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20 Thoughts on God

Religion does not have a monopoly on God. This is what I’ve come to realise after years of solo soul searching.

As a child, I still remember my feelings of frustration for not being able to see and talk to God. I longed to get to know God, an almighty being who sees, hears and knows everything, but who no one could see, hear, talk to or touch. This supposed to be powerful God, which the atheists insist to be non-existent, is to this day indescribable, unknowable, unfathomable and mysterious.

As an adult and when I found the courage to do so, I embarked on an armchair soul searching by reading books from various authors from different belief systems and philosophies, and also re-read the bible. As expected, the resulting effect is I became confused, disillusioned and dissatisfied. However, I got to know a few teachers who I resonated with and, over time, helped me develop my own thoughts on a god I can believe in. Not surprisingly, I disconnected from religion, which I narrated and explained in my ‘Losing my Religion‘ blog series, but somehow retained a belief in a god (reasons of which I will explain more in the future). This after lots of reflection, contemplation and rumination! The whole of existence having one than without makes more sense to me. That there is an overall mystical, super-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing figure (or figures) controlling the workings and laws of nature and the universe is reassuring to me. I also surmise science will one day catch up and confirm the reality of spirit life and the existence of a supreme being; and that you don’t have to belong to any religion, go to a specific church or other places of worship to connect with god.

Having kept my new beliefs and opinions to myself, I now share my thoughts and lay my cards on the table so family and friends understand where I stood where a deity is concerned. This is not to say they read my blog, but if they do, then they’d stop wondering why I’ve stopped going to church (except on special occasions). They also won’t try to put me back into the fold, so to speak, or recruit me to their ”brand” of religion because there is no turning back for me. I consider myself free.

For the religious, these thoughts could be sacrilegious; for the atheists, these are silly and meaningless. For the religion-less but non-agnostic and non-atheist like me, what I believe now — believe it or not — has made me stronger, I have less fear and am guilt-free. Depending on your beliefs or spiritual perspective, you may think me courageous or foolish. However, don’t you worry about me. You see, the ”fire and brimstone and hell and damnation” that most religions teach no longer work on me. I feel more happy now, contented and comfortable where I am spiritually, even if I’m taking this spiritual path alone – no family or friends to walk the path along with me.

My musings may not make sense to others but they do to me. I welcome your comments. We can agree to disagree. 🙂

* * *

Love thoughts or thoughts on ‘God’:

  1. Love, honour, remember and thank God but do NOT fear God. [Praise is something god doesn’t want/need so it’s not on my list.]
  2. Why must God be feared? Do good not out of fear of the ”wrath” of God.
  3. If humans are capable of ”unconditional love,” how much more God?
  4. God isn’t one-dimensional, boring, uncreative or unimaginative. God didn’t only make one spiritual path.
  5. God encompasses all. There are many paths to god. Take one or… none.
  6. God would never say ”It’s either my way or the highway.”
  7. If there is a God and God is as God says God is, then my God is your God is our God.
  8. To love God is to love him, her, them, us and yourself. *
  9. I stopped referring to God as he. Nor did I ever refer to god as she or it. But I found a new definition of god: he, she, it, we, they. *
  10. If God is love, then love is the right religion, the one true path. *
  11. If God is the god of all, if God is everywhere and anywhere, if God sees, hears, watches all, then there is nothing to fear.
  12. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, eternal, no beginning and no end, then there is more to life than we human beings can ever see, comprehend, imagine or believe.
  13. God doesn’t think like a human being.
  14. Therefore: God is not racist, sexist, xenophobic, elitist, ableist, homophobic, fatist or a speciecist.
  15. We are each unique and all races are equal in God’s divine eyes.
  16. God is NOT callous, dictatorial, hateful, impatient, insecure, jealous, needy, prejudiced, temperamental, unforgiving, vengeful or vindictive. **
  17. God has a sense of humour, I’m sure!
  18. If God has no sense of humor, then God isn’t real.
  19. God would want me to love my life, believe in myself, have fun, be happy, love all, take care of others—including the animals— and love and be kind to myself. God wants the same for you.
  20. God is so much, much greater than what any religion can ever teach us.

