The Happy Heart School

Living lifelong human care, development, education, learning and service for all.



for Vashima Goyal, Ruth Usher and BSc Occupational Therapy Students of Singapore Institute of Technology-Trinity College Dublin 2019 Intake


Citizenry, for me, is about establishing one’s own sovereignty and then being able to enter and exit, that is, engage positively with all kinds of communities. The choice is positive in order to hold the fabric of personal-universal wellbeing. It’s a choice. What is known as the ultimate freedom, which is, for me, the choice to love.


I still stand by knowing the actual person in front of me as the sacred moment. And whatever the experience is, it is enriching my life. And perhaps, that is all there is to life.


And if the person evokes certain qualities in me, I am a more decent human person for it.


Once a person frees oneself from the social judgment of others, I realise nobody can judge a person more than the self-judgment can condemn. The destruction of the self is by the self and the raising up too, is by the same self. The imprisonment is by the self as much as the liberation.


So the most straightforward path to liberation, for me, is to not give the power and control of one’s sense of self-dignity to anyone, but instead, construct a manner of reflective practice that isn’t self-destructive, but that is self-compassionate and nurturing.


Nurturing, for me, is a bit like looking at life as a work of art that is beautiful in all its movements, interpretations and multitudes of appreciation.


Being fully alive to experience life as a human person, for me, is already the greatest gift and celebration of life. It is the most perplexing, inexplicable, paradoxical, uplifting, tender experience.


And that is why I regard an open human experience as a most precious treasury, that requires no law to dictate the location of its sacred sanctuary, and therefore, the non-necessity of a gate to regulate its entry or exit into the simple joy and freedom of savouring the personal, exquisite fullness of life.


The rest of it, for me, remains an adventure of astonishing discovery. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes completely delirious, but there is always a place where one arrives where one is no longer in diaspora or lost in the world of reality. One no longer needs to hide nor retreat into one’s innermost solitude and place of sanctuary but one stands, walks and lives directly from that personal, sacred sanctuary in one’s every choiceful presence, expression and action.


Citizenry, for me, is to not be confused by the narratives that are no longer relevant but instead to be able to authentically listen to and dialogue with sincerity the voices of those who are speaking and crying out from their innermost solitude and places of personal, sacred sanctuary.


And art-making, for me, is no longer about speaking for those who are voiceless, because I have learnt that it is not possible to speak for another. It is to speak up for myself, and for myself to listen to the other. There is no such thing as a person without voice if there is an able and active listener present to the person desiring to speak.


And so, henceforth, my art-making shifts from speaking, to listening. For I have finally heard the validity of my own cries, my own hopes, and my own meanings, and I no longer need to keep shaping and re-shaping it for it to be understood. I have understood that the only person who can fully understand me, is myself. And that narrative that I have been crafting is for myself to hear and understand my own language. My own becoming, my own synthesis of a unique culture and language that will find no other similarity with another in the world. That is how my identity formation has been, and I am glad I went at it, as if to save my own life.


And listening is simply providing a safe place of silence and non-judgment for the other to hear themselves. And for the other to find and carve the sacred, personal place of sanctuary of solitude, reflection, reconciliation, healing and being that needs no other to affirm the validity of his or her voice, participation, belonging, becoming, being.


And the most simple response for me, as a citizen, an artist and a person, is a joyous greeting: to simply smile in open embrace of the person as he or she is. And to experience the mystery of joy in that encounter and engagement.


My conclusive observation is that it is not possible for me to understand the other who is speaking from his or her personal unique sanctuary. It is really a monologue in open; like a spoken word occasion.


My task is simply being a host to a space that holds a sincere celebration of differences; and the true enriching relating: the thorough enjoyment of the secret music of it all.


Peng-Ean Khoo
August 9, 2019


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