It’s a Wonder

It’s a wonder how, even with a deeply cracked shell, I’m still able to mend some of the cracks in the shells of others, and am glad to do so. They don’t seem to notice how badly cracked mine is but, instead, view my shell as the more intact and stronger one.

It’s a wonder how positive feedback at work lifts me. They had no reason to lie; there were no hidden motives, no hidden agendas. They were just glad to report the positive changes in their lives. My typical response is to chalk it up to external factors or to compliment them back. It feels good though that I’m positively impacting the lives of others, that I’m aiding in their improvements, that I’m nurturing their intellect.

It’s a wonder how a certain handful see my endearing qualities while most others see only my abrasive side.

It’s a wonder how I seem to be a magnet for the INFJ type. Perhaps I spot them more easily, perhaps the places I go to happen to attract them too. Almost every venue where I’m at, I can be certain to bump into an INFJ. I’ve recently come across another two. Roll the repeats and credits, s’il vous plaît.

A Couple of Solo Theatergoers (& Excerpts)

Is it common for solo theatergoers to socialise with another singleton at the theater?  Is it a social practice that’s generally accepted and implicitly understood?

It happened once before, although this time, it was a lady who sat beside me. A while had passed before she asked,

“Are you here alone?”

Her question broke my reverie. It took me a moment to gather the scattered pieces of the puzzle and form a comprehensible picture of the social context — that she had indeed said something, that she had asked a question, that the question was directed at me, and that those were the words that formed her question. As it took me by surprise, I wasn’t quite sure how to react so I simply smiled and gave a slight nod, then turned back to face the stage and resumed my original sitting position, wondering what her motives and reasons were that prompted her to break the silence between us and to ask me that question.

It got awkward between us after that, and there were no further exchange of words for the rest of the show.

On a separate note, the following are excerpts from 3,096 Days in Captivity by Natascha Kampusch. They echo my thoughts and are worded much better than I could have.

Nothing is all black, or all white. And nobody is all good or all evil. These are words that people don’t like to hear from an abduction victim. Because the clearly defined concept of good and evil is turned on its head, a concept that people are all too willing to accept so as not to lose their way in a world full of shades of grey. When I talk about it, I can see the confusion and rejection in the faces of many who were not there. The empathy they felt for my fate freezes and is turned to denial.

That, within the evil, at least brief moments of normality, even mutual understanding, were possible. That’s what I mean when I say that there is neither black nor white, neither in reality nor in extreme situations, but rather many subtle shades in between that make the difference.

Our society needs criminals like Wolfgang Priklopil in order to give a face to the evil that lives within and to split it off from society itself. It needs the images of cellar dungeons so as not to have to see the many homes in which violence rears its conformist, bourgeois head. Society uses the victims of sensational cases such as mine in order to divest itself of the responsibility for the many nameless victims of daily crimes, victims nobody helps — even when they ask for help.

Crimes such as the one committed against me form the austere, black-and-white structure for the categories of Good and Evil on which society is based. The perpetrator must be a beast, so that we can see ourselves as being on the side of good. His crime must be embellished with S&M fantasies and wild orgies, until it is so extreme that it no longer has anything to do with our own lives.

And the victim must have been broken and must remain so, so that the externalisation of evil is possible. The victim who refuses to assume this role contradicts society’s simplistic view. Nobody wants to see it. People would have to take a look at themselves.

……It is society’s self-hate that rebounds on society itself, begging the question of why it allows something like that to happen.

I was unable to find any desire for revenge within me — just the opposite. It seemed as if I would only reverse the crime he has committed against me if I delivered him into the hands of the police. First he had locked me up, then I would make sure that he was locked up. In my twisted worldview, the crime would not have been cancelled out, but rather intensified. The evil in the world would be no less, but indeed would multiply.

The sympathy extended to a victim is deceptive. People love the victim only when they can feel superior to him or her. …But even the offers of help were indicative of what was going on inside many. It is a human reflex that makes you feel better about yourself when you can help someone weaker, a victim. That works as long as the roles are clearly defined. Gratitude to the giver is wonderful; but when it is abused to prevent the other from developing his or her full potential, the whole thing takes on a hollow ring.

