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Yuta Grester

December 1, 2014

Yuuta (勇太– not his real name) is born in a Jewish family on an Ontario island in Lake Huron. You can say it’s just north of Detroit, or north of Akron, depending on how accurate a person you are. But north of that island, there is nothing very interesting and probably nothing at all unless you are the kind who considers Hudson Bay — north of Canada — very “interesting”.

You can say Yuuta is an introvert but extremely kind. He is the type that got made fun off, the type who got called names just like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But he has strange habits. He likes to imagine himself swinging on a hammock for amusement. One day he peacefully sat down and fantasized himself swinging on a hammock again. This time, he was so deep in his thoughts and while doing that, he decided to see how hard or far he could swing. This thoughts were so real to him that at one of the moments, he actually swung hard enough to gain an out-of-body experience. He floated up to the ceiling and physically saw himself from above. That was a strange encounter for young Yuuta.

Yuuta is considered anti-social (by his parents) and did I mention Nemo was extremely kind? Yes he was. Yuuta was kind to small animals which his island has in abundance. Yuuta is kind to every person that he knows and despite not being very rich, would always reach out his helping hands without asking anything in return. The Taoist Chinese will called that ”wo lou de gong ter无漏的功德“ the kind of action whose merit or reward has no leak. Or superstitious old Chinese will consider that Guan Shi yin zhai shi — 再世 (Guan Yin returning back to this world). But Yuuta was born in a Jewish Family, so naturally being kind, you would expect him to be familiar with the Old Testament. And yes he is. As a child he would even admit that he has ever met and had a conversation with God.

The unfortunate thing is, Yuuta will not fit into the mainstream kindergarten or public school. With his behavior, he would be a magnet for bullies. For that reason, his mom had to pull him out of kindergarten to be schooled at home. In Ontario, unlike where my daughter was born, kindergarten is mandatory. It is only until the 8th grade, did his mother feel comfortable again to put him back in public secondary school. But that only lasted three years, because his mom was compelled to put him in Alternative Learning School to maintain appropriate behavior. Most Singapore mother would already be asking,

“老天阿,我到底做了设么错事啊? “

A year or so later, he moved to Toronto and continue education in a school (with only a few rooms) above a bakery within walking distance from Korea Town. As a side, let me mention that the bakery is a long time favorite of university students, well known for its dulce de leche that open till the wee hours of the night. [see picture of Cafe below]

school above bakery

School above bakery

Even after being accepted into McMaster University in Hamilton, Yuuta withdrew from the program, because that was not his cup of tea. What exactly would somebody who is very kind, help people without asking for anything in return and can hallucinate until he got an out-of-body experience? If you would ask me, I would 胡说 “anyhow answer “: 出家。做和尚。“

Sorry, I was just being mean to poor Yuuta. But much to our surprise, the truth remained that Yuuta was actually very interested in Zen and Taoism. He has a feeling that his answers to all problems (or all his problems) lie in these ancient Oriental philosophies. In Canada, Yuuta was practising the five precepts of Taoism (不杀生,不偷盗 ,不邪淫 ,不妄语 ,不饮酒 ). He must have attended some Zen classes because he was already sitting like a Zen Master in Canada.

So after withdrawing from McMaster University, Yuuta packed his bag and head for the Orient and hope to meet some Dao Shi (道师) and practice Taoism. Unfortunately, the kind of Taosim that attracted him were not those mainstream Taoist practitioner found everywhere in China and SE Asia. Yuuta wanted to go to the middle of nowhere up in the mountains of Hunan 湖南 or Kunlun 昆仑, to meet people as discreet and Lao Tsu himself. So instead of flying directly to China, Yuuta thought the best way would be to sneak in to those mountainous region via the forest in Northern Thailand.

Is it : 道可道非常道 that attracted Yuuta?

Or it is “无名天地之始;有名万物之母” that made his head spin ?

Disclaimer: If the above is you, please pardon me for sensationalizing some of it, and making up some of it. I thought even this small part of your life is worth telling.

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