Blog Archives

Grabbing the Reins

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As 2010 draws to a close, I’m prodding myself to grab the reins of my life.

I’ve let myself stay on auto pilot for years and kept doing certain things that aren’t working on continual loop. It’s what others call ‘insanity’ — doing the same things over and over knowing you get the same, predictable, undesired results.

Year in year out, this is what I do: daydream, plan, procrastinate, get distracted, lose focus. Repeat.

I have stuff on my ‘Wish List’ that only remained ‘wishes’. With 2011 almost upon us, I resolve to change this once and for all and turn my long-held dreams into tangible reality.

Mind you, most of them are not really big dreams. They’re mainly simple things like wanting to practice Tai Chi or Qigong, learning to play the African drums, be more health-conscious, perhaps booty shake it like Shakira (lol) etc.

In my inaction, I’ve undermined my own self. With my long-overdue show of self-love, however, that is about to change. First, I take responsibility for my inaction and its inevitable non-result; I acknowledge it and now it’s time to get off my derrière and just do it.

I’ve examined my life and I know there are aspects of it that seriously need fixing. I have dreams that I know I have the power to bring into fruition.

From now, this is what I’ll consciously do: desire, intend, commit, focus, persist and—when it materialises—celebrate! Repeat.

Marianne Williamson, author of ‘A Course in Miracles’, wisely tweets ‘owning your desire will start the cosmic engine‘. Even before I read her tweet, I know 2011 will be a very interesting year for me in terms of goals because of my strong intent to make things happen this time.

Taking stock of my life journey this past year, a few things were noteworthy:

1. unintentionally becoming a wannabe jet-setter. This, of course, created a big hole in my pocket, but I’m grateful for the experiences and to the various people who helped make those trips worthwhile, fun and memorable.

2. actualising my desire to write, express, share, unzip, unload and reveal where I stood on certain issues by starting a blog. Writing is one thing that I’ve actually managed to do something about but to date it’s only a hobby.

3. being in a pleasant office environment where any potential dramas and conflicts are ‘repelled’ by the good-naturedness and strong work ethics of the young people who work there. I’m lapping it up at the moment while it lasts.

The last few months of 2010 found me:

4. unintentionally becoming a vegetarian. Losing my desire to eat animal flesh was an unexpected but welcomed change. This has become a precursor to my New Year plan to improve my physical fitness.

5. falling in love… with farm animals and joining Meat-eater Anonymous!! Recently, I mentioned sensing ‘love is in the air’. I caught the love bug but I wasn’t expecting this type of love!

6. advocating for love and compassion for animals

7. de-cluttering my space at work and home (ongoing)

8. re-starting a savings plan

9. appreciating people and situations more, and more and more loving life!

However, it’s my dormant and unactualised ‘wants’ that I’m focusing on next year. I’ve started to list my desires/goals/wishes for the new year. Without solid plans and just empty dreams, many will remain in limbo, like I was in the last many years.

Right now I’m ‘stirring’… and have started to do and put things in place in preparation to actualising my intentions for 2011. And I’m getting excited!

Tanjoubi Omedetou

G’day!

I’m offline for a few days. While I’m taking it easy, I ponder the following lines from a Japanese song. It’s so fittingly funny, it’s hilarious!

♫ Tanjoubi Omedetou To Me! ♫

“Always one extra candle
Always getting more wrinkles
Always adding one year
And always gaining some weight.”

LOL.

Click on the video and sing along!

ENJOY!

CHEERS!

Click here for the lyrics.

Till next post…

‘Lovelier’ the Second Time Around

I’m funny like this. I shook my head vigorously when I asked myself silently, ‘Am I now a vegetable lover?’

I’m not a fan of vegetables!

I was a meat craver who is now learning to adjust to a non-meat diet. Add to this ‘comedic situation’, being a closet prima donna, if no one peels, de-seeds and slices fruits for me, I don’t remember to eat them.

How am I going to feed myself?

Once, several years ago, I attempted to become a vegetarian for health reasons, not for any moral, compassionate, empathetic reasons. But my first attempt didn’t last long.

Late 2010 and my once-held desire to be a vegetarian is re-awakened. This time I resolve seriously to eliminate all meat and some animal by-products, and possibly seafood, in my diet.

To help family and friends decide what food to prepare for me when I go over to their homes and visit, remember this:

I dislike zucchini, eggplants, okra, soggy capsicums, string beans and olives.

