Simplicity in Change

Things were simpler in the past. Global warming wasn’t as pressing an issue as now, the air wasn’t as polluted and life wasn’t as hectic.

It’s no doubt that creature comforts like modern technology and cars have made life more comfortable. It’s very easy now to keep in touch with loved ones, or drive anywhere you fancy.

However, to every positive, there has to be a negative. Modernisation and industrialisation has brought about adverse change to the environment. The more modern the world becomes, the more polluted it also becomes. Continue reading


It’s often said that self-esteem is the key to happiness and success. In fact, so much has been said about the importance of building self-worth. However, how does one do that?

Why do people have low self-esteem? It stems from a lack of self-awareness – not knowing who they really are. Continue reading

Journey to Happiness Starts from Understanding the Truth

This world is temporary – a place of misery.

There seems to be tragedy everywhere we look. Sometimes, it hits close to home when a loved one gets ill and eventually passes away. On a larger scale, war, pestilence, drought, famine or a disaster of some kind can also cause suffering. Sadly, tragedies come despite us not wanting them. But this is the very nature of this world.

As spirit-souls, we are perfect by nature, so it’s natural for us to seek perfection. However, the material world is full of imperfections and these imperfections are very frustrating for the perfect soul. It’s in this conflict that we remain always unhappy. Trying to find happiness in the temporary world is a futile attempt for the soul who thinks that he is the material body.

There is a greater need for us to understand our true identities as spirit soul and not the material body. This understanding will free us from the anxieties and miseries that our bodies are subjected to. Birth, disease, old age and death are all stages of suffering that the soul goes through while inside a temporary body. The body is bound to get sick and old. The mind, the subtle body of the soul, is also not free from anxieties.

Miseries can also be caused by other living entities. For example, a sting from a tiny insect such as the mosquito can cause illness. Then, like I mentioned earlier, Mother Nature can wreak havoc on our lives. We just have to look at the recent typhoon in the Philippines that has taken so many lives and destroyed homes.

Is there a way to prevent such miseries? Sadly, there isn’t. Misery is part and parcel of this material world. Living in an imperfect world, we can’t expect to have perfect lives.

There is one thing we can control though, and that is the way we deal with these miseries – by first acknowledging the reality of the situation, that you cannot change the nature of this world.

Take prison as an analogy. Prisons are depressing places, and they are that way to rehabilitate criminals. After all, you should not expect 5-star lodgings in a prison as they are meant for those who have broken the law. I’m sure no one dreams of being imprisoned but if you’ve done wrong and have been jailed, what would you rather do? Sit in your cell and complain all day, or focus your energy on getting out of there?

I don’t know about you but I would choose the latter.

It is the same in life. It’s important that we take a good look at the nature of this world; it is like a prison house, not really our home. The soul’s real home is in the spiritual world, a place where there is no birth, disease, old age and death. A perfect place that is full of bliss, knowledge and eternity. Life inside these material bodies may be full of miseries, but the understanding of the truth about our real identity is what will set us free.

If we understand that simple truth about the soul, then this is the beginning of a journey towards real happiness.

Give the Gift of Love this Christmas

Christmas, traditionally, has been a religious and cultural holiday where we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

With the modernisation of society, more of us are also beginning to recognise it as a social holiday. The many gatherings between friends and family that take place around this time of year, coupled with the festive atmosphere, make it a perfect period to appreciate your loved ones and let them know how dear they are to you.

That has always been the essence of Christmas, to me. Of course, like any other person, I enjoy giving presents and partake in the revelry of the season. However, I also think it’s important that we remember the real meaning of Christmas.

When Jesus was born, he was laid in a manger and had no proper material amenities. He led a simple life, in which his main purpose was to love God.

Therefore, to truly commemorate Jesus during Christmas, our ultimate gift to someone would be the gift of love.

This tradition of gift giving harks back to, perhaps, the Victorian times, when gifts represented an expression of kindness. The Victorians put a lot of thought into their gifts and ensured that each gift carried a special meaning for its recipient.

Sad to say, as Christmas becomes more and more commercialised, this sentiment behind choosing gifts is lost. I often see people putting together a wish list of items they want. It seems that Christmas has become a time of hankering after material things.

My favourite gift, out of all that I’ve received over the years, is a simple card that my mother gave to me two years ago. In it, she wrote her heartfelt wishes. I treasure that card to this very day. Style and technology change often but simple words continue to hold meaning no matter how much time may have past.

Gifts don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. That simple card made me feel more loved than any pair of shoes or sunglasses would have.

