OH! Open House: The Arts Walk @ Marine Parade, 2011.
You are here today because I have left my physical body and am waiting for my next cycle of realisation. My ashes were sent to different post offices around the world to sprinkle over beds of roses. I learnt to see everything as part of the Infinite — spreading my ashes across the expanse of this planet is my last-ditched effort to experience a nano-bit of that infinity.
Born Lay Theng, lived as Anthea for 30+ years and passed on as Indira — my life was one superhighway journey of learning and growth. Each decade was a reel of lesson plans designed by the Great Guru to prepare me for the next module. I liken this to a curriculum of life — 8 modules in total, each with a specific learning goal or outcome.
Module # 1 — The Age of Innocence
Had a wonderful childhood as the middle child of 3 children. Was a normal child but not altogether that normal. Born with a squint in both eyes, was given the very unkind nickname of ‘retarded’ and teased no end by family and school friends alike. Teasing stopped when I started topping the class from kindergarden onwards. Was a regular sleepwalker — a major worry for Mum who had to make sure the latch on the door was secured and out of reach. Was not a difficult child — good in school, made friends easily, got along well with cousins. Was a bit of a tom-boy — no dolls, loved playing Shaolin martial expert with cousins and would climb trees and jump drains. Fond memories of catching grasshoppers in the backyard and selling them to the birdshop owner down the road. Life was comfortable as grandparents were landowners. I remember clearly collecting rent in the evenings from various tenants in the Bt Timah area with aunts.
Outcome: Shaped my go-getter attitude — realised that being the best I can be shuts out all criticism and negative reactions.
Module # 2 — The Age of Confusion
Family moved out of Bukit Timah (ancestral) estate to Ang Mo Kio (one of the first inhabitants of the new town). Great memories of family outings and incessant Betamax video watching till wee hours of the night. Also, dancing with Dad and siblings to Boney M music ‘brown girl in the rain… shalalala…”! Thoroughly enjoyed school — and was a good (but certainly not model) student. Was awkward in my teens — and developed insecurities of many kind, very conscious of my appearance because of the squint and my height! But was popular — had many friends through school and well-liked by teachers. Very active throughout school years — played softball, netball, bastketball, tried track and field, played the trumpet in the symphonic band through secondary school and JC (won many competitions), Did relatively well in school — and made my parents proud (especially during family gatherings where all the adults will trumpet their offsprings’ academic achievements). Wanted to fit in everywhere and with everyone but yet had a strong personality and stood out in most situations. A very confusing phase — couldn’t figure out where, what and how I should be but was not lack of ideas on what was expected of me. Validation of self came in the form of commendations on academic achievements again.
Outcome: Reinforced the high achiever personality — and possibly a tad over-achieving (which I knew how to do, very well) in an attempt to get away from the confusion.
Module # 3 — The Age of Invincibility
Was introduced to real-world challenges for the first time when Dad lost his company in the late 80s recession (from Black Monday) whilst I was still in university. Saw Dad struggled with his loss of self-esteem and yet incredibly inspired by his strong determination to still provide for the family, come what may (including taking on little jobs home like sewing gloves etc.). He wanted to see me through as far as I can go in my education. I gave tuition for my own spending money. Didn’t take up offer to do honours on graduation — thought it didn’t make sense to burden Dad further. Wanted to be in advertising but chose banking instead for the usual reasons. Did well — and bettered myself every year even when I moved industry. Was incredibly successful (seemed to have the midas touch) and was given many opportunities to travel and work overseas. Worked hard, partied even harder. Had my first real relationship. Felt completely invincible — was therefore rather self-centred in my pursuits. The dizzying heights of success was positively addictive and intoxicating!
Outcome: The insecurities of my younger self dissipated in this Age somewhat — there seemed to be no stopping me from scaling greater heights. Self-centredness and arrogance may have crept in but I remember feeling on top of the world.