I eat but I’m not a big fan of corn, green peas and cucumbers.

I cringe at fresh or cooked tomatoes and has no intention to eat them for the rest of my life! Never mix them in your food or salads if you plan to share them with me.

So how do I intend to stay a vegetarian, if not a vegan, being very fussy with food?

Well, I like yellow squash, pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I love avocados. I don’t mind the different kinds of lettuces.

It’s not difficult to prepare food for vegetarians. Just cook some of your favourite food the usual way and just don’t add any meat or seafood! Voilà, you have a vegetarian meal!

My eyes light up when I see desserts. I hope to develop that feeling when I see vegetables.

I love some fruits. I love all kinds of nuts. I love pulses and legumes. I love brown rice. I just have to learn to love vegetables.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been craving for meat (granted, it’s just been a couple of weeks, lol). I can’t stand the thought now of what animals go through to serve one of my physiological needs. I no longer see animals as food. Would you care to join me in this lifesaving, cruelty-minimising crusade?

I’m no longer sure I can still handle raw meat and cook and serve them at home for family and guests.

When I think of a hamburger or any of my ex-favourite meat food, my face contorts. So it’s a good sign and I’m optimistic announcing this intention of giving up meat for good on my blog is not something I’d regret later on.

I’ve been reading on the many pros and cons on being a vegan or vegetarian and lots of advice on what supplements to take so as not to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.

My reasons for this life-changing decision is as I described in my Empathy post, not necessarily for health reasons. So far, I feel good. In months to come, I’m positive I’ll even feel better.

By the way, I went to see an eye specialist. When I offered the information that I’ve become ‘a vegetarian’—which felt funny when I said it—he gave me more than a pat on the back. He replied, ‘your body will LOVE you for it!‘. Hearing the word ‘love’, I took it somehow as an indication the universe approves!

I love giving up meat! It’s surprisingly easier for me this time around.

* * *

A friend let me know of these vegetarian restaurants. If you’re in Sydney, check them out too:

Green Gourmet
Bodhi Restaurant
Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen

Read if you will:

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist
ihealth Directory
Vegetarian Starter Guide
The Definitive Vegetarian Starter Guide
Vegetarian Diet: How to get the best nutrition

Put your Empathy where your Mouth Is

Suddenly, drastically, I’ve become a ‘meat shunner’.

A ‘meat lover’ all of my life, I’ve now become an ‘animal lover’.

It literally happened overnight after watching Earthlings, a one hour and a bit documentary about the cruel, callous and disrespectful way humans treat animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation (research) and sports.

This five-year old film touched me emotionally and intellectually.

The result: I can never look at fried chicken; roast lamb, beef or pork; a whopper burger, beef steak and other meat and seafood with hungry eyes ever again.

I resolved to change my eating habits and attempt to become a vegetarian, if not a vegan, after only 20 minutes into the film.

Aside from the horrific images, there were three things from the film that stood out for me. Mind you, these are not secret information or new revelations. We all know these but we haven’t taken this knowledge into our heart and mind:

1. Animals are creatures who have a right to co-exist with us on Earth, free from deprivation, torment, maltreatment, pain and suffering.

2. Animals are beings who ‘live, breathe, eat, play, show emotion, experience pain, hunger, thirst’ like humans.

3. Animals are pitifully, horrendously and mindlessly maltreated and killed long before they arrive at our table, on our plate and into our mouth.

Some claim Earthlings is just a propaganda tool. I think those who say this are missing the point. It’s clear that killing animals for food or for other uses, whether painlessly or otherwise; or killing or maltreating animals for fun or in the name of research is seriously barbaric, inhumane and primitive.

So out of my belated respect, empathy and compassion for my fellow ‘earthlings’, I’ve started eliminating all meat and meat products in my diet.

There are those who say the animal carnivores are more cruel toward other animals. Perhaps the animal carnivores have no choice but to kill their fellow animals as a source of food for survival. Humans, however, do have a choice and can make one.

What can you do?