So, this Christmas, I am refocusing myself to remember what’s truly important – expressing my love for the people special to me, God and giving back to the needy.  I hope , through this Gem, I have inspired you to do the same too.

Happy Christmas!

Changing the World

I once saw a picture of this old man who was deep in thought.

He had this story to tell…


 “When I was young, I wanted to change the world. As I got older and wiser, I realised I couldn’t do it.

So I thought, let me try changing my community. I got even older and wiser, but I couldn’t do that either.

Then, I wanted to change my family – my wife and children. I failed at that too.

Now I’m so old and with all this wisdom I’ve gained, I finally understand that the only thing I can actually change is me.

Hopefully by this change, I can influence my family members. They can, then, influence the community who can eventually change the world.”

The only real change one can make is to oneself, and that should be the real focus.

The faults we see in others are actually a reflection of the faults in ourselves.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group



The upcoming V-Malaysia 2011 event will focus on the topic of “Belief”.

The first thing I asked myself when I heard about the theme was, “What is belief? What does it mean to me?”

It is such a simple word but it carries a heavy meaning. Understanding and dissecting our belief can be the key to happiness.

Belief, itself, is intangible. It usually refers to an opinion or conviction. However, our belief does not necessarily represent the truth. We can believe in something that’s wrong.

A long time ago, people believed that the earth was flat. Their conviction in this belief was so strong that anyone who opposed this theory was immediately deemed crazy. Of course, after some time, it was discovered that the earth is actually round.

This is a perfect example of blind belief – accepting things without cementing them with facts.

We should never be afraid to challenge our beliefs. Only then, would we realise the truth.

I have come to realise that there are always two sides to a coin, and it is important to consider both.

We should not simply reject something just because we do not fully understand it. I’m sure you will agree that it is unfair to make such a judgement, when we do not fully understand why it is right or wrong in the first place.  

That is why, my friends, our beliefs are extremely important. They are the first step in establishing the truth.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

Definitive Success

How do you define success? Is it an end result? Is it something you strive for? Or is success a moving target to which you pace yourself?

What is success?

What is required to ‘be’ a success?

When it comes to success, the first thing I tell myself is that it is relative. The benchmarks I set for myself to be successful will be different to that of my neighbour. The second thing about success that I always remember is that the journey to reach the destination of success is paramount.

It is interesting to consider that there are six types of ‘opulence’, and each can be regarded as a measurement of success: strength; fame; wealth; knowledge; beauty; renunciation. So, when people talk about success, everyone’s definition will be different. Yet, despite the difference in definition, the essence is the same.

But what determines success? I would not want to relate success to wealth or having a certain amount of money in the bank; I would sooner relate success to knowledge and renunciation. Athletes may associate success with strength, while politicians may associate it with power, and a model may regard success as a measurement of beauty.

Fame is also a form of opulence, but you can be famous but not necessarily wealthy, another form of opulence. In life, you can have one and not another… are you still a success? Are you a failure? Such a question has haunted many a man, but in truth, success is not just ‘one’ thing. In light of this realisation, it is truly beneficial to continually challenge your own perception of success, and come to terms with your own relative, definitive benchmark for success.

But not only is success relative, it is a journey. Would I turn my back on an opportunity just because it was a lot of hard work? If I never set myself goals for which I had to better myself in the process of achieving, then how could I consider myself successful? What have I really achieved if the difficulty of the process wasn’t proportionate to the success of the end achievement?

The journey is more important than reaching the destination and it is within that journey that we grow and uncover the true meaning of success. A certain path of activity will bring you to a certain type of destination. Change that activity, change that habit, and you change that destiny.

You can’t change your destiny of NOW because your past is behind you. But you can change your destiny of TOMORROW because the future looms ahead. Change the nature of your activity, then you can change the fruit that you will be enjoying or suffering. This doesn’t allow us to determine success, but it allows us to see it for what it really is… a journey that is unique and relative to each and every one of us.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

Never Fear Your Opportunity to ‘Show Cause’

I’m often approached by people in my business for advice or to share their problems. The thing is, more often than not, these ‘problems’ are actually opportunities – whether an opportunity to better serve their customers and colleagues, or an opportunity to improve themselves.

Just the other day, someone came to me quite stressed and worried because he had been given a ‘show cause’ letter. He was almost beside himself. I asked him why he would be worried about being given a ‘show cause’ letter? I told him that he should actually be happy. This letter shows that they respect him, and they’re giving him an opportunity to share his side of the story. His answer to this was, “But you don’t understand! They’re questioning me! I must defend myself!”