* Inspired by Brian Piergrossi

** Inspired by Neale-Donald Walsch

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Losing My Religion (5 of 5)

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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…]

Losing My Religion (3 of 5)

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I have an interest in Astrology, which some consider as science but others see as gobbledygook. Scorpios are supposed to have inclination toward the esoteric and the occult.

Being a proud Scorpio, I can confirm that I, for one, was very curious about life’s secrets and mysteries, and had a strong desire to understand the nature of our existence and to know if there is such a thing as the ultimate truth.

However, for a long time I didn’t dare approach the metaphorical door and venture into the unknown, mysterious world of our existence because of fear, fear induced by my Catholic/ Christian upbringing. The fear of being sent to eternal damnation if one delves into the occult or, at least for me, delve into the mysterious, through countless books and magazines, pre-internet.

Until about two decades ago, when I found myself at a friend’s place in Mascot, Sydney, sitting next to a cabinet full of books on metaphysics. Yes, these physical objects, within my easy reach, beckoned to me and became my passport to delving beyond the physical.

Finally giving in to this long-suppressed interest, out on a limb, I leafed through one. That one small book became the catalyst in my breaking free of fear of the unknown and into the world of mind-expanding, awe-inducing, limitless possibilities.

With nervous excitement, my passion for reading books was rekindled. Moving from one author to the next, I scoured the libraries in Liverpool, North Sydney and Crows Nest.

I gobbled up books based on opinions, assumptions, logic, first-hand experiences or purported-experiences, philosophies and other thoughts, and travelled with various authors of different nationalities at various times through different places, planets, galaxies, universes, realities and dimensions.

One of those travels was right here on Earth and became my reason number:

2. Reading about the mysterious death of Pope John Paul 1 and the subsequent findings of the author into the Pope’s death affected and disturbed me.

David Yallop’s ‘In the Name of God’ is an eye-opening account of the vast network, power and financial clout of this church of 1.16 billion. Most of it is maybe not news to some but, at that time, it was to me.

Image 'borrowed' from the net

Pope John Paul 1, real name Albino Luciani, by all accounts, was a simple, humble, kind, humorous, intelligent man. Qualities I hold dear. God knows how the tide of history would have turned out if he was allowed by God (or by man?) to continue his role as Pope. The author’s numerous interviews with people who knew and had close contact with the Pope also reveal him to be a pro-poor, incorruptible, down-to-earth man.

This Pope, when once a Patriarch, would rather visit prisons or the sick than attend cocktail parties and receptions. He shunned wealth and extravagance and he, controversially, was open to allowing the use of birth control.

Surrounded by poverty all his life and experiencing it first-hand, he had emphathy for the poor, the difficulty they experience daily in trying to feed mouths they can’t afford to feed. He was suspected to be on the verge of implementing revolutionary changes in the church hierarchy, however, just a month into his papacy, a day before he was due to introduce these courageous changes, he suddenly died.

The author asserts the Pope was poisoned. The Vatican of course denies the allegations and had commissioned another book author to present their versions of events. No autopsy was apparently ever conducted.

The Pope’s untimely demise was very saddening and a great disappointment. I’ve wondered what could have happened if he was able to live long enough to implement his purported radical changes.

David Yallop’s allegations might turn out to be seriously flawed, but who can dispute how seriously powerful and wealthy the Vatican is? To be fair, it’s not only the Catholic church which has accumulated large wealth. Other major Christian denominations, other major religions, and even other relatively new religions are reportedly very wealthy as well.