It’s Odd…

It’s odd how others view me as their close friend, as part of their inner-circle.  It always comes as a surprise to hear that expressed (explicitly) to me.  It always seems so sudden.  It always seems to form so quickly on their end when I see them as mere acquaintances.  How could they perceive such closeness between us when I feel so distant from them?  (Is it just Fe?)

It’s odd how others can be incomplete yet still live fulfilling lives and form close relationships.  In typical Enneagram 5 fashion, I’m still in preparation mode to live my life.  Like a simulation, role-playing, or strategy game, I prefer to level up or max out on skills first and read and understand all the rules prior to stepping into actual gameplay — the game of life, in this case.  I mention the cruciality of the acquisition of knowledge to others; they understand and agree but don’t seem as perturbed as I am about it — because they aren’t 5s.  I will never acquire sufficient knowledge nor be knowledgeable enough; I will never be ready enough to emerge.  That is my mentality.  I have to maintain some semblance of normalcy as the constant threat hangs over my head, where my privacy would be impinged on and my personal freedom revoked — these are vital factors to my sanity.

It’s odd how much energy others seem to possess.  They go to work or attend school full-time, do household chores, run errands, care for their children, cook meals, have hobbies, and yet still somehow find the time and energy to exercise and engage in social activities.  Doing any single one of those activities on a given day and I’m beat and drained for the week.  How do they cope so effortlessly and not struggle?

It’s odd how the various Enneagram types play such a large influential role on the MBTI types.  Individuals of the same MBTI type but different Enneagram types differ drastically from each other.  Add the wings, levels of development, as well as instinctual variants and such from Socionics, and an immensely intricate, albeit fascinating, web of personalities forms.

It’s odd how I’m capable of forming connections and having deep, invigorating conversations yet the relationships fade and dissipate.  The invigoration is laced with sadness as I foresee the end before it even begins — a sadness for the future loss of a potential friendship.  A defeatist attitude and self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps.

It’s odd how the anxiety overwhelms me and takes over my thoughts and physical body.  It’s the same cycle: I lose sleep and go into mindless Se overload, finding comfort and escaping reality through sensation-seeking activities in a controlled yet out of control manner.  What should have already been completed has still not been completed yet, and it won’t be by the end of the year either.  What am I doing?  I want to get it over with, but the anxiety keeps me trapped.  Anxiety has its grip on me and my life — I’m under its control.  I wish to be free from its constraints, to escape.  I feel stupid that I keep harping on the same things.

It’s odd how hypersensitive I can be internally, especially when others tend to see only my rough edges.  Is it due to the tertiary Fi?  Is it exacerbated by social anxiety?  Could it be the Ni-Fi loop?

It’s odd how, in that brief moment, I saw it as pleasant.  I’ve always thought it looked horrendous.  Perhaps it was my blurry sight, perhaps it was the dim lighting, but though this perception might be fleeting, I have this moment to look back to and reflect on — so I encapsulate it in writing for remembrance’s sake.

The Intensity of Intensive Training

I spent the week at an intensive training program, and I learned so much — not about the course material and not about myself, but about how others perceive me. It’s so intense and startling that it hurts.

They found me insightful and intelligent. That the way I spoke was metaphorical and wise, that I had such a different and unique perspective and understanding, that my words conveyed such depth and meaning. They wowed when I spoke up, as though the measly thoughts of mine that I tried so hard to translate and push out were otherworldly.

The other INTJ there had the same impact on the room. It was amazing meeting another INTJ. The intensity; the depth; the mutual understanding. I learned so much about him and from him in that short span of time.

I made other connections too. Some sought me out and I also selected a few whom I liked and gravitated towards. With my knowledge, I helped them understand themselves better and eased their confusion. I seem to like the quiet ones. The little things we did for one another held so much more meaning and sincerity — those connections bore so much deeper. One said that consultancy work giving advice to others would suit me very well. Those words mean a lot.

An ENFP expressed his concern and asked me some cutting questions (in a good way). What are you going to do with all this insightful knowledge that you have? But I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary; I merely read the books, made the connections, and understood them. If others do the same, they’ll easily see it too. That’s where you’re wrong. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t so for others.

They questioned why I was so quiet and so private. I was the sole enigma in the room. In an effort to hide in the shadows, I somehow attracted their attention and piqued their interest.