The next time you take a bite of that suckling roast or barbequed meat, spare a thought at what the animal may have endured before reaching your plate as described in ‘Earthlings’:

• “branded on the face with red hot irons [cows]
• dehorned with pliers and tail docked [cows]
• ears clipped, teeth cut, castrated – without pain killers or anesthetics [piglets]
• de-beaked and hoisted upside down and throats slit to bleed [chickens]
• electrocuted [food and circus animals]
• burnt [pigs]
• beaten
• shot
• tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing [calves]
• shackled alive, suspended on a bleed wheel where their throats are slit and immersed in scalding tanks to remove their bristle, with many still struggling as they are dunked upside down where they are submerged and drowned [pigs]
• skinned alive for furs and all leather goods
• harpooned [whales].”

And for dolphins unlucky enough to get caught in the waters of Japan? Some are cut in half while still alive!

Excluding the whales and dolphins, these are factory farm animals. What do you think happen to strays or once-loved pets which are impounded? Some are packed very tightly in gas chambers and gassed as this method is less expensive than the quick and lethal but more humane method of injection.

For the love of animals, face the inconvenient truth: partaking a piece of animal flesh—albeit in sanitised, spiced, cooked, packaged or beautifully-presented form— is tantamount to being complicit in their continued deprivation, suffering, abuse and painful death by human hands.

I no longer want to take part, even indirectly, in this sadistic and disrespectful treatment of animals.

I now refuse to be a part of the meat industry’s continued existence. [Watch Earthlings, Sam!]

And this without fully knowing yet the meat industry’s role in climate change and on the damage to our environment, water and air.

I feel genuine pity to those whose livelihood involve killing or butchering animals. Get out of that hellhole called abattoirs or slaughterhouses. Surely, there is a better way to make a living.

We are thinking, compassionate and loving human beings. We have the power to spare the animals their lives. Let them die a natural death and not directly or indirectly through our hands.

In human hands, animals suffer in millions, daily, all over the planet. It’s time to stop creating hell on earth for animals.

Open your eyes, heart and mind.

It’s time to decide and choose: either you’re FOR the animals’ rights or AGAINST them.

As far as the animals are concerned, there is NO in between.

For more information, check out:

Animals Australia

Exposed: The long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse

Why Eating Meat is Like Butchering the Rainforest

Animal Visuals

James Adonis, who I thank for sharing the link to the video which led me to open my eyes to this long-ignored reality.

Lover and Loves

As part of my process of sharing my thoughts and of tackling love themes, here’s a just-for-fun, amateur poem about my loves and interests.

I am a LOVER of…

Words
I string them together as musings for my blog
Place them side by side
To play scrabble or Upwords

Non-fiction books
Magazines, blogs and e-news
Voraciously devouring
Every written thing I could

Fun
Like playful banters
Tongue-in-cheek jokes
Giggles and laughter

Food
I’ve got a sweet tooth
How else did you think
I ballooned?

A good drink
Guess what I’ll evoke
In the right atmosphere
It’s vodka and coke

Roulette
Winning big a few times
I won’t admit though
To losing a few dimes!

Music
Metal and rock classic
Singing my heart out
To my neighbours’ detriment

Philosophy
Often preoccupied with things of the mind
As deep meaning in life I seek
But the answers go over my head!

Life
Now seeing the world afresh
My new canvass is spread out
For me to colourfully illustrate.

P.S. I have other loves, of course!
I’ll share one of them with you in my next post, a more serious topic.

Unzipped

Once more with feeling…

istockphoto.com

[This was originally a guest post but have since got the rights back to publish in my blog. I thank Joe for allowing this.]

For those of us who desire to be more comfortable in our own skin but don’t have the courage to do so, writing is the next best thing.

Well-known author and poet, Paulo Coelho, tweets writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.

When I started my personal blog, a few people told me I was being brave. I didn’t realize it then, but they were really telling me I was needlessly exposing myself to the entire world.

For a nude prude like me, showing too much flesh doesn’t come naturally. So why the sudden disregard for modesty?

To answer that question, let’s compare how I see getting undressed to writing for blogs:

1. There is supposedly an art to undressing; while writing is definitely an art.

2. Unbuttoning your clothing is like uncovering your innermost thoughts so you can prepare to write.

3. Removing your top is like getting rid of unnecessary mental baggage and putting it on paper.

4. Unzipping your trousers or your skirt is like opening up yourself and your life, and risking being scrutinized.

5. Slowly removing your undergarments is like slowly stripping away self-consciousness and the fear of embarrassing yourself, as you risk being criticized.