Module # 4 — The Age of Destruction & Liberation
Life, as I knew it, began to change in this decade — with tenacity. There were losses and gains of great intensity. Grandpa (whom I was close to) passed away whilst at the same time, Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I took on the role of making all major decisions for Dad’s condition and for the family — that shift of role with Dad was a permanent one. Dad recovered well, unlike the predictions of the medical team. I finally corrected my squint as it was becoming a medical condition — that changed me totally from within like I have finally found what I lost. Professionally, I was still on an upward path but felt a need to self-actualise. Was blessed with a vision of a one-of-a-kind technology, went on to become an inventor/entrepreneur and brought the venture to great heights with Microsoft and even a possible IPO. Ended the 8-year relationship with my first real love and then went into a whirlwind marriage with a man whom I loved deeply but who later broke me in every way possible with lies of every proportion — but unknowingly liberated me to free my true Self, in the process. I had to lose my way to find myself and in losing it all in one fell swoop, I gained everything. I ended this amazing decade with my spiritual birth as Indira — and was initiated into the yogic traditions with Ananda Marga.
Outcome: This was, by far, my most colourful decade and the most pivotal — in fact, whilst in the thick of it, I felt as if I was living 30 years in 10. I broke free of many bondages and came out of this realising the beautiful lightness of being.
Module # 5 — The Age of Awakening
A very significant period — through yoga, I finally figured out what my purpose in life is and was blessed to have found my Guru who led me through the techniques to fulfill that purpose of self-realisation and service to humanity. Became a yogi and a committed practitioner of meditation which brought me to places of divinity that were so indescribably blissful that my body turned away from all intoxicants which may prevent me from getting there. The body started to purify itself and so did the mind. My mind expanded tremendously and I started to take on more than I ever did — and yet never feeling that I was beyond my capacity. Self-realisation was fulfilled through meditation and continuous learning (I became a qualitfied yoga teacher, a certified microfinance trainer with World Bank, a qualified web developer, a competent guitarist and lyricist, a published author). Service to humanity was fulfilled through the many social service projects I helped with and the social enterprises I co-founded to serve the disadvantaged and deprived. I have such fond memories of my 12-month stint in Central/South America in 2012 where I was given the opportunity to work with so many different projects in the Ananda Marga group. I was also given another chance in love and found my partner and soulmate that year.
Outcome: I became closer to my higher Self and found inexhaustible energy to take on new challenges and opportunities. The mind was incredibly expanded and the heart developed much courage and compassion. It was a beautiful lesson.
Modules # 6 & # 7- The Age of Action and Bliss
Our social enterprises and service projects expanded overseas through partnerships. My partner and I travelled and lived in different parts of the world, wherever the projects took us — Africa, Mongolia, India, Eastern Europe, America, South America. The more we did, the more we had to do. We were inspired by each individual we engaged through these projects and also by our love for humanity and for each other. Thankfully, I continued to write and published a couple more books in this decade. Yoga continued to be an integral part of my life — I taught yoga at all the places we went and shared how yoga changed my life. I continued to be deeply involved with Ananda Marga.
Outcome: Life was still a great adventure but I was ‘home’ every second. It was a blessed place to be in.
Module # 8 — The Age of Bhakti (Devotion)
We slowed down on the travels and settled in an ashram by the Ganges. We spent our days meditating, writing and reading — whilst still staying in touch with the projects around the world. I was bestowed with deeper higher state experiences during meditaton by the Guru. We also started several organic vegetable farms at the ashram which helps to provide for the ashram and the surrounding areas. I also fulfilled one of my aspirations of being a ‘restauranteur’ — we founded an organic cafe near the ashram which serves the best vegan pecan pies! I was blessed and was not laden with debilitating illnesses.
Outcome: I was all prepped to leave this borrowed body with a bagful of lessons to benefit my next life. My devotion to the Infinite was so deep that I felt like I was in love all the time.
I left my body at 82 painlessly on my birthday as a work-in-progress, of course, but very grateful that I became a better piece of work. My last breath was with the thought of nothing but the Divine who has been there for me throughout. I am looking forward to doing better in my next life and hope to come closer to total liberation in the next cycle. Please don’t cry for me — celebrate for me knowing that I am dancing in the loving embrace of the Divine. I will see you all soon in another form but my love for each and every one of you shall remain through eternity.
This was part of the Open House Arts Walkabout project at Marine Parade where her humble abode she calls The Bliss Loft was transformed into a living gallery with 5 artists’ works (one of them turned her back room upside down, literally!). This Eulogy piece was conceived by artist Michael Lee. He asked the other home owners in the neighbourhood whose homes are also part of the walk to do the same so visitors get this deeply personal glimpse of the owner in each open house. Each Eulogy was mounted as an A2 installation — hers sat on the floor against the wall facing her bed.