At the end, the program drew to a close and so did the connections. I’m left questioning the oddity of the drastic differences in how I perceive myself and how others perceive me, as well as how I thought others perceive me. Why has it changed? What has changed? And most importantly, now what?

The NFs (and the INTJ)

It’s perplexing how most of the INFJs and ENFPs I’ve met lack an understanding and acceptance of the many different ways people function. And yet, they remain popular, well-liked, and regarded as wise.

They live in their NF bubble and try to mould others to become more NF in their ways, like Pygmalion. When their efforts are for naught and the other person remains unreceptive to their sculpting attempts, they become passive-aggressive and make jabs behind the person’s back. Other times, they spurt lava aggressively on the other person in retaliation to attacks, real or perceived. If it gets really bad, the volcano in them erupts. I’ve not hung around long enough to experience a full-fledged eruption and I can only imagine the damage it’d cause. I still have a fondness and admiration for these two types though, at least theoretically.

As for the INFPs, it’s like walking on eggshells. They remain distant and hard to reach. I seem to offend them with my assertiveness and use of Te (extroverted thinking). And I’ve not knowingly met any ENFJs.

On a side note, I think I’ve finally met a fellow INTJ, and a female one at that! It’s kind of odd to see a mirror image of myself in someone else. She’s much more accomplished and well-adapted than I am, and significantly older, but we’ve gotten along pretty well thus far. I can see past her “cold” and logical exterior into her gooey insides easily, and perhaps she can see mine too. This is one opportunity I must seize and not let slip past.

The Fe-Fi Divide

Lately, two new INFJs have waltzed into my life whom I get along quite well with. I wonder what’s different about these two in comparison to the dozens of others I know presently and from the past, and I have a few guesses. I doubt, though, that our relationship will go deeper or last for long. But for now, I’m enjoying their company.

I think I come across to them as insightful, since they’re not familiar with the MBTI and I have much to say about it. I haven’t really found anything they said to me particularly insightful, so the relationships are a little one-sided.

One thing odd is that I give them relationship advice. How absurd. Aren’t INFJs the ones who are supposed to have exceptional interpersonal skills? I recently spent a couple of hours talking with one of them about their feelings and relationship troubles, and I was giving advice throughout — sound advice, if I might add. How ironic. I seem to understand so much so quickly. I even seem to understand their long-term partners more than they do, although I’ve never/barely met or interacted with them. How peculiar — not of me, but of them and how little they know about the inner-workings of their decade-long (or two) partners. Aren’t INFJs supposed to read others effortlessly? During the two-hour long conversation, the INFJ confided that they feel burdened when their partner talks about their own feelings for an extended period of time, and would stop the partner. My gosh, Fe. I later pointed out and juxtaposed the length and topic of our conversation, much to the INFJ’s astonishment.

They don’t seem aware of my overwhelming sadness. They’ve had glimpses of and expressed their sadness with a couple of things I’ve mentioned to them about myself, but I don’t think they’re aware of its omnipresence.

The way Fe consoles irks me. “괜찮아, everything will be alright” doesn’t work, at least not for me. It’s a dismissal of my feelings and makes me crawl back into my shell. As an enneagram type 5, I deal with problems by turning to knowledge and information. This hoarding of information doesn’t translate much into practical use for me, so I retreat to hoard more information. It is the way I function and deal with things, but it’s not helping, so 어떡해? I understand and read people pretty well, yet still lack the practical skills to communicate and interact with others. Isn’t it strange?

I am neither here nor there
Neither living nor dead
Neither present nor absent
Friend nor foe
Intelligent nor unintelligent

I live high up in the clouds
Peering at those down below
Wishing not to be here
Nor down below

On Religion

I had an intriguing conversation on religion recently that spanned two separate days and lasted for almost 4 hours or so.  The bulk of the following abridged excerpt, which was written from memory and is not in the exact same sequence (i.e. not verbatim), comes from the last hour or less when I started to speak more.  Prior to the last hour, I had mainly been asking questions and listening intently to his monologues.

Me: There’s this thing called the omnipotent paradox, and I find it very interesting. God is all-powerful and he can create anything he wishes, right? Like what you said, he created the universe. So if he’s all-powerful and he’s able to create anything he wants, he should be able to create a rock so large that even he cannot lift – which then makes him not all-powerful.