6. As you dance to the music and strut while peeling off each layer of clothing, in writing you silently peel away your personas and reveal facets of your more authentic self that you don’t dare show many people, sometimes even those close to you.

7. Being naked makes you feel vulnerable; but so does writing and disclosing your secret life.

So what good does exposing figuratively and/or literally in public do for writers? Writing is liberating and therapeutic. In the right place, so is undressing and being naked.

I quite enjoy writing and wish I did it sooner. I’ve been laughing a lot, sometimes almost to tears, reminiscing funny incidents that have happened in my life. I’ve also cried my eyes out, though not too many times, remembering sad and painful moments that are best forgotten.

I highly recommend it, writing I mean. I can’t say the same for getting naked, but you’ll surely laugh yourself silly looking in the mirror and seeing how funny you appear. Either that or you’ll cry your heart out dwelling over real or imagined imperfections.

My life, little parts of it at least, is now an open book, or should I say an open blog. So in my husky voice I dare say, “Look at me in all my naked glory – moles, scars, warts and all!,” while I stumble as I strut in my red stiletto shoes and pretend to be comfortable writing my life away.

P.S. I don’t really have warts. 😛

Interesting reads:

Writing (by Paulo Coelho)
Art of Writing
Writing Naked

Conscious Acts of Love

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A friend kindly shared this with me about her better half:

Every morning, when I come downstairs after getting ready for work, Gary has fed our bird, got our dog’s food ready, put bread in the toaster for me, or whatever I’m having at the time, and is eating his own breakfast.

On occasion, he will say I love you, and it’s always wonderful to hear it, but all these things he does, he does to say I love you!

* * *

Words of love are sometimes expressed far too casually. Acts of love is my preferred ‘default’ mode.

People somehow feel insecure when you don’t affirm your love through words and take for granted other deeper, meaningful ways you demonstrate it to them.

To people who know me but have never heard me tell them I love them, let me count the many other ways you can be reassured:

1. See it in my kindness and random displays of thoughtfulness.

2. Hear it in my giggles and laughter in my constant attempt and desire to amuse you or those times when I’m amused by you.

3. Smell it in my willingness to help, even in small or insignificant ways.

4. Taste it in my quiet and sometimes inaudible words of appreciation for every little or big thing you do.

5. Be touched by my support and encouragement (more often than not) for what your heart desires to do.

6. Accept it in my periods of generosity and little hint of selfishness.

7. ‘Get it’ in my deep reservoir of patience and appreciate not many are as patient.

8. Listen to the gentle way I speak, which others mistake for meekness.

9. Observe it in my being polite regardless of your status in life, and rare* outbursts of anger or rudeness.

10. Know it each time I give in and indulge you, even if it seems I do it more often than you.

11. Notice it in my tolerance of many things, even in those times I shouldn’t tolerate them.

12. Understand it in the absence of nagging, especially in those times you’d more appreciate silence.

13. Sense it in my being considerate and understanding, even if sometimes you don’t know why I do what I do.

14. Detect it in my instinct to tell the truth and be as honest as I possibly can.

15. Appreciate it in my sense of fair play and devoid of any thoughts to deceive or use you.

16. Feel the love in how I treat your loved ones and friends.

I could go on and on…

My point is love can be expressed in more ways than one. Words of love don’t guarantee true love. I ‘ooze’ love through these every day and sometimes deliberate actions. Acts of love, if done consistently and consciously, are more real and convincing.

I wish more people were like Gary in the quote above. No matter how often you say it, marry loving words with consistent loving actions.

These are my perspectives on love. What are yours?

* I’m lucky that only few people rub me the wrong way.

I Love You

istockphoto.com

There!

It’s easy to write it but many find it difficult to say – not the least me.

I love you.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Easy!

Copy and paste.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

So easy.

I may be one of the remaining few who considers LOVE a sacred word.

‘I Love You’, even more sacred.

Love is not to be uttered willy-nilly.

I’m a generous person but when it comes to spoken expressions of love, I’m stingy.

The words don’t come freely out of my mouth, unless I mean it, truly feel it… at that moment.

I don’t write it, only to cross it out.

I don’t give it, only to take it back and forever.

I don’t say it, only to retract or to pussyfoot around it.

I don’t claim to have it and then I disappear or turn my attention to someone else.

I may turn mute when it comes to expressing love but one clear thing I do though is to show love in action.