I asked him why would he not want to be questioned and why he thought he had to ‘defend’ himself? For, it is in being questioned that keeps us on our toes and forces us to question ourselves in a quest to improve ourselves. His attitude to the situation was stemming directly from fear and insecurity, and this led to his instantly defensive reaction.

After our discussion, he was able to see the situation from an entirely different perspective, and I could almost physically see the stress leaving his eyes and his defiance and ego disintegrating into a new recognition of the situation; of the opportunity.

It is unfortunate, but fear and insecurity happens in the workplace and in our personal lives everyday. Together, they act as almost insurmountable hurdles to our own development and as proverbial blinders to opportunity.

Ignorance is the root cause of fear. If we are ignorant to our own faults, we allow fear and insecurity to breed within us. We will defend ourselves and we will always be too conscious of what others think of us… and this is to our own detriment. If we are ignorant, we will build up a façade of someone we’re really not. We will build a wall around us that we think is protecting us, but all it is doing is imprisoning us. It is denying our insecurities, instead of allowing us to face them. If we live like this – if we live in fear of scrutiny and in insecurity – we will never be able to be happy. We’ll always be trying to be someone we’re not and always trying to live up to what we want others to think of us, instead of just being who we truly are.

Think of a mouse that is stealthily crawling and sneaking around trying to steal food and living totally in the fear that someone will step on them or lure them into a mouse trap. The mouse has no peace or happiness, for he lives in fear and insecurity. Although the world is a dangerous place, we are human beings and we can release ourselves from this fear by simply giving up this false ego; by giving up all of our walls.

The nature of the soul is that we want to love and be loved. We cannot openly and fully do that from within our walls of fear and insecurity.

In the workplace, there is nothing worse that not being able to accept criticism. We think that if we don’t cover our mistakes and if we don’t defend ourselves against criticism, that we will be seen as incompetent and that we’ll be fired. We are always in fear of judgement.

But we are all imperfect. And when we realise that we are imperfect, we are much more understanding about others’ imperfections. And if we have that understanding of ourselves and of others, then humility becomes a natural by-product. It’s not bad when you see other people who are better than you. Accept it. Learn from it. There’s no reason to pretend you’re better than them. Why the competition? That’s stressful! You are causing your own stress and that’s unnecessary baggage for you, not them. When you feel good about yourself, it radiates out to others.

If you want my advice… my basic, humble advice, then it is quite simply to be down-to-Earth. Be real. Accept an opportunity to improve, when at first you may think that someone is challenging you or criticising you. Real humility is courage. Courage is accepting what you are, despite your disabilities. Real humility is service. And that is our core. What is the greatest service? To turn materialistic consciousness into spiritual consciousness… this is humility. This is courage. This is true service to humanity.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

Yoga: More Than Just an Hour at the Gym

I am heartened and happy to see that the practice of Yoga has seemingly spread throughout the world. Yoga, in its many forms, is something that I have practiced every day for many, many years, and to know that this quest for enlightenment is being shared by millions of people around the world is a reassuring thought to me.

But I also worry that people don’t realise that going to the gym and ‘doing Yoga’ is not what it’s all about. I find it amusing when people say, “Oh, I’ve just come from yoga.” I think to myself if they realise that what they’re really stating is that they’ve just come from a union with The Supreme Person.

Yoga is almost ageless in its origins. It is a quest for enlightenment and ultimately it is the quest for union with The Supreme Person. Without this quest and purpose, Yoga is no longer Yoga, but rather an exercise routine. Since its introduction to the modern, mainstream world, Yoga has been associated more with ‘Yoga mats’, gymnastic exercise and the fitness of body, more than it has been associated with its true purpose. What many have not realised is that Yoga does not start and end with specific movements of the body and a peacefulness of the mind – that is Hatha Yoga, made up of asanas, or poses. Yoga certainly does include these aspects, but its purpose – as opposed to its action – is much harder to achieve and practice, yet it is the core definition of Yoga.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means ‘union with The Supreme Person’. The closest English word to Yoga is ‘yoke’, such as when you ‘yoke’ two animals together. When you yoke them, you are uniting them. The very nature of that union is not merging, but two distinct entities uniting together as one. Yoga follows this same meaning; it is when two individuals – the practitioner and The Supreme Person – come together in love and in purpose. So, the real meaning of Yoga is union with The Supreme Person, and the very nature of that union refers to a loving devotion and service, called bhakti. This is why true Yogis (those who study Yoga) and true Yoga masters understand that Yoga is a means to an end, but the end as well – it is achieving union with The Supreme Person through the practice of devotion and union with that Supreme Person; through bhakti.