Him: But he’s all-powerful. He’d be able to lift it.

Me: But he created something so huge that even he could not lift.

Him: But God is not so stupid. He won’t create something like that.

Me: Then that’s his weakness, right? He knows not to do that otherwise he’ll not be all-powerful, which makes him not all-powerful.

Him: No, God will be able to lift it because he’s all-powerful and all-knowing – it’s something that we are not able to fully understand. Even if we are reborn for over a 1000 years, we will only know 2% of what he knows. So there’s still 98% of knowledge that we don’t know.

Me: There’s another thing I’ve heard and I find it funny. It goes… “I wanted a new bike and prayed for one, but I know God doesn’t work that way so I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness instead.”

Him: That’s Christianity. It’s a flaw in Christianity to think that God won’t punish you for doing bad things. He’s not so stupid, right? God will punish you. He sees everything, he knows all of us and everything about us, he knows our past and our future – everything, he knows. If you commit a crime, the law will punish you. It’s the same – God will punish you also. Maybe not in this life, but in the next life. If you do something once, it’s okay, we learn from it. But if you do it a second time or a third time, it shows that you didn’t learn your lesson. Like with children – we’ll tell them not to touch fire because it’ll burn them. And if they touch it, we’ll scold them. But if they touch it again after that, we will say, “I’ve already told you not to do it”. Ah– there’s another flaw in Christianity’s teachings. I’m not saying that Christianity is wrong, because God is the same. But what they teach is wrong. They say that if you do something bad, you will suffer in hell forever. So if you do something bad for 5 years, you will suffer forever. So, what’s the point? I can just go commit more crimes. No – God is not like that. If you do something bad for 5 years, you will be punished for 5 years. So you still have the chance to change after that.

This is spiritual science. When we have spiritual knowledge, God promises us eternal happiness when we reach the spiritual world – but, of course, that is not easy and will take a long time to get there. By talking about him and teaching others about him, I’m getting nearer to him.  When we find out our purpose – why he created us and put us here – and we serve him, he will give us happiness because he’s generous. It’s like a dog – we get a dog for a purpose, right? For it to protect us. If it doesn’t protect us, then we won’t feed it. But if it serves its purpose, then we will hug it, play with it, and even let it sleep with us on our beds. So, it’s the same. God created us for a purpose, and he will be happy if we fulfill our purpose, and he’ll share the joy with us because he has so much. If I had 1 million dollars, I would share it with you – so, it’s the same.

Me: Is happiness important for you?

Him: Sure. Everybody wants to be happy.

Me: Happiness isn’t important for me though. What’s more important is… I would say…

Him: Peace?

Me: No, I mean for me personally. What’s more important for me is intelligence – logic. A lot of the things you’ve said, I see logical flaws in them – logical fallacies. Do you know what logical fallacies are?

Him: (shakes head)

Me: It’s like–

Him: Maybe you can tell me where you see the flaws and I’ll explain them logically to you.

Me: But it’s not something you’d be able to explain logically. It’s like saying that 1+1=3 – it’s not 3, right? It’s 2. And there’s no way around to explain that 3 is right. It’ll change the whole system and what you believe in.

Him: If you’ve noticed, I’ve not used the word “believe” at all the whole time I’m talking about this. Because this is the truth – they are facts.

Me: ‘Fact’ is a very scientific term. In order to be termed as a fact, it needs to be proven. There needs to be evidence to support it.

Him: This is a science – it’s spiritual science. It’s not a belief.

Me: But even if you don’t use the word–

Him: It’s still a belief?

Me: Yes.

Him: I think science is using the word ‘fact’ wrongly. All these are facts. But tell me what are the logical flaws that you see.

Me: Like the example you gave about the pen. You said that even if we don’t see the pen, it doesn’t mean that the pen doesn’t exist, it’s just that we don’t see it. And because there’s such a word, it means that there’s such a thing. That is a logical fallacy. I don’t know the proper name of it, but using that same logic, I could just come up with any word and then argue that there’s such a thing. Like, I could say… ooh-la-la is a god, because ooh-la-la is a word.

Him: But you are the only one saying it, right?