My next post will show you how I ‘ooze’ love—everyday—if only you learn to read the signs, most of them non-verbal.

Love spoken but not often showed is not a lot better than unspoken love but showed often. Me thinks.

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Love is a Paradox

I must have gotten up from the wrong side of the bed, or perhaps it was the right side – you decide. I had a sudden thought to blog about a paradox.

This is an easy yet difficult subject, which only a few have mastered.

A subject that is simple, yet so complex.

I, myself, at this ripe old age of, well, old, is an inexperienced student and still learning.

I’m talking about LOVE.

istockphoto.com

There is the romantic, the familial, the neighbourly love…

There is the love for God, for friends, for pets…

Then there is universal love which is all-embracing and signifying unconditional love for all…

And there is self love.

There is no single, universally-accepted definition of love. Love is described in many various ways by very many people.

Is it just me or am I missing something? Is love an enigma?

Those who profess to know the full meaning of the word LOVE, speak.

Love is a word that begs to be defined succinctly.

Love is one powerful, emotion-evoking, all-encompassing word.

Love is most longed for, most dreamed about and most-sought after.

But we all know love is also misunderstood, misused and abused.

So do you really know what love is and what love is not?

Help me answer my questions.

Help me understand love and all its complexities.

Recognise love where I think I see falsity;

See love when it seems none exists;

Find love where it may hide.

[This is the first of many posts about this love-ing feeling.]

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[British/Australian spelling used.]

Wish You Were There

Thinking about my recent trip to the Philippines, I can say I had a lovely, fun and relaxing time.

The highlight for me was spending time in an island, goofing around with my family in my ‘2-piece’, while trying to cover myself with a towel. 😀

Family

Having most of my family in the Philippines and the US, time spent with them is always cherished. I spend as much time bonding and just having a laugh with them each time I travel to see them. We’re a big clan, both sides of my family; we laugh loud and often.

This is also the time I try to show off my ‘comedic’ skills, assured with the knowledge that no matter how unfunny my attempts at making jokes are, my family won’t and can’t disown me. 🙂

We had a family reunion of some sort. As always, there were lots of food and, of course, laughter. It’s hard to stop and make real conversations though because of the limited time you have while on a brief holiday/visiting relatives and the many people to say hello to, and hug and kiss. Not to mention that a lot of time is spent taking photos to capture each moment and making sure there are new pics to choose from for our Facebook profile photos!

The plan from now on is to spend as much time with my family, as often as I’m able, especially with my parents. My parents are both in their early 80s. I’ve always appreciated the fact that I, together with my brothers and sisters, have both parents while growing up and are with us for a long time.

Let us not take our parents for granted. Count the many who have lost either or both parents early in life. I am one of the lucky ones and I truly appreciate it.

I intended to share some photos of the trip here earlier but I was preoccupied, so only took the time to do this now. You can view them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/earthianne/

There are no close-up photos of me so as not to scare you away!

Luscious Me!

There is a certain race of people who considers me fat. They call me fat. They’re wrong and I would say unimaginative!

Even if one is fat, how hard can it be to lose excess weight? If I make it sound so easy, losing body fat isn’t really rocket science:

Image from istockphoto.com

Eat more of the power foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, certain nuts and grains. Less of the wrong foods like fat-filled, sugar-filled and too-much-salt food.

Have a small portion of food when you feel hungry and don’t overeat. Make sure you drink plenty of water and no carbonated sodas (including diet drinks), and limit your alcohol intake.

Complement this with regular and vigorous exercise and—voilà—you have a body that is the envy of women, and a physique that men ogle at and admire.

I am not saying it’s a good thing, to be ogled or stared at. I mentioned about my being a nude prude in my Unzipped guest post and my not being keen on going to beaches in my last post, Wish You Were Here.

During my recent foray on a beach, I bravely donned a 2-piece swimsuit (well, a skimpy boy shorts with a top is a 2-piece swimsuit to me). It wasn’t a very revealing piece of swimwear, really, but enough to show some excess bits – the unwanted bits.

However, I might as well have gone naked as I was stared at, scrutinised, looked over from top to bottom and back again! The experience was disconcerting, and I now have to think twice before wearing a swimsuit ever again in public. I’m talking about my parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, and other close and distant relatives who I only see about once or twice a year! Whether they were staring at me in admiration or derision, I couldn’t tell without my eyeglasses.

