Saving Mother Earth

Human beings are smart. In fact, we are so smart that we have used our intelligence to perfect the four animal propensities – eating, sleeping, mating and defending. But perhaps we’re not so smart after all, because this process of perfecting has come at the expense of the Earth, endangering this planet and its inhabitants for the purpose of profiting.

Today is Earth Day. A day when, globally, we are all supposed to take stock of our impact on the world and try to minimise that impact. There is a lot of significance in this Earth Day – a ‘world-day’ concept that has been around since the 1970s – and I would encourage everyone to do what they can to contribute to the active awareness and practice of environmentally beneficial behaviour.

But I would also encourage everyone to consider every single day as Earth Day. I feel that we must all realise that we are not individual people or individual countries whose actions affect only ourselves. This is together our joint responsibility. If the Earth can no longer sustain us, then it does not matter who we are and where we come from. No one will survive if the Earth does not.

Personally, I try to do my bit – I am conscious of my consumption behaviour, I am a vegetarian, I try to live ‘green’… but I know I could do more. We could all do more.

Every day should be considered Earth Day because we must treat the Earth as a mother. Because that is what the Earth is, and we are suffocating our mother. From her we get produce, trees, plants, air to survive, water, fire. We have to see it like that. See it as a whole. We all depend on Mother Earth to survive, and if we don’t realise how dependent we are on ‘her’ – despite all our technological advancements – we’re simply not going to survive. We will lose Mother Earth as our home.

Our resources are depleting. And we are all part of the cause. We can also be part of the solution. We must make a collective, cohesive effort to do something about it. We must not think of ourselves as country versus country, or person versus person, but rather as one unit that survives on one thing for our very survival: the Earth.

Perhaps the enormity of the consequences are simply too unfathomable for us to actually grasp the reality of the situation. Perhaps we simply cannot comprehend how desperate the situation is. I am not a doom-and-gloom person, but this is the reality: we are suffocating the very thing that allows us to breathe. Awareness campaigns such as Earth Day and the recent Earth Hour, are important in that they are hopefully helping to drive home the comprehension that we must do something. It starts with all of us and it is up to all of us.

The Earth is our temporary home and the home of our future generations. Let’s treat it with the care and importance it deserves.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group


Descend to Escape the Well

I have always looked upon other people as being like threads that are woven together in intricate patterns to form the fabric of the communal world we live in. Take, for instance, the fact that in the collective life that we all share, we are surrounded by many people, of different backgrounds, with varying opinions, from various walks of life, with diverse areas of individual expertise. I am so grateful that our life offers us this. The way I see it, this means that life affords us a wealthy existence through the rich value of information and knowledge we can gather from others. We all live in our own world, but as long as we don’t walk around with our minds and eyes closed, everyone’s world can be positively enhanced and enlightened by the ‘worlds’ of others.

It pleases me that many of these important ‘threads’ are people whom I consider to be Greater Authorities. Greater, or higher, authorities are, to me, people who have an area of knowledge in which they excel, and they share this information with others. I am thankful for these people, as they allow me to be continually learning. Because in life, if we are not learning, we’re not really living, are we? When you say, ‘I know everything’, you stop learning. Admitting to what you do not know takes a lot of humility. To say you know everything is the height of arrogance.

Recognising, listening to, and learning from greater authorities allow us to learn things that would otherwise be outside our own realm of experience and knowledge. The knowledge these people share is of the sort that we should accept, even though we may not be able to test that knowledge ourselves. If we are smart and humble, we will learn from this knowledge. This is learning through the process of ‘descending’. We allow knowledge to descend to us from higher authorities. But, if we are arrogant and closed minded, we will disregard anything that we have not experienced ourselves, to our own detriment. This is the process of learning through ascending.

Allow me to illustrate the perils of learning through ascending.


There was a frog who lived at the bottom of a well.  This frog had never left his little world in the well, and he had no intention of ever doing so. One day, the frog’s cousin – who had been hopping around the globe, sightseeing and having adventures – stopped in to visit his cousin in the well. The cousin was telling spectacular stories about the mountains he had seen on his travels. But the frog in the well looked confused.


“These mountains can’t be any taller than the walls in my well. These walls are the tallest things I’ve ever seen. They are the tallest things in the world,” said the frog in the well.


The frog’s cousin continued his tale, telling the frog in the well about the amazing shades of green and brown he had seen on these mountains.


“What are these silly shades you talk about, cousin? I know that there is only one colour green, and it is the colour of the moss here in my well. And I know for a fact that the only brown is the colour of these rocks here in my well.”


The frog’s cousin was not discouraged, but decided to stop talking about mountains. Instead, he started to explain about the big, wide oceans he had seen. The cousin said that even if there was no rain, the oceans could never dry up because there was so much water!