It may come as a surprise to some to know that Yoga can be performed without a defined choreography of physical movement; many forms of Yoga are actually quite far removed from the common association of yoga mats, stretching and breathing that today is commercially synonymous with the modern concept of Yoga (Hatha Yoga). Just one example of this is Jnana Yoga. Jnana in Sanskrit means ‘the path of knowledge’. It is the system of understanding The Supreme Person through the research of scriptures, the understanding of knowledge and the process of learning. The purpose is the same as with any other form of Yoga: to unite with The Supreme Person. However, the way in which this is done is through acquiring knowledge, as opposed to the more commercial notion of Yoga and Yoga mats.

The true beauty of Yoga is that it doesn’t matter if a practitioner realises the depth of meaning, purpose, or desired destination of practicing Yoga. Regardless of whether people realise it or not, even if they are just going to a few Yoga classes a week in an effort to be more ‘fit and healthy’, they won’t be able to help but to start realising that they have to practice mercy, that they have to be clean with their body, mind and soul. They will often drift towards vegetarianism. If they practice even the elementary levels of Yoga properly, it is leading them to the quest of a union with The Supreme Person.

So, even when people are exposed to the preliminary, commercial Yoga, they will reap the benefits. But they should not think, “This is all there is to Yoga”. Just like an ocean, Yoga is almost limitless and it can be almost impossible to understand its depth. But just as we can have a good idea of the ocean and what it is by analysing a drop of it, so too can we peak into the ‘bigger picture’ of Yoga by practicing even the basics.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

The Paradoxical Abacus of Life

Life comes packaged with highs and lows. This is a fundamental truth and no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, our lives are – and always will be – full of subtle shifts between good and bad, light and dark, day and night, joy and sadness, hot and cold.

We all experience happiness. And distress? Well, no one wants it, but it comes anyway. To survive the paradoxical abacus of life, there is a secret. There is a balance.

You see, I have come to realise – as have many, much wiser people have before me – that happiness comes of its own accord, without a person having to desire it. We may put all our efforts into trying to avoid despair, but sooner or later, we will experience that too.

A sober person does not get elated when they feel happiness, nor do they become despondent when in a distressed situation. We should know, understand, and accept that there are dualities in life that are married to each other, despite our individual actions or desires: hot and cold; day and night; happiness and pain. They will always come. The secret, the balance, is that a person remains happy until they try to make arrangements to be happy… and that is the beginning of their distress.

I remember a story that goes with these thoughts. It’s simple, but perfectly sums up the consequences of not being at peace with cards we are dealt in life.

There once was a student, a yogi, trying to meditate in a hut with his yoga teacher. He was being bothered by a mouse, so he said to his teacher in despair: “I want to get rid of this mouse! It is annoying me and I cannot concentrate on my meditation!”

So, the teacher asked him: “Are you sure you want to get rid of the mouse? Because if you fix one problem, then another problem is quite likely to appear in its place.”

But the young yogi was adamant. “Yes! I am sure! I simply cannot meditate with this silly mouse running around!”

So the teacher suggested that the yogi get a cat to take care of the rogue mouse.

The problem of the mouse was gone. But just as the student started to settle back into his meditation, the cat started meowing. To quieten the cat, the student decided to get some milk. But from where could he get the milk?

A cow was brought to the hut to provide the milk for the cat, who had rid the hut of the mouse in order for the student to meditate. But now, thought the student in an even deeper despair, who will look after my cow and my cat?

The student’s teacher smiled wisely. “Well young yogi, you should better get a wife to help you.” And so, the student found himself a loving wife, who wanted a house and children.

Because of one, little mouse, the student now had no time at all to meditate, a meowing cat, a large cow, a wife to satisfy, children to feed, and a life much more complicated that when a ‘silly little mouse’ was running around his hut.

It’s like this in life. When we are unhappy, we try to solve a problem, and 10 other problems arise. We invented cars for efficiency, and are now left to deal with the payback of pollution. Examples like this can be found the world over. The more we try to fix things, the more we ruin them.

Happiness will come to you – it is already vested that you will experience it, but you are not the controller of how or when you will experience it.

And with that, I leave you with a question that I am constantly asking myself. “What is the goal of life?” Is it sense-gratification? To be happy? Or is there a higher purpose in the human form of life?

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group