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Staying Blessed and Peaceful In The Year of The Ox

February 1st, 2009 by Wai Loong (3 Comments)

Dearest Reader,

It has been my blessing to have survived yet another year and have lived well into this so-called “Once in 12 Years” of the Chinese Lunar year of the Ox.

Strangely, I didn’t called it ‘Year of the Bull’… fearing that some financial professionals might get upset for the Bears are still very much pounding hard onto the Bulls.  🙂

My buddy Leroy has taken the first step to write about his reflections for this new year, and rightfully I should too.  However, being stuck from the mental block of writing for a long time, I was still searching for a topic to write about when I stumbled onto a book at MPH Raffles City about a couple of weeks ago (18th January 2009; coincidentally this day turned out to be a very special day for me but I shall never reveal the secrets here for very personal reasons).

The title of this book is “Rich Brother Rich Sister” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Emi Kiyosaki.  If you’re familiar with Robert Kiyosaki, then you are wondering why he was writing a book with a nun.  Was it something about wealth building or financial education again?  But the front cover looked pretty spiritual to me and I sensed something is different that Robert is offering here.

Rich Brother Rich Sister

Rich Brother Rich Sister

Flipping to the back of the book, it said:

“My life has been about business and teaching people about money… a laser focus that at times, was all-encompassing…”

“In reconnecting with Tenzin, I realized that a rich life has two balance sheets… a financial one and a spiritual one.”  My financial balance sheet was strong, but my spiritual one paled in comparison.

I saw in Tenzin a women filled with kindness, happiness and joy.  I knew she had found her spiritual family.”
– Robert Kiyosaki

The second remark stunned me deeply.

Searching deeply inside me, I know that I have done reasonably okay at my own financial balance sheet.  Comparing with Robert, I am in a bad financial shape indeed!  However, financial life is not about comparing.  It’s about what you have now and what are you doing with it in a meaningful manner that matters.

For the other part, that’s my spiritual balance sheet, has indeed strengthened over the years.  In the past 4 years, I had been developing spiritually and being aware of my own ego most of the time.  I learned a set of breathing technique from my mentor which has served me well over the last year to curb my ego, as well as to combat my morning blocked nose.

Until recently, I have been blessed to come back to study Buddhist texts again.  Also, recent strange encounters with a few unique characters have led me to come back to develop my spiritual being.  I am now very blessed to be handled with the rare opportunity to explore both aspects of wealth and spiritual developments (specifically in the areas of finances, relationships and careers).  For personal reasons, I cannot reveal the details yet, but rest assure that it will be wholesome and good for both my balance sheets, and hopefully in times to come, I can share them all here when I’m ready.

Recently, Adam Khoo (a well-known multi-millionaire here in Singapore for his educational businesses) has talked about a topic “How Much Would You Sell 10 Years of Your Life For?

A very inspirational topic indeed.

For me, I’ve gotten my own inspiration from my showers too… but it’s a Personal Theory I’ve somewhat merge from all that I’ve somewhat been studying over the years and the recent strange encounters for the past 3 months.

It call it “The 4 Quadrants of Life“, very much similar concept borrowed from Robert Kiyosaki’s financial version, but mashed up with a spiritual component.

“The 4 Quadrants of Life” – My Own (and Evolving) Theory

What is this theory all about?

Basically, its a simple concept.  It involves concepts of universal time and space, primary merging the concept of one’s time and material space on this little green planet we call earth.

As humans, we have finite time breathing.  Once our time is up, something will happen.  Depending on one’s faith, various versions are available to explain what may happen.

Personally, I’m very much subscribed to the original teachings of the Buddha, which makes the most sense to me yet.  When our time is up, our strongest tendencies and habits will steer us yet to another beginning.  This concept if very much like the Theory of conservation of energy; our mental/spiritual energy shall be disintegrated and attracted towards the strongest force that we’re most likely attracted to (law of attraction in after-life).  Until the mind is cultivated purely to understand the truth of time and space to break out of this Samsara, rebirth shall repeat indefinitely.

In the material world (where we’re supposedly to be here; or not to be; concept of “Kong” in Buddhist teachings), each of us cannot escape the concept of money and time.  Thereafter, we depart and just what is left may I ask?

I attempted to condense the life of an urban human being into a simple 4 quadrant chart, very much like Kiyosaki’s ESBI (Employee, Self-employed, Business, Investor) Cashflow Quadrant.

Quadrant #1 – Trading Time For Money

Frankly speaking, majority of people falls into this quadrant, including myself (though I’m working towards minimizing the effects of this quadrant).

I see in the eyes of urban dwellers, rushing from point to point in the desperate move to feel financially secure… when actually not.  Being at ease is the goal of trading time for money.  But is this true?  How much truth are there in this statement?