Me: That is a good question. So, if I tell it to my friends, and they influence other people, does that make it true just because more people believe in it?

I’m very much into logic and psychology. Do you know what psychology is? The word itself means ‘the study of the mind’. It originated from the Greeks and it used to mean ‘the study of the soul’, but it’s the study of the mind. Whatever you’re saying, I can use psychology to explain it.

Him: How can you study everyone’s mind? There are so many minds to study. It’s not possible to study everybody.

Me: There are similarities and patterns.

Him: The mind controls our actions and speech, correct? And everyone has different actions and speech. How are you going to study it? Everyone is unique. It’s not possible to study every unique mind.

Me: We are not unique. With the billions of people across the globe, and more in history – from the past – there’s little chance of being unique.

Him: So there are 300 or 500 others who are like us, but how are you still going to study all of these groups?

Me: There are fields in psychology where they study groups, and there are also those where they study individuals.

Him: So tell me, how can you explain the difference between the living and the dead? I want to know.

Me: What do you mean? By using our senses? We see the body not moving, that it’s not conscious…

Him: A dead person is when the jiva has left the body. Tell me how psychology can explain what dead is.

Me: Oh I didn’t mean that psychology could explain these sort of things. I meant that it could explain why there are such beliefs. Like with death. People are so afraid of death – and it’s natural to fear death; it’s a common fear – that they create things to believe in for… relief, like what you mentioned.

Him: I don’t create any of these.

Me: Or they cling on to what others have created. I don’t fear death. But if religion helps some people find comfort, then that’s okay. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything; even if there aren’t any, humans would create them, like red is a lucky colour but it makes us angry. If religion is used in a bad way, there’s terrorism like what you said. And the same with science – if used in a bad way, bombs are created like what you said also. Science and religion do not have all the answers.

Him: Spiritual knowledge will give you all the answers. There are some of the gurus – the yogis – who spend all their time on spiritual knowledge and have spent decades serving and being dedicated to Krishna 24/7. They do not even look at women; if a woman talks to them, they would turn away so they don’t have to look at them. They are so pure and perfect, they don’t want to look at a woman and get lusty. They’re at such a high level that they can even meditate and transport their jivas into other people. Those – they know all the answers. I’ve been studying the spiritual knowledge for 10 years, and maybe in 40 or 50 years, I’ll be perfect like them. For them, they don’t have any more questions because they already know all the answers.

Me: That is a weakness – to think that you have all the answers. Humans are so afraid of the unknown that they’ll create or cling on to beliefs. As you said, only God is all-knowing, right? So, we, as humans, will never have all the answers or know everything. Like, I could help them with English.

Him: What for? What’s the point? They don’t need to know English. They study spiritual knowledge.

Me: So then they don’t know everything.

Him: It’s like an engineer and a doctor. Why would an engineer want to learn from a doctor?

Me: Why not?

Him: What’s the point? Someone could study for 10 PhDs, but what for?

Me: To learn for the sake of learning. Learning is highly important for me. I will never not need or want another’s help. There will always be things to learn and improve on.

Him: They don’t need your help. They don’t need anyone’s help. They are so superior. Why do they need your help? You are inferior to them.

Me: Superiority and inferiority are terms that I do not like to use. I see everyone as equals, even between the genders. I’ll talk to my boss the same way to a garbage collector.  You mentioned that I’m your guru in this setting, but I am not superior to you. I may be more superior to you in English, and you are more superior in “spiritual knowledge”, but we are equals as people.

Him: Men and women are different. Women are more insecure — but, of course, men also have disadvantages.  They usually resist being submissive, and women submit more easily.  Correct?

Me: No—

Him: Oh, maybe because you’re one.

Me: —I see men and women as equals.

Him: But men are physically stronger than women.

Me: Sure, there are differences, but I have a more westernised perspective and I see the genders as equals.

Him: When women marry, they will submit to their husbands — and they should.  When wives submit to their husbands, there’ll be no problems.  There will be no quarrelling.  Whatever the husband says, the wife will just follow.  Now, because the modern women are more independent and they go out to work — last time, women didn’t work and stayed home to cook and serve the husband — they don’t want to submit to their husbands and then they divorce.  Do you know the divorce rate now in this country?  It’s 50%—

Me: —But that’s the debate, isn’t it?  Whether it’s better for parents or for husbands and wives to stay in an unhappy marriage or to divorce.  Staying in the marriage doesn’t mean that there are no problems.