Why did this event affect my judgment about religion? I had this fairytale idea that religion is beyond politics, that houses of God are beyond corruption. These days, being older, wiser (I hope), more aware, with unprecedented access to a wide array of information (provided we try to discern factual information from the useless information or outright lies), we have a better idea of what goes on in this world.

* * *

However, in trying to get a glimpse of the truths of the various religious beliefs, on which one is right and whose path is the most correct, I dove into more and more books and thought more and more about life and the metaphysical side of things.

One thing that became apparent from all my armchair adventures is that the going isn’t going to be easy. You will get confused… very confused. Just when you think you thought you found the one right path, doubts seep in. And when you’d think you’re finally going somewhere, you see yourself end up being at the same place where you started. You’ll hear conflicting ideas or claims or assertions that contradict what others say.

Only attempt to step into this deep and dark void if you have the mental stamina. For a long time, I was discontented and unsatisfied with the information I was getting. There was a gaping hole I desperately wanted to fill. But I didn’t give up. The more I got confused, the more I tried to know some more. The more I got dissatisfied, the more I tried to search further.

If you are wondering and still searching like I once was, go, search and explore.. You may find what you are seeking, but arm yourself with the sure knowledge that it will get very perplexing and disheartening before things become clear and sure.

That is, if you ever get there. (To be continued…)

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As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Next topic: The Heart of the Matter

Just an Update on ‘Facebook’ and ‘Perception’

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My apology to those who visited my blog last Friday (and in the last week) expecting my LMR (part 3) article. One even called to make sure I was ok. In a way, he was right to be a bit concerned as I had a bout of ‘procrastinitis’.

I updated my other pages, wrote other stories, did many other things… except to work on completing my LMR article to my satisfaction. I think it’s better than before and I can release it this Friday.

But before that, let me give you updates on my previous posts:

Facebook rant

Actually, it was more a rant on the indiscriminate uploading of photos. But I see that my FB friends who needed to put tighter controls over their FB pages have done so. I’m very pleased about that though I’m not exactly implying it was because of my article.

On Facebook, I’ve become multi-faceted and multi-skilled! I’m the subject, model, writer, editor, proofreader, photographer, videographer, researcher, comic, critic, censor, privacy police and advocate, ‘stalker’ and, heck, I sometimes even sing!

But just when Facebook is turning into its own universe, with 550 million global users and still counting, I decided to limit my presence and become a Facebook ‘minimalist’. I’m not pulling the plug on FB for now as I maintain two personal FB groups with my account. Plus, I invested a lot of time in putting together my albums complete with what I thought to be ‘witty’ captions so I loath to remove them.

However, being an eager student of the ‘art of detachment’, I’ll happily delete all of them from FB, but not just yet.

Perception poll

Only a handful was game enough to vote and/or comment. These are the coolest people I know! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating and indulging me and/or commenting.

This was my first time to conduct a poll. I’ve momentarily forgotten that things are often not just black and white; that there are shades of grey. So instead of offering just 2 options, I should have offered another one to give those who wanted to vote but didn’t a 3rd option. Lesson learned.

Please read the comments – they should give us enough food for thought, and help us broaden our perspective on perception.

* * *

BTW, after this week, I’d like to take a break from ‘religion’ and share a different story, the topic of which was specifically requested. It happened to moi, of all people!! Haha

A word of warning: For the majority of you, you’ll hear me swear for the first time. Oh, it’s just one sentence. It is the heart of the matter and very crucial to the story. You’ll see.

I look forward to sharing it with you – I can’t wait!

Losing My Religion (2 of 5)

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In part 1 of the LMR story, I spoke about my childhood and how I always tried to cut short the time I spent on hearing mass. I narrated how I avoided the insistence of an older and well-meaning girl who tried to keep me in the church for a longer time than I wanted.

I mentioned about my ‘talent’ for sitting in one place and mentally escaping into my own world in spite of all the noise. At Catholic churches during mass it isn’t possible, what with all the rituals you have to perform: you sit, stand up and kneel a few times; fall in line for a communion; sing hymns; respond to the homily, etc.