It leads one to wonder (if ever one does self-reflections) why one is here anyway?

What is the purpose of life?

Is it worth most of your time trading most of your time away for money?

If not, how much money do you really need?

Ah ha!  As you’re asking deeper, you might have discovered that the keyword is “How Much?

Does it ever occurs that you CAN retire just NOW?

If that’s the case, then what do you want to do; or more specifically, not do?

The answers to the latter may somewhat be surprise yourself and perhaps force you to re-think what you’re not doing that may be your greatest regret or worry.

I’m not denying that money is not important.  It is the fundamental element to trade, virtually anything for your basic needs.  Beyond that, what are the surplus for (if there are any left over)?

Majority of folks may never comprehend this wisdom.  But there is no need to feel sad too because each individual is born with their freedom to choose what they want to trade their time for.  There isn’t any right or wrong way; perhaps not, but rather, as this question began to dawn upon me, it is more appropriate to ask,

What is one’s life worthy for?

Perhaps, this new year is a good year to contemplate deeply on such issues.  The severe financial turmoil and economic downturn has indeed done a lot of good to humanity indeed, both financially and spiritually.  It forces us to reconsider our lives and what we should be doing about our time and finances.

A recent survey taken among Singaporeans have already shown that a vast majority have already changed their outlook in their lives due to the current economic downturn.

Many have changed from (2007-2008 Survey):

  1. Traveling and going abroad to see the rest of the world
  2. Working hard for their retirements

To something more recent on Life Expectations (Q1 2009 Survey):

  1. Settling down (getting married)
  2. Starting a family (getting married and nurturing our next generation)

True to my observations, the concept of “Trading Time For Money” has indeed force many who operates solely in Quadrant #1 to steer off-tracked and forced to do with what their finances can offer.  Many realized that their family is still the most trusted and secured resources they have in times of trouble or crisis.

Personally, I agree that family is a very important, if not one of the most important component of a human life.  Unfortunately, we don’t live and breathe only on oxygen.  Human beings are herd animals and we have the craving to live in a community.  As such, trading is a necessity and hence currency was invented to make such trades a convenience.

However, life isn’t so complicated, or too caught up and involved in trading time for money.

Have you ever consider anything beyond “Trading Time for Money”?

If not, be blessed and read on…

Quadrant #2 – Trading Money For Money

Smarter folks have already discovered this secret.

In fact, this isn’t a secret any more.  More likely, people are seeking to have their money work hard for them.  Many folks ended up on lots of scams – from MLMs, real estates, land banking, internet marketing etc… – you name it, the market has it!  As economist put it neatly, where there is demand, supply will eventually catch up to meet it at equilibrium.

Before you start flaming me, I must emphasize that most of them are scams, but not all.  Some of them are legitimate ones, though there are so few of them around these days.

The concepts are basically the same… making some or good returns from their spare pools of money (investments), while aiming to minimizing the risks in doing so.

Few have successfully done so in the past.  It is only recently that things are changing all these rules now.  These days, the Internet and media have accelerated the distribution of information in such efficient ways that even average folks with basic financial intelligence can do so without much complexities.  Some have done so in many areas of trading money for money that they actually become quite skillful at it.  Many have decided to share their methods and strategies in the hope to spread the goodwill.  Others took advantage of the current situation and made a killing in educational courses.

Look, if you’re operating in this quadrant, you are very blessed indeed!

As Kiyosaki already pointed out, “Your financial balance sheet is strong, but pale in comparison to your spiritual balance sheet.”

I urge you to reconsider your time wisely and strengthen your other balance sheet too.  As I’m strengthening my financial balance sheet in the years to come, I am also working towards my spiritual assets & liabilities; or not quite close as this cannot be measured as gains or losses.  Spiritual development in my perspective is to let go… to give up (more into this later).

As such, as I trade more money for money, it has been my wish to work on it for meaningful purposes, other than to provide for the living expenses and basic comforts for my family and myself.

Quadrant #3 – Trading Money For Time

Many folks these days who claimed that financial independence can empower them to trade money for time.  But is this entirely true?

In my humble opinion, it is both true and false.

Money CAN buy certain type of happiness, and even to the extend of time.

For example, you can hire a maid to do your laundry and cook your meals.  But is that what you really want to have until you pass into the darkness?

Perhaps, more realistically, money is just a concept of trading; one that exchange your time, or frees up your mind so that the basic cost of living is no longer a major burden.  With the extra spare time, financially individuals may truly choose to live the life of their dream.

Having said that, there is still a million dollar question left unanswered:

What is one’s life worthy for?

All the money in your bank account will never ever going to provide you with the answer.