Him: There will be no problems.  When wives submit to their husbands, they will align to their husbands’ thinking and follow what the husbands says.  If not, the country will suffer if there are so many divorces and not enough children.  And there are so many jivas waiting to be reborn.

Me: I see husbands and wives being on an equal level. Neither one submits to the other, and no one is superior or inferior to another. Every one – all living things: nature, humans, animals – are all equal. Humans think too highly of themselves.

Him: I’ve never heard someone saying that before, that a dog and a human are the same. 

Me: It is uncommon. 

Him: That’s the higher spiritual level, but I’m talking about the human level, because we’re all here which means we still have not reached the higher levels yet.  So you think that a poor baby and a rich baby are the same?

Me: Yes.

Him: Then how do you explain why a baby – an innocent baby – is born poor or rich? A poor baby has no food to eat because of his previous life. He hasn’t reached a higher level yet.

Me: Because of the circumstances it was born into – the economy, the–

Him: What has the economy got to do with a baby?

Me: A baby is born poor and has no food to eat because it was born into a poor country that has no food. But I know that’s not what you’re asking. I’m giving you a very logical explanation but you’re asking about the reasoning behind it, yes? And there’s no reason behind it. It’s just… like genetics–

Him: But people won’t be able to accept that, right? How can you tell someone who’s poor that there’s no reason for why he was born poor? When I was in India, this old beggar came up to me, and he was so skinny and so dirty. I gave him 10 rupees, which is just a few cents, but he was so happy. I was like God to him and he gave me the highest blessings. You see, something so small meant so much to him. And because I helped him, I felt better and happier, and I know I’m getting higher up the levels.

Me: I help without expecting anything in return, like how I’m helping you now.

Him: You think you’re helping me? But you’re getting money – you’re getting paid for this.

Me: Ah– but outside of work, I help without expecting anything in return, not even a thank-you.

Him: But that’s being polite. You’re supposed to say ‘thank you’.

Me: It is manners, but, for me, it isn’t obligated. If I help someone and they don’t say ‘thank you’, then that’s okay. I don’t expect anything in return. And I hate the word ‘obligation’. Like how people usually say that you should be grateful to your mother for giving birth to you and carrying you for 9 months – but I didn’t ask to be born, so I don’t see why it’s an obligation, why it’s forced that children should be thankful to their parents and that they should love them.

Him: That’s arrogance. Your mother went through so much to give birth to you and raise you, so you should be thankful to her. You can’t choose whether you want to be born, but if your mother had a choice, she would pick a baby that’s more intelligent, that’s better looking. But we don’t have the choice. You’re just arrogant.

Me: You see, if I had a child, there’d be no obligation for the child to be thankful to me.

Him: Your parents went through so much raising you, you should at least be thankful to them. It’s manners; that’s the way society functions.

Me: It is the way societies around the world work, but I don’t subscribe to it. I help others as equals – not because I’m “superior” to them or because they’re “inferior” to me.

Him: But that’s how society is. The government has superiority; the president is your superior. If there is no government and everyone is equal, then no one will help one another and people will become like animals.

Me: If there’s a sudden drastic change, then, yes, there would be immediate havoc. But if, like, I set up a community with like-minded people, we would all help one another as equals so as to progress and improve together.

Him: What do you think about sins, then? Do you think that there’s such a thing, or that there’s no such thing as sins?

Me: I wouldn’t call it that. I would probably term it as… morally wrong actions.

I hope you’re not getting offended by our discussion, by the way.

Him: Well, I’m talking about Krishna, so of course I’m happy. And we’re both still smiling.

Me: I like talking and debating about these sorts of things but usually others are not interested; or they get angry because they think that I’m attacking them or because by the end of the conversation, I still hadn’t changed my beliefs; or they go “Huh? What?”. Even if we have differing perspectives and opinions, I genuinely want to know and understand your perspective. So thank you for sharing – I learned a lot.

Towards the end of the conversation, he asked for my credentials, which left me feeling irked, but it was an interesting discussion nonetheless.