The frog in the well started drinking as much water as he could from the well.


“Is there this much water in the ocean?” he said, pointing at his big belly, now full of water.


“Oh no, no,” said the cousin. “The ocean is so huge with water. Much, much more water than could fit in your belly!”


So the frog in the well drank even more water, and his belly became more bloated. “Is it this big?”


“Oh no, no. You could never drink as much water as the ocean. It is much bigger!”


But the frog in the well, with his limited perception of how ‘big’ something could be, did not believe that he could not drink more water than the ocean. He did not believe what his cousin, who had seen the ocean, had told him.


So the frog in the well drank more and more water. And more, and more, and more as he tried to drink as much water as the ocean.


And then he exploded.


I remember that story from when I was growing up in the ashram. I remember thinking to myself, ‘How can the frog be so dumb!’

Now that I am older, I realise that the frog in the well was arrogant, and that made him dumb. He was not willing to listen and learn from a greater authority. Because he had not seen mountains with his own eyes, he was not willing to believe someone else when they told him that mountains were higher than the tallest thing he had seen: the walls of his well. And instead of learning something by allowing knowledge to descend to him from someone who was a greater authority on what the world was actually like, he was trying to learn by ascending. He had to drink enough water to match the ocean so he could learn how big the ocean really was. And this was his downfall.

Please take a moment to ponder… Even if we are in our own well – our own little ‘world’ – we can still learn. Be wise enough to admit that you do not know everything. Be humble enough to realise that some things in life are beyond your own imaginations, scope, or reality of experience. Be open minded enough to learn, even if you can’t experience it for yourself. Be aware enough to recognise greater authorities when you meet them. Learn from them by allowing their knowledge to descend to you. Be sure that you go to the right authority for the right knowledge.

Analyse each colourful thread in the fabric of life. Rationalise it. Evaluate it. And add to it.


Joseph Bismark

Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

The Tale of the Monk and the Samurai

When you are a network marketer, there are many things to consider other than the more traditional aspects of a business. Personal development and life lessons – while they should be a part of everything we do in life, seem to be even more important when engaging in this rewarding business of network marketing.

Through this blog, I have often reflected on humility, facing your fear, listening to others, trusting your leader, accepting your destiny, not running away from obstacles, and so on. All these are so important in living your life to the fullest and give you the most potential for success with the greatest feeling of self-contentment and confidence.

Thinking of all these made me recall a brilliant story I once heard. It is a story of a young monk and it truly captures the very essence of how vital these attributes are in one’s life and personality.

So today, I would like to share this story with you, and ask you to ponder carefully this young monk’s tale. You may be surprised that his story of fear and humility is not at all unfamiliar to you.

A young monk is sent out from his monastery with the mission to find a sword and bring it back to his master. On his way, he passes beautiful gardens and forests and even contemplates abandoning his mission in order to indulge in the beauty around him. But finally he sees a sword, lying on the ground next to a dead samurai. Thinking this must be the sword his master sent him to find, the young monk picks it up. Suddenly another samurai leaps out from behind a tree and challenges the young monk to fight.


“Please! Spare my life! I am not a samurai, but a monk on a mission to find a sword!”


The samurai ignores the pleas of the young monk, and exclaims, “Draw your sword! It is my mission to kill 100 men!”


Shaking and thinking of anything he could say to get away from the samurai, the young monk pleaded, “If you spare my life now, I promise to come back to fight you!” The young monk had no intention of ever returning to face what would surely be his swift death at the sharp blade of this crazed samurai. But the samurai agreed to spare the young monk’s life if he would later return to fight.


Safely back at the monastery, the young monk was trembling as he placed the sword at the feet of his master while telling the terrible story of how he almost died in his mission to bring his master a sword and how he was forced to make a false promise in order to save his life.


His master said, “Now that you have returned with this sword, you must go back and fight the samurai because you cannot turn away from challenges in your life. You must face your fear and complete your promise. This is your mission now.”


When the young monk further protested that he had no idea how to fight and that his life would surely be over if he returned to fight the samurai, his master simply replied: “Do not worry. When it comes time to fight, just pull out your sword, place it up in the air and close your eyes. Just trust me. Do as I told you.”


At first, the young monk did not want to follow his master’s orders. That night, he couldn’t sleep, but slowly he came to accept that this would be his last night alive. In the morning, the monk started witnessing things that he had before taken for granted. On his way back to the samurai, he was calm and detached from the world. He knew he would soon die and in the face of that realisation, he walked confidently and calmly towards his greatest fear.


