he had an inspiration. He had to get the Book of Mysteries out … he had to write something. He had to start writing “his story”. Now, finally, the significance of his recent experience at the gravesite of his great-great-grandfather, when he had placed the sacred symbol in the Book of Mysteries, was clear to him. The words had been plain and clear. They had said, “This is your story now.”

He took a pen and began to write in verse. This is what he wrote:

I’m here without you, but you are still here

in my dreams.

I’m lost and alone and my dreams are as nightmares.

You didn’t tell me life would be so hard;

I didn’t sign up for this life, and it now seems totally over-rated.

Anyway, why pick on me?

I don’t deserve any of this.

I haven’t hurt anyone, accumulated any karma,

or defamed the sacred.

Why me? Go and pick on somebody else.

 

You were my parents. It was your job to protect me,

and now you leave me alone;

I love you but I hate you at the same time.

Why can’t things be just the way they were?

It might just be simpler to leave this life and join you, given that you’ve left me here alone.

 

I can’t look at life the same; how can I?

The last weeks have been like a thousand lifetimes

of pain and injustice,

And the miles have just been passing under the flap

of wings, without purpose or pleasure.

If there is a God, can you come and save me from this mire?

 

When all is said and done, I’ve only got memories to drive me onward,

But I don’t know what for or where I’m going.

How can this be fair? I’m still only a kid.

Who am I writing to, anyway?

If you were some kind of God,

you’d not place an innocent in such a position.

 

I love you, my Mum and Dad; I always did.

You were my life and all that I held sacred.

Why can’t you be with me now?

Reach beyond the veil to take away my pain.

It was thus before – can it not be again?

 

The storm rages all around me; yet I hear a deafening silence to my questions.

Why do you not answer me? Can you not hear the cries of your son?

Yet, I remember the one of the things you taught me … Yes. I will go on.

I will persist and I will never give up.

Alfred closed the sacred book and tucked it under the folds of his cloak. Then, with a sigh of frustration oddly mixed with determination, he flew off with the rays of the early morning sun casting a long shadow in front of his gaze.

To be loved is like the balance in your cheque-book!

Tuesday 26th July 2016

Huh? Chong, have you finally lost mind? What on earth are you talking about? ‘To be loved is like the balance in your cheque-book’.

Well, the definition of balance is many and varied. A ‘balance’ is an apparatus for weighing. To be perched on balance is on a knife’s edge. To ‘be’ balanced might be stability of body or mind, or harmony of design and proportion. These diverse meanings are all valid. I however propose a wider perspective of the term ‘balance’. One that relates more to something like the ‘balance of your cheque-book’ … And it has to do with love.

You know, millions of people can’t be wrong. I mean to say, it’s really nice to be loved, isn’t it? Just knowing that someone, somewhere, really loves you – not just a little bit, not just now and again or when they want something, but all of the time. Even when they’re mad at you, or you’ve made a mistake, or even when you’ve “pissed them off” in some way, they still love you.

           It’s like a warm fuzzy blanket that surrounds you each and every moment of every day. It’s like the taste of Nanna’s apple pie 365 days of the year. Now this “love” can come from a whole variety of wonderful places. It might be from your partner or your mother or father. It could be the grizzly-bear hug from your old Grandpa, or the sloppy kiss from your two-year-old child – and, by the way, the more the merrier. It’s like, “Give me more, please”.

           It’s a bit like an elixir of life, somewhat akin to the nutrients from the earth that a plant seeks through its roots so that its flowers may bloom. Take away the nutrients and the plant does not flourish, and the flowers do not bloom.

           Much, of course, has been written about the sweet elixir of love. It can be read through verse, or discovered in a tome or through the lyrics of a sweet melody, or when you hear the words of a song that touches your heart and makes you cry, not from sadness, but from recognition – recognition that those words, or that tune has touched within you to the core of your being. They have been the key that opened the door to the love that is within. That’s not a “desire for”, but rather a “recognition of” this love within us.