Do you think this experience has spurred me on to lose any excess weight and apply self-discipline in my fitness regime? Because that’s all it is, really. Aside from knowing the basics of maintaining a healthy weight as described above, you need to fix your sight on your goal, if losing weight is your goal, and instill the discipline to keep at it.

To answer my own question above: no, maybe not. Over my lunch of cheese-topped grilled fish with prawns and fries, with half-touched salad on the side, a non-Filipino colleague-friend assured me, you’re not really fat; you’re more like… ‘beautifully plump’!

Thinking about this unique description, a picture comes to mind: that of a plump fruit — luscious, delicious, sweet!

Uhmmm… I’m beginning to like this new description. It not only makes me feel ‘sexy’, it makes me want to eat!

From now on, call me those beautiful, mouth-watering names. Just don’t call me ‘fat’ because I’m not* and ‘fat’ is just plain boring!

* * *

*those who genuinely like me can’t see it. 🙂

Disclaimer: For a more reliable information on health, nutrition and exercise, please do your own research and get advice from medically-qualified people.

Losing My Religion (5 of 5)

Image from istockphoto.com

This question had been in my mind for a long time:

Is there a one true religion?

For many years, I tried to find an answer to that simple question. Approximately twenty years later, I come to a disappointing but inevitable conclusion that it’s not that simple after all. There is no human being alive in the olden days or at the present time, nor any one holy book in existence, who holds and can provide all the answers to everyone’s satisfaction.

Because of this, I no longer have that longing to know. There is no more ‘gaping hole to fill’ or an ‘unending thirst to quench’ for me. After many years of futile searching, I rest… and lose my religion anyway.

I can disregard, cover my ears and turn a blind eye on my other previously-mentioned reasons. However, what made me to finally see the light, so to speak, is:

4. my growing interest in the theory of reincarnation.

Let me tell you upfront: I don’t claim to be Cleopatra, Machiavelli, Queen Nefertiti… or any high or low profile personalities, male or female.

Simplistic my reasons may be for believing in reincarnation, but I certainly don’t believe that just because no one at the present time can present empirical evidence/conclusive proofs of its reality, that it’s definitely not possible or not real.

I first read about reincarnation when it was featured in a magazine called ‘Panorama’ that came with the newspaper that my father used to subscribe to years ago. I remember reading that one could live as a human being in one life and then become a cockroach in the next life. It sounded horrible and at the same time laughable. I remember shaking my head and dismissing the idea of reincarnation outright.

I didn’t know it at the time but different religious groups’ beliefs on reincarnation differ and many don’t believe the above.

It was during my armchair soul searching many years later when I revisited this concept of reincarnation and made an effort to look at it again more objectively.

Why does reincarnation appeal to me after dismissing it initially? Reincarnation, if real, makes absolute sense to me now. If you dare look at it with an open mind and give it some genuine thought, it can shed light to a lot of things.

Edgar Cayce, whose story I read about voraciously (among other numerous books I read that touched on the topic of reincarnation), obviously had a major influence on me. But as this particular post is really just to ‘confess’ my final reason and conclude my ‘Losing My Religion’ story, I will explain more later why I chose to believe in reincarnation (including a continuing belief in a supreme being).

A website, World Christian Encyclopedia lists 19 major world religions, which are ‘subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups. Wikipedia also has a list of numerous religions.

Ask every one of these groups which is the one true religion. Each religion, major and minor, old and new, including their respective denominations, will raise their hand and claim LOUDLY and assuredly theirs to be the one true one.

I ponder this question one last time: Is there a one true religion?

Don’t bother to raise your hand as it’s clear to me now: There is no such thing.

As I disclose my reasons for losing my religion, I remember and repeat an old saying that I heard my father say a few times:

All roads lead to the same place

and, may I add, these include unchartered, unnamed and unmarked roads that are less travelled. One of these roads I may be traversing solely, bravely. Would you dare join me?

Next topic: Holiday!

Losing My Religion (4 of 5)

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The saga continues…

For this instalment, let’s cut to the chase and let’s make it brief.

I’m sure many expects this to appear in my list and it does. It’s my reason number:

3. the sexual abuse perpetrated and perpetuated by priests eventually got to me.

I won’t repeat what we’ve already heard so many times in the media (since the 1980s), but I’ll briefly explain why this had a bearing in my disenchantment with religion.