It didn’t happen overnight, this change of heart of mine about my religion and all religions in general. In spite of this disconnect though, I retained my belief in God. I’ll have a deeper explanation about this in future posts.

If you are happy with where you are spiritually, whichever belief system you have, that’s well and good.

If you were never a believer or do not have any beliefs now, that’s alright too. I now believe God, for all the greatness that God is, is not bothered by it. I will also tackle later why believing in a ‘super power’ (and I’m not talking about the US) is better (and I’m not referring to the concept of heaven or hell).

But for now let me address my fellow believers and state the first of my four reasons I mentioned in part 1.

* * *

This is not a chronological account of my search for answers and meaning, which started when I was younger. Over the years, I spent a lot of time contemplating as various thoughts and questions came to my mind about God and the reason(s) for our existence.

For many balmy nights, while living in Manila, I would sit on the concrete steps in front of our apartment in Sta. Mesa. With my elbow on my knee and a hand cupping my chin, I would gaze at the moon and the twinkling stars above and wonder what is out there, is anyone out there, who are we, where did we come from?

While kids noisily and gleefully play in the streets, a common sight throughout the neighbourhoods during my childhood, I spent a lot of time wondering what life is all about.

As I learned about religions and their various denominations, the thought of what these all meant crossed my mind. I read a little bit about some of these religions, beliefs and other philosophies. My eventual response, after reading up, on and off, on this subject over a period of almost two decades, was to ‘disengage’.

One of my reasons is due to:

1. My conflict in reconciling where the Jews, other Christian denominations, the Moslems, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Sikhs, the Taoists, the Shintoists, the ‘Zoroastrians’, the various Indigenous religions, other non-mainstream religions, the agnostics—plus the atheistic materialists— fit into this.

According to Wikipedia, Christians now make up approximately 2 billion people. Out of these 2 billion, there are a staggering 38,000 different denominations or branches. More branches of Christianity will no doubt emerge as people, for whatever motivate them, form and lead their own group and interpret the bible in their own way.

At one time, I felt Catholicism was the best religion out of all them. That it’s the only correct path and I had a better chance in being allowed into heaven. Everyone else is wrong and ignorantly in the wrong path. However, as you know, each of the people who belong to other Christian denominations or other religions feel the same way, if not stronger, about their respective religion. People ‘peddling’ their own brand of religion, each one of the group believing theirs to be the real deal. Who’s right, who’s wrong?

But I also thought a lot about those people who have never heard of Jesus Christ or concepts like the Holy Trinity, and/or those people who worshipped a different God or Gods. Where will they go when they die? Would God forgive them? How can they redeem themselves?

What about those Christians who think everyone else will go to hell or purgatory unless you are ‘born again’, whatever that means?

How about the Moslems who seriously think that Allah is the one true God, the Qur’an the one true book, and the rest of us are infidels?

The Bahá’í’s who believe Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and most recently their own, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, are one and the same being and who appeared as these different messengers to establish a religion that was suited for the needs of their time?

The Hindus with their multiple Gods? Does believing in more than one God gets you quicker to reaching nirvana?

The Buddhists who believe that you will reincarnate over and over again until you learn your lessons and paid off all your karmas?

And the Jews who consider themselves God’s chosen people? I felt a tinge of jealousy I wasn’t born into the ‘chosen’ race.

Let’s not even mention the Scientologists who once annoyed me a bit for incessantly calling me to talk me into meeting with them, after I purchased one of their leader’s books.

In all these, I considered and attempted to turn into a vegetarian after reading about a female Vietnamese Buddhist master who teaches that eating meat contributes to global warming.