           So, when your old Grandpa gives you a hug, or your two-year-old plants a sloppy one on your cheek, know that what they are doing is touching the well of love that is within you. They act like a key that unlocks the door to let your love shine through.

           You know what else is really interesting? It’s not just your grandfather or child or mother or father who holds a key. There’s another really important person that holds a key to your “love” room. Do you know who that is?

                                                           “YOU”

           Yes, you! You hold the key to the well of love that’s inside. You can turn the key and enter any time you like. Entry is free any time, day or night. You don’t need anyone’s permission – there’s no pass that’s required, but simply an acknowledgement that you are worthy, a knowing that, despite your foibles and inconsistencies (like we all have), you are worthy of love.

           Go on. Take the key out of your pocket and put it in the keyhole. Open the door and go inside. Ah, there you are – yourself, standing in the room. Give yourself a big smile. Go and give yourself a big hug. Did you notice the sparks of love that shine from your eyes? Go on, now, give yourself a gift of appreciation. Say thank you. Tell yourself that you’ll see you later. Then, with a heart full to the bursting, leave the room and go about your daily business, knowing that you can come back to the “love” room any time you like. You’ll always be there.

When your “love” room is in balance, it’s a bit like having a cheque-book with a never-ending supply of money it, from which you can withdraw whenever you like. Pretty cool, hey!

By Stephen Chong

Role-Modeling for the Reluctant Teenager

Wednesday 16th April 2014

According to Greenfield (2011) (this lady is pretty smart), she said that,

“As our brain enables us to make more connections so we can navigate the world and make more sense of it and understand it by placing any object, person or event in terms of what has previously happened or in association with other objects, people or events, this will enhance the significance of those objects, people or events to us.”

 

From the point of view of a teenager, what I understand this statement means is that there are some really important people in their life - the first of whom are their parents. The events and experiences that occur with their parents during their formative teenage years are going to have a pretty big impact on their future life.

            Now, I am not going to sit hear and preach a sermon about parents ‘doing their best’ or ‘having their own demons to deal with’. I simply offer the perspective of choice.

            The first perspective that is through that of a role-model:

            In the strictest definition, a role-model is “someone who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by others” (Wikipedia, December 2011) or “someone worth imitating” (Thesaurus, 2011).

            I, however, would like to give a broader, more expansive, yet simple set of considerations.

            Let’s look at a role-model not just as a person, but rather as a possibility.

            What I mean is, ‘do you consider the actions of the person you are interacting with as positive or negative’?

            If, for example, a parent is swearing or cursing; if they are yelling or screaming to make you do something, or being a bully or a tyrant, or even worse. Normally, one would probably not consider this form of behaviour as ‘good parenting,’ i.e. not a positive role-model. But you could consider it as a role-model none-the-less, a negative role-model, i.e. something that you know that you would never do or act like. In other words, you make a positive out of a negative, an asset from a difficult situation.

            The second important consideration is that of determination.

            Now the determination I talk about is to never, ever be beaten or cowered. To always get up after you’ve been knocked down. To overcome the obstacles that life presents. To never be set aside from what you know is right. To never let the actions of others deter you from what you know to be true, to persist with purpose in the face of the limiting negative thoughts and actions of others. To keep going when the going gets tough. It is the determination to keep trying your hardest when you are ten points down in the last quarter and you are dog-tired but want to cross the finishing line a winner.

 

But let us let (a couple) of stories tell the story …

 

The Swordmaster’s Disciple 

Lesson 1:

The clouds were dark and threatening this day and the humidity made any form of physical exercise an event that bathed the body in sweat and fatigue – yet the sword master continued to press his lessons upon his young disciple.

            ‘Keep going, move your arms in a circular motion like I showed you. No, that’s not it! Move your feet!’ implored the sword master. ‘Keep going, I have not told you to stop.’

            Eventually, in a state of absolute exhaustion, drenched in sweat and weak from dehydration, the disciple dropped his sword onto the ground and collapsed to his knees – he could not move another muscle.

            Some moments later, when his head had cleared a little and he regained the use of a voice that no longer struggled for breath, he managed to form words that spoke of his distress to his master.