My philosophy is simple enough…

Here’s my take on living this Quadrant:

Trade enough money to pay for all my expenses that support my family and live comfortably.  Beyond that, I focus on trading money for money for charity, education and volunteering works.  This way, money becomes a meaningful and useful concept; a skill that I’ve acquired successfully and passing them along to all who are fated to be in the know, how and grow with our fellow comrades.

That to me, is one’s life worth living for.

Quadrant #4 – Trading Time For Time

In my theory of 4 Quadrants, this is the most advanced stage of the human mind as expounded by the Buddha in His long discourse and teachings of the concept known as “Emptiness“.  This is the path taken by people who cultivates and live truly spiritual lives.

It is even possible for anyone to be already in this Quadrant, here and now in this time and space without being in any of the other 3 Quadrants.  Yet, it is still possible to be in all 4 Quadrants simultaneously.

Just what is Trading Time For Time?

It is very difficult to understand “Time For Time” unless you can accept the fact that time and money both operates in the same dimension as time and space, or time and matter (money) specifically.

Essentially, when one trades time for time, one is fully absorbed in the moment; or for any given amount of time traded throughout the absorption.

This is very different from trading somebody’s time for your time!  If you trade other people’s time for your time, you’re essentially paying for it (Trading Money For Time), and not truly Trading Time for Time.  No one in the right mind (except slavery) that one is willing to take over your duties for free.

Then again, living Quadrant #4 is not slavery!

It’s about freedom through renunciation and letting go your 5 Aggregates.  It’s accurately describe as being nobody and going nowhere.  It’s here and now, it’s the moment that matters.  Self-reflections and contemplations of your own deeds are one of the basic activities one has to do to walk this path.  As in any spiritual work done, one has to trade time (it’s pure constant effort and full time work) and work towards timeless.

Sounds complicated?

In fact not!

The good news is, Quadrant #4 is just like any other Quadrants that can be mastered and learn like any skill.  It is strange and elusive initially, as it exist in our lives just like Quadrant #2 and Quadrant #3 for anyone who is unfamiliar with.  One can pretend that it doesn’t exist, but that is just fooling oneself, or as Ken Chee (my stock picking teacher) puts it – it’s self denial.  Better to have short-term pains than long term ones.  Strangely, most people would rather choose the latter (or die) than to do any hard work to make changes.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely committed to keep changing for the wholesome, in spite of being misunderstood very often in life (as in almost true in all wise men who have ever walked on this planet in the history of mankind).

That’s it!

It’s just (again) one of my usual long-winded but insightful thoughts that has been flashing across my mind for the past month in the baths.

Of course, you may disagree on many of my points here.  I agree that it might be flawed too as these concepts are purely based on my own limited wisdom and human experiences.  Do feel free to drop your comments and your exchange life pointers.  I will be most blessed by your insights too!


Stay hungry, stay foolish, and

May all beings be Safe and Happy!

Posted in Buddhism, Finance, Life, Singapore

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3 Responses:

Leroy on February 2nd, 2009 at 12:06 am


Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Being able to evolve displays a high level of learning and growth. Though I wouldn’t do the evolution part during shower… it’s kind of waste water. Hahhaa

Keep it up!

“When I Stop Learning, I Stop Living.”

TEA ENG PENG on February 2nd, 2009 at 12:44 am

Hey Bro, was just wondering where have you been and not hear from you for quite awhile. Great Sharing! Think it’s my turn next for my new year article after Leroy and you… Keep a look out! 🙂

Wai Loong on February 7th, 2009 at 10:28 am

Hi Leroy and Eng Peng!

Really appreciate you guys for dropping by!
I’ve been caught up this week in ICT and was done last night (Friday).

@Leroy: LOL! Shower is great for some cool thinking for me, though I stay very little time so no fear of me wasting water brother!

@Eng Peng: I’m waiting for your next inspirational article! Have you managed to have your blog linked to Facebook? Mine is automatically setup with WordPress Twitter plugin to notify all my 400++ followers and with Facebook hooked to Twitter notifier and Facebook note import. This allow me to instantly notify all my other 200 friends… but I have no idea how many Facebook friends do actually come around and drop me a comment.

Again, thanks guys! And may the new year be extremely rewarding to you all in all 4 Quadrants of Life! 🙂

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About Insights, Inspirations, Tranquility, Peace and Harmony

Ng Wai Loong

Wai Loong is an electronics engineer by profession. He currently resides in Singapore, a thriving hub at the heart of South-East Asia. When he is not so stress out on the computers or laboratory, he enjoys value reading, jogging at his own pace and blogging in his spare time. Other times, he likes to catch up with some close friends over a cup of latte or teh tarik. As a gift from this friend, you are invited to interact freely with him on his personal blog.

PS: May the person reading this blog transforms his/her businesses, finances, relationships and life for ALL to WIN!