In the beginning, although I felt horrified when this news first broke out, I was espousing forgiveness. I also realised priests, after all, can be fallible human beings, susceptible to temptations.

When allegations after allegations of sexual misconduct reverberated around the world, some of them reportedly proven true, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way these abuses were dealt with.

I’ve recently read a report where the church is trying to blame the priests’ sexual misconduct on homosexuality. A psychologist who specialises in treating sexually-abused children says homosexuality is not the same as pedophilia. The difference is that a person who is sexually attracted to children (regardless of sex) is a pedophile. And pedophilia, according to Wikipedia, is a psychiatric disorder. Pedophilia is also a crime against children.

Let’s remember that not all of these allegations are substantiated and credible. However, granted that, at one time, it’s “only” supposedly about 4% of the entire priesthood (active at the time) who have allegedly committed this crime, it’s 4% too many. I say there should be zero tolerance on pedophilia, especially those committed by people who should know better—those who made teaching people not to “sin” their vocation.

You could say the number of perpetrators are insignificant compared to the total number of priesthood. Well, tell that to the victims and their families. To subject their victims to pain, trauma, shame, depression, maybe even suicidal thoughts, and God knows what other harrowing emotions victims of this type of abuse go through, is the most unkind act of those we least expect to commit this.

Equally sharing the blame are the top brass in the church’s hierarchy who exercise their power in some countries to prevent the poor access to birth control but are impotent in preventing, if not stopping, and tackling this long-term issue head on.

Why would I let a “minority” of offenders turn me off religion? The churches’ leaders’ failure to decisively address and put a stop or at least prevent these abuses leave much to be desired and added to my growing belief that there is no such thing as “one true religion”.

I’ve removed hatred, vindictiveness, revengefulness and other extremely negative traits from my heart (not an easy thing to do for a Scorpio). So I’m not going to condemn those perpetrators to hell or demand that they be jailed for life or wish capital punishment on them.

It doesn’t mean though that I should continue listening to them.

Note: Search online and you’ll see it’s obviously not only priests from the Catholic Church who commit sexual abuse of children but also, it’s alleged, from other Christian denominations, as well as from other religions.

Final instalment: The “mother” of all reasons.

Next topic: [I’m back in my childhood…]

My Brush With a Cult

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I let someone talk me into attending a play. What the play is about was vaguely explained to me but, being an easygoing person, I didn’t ask too many questions and agreed.

I had some spare cash and lots of free time so off from work I went. For a “measly” A$25 and “only” 4.5 hours of my time, including travel time, I had a reasonable expectation that I was going to enjoy myself.

The play already started when I got there. I found a seat and then quickly scanned my surroundings. It was a small hall, filled with less than 100 people.

The play turned out to be the most boring thing since [fill in the blank with whatever is the most excruciatingly boring thing for you]. The performers were reading from a script, were overacting and still managed to be unconvincing.

I won’t bore you with details about the play or the group, not only because it bored me to tears but I was overcome with disbelief that I tried to forget this ever happened. I just remembered the incident out of the blue.

To make this short story shorter, it turned out that I was watching a play by a CULT, trying their hardest to convince their audience and themselves that they are not in any way, shape or form, a CULT!

Apparently, a few individuals and groups have accused them of being so. Don’t ask me how I knew those accusers were right. You don’t spend a whole hour—perhaps the whole play—justifying why your group is not a cult.

It’s embarrassing to admit to you what sort of things I sometimes find myself in because:

I’m being too nice, silly, gullible, naive, plain stupid, sleep-deprived, got up from the wrong side of the bed, depressed-and-unaware-of-it, uhmmm… dumb, or all of the above reasons.

What’s doubly insane is I actually paid money so I could waste my time, make myself out of pocket and bore myself to death. I could have wasted my time for free, or at least spent less doing something less stupidly boring.

After a longer-time than was necessary, I got up and left. When I was out of the hall, I rushed outside, trembling and fearing they were going to stop and try and brainwash me.

Of course, it was only my imagination running wild but my heart was racing. I only calmed down when I realised no one was following me.

In my eternal quest for enlightenment, I almost plunge myself deep into the world of the silly. I had my closest brush with a cult, or… well… at least a cult-like group.

Note to self: Please spend your time and money wisely, ask a lot of questions and use your thinking skills coz that’s what the brain is for.