When the young monk reached the samurai, he held the sword in his hand and a steady expression on his face. “I am honoured that you have returned to meet your promise,” said the samurai. “Now we must fight.”


And with that, the young monk remembered his master’s words. He drew his sword, held it above his head, and closed his eyes. He was steady and calm with the knowledge he was about to die.


As the young monk stood motionless with his sword drawn and eyes shut, the samurai nervously circled him. The samurai was confused at first. Then he became afraid. In all the great warriors he had fought, not one had faced him so calm, so still, and with his confident eyes closed.


“Surely,” said the samurai to himself, “this man is the greatest samurai I have ever come across. He has returned to fight me, and now stands waiting with his eyes closed.” The samurai dropped to his knees.


When the young monk finally opened his eyes, he saw a shrivelling samurai begging for his life to be spared and praising the young monk as being the greatest samurai that ever lived. “I realise how arrogant I have been and how wrong I was to try to kill 100 men,” said the samurai. “Please spare my life, Great One, and I shall never kill again!”


The young monk stood still and said, “I will spare your life if you leave here and never kill anything ever again, and you must leave here and do 100 good deeds.” And with that, the samurai was gone. The young monk returned to the monastery as a changed person with unquestionable respect for his master, and lived the rest of his life without complaint and as if each day was his last.

Please take a moment to ponder… In life, so many things can change if you rise up and face your fear. Be humble enough to listen to authority and respect your leaders. And most importantly, never run away from challenges. Face them head on and use the knowledge of others to help you fight your own ‘samurai’. In life, there are so many times we feel we are incapable of achieving something because we don’t have the skills, the studies, the experience, the right clothes, the right house… but if we think this way and run away from our fear and from challenges, we will never grow as a person, as a business person, or as a friend.


Joseph Bismark

Group Managing Director, QI Ltd


The Seeds of Investment – Part II

If you have taken the time and effort to invest in yourself, your reputation, your image, and your relationships, you can start to look toward investment of a financial kind.

What I’ve learnt is that your best investment is first in the preservation of your name and integrity, and this starts from a very young age, whether you are rich or poor, employed or unemployed.

But following this, how do you move into financial investments?

The best financial investments do not start on a grand scale. It is a common misperception that you can only start to invest when you become rich. On the contrary, it is the small, but strict investments you make no matter how little or how much money you have that lead you to becoming rich.

This is the investment in learning how to save money, and learning how to most wisely invest the money you have. The very principle of saving money is, it is money that you will never spend.

For every dollar you have, put aside 40% of that to savings. Open two accounts. One is a true savings account that you never touch, and in this account, you place 20% of what you earn. The other account is your buffer or emergency account, and in this you place the other 20% of the allocated 40% of what you earn. You only touch this buffer account in the event of a true emergency, for example, if you are hospitalised or for a family emergency. The reason for a buffer account is so you never put your hand in ‘the cookie jar’; your savings account.

This is a habit that must be formed from an early stage. Every month, it is much easier to put aside $40 from $100 (40%), than it is to put aside $400 from $1000 (40%). If you can’t start with 40% each month, then start with 20% (10% in each account) and slowly increase the amount.

The funny thing is, however, that many people say they will start to save money once they have a lot of money. It doesn’t happen that way. The more you make, the more you spend. And it becomes easy to live outside your means, which in itself is a very dangerous trap, as it means you have no contingency plan if things don’t turn out the way you plan. If you haven’t developed the habit of saving when you’re young, it will be very difficult to develop it when you’re older.

There is also the principle of compound interest to benefit you. If you start putting away 40% of whatever you earn from a young age, by the time you are 25 you should have hundreds of thousands of dollars just by simple saving and compound interest.

If you’ve been working for the past ten years, this saving money can become your capital for a lot things. But a wise businessman would not use his own money to invest. If you have $100,000 in savings, you can go to your banker and ask for a loan with the money in your savings account as the collateral. With $100,000 in your account and a proven track record of regular saving deposits, the bank would probably give you a loan for $80,000. You can invest this while your money is still in your account earning interest.

Of course, financial investment is a huge area of discussion, and this Gem is not meant to provide you with in depth financial planning advice. This Gem is simply to encourage you to realise and consider the steps behind the process of financial investment.

Please take a moment to ponder… The seeds of investment grow by first planting them in yourself. More seeds must be planted as a percentage of what you earn into a savings account and a buffer account. These seeds – by diligently watering them with good relationships, a strong reputation, further saving and compound interest – grow to become the trees you can climb. From the limbs of these trees, you are now ready to wisely and seriously consider investing in that house, the stock market, a business, or any other investment that will see your ‘trees’ bloom for generations to come.



Joseph Bismark

Group Managing Director, QI Ltd