As I don’t consider myself materialistic, it was easy for me to imagine I was suited to becoming a monk—stripping myself bare of all material possessions—until I learned you have to abstain from the desires of the flesh, alcohol, gambling and other vices. 🙂

I once wanted to be like the Breatharians who claim to live without eating food or drinking water but by proper breathing alone. Imagine how many kilos I would have shed if I tried it? You must have read about a recent news of an Indian man who was reported not to have eaten for two weeks, while doctors in Australia probe him and what he was claiming.

I marveled at the mysterious world of the Shamans and their use of psychedelic plants to, purportedly, take them into different worlds and dimensions.

I read a few articles on secret societies like the Rosicrucians, which I considered joining, and the Freemasons which was for a long time exclusive for males only but have recently started accepting female members.

I’ve heard about the Gnostic Catharrs and the Essenes of the ancient times.

I was surprised to learn of the existence of the moderate Moslems like the Sufis or the Dancing Dervishes.

I read the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda hoping to get inspired but it somehow drew more questions from me.

So you see how serious I was in getting to know more about religion and other beliefs, and my desire to get some answers to some questions?

We do know religions have the same aim, even if there are myriad paths. If it continues to work for you, that’s admirable, but what gets my goat, so to speak, is the intolerance of others for people whose beliefs are different from their own, people who think they have sole access to the one correct key to open/enter, the pearly gates of St. Peter or the ‘paradise’.

But this is my story and my journey. You have your own story to tell.

To be continued…

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As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Viewing Life through Rose-Coloured Glasses

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A former boss gave me a sensible advice – ‘… not to write rubbish to fill the gap’. It is in this light that I postpone releasing my 2nd instalment to the ‘Losing My Religion’ post.

Some of you may be eager to hear what I have to say about my reasons for ‘disengaging’ myself from my religion or any religion for that matter. But rather than rushing to publish a half-baked article just to meet my self-imposed deadline, I offer you this week—and as part of my planned ‘opening up’—my alternative meaning to some words (some come with advice).

Most of these are meanings I came up with as I watch a mundane and aimless life—a life that I made ordinary and allowed to be filled with more downs and a few ups—pass through uneventfully. This also includes my own observations on other people’s lives as their own dramas play out in front of me.

Reflecting on my past and looking at my present life, I’ve taught myself to view life through rose-coloured glasses.

There were hard but valuable lessons for me to learn, some of them only very recently. I’m proud to say that in spite of the challenges and my own quota of pain and suffering—and drawing from my inner strength—I’m emerging (and here’s hoping completely and fully emerge) with my sanity intact.

I attribute this to my taking things easy, in the main, and humouring myself often. Plus the belief that there is more to life than what we currently know, if we only knew how to see past our temporary woes.

Who knows, these meanings may also help a few of you in your own journey, as you navigate through the maze of your own life. Some of these words, like ‘love’ and ‘perception’, where they pertain to my life, are topics I will cover in detail in future posts.

* * *

I want to emphasise these are just my opinions and my thoughts. I don’t claim to be a counselor, a church minister, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a philosopher or a walking dictionary: 🙂

Age – It’s not how old or young you are. Anything is possible at any age. (Jessica Watson has proven it to all of us.) You may not be a racist, sexist, xenophobic, elitist, ableist or homophobic, but if you cannot accept that age is just a number, you may be an ageist.

Death – A release; freedom; homecoming; enlightenment; a doorway to another existence, dimension or reality.

Depression – An indication of indulging in excess: too hard on yourself; too hard on others; too much worry; too serious on how you view life sometimes; stressing yourself too much. Life and yourself aren’t meant to be taken too seriously by you. Try and master your mind or entrust your problems to God. Lastly, take it easy and be kind to yourself.

Divorce – Your second chance to find love again. Celebrate!

Gardening – It’s either a hobby or a chore that gives me back pain just by thinking about it. Kidding aside, someone said ‘organic gardening will keep you out of the hospital and add years to your life.’

Generousness – To be always true, it must not be selective (for example: generous to a few but not to others).