You are welcome to berate me. 🙂

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The Heart of the Matter

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I plonk on a seat on the train next to a window, where I could sit comfortably and read a book.

The train ride to my first stop is about 45 minutes. It’s peak hour and it’s all stops. This is going to be a long but enjoyable ride, or so I thought.

Halfway through the first page, I heard a man belch loudly. I moved my face sideways, not quite looking at where the sound was coming from. A hint of annoyance could be read from that slight movement of my head.

Shortly after, I could hear someone murmuring from behind me. Deaf from the usual noise when reading a book, I ignored it. I first learned to read in English before I learned to read in my own language, but at this very moment, as I go through lines after lines of English words, I couldn’t read a word. I thought the book is hard to read, but those damn racist remarks won’t stop barging in my head.

I Turned Dyslexic and Everyone Became Deaf

I closed the book and sighed. Cruel words incessantly try and invade my hearing space. Something about Asians, Asians taking over their jobs, how they shouldn’t be in this country. Oh, here we go, I thought, and rolled my eyes. Not quite dark outside, I looked out the glass window as the train hisses past buildings and trees, but not really seeing anything.

The train was filled with all sorts of people. Everyone was minding their own business, busy with their own thoughts, their own reading and, like me, pretending they weren’t hearing anything.

I decided to continue ignoring this man’s ramblings about Asians to no one in particular. Maybe it will stop and he will tire of it, run out of words to say or reach his train station soon.

Leafing through another page, and on and on the man continued. I stole a quick glance over my shoulder, and I saw the man is standing on the aisle, holding a bottle of beer.

As I attempt to correct my sudden-onset dyslexia, it was becoming obvious the man talking loudly on the train had zeroed in on a ”lucky” someone. Slowly, it dawned on me, that someone was me! The man, the harasser, was talking to me all along.

Very Cheeky and Pushing It

Indirectly, he told me to vacate my seat because, he said, I didn’t deserve it. He wanted me to give up my seat to an elderly Anglo-Australian who I didn’t see was standing next to him. The elderly Anglo-Australian giggled and nodded in agreement to what the harasser said. Under a different circumstance, on my own accord, I would have offered my seat to any elderly person. The harasser explained to a non-Asian female passenger, who clearly looked scared, that he hated Asians because Asians took over jobs meant for Australians.

Encumbered with all the stuff I had with me, including a box of birthday cake, I restrained myself from engaging in a potentially messy, chocolate-mud-cake fight. For a while, I vacillitated between wasting A$20 (at that time) worth of cake to smash it across the man’s racist face or to just ignore him as best I could and not to stoop down to his level. In the end, I chose the latter.

Not content with throwing insults in my direction, the harasser blocked my way when I tried to get off the train. With my hands and arms full of stuff, I couldn’t shove him off so I could get out before the train moved. I missed my station as a result. As the train started to move, I screamed out loud to his face: ”YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE!”

No other words were necessary. I thought that was the heart of the matter—he was just being exactly as I described him. There was no need to explain or reason out to him, nor was there any need to expend any energy to try and enlighten him.

He shrugged his shoulder. ‘I hate Asians’, he said, and walked away.

For two months, I was paranoid. I would sit at the farthest back of the train thinking I’d rather have my enemy in front of me where I can see them, than behind me.

Questioning My Own Willingness to Help Others

Would I have helped if it was someone else who was being harassed instead of me? I’d like to think, if it was clear there was someone being victimised and this person appeared helpless, that I would have. My ”Beautiful Serpent”, as author, poet and blogger Ed Pilolla beautifully calls it, rears its ugly head from time to time, and can sometimes be a bit fearless.

I thought about it for a long time. None of the passengers in the crowded train uttered a word. No one bothered to report it to a train guard on my behalf. They were either indifferent or too scared to help. They say there is strength in numbers but, even against an averaged-built man, no one dared to raise their voice. I guess, if I wasn’t saying anything, why would they?

Later that night, as I took a bite of a piece of the chocolate cake that almost never was, I shudder at the thought that people’s deafening silence and pathetic lack of courage to come to my rescue was because they had the same deep-seated fear as the ignorant man.

If you were in my shoes, what would you have done?

If you were one of the passengers, would you have lifted a finger to help a stranger being harassed?

As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments.

Read related articles:
The Racist Workplace by James Adonis
End Racism

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