Friday, August 29, 2014
Launching of Fate or Destiny and Rethinking the City
Firstly, I would like to show my respect to and acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, of elders past and present, on which this event takes place.
Welcome also, to all of you here tonight, I am delighted to be able to welcome you on behalf of Nilmini and Steve and say a few words in support of two creative and inspirational people who I
Tonight we see the flowering of their creative efforts over the last few years - but watch this space, because this only the beginning.
• Immediate Past National President of Stormwater Australia
• Current Director on the Board of Stormwater Australia
• Director on the Board of the CRC for WSC
• 10 years in the private sector
• 35 years in local government
• President of the Australian Shen Long Tai Chi Society (40 ?years’ experience)
I want to speak briefly in my opening remarks, so that you all can hear from Nil and Steve. So, I promise to be brief – no matter how long that takes!
However, it’s challenging to be too brief given the depth of what Nil and Steve have created in both the books and the exhibition being launch tonight.
So, I have chosen to make some remarks about two aspects of what has captured my imagination.
First, there is the question posed about Fate and Destiny: Are we pursuing our destiny or accepting the fate that was dealt to us?
The second is about the concept of ideas as a creative force in the physical world. I can only provide some reflections on these two aspects that permeate what I’m sure Nil and Steve will be talking about.
Rather than philosophise about fate and destiny, I want to tell you a story from my tai chi background. The concepts of fate and destiny underpin much of Chinese culture. And permeate much of their approach to life and philosophical thinking. In the middle of the 16th century, a man called Liao-Fan wrote a book for his son about fate and destiny. It is called Liao Fan's Four Lessons. He wrote the book to teach his son that destiny can be changed through proper cultivation. And one should not be bound by fate, but by one's own conscious and deliberate actions. It all began when Fan was told by a Taoist monk surnamed Kong that he would only live to the age of 53 and have no son.
At first, he disregarded this monk's words as farcical nonsense, but as Kong's other predictions began to occur with great accuracy, he decided that there was no use in trying too hard and gave himself up to what he thought was his inevitable fate.
In his wanderings, he found himself at a Buddhist monastery and sat in meditation for three days with the head abbot.
The abbot was most impressed that a lay person could meditate without distraction for so long. He asked how Fan was able to do it. Fan related the story about the predictions for the way his life was to pan out and said why worry or think about anything – it has all been predetermined!
The abbot was shocked and said “I thought you were a remarkable person, but now I see that you are worse than ordinary!”
Fan asked why – And the Abbott said that he was less than ordinary because he didn’t realise that he could change his original destiny – it didn’t have to be left to fate.
The Abbott then taught Fan how to change his original destiny. Fan lived to 69 instead of 53 and obviously also had a son.
This book is still in circulation after more than 500 years and is well known and read and the book was an essential text in schools.
So, the answer to this first question is YES! And as Nil has said we are able to LIVE rather than just exist if we actively and consciously pursue the destiny of our choosing.
I believe that this is not only possible for individuals, but also possible for families, communities, and nations to choose and pursue a particular destiny.
It’s the point that both Steve and Nil are proposing that by pursuing our destiny, both individually and corporately – in the broadest sense of that word – we might actually create more fulfilled and engaged citizens - stronger and more resilient communities - and more liveable and sustainable cities.
Big ideas indeed - But, as Steve says, it’s ideas that change the world – and change it rapidly.
Ideas come from thinking – and rethinking of course! To get a plug in for Steve’s book!
In tai chi - thinking or thought is considered the fastest thing in the universe. My teacher would often say that you can go to the moon instantly with just a thought – it is faster than even the speed of light.
But where do ideas come from?
Many people would probably say - from thinking about it in my mind – but where in your mind do ideas start – science is unable to tell us and I believe that this question can only be answered by philosophy and metaphysics.
Anything that you see manifest in the physical world has originally been an idea that someone had. That idea has to take physical shape and form. It is interesting to ponder that our cities form and shape are from a collection of ideas that many people have had, which somehow have organised themselves into what we see and use in the world around us.
My work with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities is about bringing ideas to reality. We envision our cities to be places that are resilient, liveable, productive and sustainable. Water is just the framework that the ideas hang from. We want to see places created in our cities that enhance life and protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens. We want our cities to be places that provide time for work and (re)creation.
The CRC for Water Sensitive Cities exists to change the way we build our cities by valuing the contribution water makes to our quality of life and to the ecosystems of which cities are a part.
Steve’s ideas about rethinking the City align with the CRC’s vision. His ideas do indeed turn conventional thinking on its head!
Both Steve and Nil’s ideas are in many respects revolutionary rather than evolutionary!
Ideas are indeed powerful – one of the things I remember that my Father told me as a young boy was that ideas are so powerful that many people are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for them.
So tonight, who knows what will manifest from the ideas that Nil and Steve are seeding in our minds tonight – what may also stir in our creative selves in the weeks to come as their powerful images are imprinted on our subconscious and our minds absorb the words they have written!
I’m delighted to launch this event and would invite you to welcome Nil and Steve to speak to us!