Gibberish – As recommended by ‘Laughter Yoga’, this is (1) a technique you use, (2) a strange, undecipherable language you tell yourself – to make yourself laugh silly. My gibberish sounds Chinese so it’s even funnier!

Giggles – A cute sound.

God – is described to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Believing this, I cannot now imagine a jealous, wrathful, insecure, unloving, unforgiving, indulges-in-favouritism and a narrow-minded God, as others inadvertently present God to be. I say: God doesn’t think like a human being. (I will say more in future posts.)

Happiness – I just recently understood this: Happiness is a choice. Don’t wait for it to come or to happen or expect someone to provide it to you. Make that choice now. (Daily affirmation: I am happy.)

Housework – Don’t make this the focus of your life or weekend (I’ll share with you my ‘golden rules’ about housework sometime).

Humour – The elixir of a healthy (the best medicine) and happy (the greatest blessing) life. Make humour your constant companion.

Kindness – Another one where it’s only real if it is NOT selective.

Laughter – A baby’s laughter? A loved-one’s laughter? Your own laughter? The sweetest sound of all! If you do a lot more of this than in being serious, you feel light or de-stressed. You might even fall in love with yourself. I love me!

Life – is a school (plenty of lessons or hard lessons to learn) and a playground (equally plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself and life).

Love – is a very, very broad subject, I found out. 🙂

Marriage – It’s hard work but it doesn’t have to be. It’s teamwork, but it’s also like cooking food. You need all the right ingredients (respect, affection, thoughtfulness, consideration, trust, kindness, patience etc) to make it taste good; and the right heat or else you burn it or it’s undercooked. (As if I’m so good in the kitchen.)

Medications – Avoid at all cost, if you can help it. Drugs can make you dependent and addicted to them.

Money – It’s a thing you spend for yourself to enjoy life and to help others. Save enough but why accumulate and hoard the rest that on your death you end up bequeathing your ‘millions’ to your favourite pet(s)?

Perception – It’s not reality and it’s not the whole story. You will need to dig deeper to get an inkling of the truth.

Perspective – As someone who had a strong impact on me taught me, there are different angles to an argument/situation. It’s called ‘perspective’.

Plan B – Always have plan B for anything. If plan A doesn’t work out, you don’t get too disappointed or stressed because you have a back-up plan or an exit strategy.

Problems – Look at them as opportunities to make you think creatively of solutions. Or it could be a ‘detour’ which takes you in another direction, perhaps a shortcut, and leads you to where you’re supposed to be at that particular point in your life.

Religion – It’s a way to (1) align yourself with others to keep your faith strong and (2) as a reminder to yourself that there is a God and God is great.

Smile – is contagious and can be a prelude to giggling or laughing, which can make you happy.

Solutions – In ‘Watching the Wheels’, John Lennon sang, ‘there’s no problem, only solutions’. Or another way to look at it is ‘focus on the solutions, not the problem’.

Special – Everyone of us is special, not just the talented, the educated, the rich, the famous, the beautiful, your kids, your family, your race, yourself etc. We are all special.

Thinking – It’s sometimes not used. It’s like physical exercise. You need to make an effort to do so.

Twice divorced – Another chance to find love. Another reason to celebrate. Try and try until you succeed but don’t rush. We all know marriage doesn’t guarantee happiness and you don’t need to be married to be happy.

* * *

So what do you think? Do you have your own special words, with special meanings?

Or is it time for me to change my eyeglasses or use a magnifying glass?

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Next topic: Losing My Religion (part 2)

Losing My Religion (1 of 5)

Image from istockphoto.com

Just when I say I believe in the ‘afterlife’, I declare I’m no longer affiliated with a specific religion. The two aren’t necessarily incompatible.

I remember as a young child I used to join religious processions. Once, when I was around 5, my mother couldn’t go for some reason but I insisted in joining a procession being held around the town’s church during a festive season. She sent me off with a little basket of flowers to join other little girls also bearing flowers.