            ‘Master, why do you challenge me so? You push me to the brink of exhaustion?’ asked the young disciple.

            ‘Young man, do you think that your opponent will have concern for your state of health when you are in battle?’ asked the sword master. ‘Do you believe that your adversary will give you time to recover your breathe when he presses his attack upon you?’

            ‘No master I see that you speak the truth. If I allow my opponent such advantage then I will surely be killed. But how do you persist when your body can give no more from its point of exhaustion?’

            ‘My young disciple, to be a true master of the sword you must first learn the skills of the sword – how to hold it for defense and attack, how to move your arms and position your feet. All of this you must learn well. But, more importantly, you must ensure that the exertions of your opponent far exceed your own. You must learn the art of depleting the reserves of your opponent that they may be the one to wither from exhaustion. Let your actions be the cause of your opponent to wilt under the strain of their own efforts. It is then that you will be able to press your advantage.’

            ‘Yes master, I understand your wisdom,’ as the young disciple bent down to pick up his sword. ‘Can we continue the lesson now?’ 

 

Lesson 2:

 

The young disciple picked up his sword this day to commence his daily practice under the tutelage of his master.

            ‘You will have no need of your sword today young man,’ said the master, ‘you can leave it sheathed in its scabbard. Today you will be doing drill exercises. You can start by running up and down that hill over yonder ten times.’

            Not questioning his master’s wisdom, this is what the disciple did.

            After many minutes of strenuous exercise, the disciple came back to his master’s position bathed in sweat and panting from exertion.

            ‘Right! Now give me a hundred push ups.’

            ‘Now give me fifty star jumps.’

            ‘Now carry this heavy rock over to that river and bring it back again.’

            The disciple, after all of this was not only exhausted, he was also getting pretty angry. ‘Who does this guy think he is anyway! I’m supposed to be training for the sword, not boot camp,’ were his unspoken thoughts.

            Eventually after more and more exercise the young disciple finally snapped.

            His face red both from effort and anger, he stood toe-to-toe with his master and said, ‘Listen to me you old coot, if you make me do one more pointless exercise I’m going to punch you right on the nose. We’ll then see how an old fart can deal with my power.’

            At this demonstrable aggression the old sword master merely stood his ground, gave the brief hint of a smile, but never took his eyes from those of his fledgling.

            ‘Son,’ he asked, ‘do you know the two key ingredients that make up a great warrior?

            ‘No,’ came the exasperated reply.

            ‘Well, the first ingredient is that you must make a choice.’

            ‘What do you mean, ‘I must make a choice’.’

            ‘When your sword strikes another, you must know in your heart that you are fighting for what you believe is right. You must be clear on your purpose to stop the aggressor or the tyrant. This is the job of a warrior.Yet, having made such a choice you must be aware of the second, and greater challenge. You must be able to keep the beast of your aggression and suppressed rage within bounds. You must know how to retain empathy for your opponent – to see them as another human being, just like you. If you unleash the beast of your rage you will become no better than the evil you are trying to stop.’

            At these sage words, the young disciple bowed before his master and asked, ‘what is my next exercise, master?’

 

by

 

Stephen Paul CHONG M.Ed.

16 April 2014

Inspirational

Wednesday 12th June 2013

Check out this great site for an inspiring story:  http://www.spiritualmediablog.com/2013/06/11/a-story-out-of-the-mouth-of-babes/

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Tuesday 12th March 2013

Embedded image.

“In Letters Across Time there is a good chance that you will find what you are looking for.”

Chris Shaw - Author

A quote

Monday 15th October 2012
Make an escape from responsibilities that you allowed others to impose upon you and that take away your precious time. Stephen Chong (2012)

A quote

Monday 15th October 2012
If you cannot change your actions or your thinking, be prepared to obtain the same results as you always have in the past. Stephen Chong (2012)
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Stephen Chong is available for book signing events, public speaking engagements, workshops, interviews and professional development/coaching activities. For further information, please contact Stephen direct