The First Things In ‘Cities Of Last Things’

The film (幸福城市) begins in the midst of a casual yet cautionary song – ‘爱千万不要给得太多… 你今天将它挽留,明天它悄悄溜走。你将一切给我,我却不知如何接受。啊… 请你请你不要再来找我。世界上的男孩不只我一个。啊… 请你请你珍惜你的情感。爱千万不要给的太多。’ To translate, ‘Of love, you must not give too much… You today might retain it, but tomorrow it might quietly slip away. You, giving it all to me, I however do not know how to accept it. Ah… please, please do not come to look for me. In this world, of men, I am not the only one. Ah… please, please cherish your feelings. Of love, you must not give too much.’

The story tells of a man who gave too much ‘love-hate’ to his wife over 30 years, who casually gave too much ‘love’ to other men instead. He thought he could maintain the love, but it gave him the slip, upon discovery of an affair. Perhaps she did not know how to accept his kind of love. Perhaps he already give it in ways he could. Perhaps it was not enough, in ways she wanted. Perhaps she did not cherish her feelings enough, thus becoming loose in her ways, in her quest for more ‘love’. As he gave too much, he lost too much. Though he had enough time to make peace, he made war. Never doomed from the start, he was only as predestined for (self-)destruction as he let himself be.

But there is no such thing as too much love, if it is true love, which for all beings. As it has no conditions bound, it expects no reciprocation; not even loyalty. As true love is pure and continuous, without attachment and lust, it can be given freely, with no need to retain it, or worry that it slips away. Of course, it should still be given skilfully, such that it will be accepted and cherished, not seen as a tiresome burden, like ‘false love’, that can flip over to become true hatred. Confusion sets in when there is such love with attachment and lust, that demands reciprocation and loyalty. To that extent, it becomes not so pure, thus able to be corrupted, to even become murderous hatred and jealousy.

The song ‘ends’ prematurely with the splat of a man who had jumped from a building. The PA system broadcasts further caution, ‘There are a lot of ups and downs in life. You are bound to encounter obstacles. Right at this moment, remember… There’s no problem that does not have a solution. It’s wrong to commit suicide. Let me emphasize it again. All problems can be solved. It’s wrong to kill yourself. We have to be positive all the time. Once you have a negative thought, you have to erase to get rid of it immediately. Free yourself from negativity. Seek out help from your friends, or even strangers. Committing suicide is an act of degeneration.’

Indeed, every problem can be solved, or it would not be called a problem. So-called ‘problems’ that cannot be solved are not real problems; they are just situations to be graciously accepted, to make do with, to outdo. Seek justice if needed, but never be resentful. Even if efforts are futile, as this is the ironing out of your karma, while others’ karma will iron out issues in good time too. Suicide after murder as crimes of passion is to jump out from the frying pan of frustrations into the fire of hell. As there is no sudden annihilating or resetting of life, just rebirthing with a similar state of mind, one might as well bravely live on. Purify the negative with mindfulness of the pure, who had transcended the cycle of birth and death, who points the way to do so too – a Buddha! Amituofo.

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