Along the way, not surprisingly, I got lost (still happens to me today even with a map in my hand). It was probably just around a corner but I couldn’t find my way. By the time I saw the long line of people marching in the procession, they were on their way back to the church. It wouldn’t have mattered as my mother explained later but, already self-conscious at that age, I felt too embarrassed to join them at that point. Hesitantly, I turned around and somehow made my way back home.

Of course, my mother was none-too-pleased. Not only did I miss the procession, I also came back without the basket of flowers in my hand, which I gave away to a stranger. My giving nature was evident then.

My parents were steadfast in their belief but they didn’t practice it to the extreme. And I never heard them make disparaging remarks about other people with different beliefs.

Once, two American Mormons attempted to convert us to their religion. My father enjoyed discussing religion with them and welcomed their visits a couple of times. In the end, he told them he was happy to stay as a Catholic. My father always said all roads lead to the same place.

With just myself as company, I’m a person who can sit still for hours and not get bored. I have a knack for ignoring all the noise around me and lose myself in my thoughts. I’m also not a nag. However, somehow as a child, I was both very impatient and a nag. I exhausted my parents’ patience for my insistence on leaving the church before the mass ended.

One day, to placate me, they promised to leave after the choir had sung its 3rd hymn or song. BIG mistake. From then on, when the 3rd song came on, that was my signal to start nagging them incessantly to let us go home.

On my 10th birthday, too busy with housework, my mother sent me off by myself to church not far from where we lived and gave me a new red dress to wear. Although never been fashion conscious, I’m very picky with the type of material I wear. The dress was pretty but the outer part felt rough on my skin. I wasn’t happy. Not only because I didn’t want to wear the dress, I also didn’t want to go to church.

While my two older brothers were probably playing in the neighbourhood as usual, enjoying themselves, birthday girl was sent off to go to church. I dragged my resistant, resentful self to church.

Inside, I sat next to a young female. While she noticed I was alone, I noticed she had a pretty face. She saw I was fidgeting. I volunteered the information that I was out of there after the 3rd song. She was very nice to me and tried to convince me that I should stay till the end.

As she was bent on making me stay, I was bent on leaving after the 3rd song. With my parents not there to prevent me from leaving, no one else could make me stay after the 3rd song. On cue, as soon as I heard the piano started playing, I jumped away from my seat in case the woman grip me by the hand and don’t let me go. I saw the disappointed look in her face, but I was intent on not staying any minute longer.

Over the years, there was always this pressure not to miss mass on Sundays. Everyone always trying to make you feel you’re upsetting God for not doing your weekly sabbatical duty. As I grew older and got used to going to church most Sundays, while still not appreciating it, I started to bear staying past the 3rd song and until the complete end. Sometimes, I even sang along! Picture me singing along with the choir and parishioners during the 3rd song and not feeling the urge to bolt!

Don’t get me wrong. I find peace and solace in chapels or cathedrals when it’s quiet. Living then in a tropical country, the heat, the crowd which often spilt out into the streets and the noisy distractions used to bother me. During a priest’s sermon, those times when I made an effort to listen, it often didn’t tag at my heart.

I believe in the power of prayer. I was sometimes amazed when something I asked for happened at exactly how I wanted it to happen. And during the lowest point in my life, when I felt abandoned by everyone except for a loving few, Mother Mary was my constant companion and praying the rosary and novena were my refuge and consolation.

However, one day in the early 90s, I started on a long, gradual and lonely journey to take on the road less traversed of soul searching. I read copious amounts of books, including the bible, and indulged in even more introspection.

And then about 12 years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop going to church altogether. But it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy going to church, or I lost my sense of gratitude for two revered beings who I turned to the most during my hour of deep need.

There were 4 reasons that prompted me to question my faith. (To be continued)

Next topic (a funny one): My [censored] moments.

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